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Taking Credits to Start a Career

Choosing a major is exciting but can sometimes feel overwhelming. Knowing how your academic experiences can lead into various career opportunities will help you make the most of the major exploration process.

So, let’s start at the beginning.

What is a credit?

A credit is a measure of how much time students should expect to spend in the classroom each week in one semester (which is 16 weeks long). Most courses at WSU offer between one and four credits, with the majority being three. A typical semester schedule includes 15 to 16 credits. In order to be considered a full-time student, your schedule must include at least 12 credits. Credits are also referred to as credit hours or units.

How do credits fit into my major?

All WSU students need to complete at least 120 semester credits to graduate. A portion of these credits will be in your major: some majors may include as little as a quarter of the total credits required for graduation, while others may include more than three-quarters.

Why do I need to know this?

It is important to understand that majors with fewer credit requirements may allow for more flexibility in exploring than those with more structured credit requirements.

How does a major fit into my degree?

The classes you take to meet the 120 credit total will vary by major and other individual factors (i.e. writing and math placement, test credits, transfer work, etc.), but will always include:

  • 34 credits in a range of courses for the University Common Requirements (UCORE).
    • WSU Honors College students have slightly different general requirements.
  • 34 or more credits of courses within your major.
  • The remaining credits to reach WSU’s 120 total credit minimum can be electives, additional college or department requirements, minors, or second majors.

University Common Requirement (UCORE) courses are a great way to explore areas you might be interested in pursuing as a major. If you love the subject, you are a huge step closer to finding the right major for you. If you decide to no longer continue with that particular field of study, you have still satisfied a UCORE graduation requirement. It’s a win-win situation!

How does my degree fit into my career?

It’s important to be aware that your degree does not define your career opportunities: biology students can go on to be lawyers, history students can be entrepreneurs, business students can be great teachers, and so on. The wide range of skills you will learn during your college education can be applied to many professional endeavors. In a few specialized fields, such as nursing, civil engineering, elementary education, and others, a bachelor’s degree is required to begin professional school or to pursue additional credentials for specific career paths.

Overall, the best major for you is one that matches your interests, strengths, and values.

Not sure what are your interests, strengths, and values? Check out these assessment resources to get started.


To learn about popular careers associated with specific majors, visit the WSU fields of study website and look for the career tab under many of the descriptions. Another resource is the “What can I do with this major?” website. Although WSU does not offer some of the majors listed, we do offer many of them.

I am interested in a particular career, how do I know which major to choose?

Preparing for the job market includes many activities, both in and out of the classroom. In general, many jobs will require some experience in the field, regardless of your major. If you learn a little about what employers are looking for, it will help you make decisions in your education and extracurriculars that will help you achieve your professional goals.

Get started by researching the required qualifications for your career of interest. We recommend beginning with the Occupational Outlook Handbook and O*Net Online.

You can earn credentials at WSU in fields such as elementary education and nursing; however other specialized fields require additional schooling in order to be qualified for professional positions (e.g. law and nearly all healthcare careers).