How Many Hours Should I Study at University? A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to studying at university, one of the most common questions students ask is, “How many hours should I be studying?” While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, there are some general guidelines that students can follow to help them determine how much time they should be dedicating to their studies.

According to Utah State University, students should aim to spend two to three hours studying for every credit hour they take. For example, if a student is taking 15 credit hours, they should be studying for 30 to 45 hours per week. However, this can vary depending on the difficulty of the courses and the student’s individual learning style. Some students may need to spend more time studying, while others may be able to get by with less.

It’s also important for students to remember that studying isn’t just about the amount of time spent. Quality of study time is just as important. Students should aim to study in short, focused sessions rather than long, drawn-out ones. Additionally, taking breaks and getting enough rest is crucial for retaining information and avoiding burnout.

Understanding Your Course Load

One of the most important aspects of succeeding in university is understanding your course load. This includes the number of credit hours you are taking, the workload expectations of your faculty, and how much time you should be dedicating to studying each week.

Credit Hours and Workload

Credit hours are a measure of the amount of time you are expected to spend on a course each week. According to the American Public University System, a typical 16-week course requires 8-10 hours of coursework per week, while an 8-week course requires 15-18 hours per week. This includes required reading, assignments, and any other course-related activities.

It is important to note that credit hours are not equivalent to the number of hours you will spend in class each week. In fact, for most courses, the amount of time you spend in class is only a small fraction of the total time you will need to dedicate to the course.

Understanding your credit hours and workload expectations is essential for managing your time effectively and avoiding burnout. It is also important to communicate with your faculty if you feel that the workload is too heavy or if you are struggling to keep up with the coursework.

Faculty Expectations

Your faculty will have their own expectations for how much time you should be dedicating to studying each week. These expectations may vary depending on the course, the level of difficulty, and the overall workload of the semester.

According to the Creative Arts Toolkit, a typical taught study course requires around 2-3 hours of study per week, while self-managed directed study may require around 4-5 hours per week. Self-managed independent study may require around 3-4 hours per week.

It is important to keep in mind that these are just general guidelines, and your faculty may have different expectations for your specific course. It is always a good idea to communicate with your faculty and ask for clarification if you are unsure about their expectations.

CourseCredit HoursExpected Weekly Study Time
Introduction to Psychology39-12 hours
Calculus I412-16 hours
English Composition II39-12 hours

Creating a Study Schedule

Creating a study schedule is a crucial component of academic success. It helps students to manage their time effectively, prioritize tasks, and stay on track with their academic goals. Here are some key steps to creating a study schedule:

Assessing Your Learning Style

Before creating a study schedule, it is important to assess your learning style. Some students learn best through visual aids, while others learn best through auditory or kinesthetic methods. Understanding your learning style can help you to tailor your study schedule to your individual needs.

There are several online tools available to help you determine your learning style, such as the VARK questionnaire ( Once you have identified your learning style, you can incorporate study methods that align with your learning preferences into your schedule.

Prioritizing Your Time

When creating a study schedule, it is important to prioritize your time. This involves identifying the most important tasks and allocating sufficient time to complete them. One way to prioritize your time is to create a to-do list and rank tasks in order of importance. This can help you to focus on the most pressing tasks and avoid wasting time on less important activities.

Another strategy for prioritizing your time is to use the 80/20 rule. This rule suggests that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. By focusing on the 20% of tasks that yield the greatest results, you can maximize your productivity and achieve your academic goals more efficiently.

Setting Realistic Goals

When creating a study schedule, it is important to set realistic goals. This involves setting achievable targets that align with your academic goals and taking into account your other commitments, such as work, family, and social activities.

One way to set realistic goals is to use the SMART framework. This involves setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For example, instead of setting a goal to “study more,” you could set a SMART goal to “spend 2 hours each day studying for my biology exam next week.”

