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The academic year at U.S. universities
The academic year at U.S. universities
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The academic year at U.S. universities

In American universities the academic year may consist of semesters, trimesters, quarters, or 4-1-4 blocks of the month. Summer classes are available in all universities, but in most cases they are not required.

Know what the academic calendar of a University, it is important to:

  • to plan workload and personal time;
  • to make a good schedule plan — students do it independently;
  • to calculate the cost of training.

Semesters in US universities

Academic year consisting of semesters, includes two main periods — fall and spring, each at 14 – 20 weeks of training, and an additional summer block duration 1-12 weeks.

Classes in the first semester usually begins in August and lasts until the end of December, including exams. The second semester runs from January/February to may-June.

Winter vacation lasts 2-3 weeks, summer 10-12 weeks.

Usually during the semester students study 3-5 subjects in accordance with their schedule. However, in some universities the subjects are not simultaneously and consistently: students concentrate on one subject for three and a half weeks, and then move on to the next.

"Summer semester" includes intensive modules with a load of 2-3 times above normal, which also awarded loans. Typically, summer learning, those who need to pass extra modules to catch up with the missing or correct unsatisfactory.

Also during the summer semester can obtain a certificate, complementary basic education. For example, additional modules on pedagogy, psychology, etc. may be required to anyone who plans to work as a school teacher in the United States.

Examples of universities: American University, University of southern California, Washington University in St. Louis.

Trimesters and quarters in U.S. universities

The academic year consists of trimesters or quarters - three terms/quarter academic year, as a rule, includes three major periods, autumn, winter and spring, every 10-12 weeks of training and additional years of unit from 1 to 11 weeks.

The concept of “semester” and “quarter” in American education are very close. The small difference between them may lie in that quarter will be 1-2 weeks shorter semesters. As a rule, the universities that indicate that their academic calendar is divided into quarters that include summer classes. The same universities that divide the academic year into trimesters, so-called “summer term” is considered as a supplementary training period. At the same time employment in the summer is not mandatory nor is any other case.

In some universities, trimesters, students who are engaged in summer can shorten the duration of the study - for example, to obtain a bachelor's degree in three years instead of four.

Examples of universities: State University of Oregon, Princeton University, Caltech, the University of Chicago.

4-1-4 academic year in U.S. universities

Sometimes you can find an academic year, divided into three unequal trimester, two of which last for 4 months and one trimester-month.

Short term can stand between two large - typically it's a month of classes in January. In this case the scheme looks like a 4-1-4 academic, and short term called J-term (January term). This academic calendar is adopted, for example, at MIT.

Also short term may be at the end of the year, in may. Then the scheme of the school year looks like a 4-4-1, and short term called the “Maysemester”.

During the short trimester, students often receive training on exchange or internship. Also the universities working in trimesters, often provide the opportunity to obtain various combined degree, dual major, dual degree, joint degree. Read more about this in the article "Programme of US universities for the most motivated".

Examples of universities: MIT (4-1-4), University of South Alabama (4-4-1).

How to consider the academic calendar when calculating the cost of training

US universities often indicate the cost of training, not per semester or year as a whole, and for unit academic load and credit hours. It gives students greater freedom of choice and allows itself to regulate the number of disciplines. The University specifies the minimum and maximum academic load and the student decides how many classes to take him. More subjects — higher tuition.

And here there is a nuance associated with the semesters and trimesters. The number of credit hours required for the degree, will be somewhat less if the institution operates on a semester system and more — if timestravel.

For example, a bachelor degree in semester system, you must gain 120 credit hours, with trimestrial about 180. Read more about this in the article "How many credit hours you need to gain the student of an American University".

Often prospective students is difficult to understand how to count the cost of education at the University of the United States — even to find this information on the website of the University can be problematic. It is actually not too difficult — once you understand. Read more about how to find out the cost of studying at us universities.

Which is better?

In the United States periodically conducted a debate on the topic, what is better — semesters or trimesters. According to The Hanover Research Council, a majority of American universities operate on the semester, the next popular scheme of 4-1-4, and least often found in the academic year of trimesters. In General we can say that the quality of education is not affected, so it provides quite different factors - the content of the programmes, methods of teaching, the infrastructure of the University, level of research, faculty and, of course, personal effort of the student.

All factors, except the last, are often the basis for the ratings of the best universities in the U.S. and the world. Read more about how rankings. View the rankings of the US universities here.