How Long Is a College Semester? A Typical College Semester Lengths. College Semester Calendar

Many students ask the question: "How Long Is a College Semester?".

How Long Is a College Semester?

A typical college semester can be defined as fifteen weeks long, depending on the school. With a typical fifteen-week-long semester, the academic calendar is divided into three semesters. The fall and spring semesters will both be fifteen weeks long and the third semester, summer, will usually be shorter.

The academic year begins in September and ends in August of the following year. The major semesters, fall and spring, are 15 weeks in length. The fall semester begins in September, and the spring semester begins in January. Summer terms are held between May and August.

How Many Weeks Are in a College Semester?

14 to 16 weeks  for most colleges and universities  in the united that have a semester calendar. However, with the proliferation of online schools a "semester and be 8 weeks longs, a half semester,  Summer semesters can be be 8 weeks, 9 weeks, 6 weeks long. sometimes holidays are included in the semester calendar  and often, even when classes are cancelled because of weather and road conditions, usually extra classes are not tacked on at the end of the semester. Only in the most extreme circumstances is the entire semester cancelled and the students are transferred to other colleges for that semester. That's what Tulane did  for the students who had the majority of of their classes at the Uptown campus.

There are several different semester lengths that make up a year of college education. The length of your school's semester can determine how many classes you need to take per semester and how long it will take for you to complete your program. Not all schools offer each class every semester; keep this in mind when trying to plan your schedule. Usually schools will post in advance which classes they will provide, and in which semesters of the academic calendar, so you can plan accordingly. Try to plan in advance and stay on course.

Fall and Spring: The Typical College Semesters

A typical college semester can be defined as fifteen weeks long, depending on the school. With a typical fifteen-week-long semester, the academic calendar is divided into three semesters. The fall and spring semesters will both be fifteen weeks long and the third semester, summer, will usually be shorter. The summer semester is generally about twelve weeks long. You might find semester lengths vary from school to school, within a range of one to three weeks. Western Michigan University and Florida State University have academic calendars similar to this.

A typical college semester can be defined as fifteen weeks long
A typical college semester can be defined as fifteen weeks long

A Time to Advance or Catch Up: Summer  College Semester

Summer college semesters are generally an opportunity to supplement or accelerate your college program. Maybe you couldn't take as many classes as you needed to in the fall or spring semesters; you can use the summer semester to catch up and get back on track. Maybe you want to complete your program at a faster rate; taking classes during the summer semester will allow you to get ahead of the game.

Generally, the summer semester is shorter. It gives you time for a much-needed break. Keep in mind that when you take classes in a shorter semester, the classes are usually longer in length or meet more times during the week. When classes meet more times per week students find it more difficult to take additional classes.

Shorter College Semesters

The length of a college semester is also determined by how many semesters the college has in its academic calendar. Some colleges might have two summer semesters that are very short in length, usually six weeks each. These are provided for the same reasons as the longer summer semester; they give the students more opportunities to get in the classes they need. Some schools might offer mid-semester courses. These courses will start at the same time but end halfway through the semester, or they might start halfway through the semester and end at the same time traditional courses end.

Once you know how long the semesters are at your college of choice, you can plan your classes wisely. By knowing how long and how many semesters your school has in its academic year, you can make the most of your time.

Some colleges still have final exams for the small semester in January after Christmas/ New Years, Hanukkah/ Kwanza break because the fall term starts  after labor day. Princeton is one university that still has that kind of semester academic  semester calendar. 

The concept of an intersession.  when  a 16 week a course is stuffed into  a three week long session between the and spring and  summer terms was  a strange new concept when I started graduate school in January 1981.  The university of Oklahoma and the University of New Orleans have intersessions. Tulane University  does not. Not all colleges and universities have a week long spring break. , Because of Mardi gras and Tulane does not have class on Monday  Tuesday ar Wednesday. Whether Tulane gets ny time off at Easter or not seemed to spradic When i was tulane student.. If the University of Oklahoma wins the Texas - OU football game, usually there is no class  the following Monday. . Norman and the entire state of oklahoma  goes almost as crazy about the OU  - Texas football game as New Orleans does  about Mardi Gras.  IF you can stay off of I-35, Please do so, because that can be a more than 100 mile long traffic jam for DAYS. At least the  U.S. 77  highway bridge   between Lexington and Purcell is open this year, but there is construction  all along  OK Hwy  9 from Norman to south of Slaughterville.  There have already been some fatalities.

Typical college semesters last a total of 15 or 16 weeks, though there are a variety of accelerated courses and semesters that are faster. Each class that you take is measured in terms of “credit hours”, which approximately translate to the amount of time you spend in that class each week. In a typically scheduled course, you will meet for one hour a week per credit hour. In an accelerated program that takes eight weeks to complete, you will meet for approximately two hours a week. The majority of typically scheduled undergraduate classes total three credit hours. These meet for three hours a week and earning a passing grade award you three credits towards the completion of your degree. For undergraduate students, bachelor degrees usually require the completion of 120 credits, and associate degrees usually require the completion of 60 credits. For graduate students, master degrees usually require the completion of 36 to 54 credits, while doctoral degrees usually require the completion of 90 to 120 credits and a dissertation. Students are usually required to take a minimum of 12 credits to be classified as a full-time student, and a maximum of 18-credits. Students are usually expected to take an average of 15 credit hours per semester, which meet for 16 weeks, which comes out to 240 hours spent in the classroom in an average semester. There are a variety of accelerated degree programs that let students take a double course load, which allows them to graduate in half of the usual time frame.

If you are worried about the time commitment that a college degree requires, you might consider earning an online degree, which gives students a large amount of schedule flexibility. Some aspects of a physical classroom experience cannot be replicated digitally, depending on the academic subject. For example, science majors studying online will not be able to do the same kind of lab work as students at a brick and mortar school. Online programs are designed to allow students to juggle other life responsibilities, like work and family, while earning credits towards a college degree.  The schedule flexibility of an online course requires students to be self-motivated as they will complete classwork on their own time. Accelerated degree programs require students to have great time management skills, as the condensed credit schedule will be extra demanding during the semester.

In terms of class days, an entire school year is usually 150 class days (but may be as many as 180 days). A semester (half the year) is about 75 class days. At 5 days per week that is about 15 weeks of school per semester. There is usually one long (1–2 wk) or two short (long weekend) breaks during the semester, plus a long break between semesters. You would take 4 - 6 courses per semester (30 credits).

Sometimes there are shorter “intercession” terms (e.g. during the long winter and summer breaks between semesters). These might be 4 weeks long (e.g. during winter break), during which you’d take one or two courses. Some colleges offer one or two of these short terms over 8 summer weeks. These short terms may be optional or required (e.g. colleges that have a “J term” in January or June). If they are optional then you pay extra tuition to attend; if required they are included in your regular tuition.

Other colleges offer one longer optional summer term. Some colleges even offer 2 week optional courses during the spring break.

Some schools break the year into four approximately equal sections, usually 10–11 weeks each with breaks generally (excepting Monday holidays) falling only in between. Three of these that fall during the regular academic year are “trimesters” and are required (and included in tuition) while the summer term is optional and you pay extra tuition to attend.


[1] How long does a semester last?

[2] Academic Calendar

[3] College Calendar