How Long Is a College Semester?

How Long Is a College Semester?

Reviewed by: .

A college semester is typically 15 weeks or 75 days long.

Please take note that we are talking about the spring and fall semesters in the U.S. There are a lot of factors that can make your semester longer or shorter. Moreover, depending on your school and program, they may require you to take summer classes.

So let’s take a closer look.

How long are college semesters

There are generally two semesters per academic year: Fall and Spring.

  • The fall semester is usually 15 weeks long. It begins around the middle of August (or in the first week of September) and ends in the middle of December, in which the final examination also takes place. However, for the faculty members, the semester does not end until the exams are graded and submitted to the students.
  • The spring semester is usually 15 weeks long. It starts within the first or second week of January and ends around the first week of May. During this semester, around 85% of universities still admit new students. So if you plan on shifting your major, you’re not going to have a problem starting again at the start of the second semester.

Some semester-based schools also offer a shorter summer session which is not a part of the regular academic year. However, it is one of the many special cases that college students need to consider.

Special cases

Not all universities use the semester system.

Some types of colleges have three or four semesters per school year. In that case, they are called trimesters and quarters, and they are shorter than typical semesters.

Other special cases you should consider are summer semesters, online college semesters, and accelerated courses.

1. The Quarter system

The quarter system divided the school year into four quarters

  • The fall quarter is 10 weeks long. It usually begins around the end of September and ends at the beginning of December.
  • The winter quarter is 10 weeks long. It usually begins in January and ends in mid-March.
  • The spring quarter is 10 weeks long. It begins around the end of March and ends at the beginning of June.
  • The summer quarter is 10 weeks long. It usually begins in mid-June and ends in mid-August.

2. Trimesters

A limited number of universities adopt the trimester system. It divides the academic year into three parts:

  • The fall trimester is 12 weeks long.
  • The winter trimester is 12 weeks long.
  • The spring trimester is 12 weeks long.

The ends and starts of the trimesters widely vary from institution to institution.

3. How long is a summer college semester?

Now, as we’ve mentioned earlier, not every school or program will require you to take the summer semester. 

However, you can take classes in advance if available during the summer semester to speed up your studies.

Summer semesters take place right after the end of the second semester, and they’re pretty short — eight weeks long.

Some schools have a fixed schedule for their summer semester, which starts the first week of June and ends in the second week of August. 

The end of the summer semester marks the end of an academic year.

4. Are online semesters shorter?

When it comes to required credits, online classes are the same as traditional classes

The only difference is that you’re taking your classes remotely. 

Well, there are colleges out there that offer accelerated programs. 

Accelerated degree programs are shorter courses but with more pressure. They still require you to complete the required credits to earn your degree, but you have to study with an overload. 

It means you have to get more than 18 credits per semester, which translates to more studying hours. 

Most of these programs guarantee that you will have your degree after three years. Some of them promise less if you can crunch in more credits.

5. Accelerated courses

Accelerated courses are done quicker than traditional college classes; they only take about 6-8 weeks to complete, rather than a full semester (15 weeks) or quarter (10 weeks).

  • Fall accelerated courses consist of two blocks of 6-8 weeks.
  • Spring accelerated courses consist of two blocks of 6-8 weeks.
  • Summer accelerated courses consist of one block of 6-8 weeks.

Accelerated courses have strict requirements and are reserved for students eager to move on to higher-level work more quickly.

How many days do I have left to study at the end of the semester?

Some universities schedule a reading period at the end of the semesters (also known as revision week in the U.K.). As a result, college students can benefit from 5-7 days to integrate the material learned over the term ad prepare for their final exams.

The final exams last between 1 and 3 weeks.

How many hours do students work per semester?

Semesters are 15 weeks long, but school seems to last an eternity.

The formula to compute the number of hours you will spend in college this semester is:

(number of weeks: 15) × (number of credit hours you took) × (how many hours you study per credit hour: 3)

For example, let us assume you took 12 credits and you study 3 hours per credit. Thus, the entire semester will last 15×12×3=540 hours. 

How to find how many credit hours I have taken

Credit hours are the hours you spend in a classroom, field, or laboratory each week.

Each subject that you take will require a certain amount of credit hours per week. So when your program states that you have a three-credit-hour class, that means you need to attend that class for three hours a week. It could be an hour a day, three times a week, or three hours in a single sitting.

How many hours should I work per credit hour?

For a 14-week course, each credit hour corresponds to a minimum of 3 hours of work per week.

However, most students work more than the minimum required. To determine how many hours you need to work per credit hour, register the number of hours you need to work in a week and divide it but the number of credit hours you take.

Final words

College education takes time, and it should take time as it’s all about becoming a professional in a field you love. So if you’re here because you want to speed up your career, we advise you not to. 

You become proficient by pouring hours of hard work into something.

Always remember quality over quantity.