What is a term or academic term?

The main timeframes of the academic year. In the US, the academic year begins in the fall (August) and ends in late spring (May or June), although some colleges offer classes throughout the year.

For many colleges, the academic year is divided into terms; there are some colleges that offer clock-hour programs instead of terms, in which case classes are measured by hours of teaching or supervised learning.

The most common terms are semesters and quarters.

  • Semesters divide the academic year into two pieces, a fall (or autumn) semester and a spring semester. Semesters are about 15 weeks long. The fall semester usually runs August to December, and the spring semester January to May.
  • Quarters divided the academic year into three pieces, a fall (or autumn) quarter, a winter quarter and a spring quarter. Quarters are about 10 weeks long. The fall quarter typically runs September to December, the winter quarter January to March, and the spring quarter March/April to June.

Both semester and quarter colleges can have summer classes as well. These may run all summer, or the summer may be divided into shorter, more intensive classes. Semester colleges sometimes offer intensive, shorter sessions between fall and spring, as well.