By Corine Hazen, For The Miami Student

While a 15 credit-hour semester may be the norm for many students at Miami University, it could soon be the minimum requirement at American colleges and universities.

A new national campaign called “15 to Finish” encourages undergraduate students to take a minimum 15 credits per semester in order to be considered a “full-time student,” instead of the current 12 credit-hour minimum.

Those who support the campaign believe that by taking 15 credits per semester, students could graduate faster, obtain their education at a cheaper cost, graduate with less debt and have summers free to work or have internships.

At Miami, students must have taken at least 128 credit hours to graduate. To achieve this in four years, a student would need to average 16 credit hours per semester, excluding credits accrued from high school Advanced Placement tests or summer and winter term classes.

However, those opposed to the “15 to Finish” initiative believe increasing the minimum credit hour requirement from 12 to 15 would create challenges for working students.

Miami’s Associate Provost Carolyn Haynes said this is apparent at Miami’s regional campuses.

“Because many of our regional campus students hold down full-time or part-time jobs and may have complex family obligations, such as childcare issues, their average per semester credit hour load is likely to be less than the average of 15 credits per semester on the Oxford campus,” said Haynes.

Peter Haverkos, the assistant dean of Miami’s regional campuses, said the regional campuses have been encouraging the campaign for the last two years in hopes that students will move into their careers sooner.

Haverkos said the students are encouraged to take heftier course loads through the Student Orientation, Advising and Registration (SOAR) program, faculty advising and a first-year experience course titled University Studies 101. 

“We realize this is not a one-size-fits-all model,” said Haverkos. “We encourage students first and foremost to enroll in the number and type of courses that best fit their needs. The online and evening classes we offer give our students flexible options to meet their personal, academic and career goals.” 

Haynes said during Miami’s summer orientation, full-time undergraduate students are encouraged to take 15-17 credit hours per semester in order to guarantee graduation in four years.

Emily Oliver, a junior finance major, said that, like most Miami students, she usually takes at least 15 credit hours, mostly out of her interest for many different subject matters.

“I wanted to take classes that possibly didn’t fill a requirement as a freshman,” said Oliver. “I did this purely out of curiosity about changing my major. Now that I have my major and minor declared, I have no regrets about exploring my options, and I will still be able to graduate on time.”

Lexi Kilgore, a junior early childhood education major, said she typically takes 14 to 16 credit hours per semester, and holds down a part-time job as a server in an off campus restaurant. Kilgore said the total numbers of credit hours necessary to graduate — which, at Miami, is 128 — is reasonable. 

“Through experience, I think the 15 credits is manageable,” said Kilgore. “If taking additional credits during a semester would help [a student] graduate on time, then I think it’s important to do so.”