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How long will my qualification take?

Exactly how long your qualification takes will depend on how many credits you study a year and which course you choose.

In this section we give you a rough idea of how long it takes, based on how most of our students study with us.
Student taking notes

Flexible study with the OU

Flexible study with us means you can vary how long it takes to complete your qualification. It also means you can spend more or less time studying each week, depending on what you need to do and what’s going on in your life.

You’ll study your qualification on a module-by-module basis, so you sign up for only what you’re going to study that year. If you have other commitments (such as work, family, caring etc.) we recommend you sign up for one 30- or 60-credit module. You can often change how many modules you study year-on-year.

The tables below give you an idea of how long it could take to complete a qualification.

Part-time study | 60 credits a year

Certificate of Higher Education

(120 credits)

2 years


Diploma of Higher Education

(240 credits)

4 years


Bachelors/Honours degree

(360 credits)

6 years


Full-time study | 120 credits a year

Certificate of Higher Education

(120 credits)

1 year


Diploma of Higher Education

(240 credits)

2 years


Bachelors/Honours degree

(360 credits)

3 years



Some undergraduate qualifications follow a different pattern of study. Individual descriptions will be able to tell you more.

You can study more than one module at a time. Just be aware, you can only study a maximum of 120 credits in a 12-month period. 30 and 60 credit modules usually take 9 months to complete.

How much time will I need each week?

The number of hours you'll need to put into studying will depend on how many credits you’re taking. Per week, that would look like:

  • 60 credits (part time) – around 16 to 18 hours.
  • 120 credits (full time) – around 32 to 36 hours.

You may want to get a better idea of whether or not you can fit that around your current commitments by using our online time planner.

For useful study tips from OU students, you can also check out our finding time page.

When can I start?

Your qualification likely to start in October, but some do have February or April start dates as well. The month you go for will decide when your academic year starts; that’ll always be 12 months long. You’ll be able to study up to 120 credits within that 12-month period.

If you need it, we can help with planning your qualification and modules.

For information on when to apply, check out our key dates.

Earn while you learn

76% of Open University students fit study around full- or part-time jobs.



One of the main attractions of the OU is its flexibility. Being able to combine study with either part-time or full-time work is so helpful and the OU teaches valuable skills in addition to knowledge relating to your degree subject.

Rebecca Glancy, BA (Hons) Business Studies

The OU was the most flexible, distance and online-learning University. This allowed me to continue working full-time whilst applying my learning to the workplace which was the most important factor.

Andrew Trueman, BSc (Hons) Computing and IT

I chose The Open University as I needed something that was completely flexible and would fit around my other commitments.

Hazel Bradley, First Class Bachelor of Law