SMART FrameworkExample
SpecificStudy for my biology exam next week
MeasurableSpend 2 hours each day studying
AchievableAllocate sufficient time to study while balancing other commitments
RelevantContributes to academic success and achieving long-term goals
Time-boundComplete studying by the day before the exam

Maximizing Your Study Time

Studying effectively is not just about the number of hours you put in. It’s also about how you use that time. By using active learning strategies, effective note-taking, and collaborative learning opportunities, you can maximize your study time and achieve better results.

Active Learning Strategies

Passive learning, such as simply reading a textbook or listening to a lecture, is not always the most effective way to learn. Active learning strategies are methods that require you to engage with the material, such as:

  • Creating flashcards or study guides
  • Teaching the material to someone else
  • Participating in group discussions or debates
  • Completing practice problems or quizzes

By actively engaging with the material, you are more likely to remember and understand it.

Effective Note-Taking

Note-taking is a crucial part of studying, but it’s important to do it effectively. Here are some tips:

  • Use abbreviations and symbols to save time
  • Organize your notes by topic or theme
  • Write down questions or areas of confusion to clarify later
  • Review your notes regularly to reinforce your understanding

By taking effective notes, you can better retain the information and make studying more efficient.

Collaborative Learning Opportunities

Studying with others can be a great way to learn and reinforce concepts. Here are some collaborative learning opportunities:

Group projectsCollaborate with classmates on a project assigned by your professor
Study groupsMeet with classmates to review material and discuss concepts
TutoringWork with a tutor to receive personalized instruction and support

By working with others, you can gain new perspectives, clarify confusing concepts, and reinforce your understanding of the material.

Avoiding Burnout

University can be a stressful time for students, with the pressure to perform academically, socialize, and maintain a healthy personal life. Burnout is a common experience for many students, but it can be avoided with the right self-care techniques.

Self-Care Tips

One of the most important things to do when trying to avoid burnout is to take care of yourself. This includes getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising regularly. It can also be helpful to take breaks throughout the day to rest and recharge.

Another important self-care tip is to avoid overloading yourself with too many responsibilities. It can be tempting to take on multiple extracurricular activities or work part-time while studying, but this can quickly lead to burnout. Students should prioritize their academic work and only take on additional responsibilities if they have the time and energy to do so.

Balancing Academic and Personal Life

Another way to avoid burnout is to find a balance between academic work and personal life. This can be challenging, but it is essential for maintaining mental and emotional well-being.

One effective technique is to schedule time for both academic work and personal activities. Students should set aside specific times for studying, attending classes, and completing assignments, and also schedule time for hobbies, socializing, and relaxation.

It can also be helpful to set realistic goals and expectations for academic work. Students should aim to do their best, but also recognize that perfection is not always achievable. If a student is struggling with a particular subject or assignment, they should seek help from a tutor or professor.

Self-Care TipsBalancing Academic and Personal Life
Get enough sleepSchedule time for both academic work and personal activities
Eat wellSet realistic goals and expectations
Exercise regularlySeek help from a tutor or professor if needed
Take breaks throughout the day

By following these self-care and balance techniques, students can avoid burnout and maintain a healthy and fulfilling university experience.


After conducting research and analyzing various sources, it is clear that the number of hours a university student should study varies depending on their individual needs and circumstances. While some students may be able to succeed with just a few hours of studying per week, others may need to dedicate much more time to their studies.

It is important for students to find a study routine that works for them and allows them to achieve their academic goals. This may involve experimenting with different study techniques, such as active studying, time management, and seeking help from professors or tutors. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how many hours a university student should study, it is generally recommended that students spend at least two to three hours studying for every hour spent in class.

This means that a full-time student taking 15 credit hours should aim to spend 30-45 hours per week studying. However, it is also important for students to prioritize their mental and physical well-being, and not sacrifice their health for the sake of studying. Balancing studying with other activities, such as exercise, socializing, and relaxation, can help prevent burnout and improve overall academic performance.

In conclusion, finding the right balance between studying and other activities is key to academic success in university. By experimenting with different study techniques and prioritizing their health and well-being, students can achieve their academic goals and thrive in their university experience.