How long is a college semester? Learn about the different semester lengths, including your options for taking accelerated classes.
Typical college semesters last 15 or 16 weeks, though there are accelerated courses and semesters that are shorter.
Each class is measured in “credit hours,” which roughly translate to the amount of time you spend in that class each week.
In a typical scheduled course, you will meet for one hour per credit hour once a week. You will meet for approximately two hours per week in an accelerated program that lasts eight weeks.
The majority of regularly scheduled undergraduate classes are three credit hours in length. These meet for three hours per week, and a passing grade earns you three credits toward your degree.
How Long is a Semester in Community College?
Almost all community colleges are on the typical semester schedule, which means each fall and spring semester is a little less than four months long.
Summer semesters at most community colleges are optional, but if you choose to take them, you’ll usually be going about three months.
How Many Semesters in a Two-Year College?
What people refer to as “two-year colleges” are really just community colleges.
Because the vast majority of community colleges are on the traditional semester schedule, there are three available semesters at two-year colleges.
If you take classes in both the fall and spring semesters, then you’re considered to have taken a full year of college at a two-year school. You may decide to take summer classes, as well, but they aren’t required.
There may be some benefits to taking optional summer classes though. These include:
- The Potential to Graduate Sooner
- Smaller Classes
- Greater Availability of Popular Classes
- Easier to Find Used Textbooks
- The Ability to Take a Harder Class by Itself
If you’re a full-time student at a two-year school, you may earn your associate’s degree in two years.
How Long is a Semester in University?
The length of a term at a four-year university is entirely determined by whether or not the university operates on a semester schedule.
If this is the case, then semesters at a university are the same length as those at community colleges.
However, if your university follows a trimester or quarterly system, the term lengths will be the same as those mentioned above for trimester and quarterly systems.
The same holds true if you are enrolled in accelerated courses at a university. Many universities around the world use semesters, but some do not.
Trimesters, rather than semesters, are used by Florida Gulf Coast University, the Universities of Toronto and Winnipeg, and Leeds College of Music.
Colleges on the quarterly system include Stanford, Dartmouth, and Northwestern.
The length of a college semester is unaffected by the various college degree levels. For example, if you attend a four-year university full-time, you could complete your bachelor’s degree in four years.