Choice Based Credit System (CBCS): A Pro or Con? 

All the major higher education institutions across the world are implementing a system of credits. For instance, we have the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) in Europe’s universities, the ‘National Qualifications Framework’ in Australia. There is the Pan-Canadian Protocol on the Transferability of University Credits. In the UK, we have the Credit Accumulation and Transfer System (CATS). Even the systems operating in the US, Japan, etc. are based on the credit system.

Recently, The University Grant Commission (UGC) moved on from traditional marks and percentage system and introduced the Choice Based Credit System in Delhi University. This created confusion among the colleges, students, and professors as to whether the syllabus, timetables and assessment procedures should be prepared as per the requirements of the CBCS or should they have continued with the previous marking system. 

Let’s have a look at what exactly the choice based credit system is?

So what happens in the choice based credit system? 

  • In the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) Programme that the University Grants Commission came up with, students have choices. They can now choose from the prescribed courses, which are referred to as core, elective or minor or soft skill courses. The best thing is that students can now learn at their own pace and the entire assessment is grade-based on a credit system. Isn’t that cool?
  • The CBCS Programme keenly looks at the needs of the students. This is done primarily to keep with the development of education in India and abroad. CBCS aims to redefine the curriculum keeping pace with the liberalization and globalization in education. With a large number of Indian students opting for Masters in universities abroad, CBCS allows students an easy mode of mobility to various educational institutions spread across the world along with the facility of transfer of credits earned by students.
  • There are also non-credit courses available which will be assessed as ‘Satisfactory’ or “Unsatisfactory’. This is not included in the computation of SGPA/CGPA. Students are also allowed to choose courses from different and unrelated disciplines.

  • The Programme is uniform for all: – central, state and other recognized universities. The Core, Elective and Foundation courses will be evaluated and assessed to provide for an effective and balanced result.

Breaking the elements down

The figure illustrates how the CBCS Programme covers the 5 major aspects of the marking system 

It has the following basic elements:

  • Semesters:

    The assessment is done semester wise. A student progresses on the basis of the courses taken rather than time like three years for science, arts, commerce or four years for engineering, etc. Each semester will have 15–18 weeks of academic work which is equal to 90 teaching days. There is flexibility in creating the curriculum and assigning credits based on the course content and hours of teaching.

  • Credit system:

    Each course is assigned a certain credit. When the student passes that course, he earns the credits which are based on that course. If a student passes a single course in a semester, he does not have to repeat that course later. The students can earn credits according to their pace.

  • Credit transfer:

    If for some reason, he cannot cope with the study load or if he falls sick, he has the freedom to study fewer courses and earn fewer credits and he can compensate for this in the next semester.

  • Comprehensive continuous assessment:

    There is a continuous evaluation of the student not only by the teachers but also by the student himself.


10 Point Grading System as introduced by the UGC 


Stands For 



Outstanding 10





Very Good






Above Average














How is the credit counted and the mark sheet issued?

One credit per semester is equal to one hour of teaching, which includes both lecture (L) or tutorial (T) or two hours of practical work/fieldwork (P) per week. A study course can have only L component or only T or P component or combination of any two or all three components. The total credits earned by a student for each semester are L+T+P.

Calculating SGPA 

Course Credit Grade letter Grade point Credit Point (Credit x Grade)
Course 1  3  A  8 3 x 8 = 24
Course 2  4  B+  7 7 x 4 = 28
Course 3  3  B  6 3 x 6 = 18
Course 4  3  O  10 3 x 10 = 30
Course 5  3  C  5 3 x 5 = 15
Course 6  4  B  4 4 x 4 = 16
  20     131

Thus, SGPA = 131/20 = 6.55

Calculating CGPA 

Semester 1 Semester 2 Semester 3 Semester 4 Semester 5 Semester 6
Credit : 20

SGPA : 6.9

Credit : 22

SGPA : 7.8

Credit : 25

SGPA : 5.6

Credit : 26

SGPA : 6.0

Credit : 26

SGPA : 6.3

Credit : 25

SGPA : 8.0

Thus, CGPA = (20 x 6.9 + 22 x 7.8 + 25 x 5.6 + 26 x 6.0 + 26 x 6.3 + 25 x 8.0) / 144 = 6.73


Transcript (Format): Based on the above recommendations on Letter grades, grade points, and SGPA and CCPA, a transcript for each semester and a consolidated transcript indicating the performance in all semesters is issued by the HEI’s 

Advantages of the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS)

  • The CBCS offers a ‘cafeteria’ approach in which the students can choose courses of their own choice.
  • The credit system allows a student to study what he prefers in his own sequence as per his interests.
  • They can learn at their own pace.
  • They can opt for additional courses and can achieve more than the required credits.
  • They can also opt for an interdisciplinary approach to learning.
  • Intercollege/university migration within the country and outside becomes easy with the transfer of Credits. Since it is in compliance with the global grading system, it will be easier for foreign universities to come and offer courses in India. 
  • Students can opt for one part of the course in one institute and the other part in another institute. This will help in making a clear choice between good and bad colleges/ institutes.
  • The students have more scope to enhance their skills and more scope of taking up projects and assignments, vocational training, including entrepreneurship.
  • The system improves the job opportunities for students.
  • The system will help in enabling potential employers to assess the performance of students on a scientific scale.

Disadvantages of the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS)

  • Not very easy to estimate the exact marks.
  • Teachers’ workload may fluctuate.
  • It needs proper and good infrastructure for a universal spread of education.


It is too early to say whether CBCS will be successful or not. The UGC has always initiated measures to bring efficiency and excellence in the Higher Education System of India. The basic motive is to expand academic quality in all aspects, right from the curriculum to the learning-teaching process to examination and evaluation systems. However, so far multiple methods are followed by different universities across the country towards examination, evaluation and grading system. Considering this diversity, the implementation of the choice based credit system seems to be a good system in assessing the overall performance of a student in a universal way of a single grading system.

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