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Transfer Credits vs Course Overloads: Which one should you use?

Olivia and Nina in PA. Used on an article about transfer credits at RIT.


In this article, I discuss my experience with course overloads through RIT’s Honors Program, and whether students should favor course overloads or transfer credits. While this article covers strategy, I cover how students can transfer credits to RIT in another post.

Most students at RIT take fifteen credits per semester; this is the average course load at RIT. In general, a healthy course load spans from twelve to eighteen credits per semester. In other words, anything in that twelve-to-fifteen credit range provides a healthy school-life balance for most students.

RIT defines a course overload as taking more than eighteen credits a semester. Course overloads are good for students who want to be academically challenged, obtain earlier enrollment times, and graduate faster.

My experience with overloading

As a Computing Security (CSEC) and Computer Science (CS) double-major, I need to take sixteen additional classes—48 credits—which is a little more than three additional semesters in comparison to a single-major student at RIT. I also need to complete two additional co-ops. However, I am set to graduate in five years total: 2020 to 2025. One way I am able to do this is through RIT’s Honors Program, which offers free course overloads for honors students.

The Honors Program allows students to register for up to 24 credits per semester without the additional charge of $1,070 per credit hour over 18 credits that is incurred for overloading your schedule.

RIT Honors Program benefits

I was enrolled in twenty credits during the Spring semester of my freshman year. I decided to do a course overload that Spring because I knew that overloading would be much harder when I started taking advanced CSEC/CS classes sophomore year.

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Overloading saved me $2,140 at RIT. It also saved me the money I would have spent transferring the class from another university. This was my course load during the Spring semester of freshman year:

Software Development and Problem Solving IICSEC 1244A
Honors Humanitarian Free & Open Source Software DevelopmentIGME 5823A
Honors Introduction to Routing and SwitchingNSSA 2413A
Calculus IIMATH 182A4A
Discrete Mathematics for ComputingMATH 1903SE
Foundations of Moral PhilosophyPHIL 2023A
Cooperative Education SeminarCSEC 990S
Sunrise YogaWFIT 930S

Transfer credits versus course overloads: Which is best for you?

Course overloads are great when you are primarily taking general education classes. Otherwise, it is not recommended by RIT or me. In general, I believe that six classes—regardless of the credit amount—should be the maximum course load students should take. As a result, I tend to favor transfer credits.

Transferring credits during summer and winter breaks helps students avoid course overloads. If you are not enrolled in RIT’s Honors Program, transferring credits from other universities will probably be cheaper for you. As of June 2021, RIT charges students $1,070 per credit hour over eighteen credits.

RIT honors logo - Glitter styling done by Olivia A. Gallucci. Used on an article about transfer credits at RIT.

However, if you are in RIT’s Honors Program, transferring credits is more expensive than course overloads. This is because RIT’s honors students get free course overloads up to 24 credits. Again, course overloads are difficult, and “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”

Further reading

If you enjoyed this post, I recommend reading How Do Transfer Credits Work at RIT and How Do Enrollment Dates Work at RIT.

Portrait of Olivia Gallucci in garden, used in LNP article.

Written by Olivia Gallucci

Olivia is an honors student at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She writes about security, open source software, and professional development.