Reading requirements vary from school to school
In many cases, from class to class and from professor to professor. In an investigation of more than 30 traditional, accredited seminaries, colleges, and universities, we found that a doctoral class of 4 credits may have as few as 400 pages of reading to as many as 2,000.
Class Requirements
Converting Audio/Video Listening into Reading Requirements
Many students use audio resources such as MP3s or videos in their classes. There are many acceptable academic lectures on these various media that students may use as part of their General Reading Requirements. CES has established this chart of conversion.

Requirements for the Thesis and Dissertation
Please note that while two 4-credit classes (i.e., 8 credits) at the master's level would require a minimum of 2,000 pages of reading, this is not the requirement for an 8-credit thesis. A thesis is not the same as a class. It is a major research document, and an 8-credit thesis will require well more than twice as many pages as 8 credits in regular classes. This is the same with a doctoral dissertation. While there is no set limit on how many pages one will have to read for their thesis or dissertation, you can be sure that it will be more than twice that for the same amount of credits in regular classes.

The minimum length of your thesis or dissertation is determined by the word count of the thesis body, plus your footnotes.

The thesis or dissertation body begins with the first word of your Introduction and ends with the last word of your Conclusion.

When you count the words in your thesis or dissertation, do not count the Front Matter, the Table of Contents, the Bibliography, or the Appendices.
Please note: These above are minimums and guidelines. We have seen master's theses from traditionally accredited schools that were only 30 pages long with as few as 10 sources in the bibliography; we've seen others that were 200+ pages long with as many as 70 sources. We once saw a PhD dissertation from an accredited university that was only 40 pages long with 12 sources in the bibliography. At the other end of the spectrum, there was one PhD dissertation that was 1,700 pages long, and it had about 800 sources.

Student Level

Reading (pages per credit)

Writing (pages)

Sources Cited

Fresh. & Soph.


3 - 5 pages


Junior & Senior


5 - 10 pages




12 - 15 pages




17 - 20 pages



Degree Program

Writing (words)

Sources Cited


10,000 - 20,000



20,000 - 40,000



30,000 - 60,000



Student Level

Equivalent pages read per hour of listening

Fresh. & Soph.


Junior & Senior







Writing Requirements vary as well.
One accredited university requires a mere 30 pages for its Master's Thesis. Yet, a few other colleges have required nearly that many pages for their master's-level term papers. At one accredited seminary, one particular professor requires the writing of a maximum of only two pages for a master's-level term paper.

How many sources should a class paper have?
We are sometimes asked, "How many sources should be in the bibliography?" There are no universal, academically acceptable standards. Some schools state that you should use however many you need to get the job done. A few others have more specific guidelines. However, too often when guidelines are set, students "lock into" these guidelines and do not go beyond them. This can lead to a truncating of their research. Nonetheless, because this question does occasionally come up, we have decided to list some "basic guidelines." Please note this: It is not simply that you must have these sources listed in your bibliography, you must also interact with them in the body of your paper. Any assertions made must be backed up with evidence, and this evidence will often be quotations from various scholars.

After a quarter-century of observation and investigation, CES has adopted the following minimum standards for our reading and writing requirements. These are minimum requirements. Students may (and most times do) read more and write more than these minimums. However, all written work, regardless of length, must be excellent in content, logic, writing, grammar, and academic style.