Opinion: The 18-credit limit is a barrier to success

Extra tuition costs can bar students from pursuing additional course offerings, or even finishing their majors on time.


Lauren Sanchez

(Lauren Sanchez for WSN)

Molly Koch, Deputy Opinion Editor

With course registration approaching, you’ll find many students looking through Albert multiple times a day, trying to craft the perfect schedule that will fulfill all of their academic requirements, all while sticking to the university’s credit limit. My shopping cart is my worst enemy at this point, but it’s not the courses or schedules offered that make registration frustrating — it’s the credits. NYU is one of the highest-ranked universities in the United States, and offers an inconceivably wide range of courses. But the 18-credit limit per semester prevents students from taking full advantage of the university’s classes. NYU should increase the credit limit to 20, without requiring students to pay more in tuition.

An increase in the credit limit would allow students to explore more subjects during their time at the university. With a credit limit of 18, students who want to take more than the four standard four-credit courses are forced to take a two-credit class, which is not always the best option, as they will have to take another two credits to fulfill any requirements. Unfortunately, some of the more popular classes like “The Science of Happiness” or “Love Actually” are only offered as four-credit courses, leaving students who are already hitting limit with fewer options. This not only is a detriment to the students’ academic experience, but also restricts their ability to broaden a base of knowledge and skills beyond their chosen major.

For those who are trying to complete a double major, or a major with a minor, the credit limit increase would be even more beneficial. Many students come to NYU with diverse academic interests and ambitions, and a credit limit of 18 can create significant barriers to achieving those goals in only four years. Coming from the Liberal Studies program, I face pressure to add an art history major to my journalism one, but I’m constantly in fear of not graduating on time. Students would have greater flexibility to take the additional courses necessary to complete their academic pursuits without the added financial burden of paying extra tuition.

The increased credit limit would also aid students who need to retake a class, or have fallen behind in their coursework because of unforeseen circumstances such as an illness or personal matters. The maximum of 18 credits can make it challenging for these students to catch up on their credits without falling farther behind and needing to pay extra. Instead, they might be forced to attend summer or January term sessions to complete their major requirements.

NYU is known for its global campuses and sending over 4,000 students to study abroad every semester. But these students are often limited in their course selection, which can hinder their ability to fully embrace NYU culture at their global site. Students on a U.S. visa typically cannot work, which offers more time to take additional classes and fully immerse themselves in the study abroad experience. Increasing the credit limit would provide these students with more options to take classes that are not offered at other campuses, and deepen their engagement with the local academic community. Alternatively, if students wanted to spend less time in the classroom during their study abroad experience, a higher credit limit would make it easier for them to make up a class when they return to their home campus.

An increased workload can undoubtedly cause more stress for an already overachieving student body, and it’s important to note that an increased credit limit might incentivize various departments and programs to expect students to take 20 credits to graduate on time. But there are ways to limit potential negative effects. One solution to this issue would be extending the credit limit on a case-by-case basis, allowing for students who truly need an extra class to graduate on time to have the option to take it for free, but require department clearance so it doesn’t become an unreasonable standard.

The credit limit policy at NYU is a significant obstacle for many students who are trying to maximize their academic experience and achieve their academic goals. This policy change would not only benefit the students, but also align with NYU’s commitment to providing a holistic, diverse education. It’s time for NYU to reconsider its credit limit policy and empower its students to achieve their full academic potential.

Contact Molly Koch at [email protected].