So I get that most people take 100% course load which for my school is 5 courses a semester, I know some people take lower course load and only take 4 courses per semester but end up taking 5 years in total to get their degree as opposed to 4.

My question is does someone who take 5 years to complete undergrad studies(because of lower course load) at any disadvantages to someone who took 4 years to complete their undergrad? Graduate admission for example, does it look bad if you took more than 4 years to get your degree?

  • 1
    I think if there is a good reason, such as working to pay for school, it would not be an issue. This could be addressed in 1 or two lines in the SOP. That being said, if all other metrics are equal between two candidates (GPA, research), it will probably look worse.
    – Hobbes
    Dec 8 '16 at 23:57
  • 1
    At many schools in the US, it is extremely rare for a student to finish in 4 years. For example, Cal State Fullerton graduates 16.5% of its students in 4 years, 51% in 6 years. In any case, why in the world would an admissions committee care how many years you took?? This probably depends a lot on local factors. For example, students at state schools in California often simply can't get a seat in the classes they need, so they take longer to graduate.
    – user1482
    Dec 9 '16 at 5:23

It's fine to spread things out a bit. You might consider taking a gen ed requirement over the winter term, and some summer classes, to avoid extending things too much.

Taking a reasonable credit load per semester shows maturity. It also helps prevent burnout.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.