Requirements for Graduating College: Bachelor’s Degree Requirements

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Many people ask what they need for a bachelor’s degree. The requirements for graduating college will vary slightly depending on the college and major.

In general, students must meet the academic requirements— general education courses, courses required for major, and a minimum number of upper-division courses. They must meet the minimum credits and GPA required. Students must also pay any balances and then apply to graduate.

Let’s look at some common requirements for graduating from college, including academic requirements and financial requirements.

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Complete required classes

What classes are required in college to graduate will vary depending on your college and major, but you will have a list of required courses that must be taken in order to receive your degree.

General education requirements

All colleges and majors require students to take general education courses.

General education courses, sometimes referred to as core curriculum or core classes, consist of the following:

  • Basic literature, communication, and writing courses, such as Rhetoric
  • Social sciences
  • Natural sciences
  • Math courses
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Foreign language

Depending on the college, you may be able to opt out of a foreign language requirement if you have already taken it in high school, or if you are bilingual and can place out.


Students will also have the option to complete a certain number of elective courses to meet their credit requirements.

Major requirements

Students will have a list of required courses for their major, and they must complete all these courses to earn their degree.

Upper-division courses

Aside from the specific courses required for the major, each major will also require a certain number of upper-division (300-400 level courses) to be completed.

Minor requirements

If students are trying to earn minors, they must complete the required courses for their minor before graduation.

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Earned required credits

One of the biggest demands for graduating college is that you earn the required credits.

Minimum credits

Students must complete the required minimum credit hours, which is typically 120 credit hours.

Keep in mind that credit earned from remedial courses or from taking a course twice cannot be used to meet the credit hour degree requirement.

Learn more about How Many Credits Do You Need To Graduate College?Opens in a new tab.

Credits from the college

Colleges also require a certain number of credits to be completed from that college (also called residence requirements). In-residence credit requirements vary widely between colleges—some schools require 30 credits from the college, and others require 60 credits (half of all required credits).

Met minimum GPA requirements

Students must meet their college’s minimum GPA requirements. Most colleges require a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 (a C average) and a 2.0 major-specific GPA (a 2.0 for the courses taken in the major). Some colleges may require a higher GPA of 2.5.

Learn more about What GPA Do You Need to Graduate College?Opens in a new tab.

To find out your GPA, you can check using your Degree Audit DARS (Degree Audit Reporting System) or determine your GPA yourselfOpens in a new tab..

Clear any incomplete from your record

Before students can graduate college, they must remove any “Incomplete” from their record by either completing the course or taking an F for the course if it is not required for their degree.

Students must meet the financial requirements to graduate college and pay all tuition, fines, or other outstanding balances.

Additional requirements

Some colleges have other requirements— let’s review some of them.

Completed any required projects

Some colleges have projects that students are required to complete before they can receive their degrees, such as a thesis, capstone project, or internship.

College convocations

Some colleges require in-person students to attend a certain number of college events.

How to review that you met the requirements

Let’s go over how you can be sure that you met the requirements.

Check DARS

The easiest way to check that you met your college’s requirements is to check your DARS report. If your DARS is all green, then you are ready to graduate.

Meet with your advisor

Students should meet with their academic advisor each semester to make sure they register for the right courses and are completing all requirements.

Meet with your academic advisor when you are registering for your intended last semester so they can go over things with you and ensure that you have met all the degree requirements and are ready to apply for graduation.

Apply to graduate

When I was in college, I had no idea that you were required to apply to graduate. I thought that graduation was automatic after you met all the requirements—I was wrong.

Students are required to apply to graduate by the deadline and pay any graduation application fees.

Can you graduate from college without a degree?

Students cannot graduate from college without a degree. Graduation means completing your program and earning a degree.

Some colleges offer non-degree or certificate programs, so students not working towards a degree can still take classes. These programs have their own requirements, but achieving one would not be called graduating from college.

You could also take courses as a non-degree-seeking student, but you would not graduate.

Requirements to graduate with honors in college

The requirements to graduate college with honors vary depending on college and major.

There are many different types of academic honors in college. Graduating with honors could mean being an honors student (where you had to take required honors courses) or being on the dean’s list.

Graduating with honors in college can mean that you graduate with a high GPA, at least a 3.5, and are at the top of your class (often the top 3% of students).

At U of I, the GPA required to graduate with honors is:

  • Honors: 3.250
  • High Honors: 3.500
  • Highest Honors: 3.750

Graduation requirements checklist

To make a checklist for graduation requirements, list the requirements, include any details, add a section to specify when you plan to complete them, and put a check once it is complete.

Here is an example requirement checklist:

Requirement Details Completion DateCompleted
General education courses-Example: Rhetoric 1, Rhetoric 2, Calculus

Major courses completed

Upper-division courses
Minimum credits
Minimum credits from college
Minimum GPA
No Incompletes
Paid balances
Applied to graduate

Now that you know the requirements for graduating college with a bachelor’s degree, learn more about the first step to landing a job—creating a professional email addressOpens in a new tab..

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