This summer, Business Insider compiled a list of the most expensive colleges in the US.
The list is based off each school’s tuition, fees, and room and board for the 2014-2015 school year.
We took the top 12 colleges from that list and broke down the costs to find out how much just one course will set you back.
Here’s how we did it:
We took the tuition for each school — not including fees or room and board — and multiplied that number by 4 to find out how much it costs to graduate on a standard four-year schedule.
We then figured out how many courses a student needs to take to receive a degree at each university by looking at each school’s website and determining the number of credits needed to graduate, then reading the course catalogue to find the number of credits for a typical course.
We divided the cost to graduate by the number of courses needed, giving us the cost of a single course. (The credit number we used to represent a typical course is specified for each university.)
Bear in mind that every school and every student is different.
Many students attending these schools receive scholarships and/or financial aid, which lowers the cost of tuition. They may spend a semester or year abroad, and pay a different school tuition. They may graduate early.
And since course and credit requirements often differ according to major, the number of courses needed to graduate can vary from student to student. Plus, a course for more than a typical number of credits will be less expensive, while a course for fewer credits will cost more.
Our calculations can’t possibly match every individual’s college experience, but they do help quantify how much every A, B, or C costs for a full-time student paying sticker price at a four-year school.
We found it interesting that this list does not follow the order of our list of most expensive universities. A course at the most expensive school, Harvey Mudd College, actually costs the least.
This is because courses at some schools — like the most expensive on the list — count for more credits, meaning that students have to take fewer courses to graduate. The fewer courses a student has to take, the more a single course is going to cost.
Tuition for 4 years: $US187,184
Number of courses needed to graduate: 40
Credits per course: .50-1
Cost per course: $US4,679
Note: At Trinity, students need 36 course credits to graduate. Therefore, the standard amount of course credit taken per semester is 4.5. Since courses range from .25-2 credits, we assumed a student would take four 1-credit courses and one .5-credit course per semester (five courses in total per semester). Five courses per semester would amount to 40 courses in total needed to graduate.
Tuition for 4 years: $US187,052
Number of courses needed to graduate: 35
Credits per course: 1
Cost per course: $US5,344
Note: Dartmouth uses a trimester system. A Dartmouth alum explained to Business Insider that students typically take three courses per trimester, which would come out to 36 courses before graduation. Using that number (more courses than technically required to graduate), one course would cost $US5,195.
Tuition for 4 years: $US198,720
Number of courses needed to graduate: 12
Credits per course: 10
Cost per course: $US16,560
Note: Courses at Sarah Lawrence last a whole year, not just a semester. This is why students need to take a low number of courses to graduate, and why a single course is so expensive.