Are you starting school at an American college? Whether you're anxious about how long it will take you to complete a semester in college or just trying to gain some knowledge for prospects, it doesn't have to be a long and daunting process. Find out exactly how long semesters are and how many of them there are in one year. Just keep reading to find out all you need to know.
Firstly, it's important to know what we're dealing with. Most colleges in America use either the quarter or semester system. You might be wondering whether there's a difference, and there is.
The semester system allows students to learn more and get to know their professors better. The quarter system is more flexible as there are smaller course loads in each term.
It would be problematic for a student to transfer their courses from a semester to a quarterly basis. There are a few more intricacies, so let's get into them.
The semester system usually includes two 15-week terms: one in the fall, another in the winter break, and one in the spring and summer break after that. The average full-time student takes on about five courses per term or roughly 15 credits.
A semester school generally begins in late August and ends in early May. Approximately 95% of US institutions of higher learning use the semester system.
A quarter system has four 10-week terms during the fall, winter, spring, and summer. The average full-time student has about four courses per term or nine credits. The academic year running on the quarter system will run from mid-September until the beginning of June. Students can take the summer quarter and allow them the opportunity to take on more classes and graduate earlier.
The most popular universities that run on this system include the University of Chicago, Stanford University, the University of California, and the University of Washington.
Generally, a semester is 15-weeks long, which is around four months. Trimester terms are three months, and quarters are two and a half months.
Most community colleges run on the semester schedule, so every fall and spring semester is less than four months. If you choose to do summer semesters at college, you're looking at three months.
One term at a four-year university depends on whether it runs on a semester schedule. If that's the case, the semesters are the same as at a community college.
On a semester schedule, a college year is two full semesters during the fall and spring.
There are only a few universities that use the trimester system. It separates the academic year into three parts:
We mentioned earlier that summer semesters are optional. But, you can attend classes in advance during the summer to graduate earlier. Summer classes usually happen after the conclusion of the second semester and are eight weeks long.
Some schools have a definite schedule for their summer semester, which begins the first week of June and ends in the second week of August.
Regarding credits, online classes are just like traditional classes; the only difference is that you're attending remotely. However, some colleges do offer accelerated programs.
Accelerated degree programs are shorter courses at an intense pace. You are still required to complete the required credits to complete your degree, but you have to study much coursework. So, you have to get over 18 credits per semester, which means more study hours.
You can expect to earn your degree after three years. Some colleges guarantee less if you can fit in more credits. However, you can attend classes in advance if they are available in the summer semester.
As we mentioned earlier, accelerated courses are completed faster than the regular college classes; they take about six to eight weeks to finish, whereas the full semester is 15 weeks and the quarter is 10 weeks.
Accelerated courses have strict requirements and usually go to students who want to move on to higher levels at a faster time frame.
Some universities have a reading period at the end of the semester. So, college students get five to seven days to study the material learned over the term in preparation for final exams. The final exams run between one and three weeks.
We told you that semesters are 15 weeks long. If you multiply that with the number of credit hours you have and then multiply that with the hours of study you put in per credit, you should have a rough estimate of how many hours you'll be investing in your semester.
Credit hours refer to the hours spent in a classroom, field, or laboratory every week. Each subject needs a certain amount of credit hours per week. For example, when your program says that you have a four-credit-hour class, you must attend that class for four hours a week. Depending on specifics, it could be an hour a day, four times a week, or a four-hour session.
For a 14-week course, each credit hour equates to at least 3 hours per week. But, most students do more than what is required. To work out how many hours you should have per credit hour, note how many hours you need to work in a week and divide it by the number of credit hours you take.
College isn't easy and takes time, whichever way you choose to do it. The most important aspect is that you gain the necessary skills and knowledge to become the professional you wish to be. You can only do that if you put in the time. It's not about how fast you go but rather how well you finish.
If you are currently or about to go to an American college in the you might be confused as to how various colleges or university calendars are organized. Here you can read a breakdown into the different academic calendar systems used in most colleges and universities in the United States (US).
American colleges use either of these systems - semesters, quarters and trimesters. There are also accelerated online classes or courses that allow students to study online. The differences between these most common academic calendars used in colleges will be explained.
This article will further discuss how college semesters work and, according to the unit of measurement, so that you can have a better guide to plan your future college classes.