I was wondering if ECTS Credits are based on performance. For example, I know a course is say 5 ects credits, are those 5 credits awarded to a passing grade or is it based on performance and only a part of those credits are awarded depending on your grades?

  • 10
    In what system does a student ever get only half the credits for having half the total marks?
    – Nij
    Oct 30, 2017 at 3:08
  • 2
    @Nij In the universities in Turkey you get "credits * your mark". For your average at the end your total "credits * mark" points are divided by the total credits you have taken. (So, if you get 2/4 on a class, you're going to get only the half of that class' credits available) Oct 30, 2017 at 11:44
  • 2
    In the US, the system described by @JohnHamilton exists as so-called "quality points". For example, a student who receives a B (3 grade points) on a three credit course would receive 9 quality points, while a student earning an A (4 grade points) in that same course would receive 12 quality points. Quality points aren't really used for much except as a means to calculate overall GPA (add up all quality points and divide by the number of credits attempted). You don't (in my experience and knowledge) ever get opportunities to "spend" individual quality points in any meaningful way. Oct 30, 2017 at 17:28

3 Answers 3


The credits refer to the quantity of studying. 60 ECTS credits makes up one year of study. To complete a degree, you need a fixed number of credits, ie you must pass a certain number of modules (or equivalent). The grade of the degree you are awarded is determined by how well you do in those courses.

  • 3
    For sake of clarity, it might be worth noting that your final grade is constructed of the individual grades weighted by their ECTS. Therefore, your grade on your 15 ECTS thesis is weighted three times as much as your 5 ECTS exam.
    – Ian
    Oct 30, 2017 at 11:36
  • 2
    @Ian I am not sure this is a universal rule. Every university (or perhaps even every department) decides how they compute the final grade, and they have no obligation to take the number of credits into account.
    – Arnaud D.
    Oct 30, 2017 at 13:38
  • 1
    To supplement what Ian and Arnaud said: Where I got my degree, all grades were weighted by the amount of ECTS of the respective courses. However, I know of other universities where e.g. the bachelors' thesis makes up more of the final grade than its amount of ECTS credits would suggest.
    – anderas
    Oct 30, 2017 at 14:30
  • Not all schools even have a final grade or average written out somewhere. It could be just a list of courses and the grade for each course. If someone wants to know your "final grade" or GPA, then you'll have to decide/figure how to calculate it.
    – user985366
    Oct 30, 2017 at 16:11
  • Some universities also group lectures into modules/topics and calculate the ECTS weighted average for each module but the overall grade is just the average of those modules without weighing. But in contrast to the US where GPA or similar is very important in most cases your grades are completely irrelevant.
    – user64845
    Oct 30, 2017 at 17:58

As the previous answers indicate, ECTS credits are award in full for each passing grade (what exactly constitutes a passing grade differs from country to country).

I can think of at least a couple of important reasons why this is so:

  1. If you would somehow get more ECTS for doing better in a course, students who get the equivalent of "all As" would actually be able to graduate with less knowledge (i.e., after doing less courses) than students who barely pass a lot more courses. This would construct a weird incentive system, where students who graduate with few courses and good grades may in some contexts appear weaker than a student with terrible grades.
  2. Grades would become very important then, making grade rubbing an even larger problem. Discussions akin to "with this B I can't graduate this year" would become commonplace, and nobody wants that.
  3. On a related note, students would lose the ability to plan their studies. You may think that you can graduate this year, but only after getting all grades in you know if you have the required amount of ECTS to do so. It may turn out that one course was harder than expected, and you needed to do an extra course. Yes, in theory this is also true nowadays where failing a course can leave you unable to graduate against your expectations, but the danger of unexpectedly failing a course is much lower than simply having a worse grade than expected.
  4. There would be even larger incentives for students to select easy over challenging courses.

There are further important aspects for curriculum design etc., but I think even the ones I listed are already sufficient to argue why ECTS are granted in full.

  • Your points sound to me like they're written from the point of view of the US. They sound a little odd from the UK, and I suspect they sound rather strange from continental Europe (though I have no direct experience).
    – Jessica B
    Oct 30, 2017 at 16:04
  • @JessicaB I have never worked anywhere than in central or nordic Europe, so I can definitely say that they have been with that in mind.
    – xLeitix
    Oct 30, 2017 at 16:42

You get all of them if you pass. In contrast to the US there's also less of a grade inflation so it's pretty common to have an average somewhere between a B and C which would mean most students would need much more courses if ECTS would inly be awarded partially.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .