In this article, we would like to cover all the most frequently asked questions about college semesters, college semester tuitions, gap semesters, and all sorts of things. We’ve tried to collect the most comprehensive facts to all these questions and provide as detailed answers as possible. So, let’s begin.

What Is Semester Definition?

If you’ve been curious about the semester’s meaning, here is what the Merriam-Webster dictionary gives us: “Either of the two usually 18-week periods of instruction into which an academic year is often divided.” According to another resource, a semester is “a half-year term in a school or university, especially in North America, typically lasting for 15 to 18 weeks.

Semester vs. Quarter: What Is the Difference?

What’s the difference between a semester and a quarter? It’s easy to grasp from the names: as we’ve already learned, a semester lasts for 15–18 weeks on average, while a quarter system breaks the year into four pieces, where each piece lasts for 10 weeks. So, in the quarter system, a student will take four 10-week sessions in the fall, winter, spring, and summer.

Semester vs. Trimester: What Is the Difference?

A trimester system breaks the academic year into three equal periods that last from 12 to 13 weeks in the fall, winter, and spring. The difference between a semester and a trimester is that the trimester system allows students to take more courses than the semester system does.

Is There a Semester Synonym?

What is another word for a semester? The most common semester synonyms are a term, a six-month period, eighteen weeks, and four and one-half months. Technically, a trimester and a quarter are not semester synonyms, as they last differently.

How Long Is a College Semester?

An average college semester lasts from 15 to 18 weeks, depending on the college or a university in question. Remember that some schools may use different systems (e.g., quarters or trimesters), and it makes sense to learn about its peculiarities before application.

How Many Days Are in a Semester?

A college semester lasts, on average, 15 weeks or 75 days.

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How Many Weeks Are in a Semester?

A typical college semester lasts 15–18 weeks, depending on the school. There are generally two semesters per academic year: the fall semester and the spring semester.

How Many Months Are in a Semester?

A college semester lasts about four months. In case a school uses a trimester system, a typical trimester is three months, and a typical quarter is about two and a half months each. Some schools can offer accelerated courses that usually last two months or less.

How Many Semesters Are in a Year?

A school year generally consists of two semesters: fall (beginning in August or September) and spring (beginning in January). Some colleges may offer summer sessions; they usually last shorter (about two months) and are not included in a regular academic curriculum.

How Many Semesters Are in College?

Depending on whether you go to a 2-year college or a 4-year college, you will have either 4 or 8 semesters in total during your entire period of studying.

When Does Fall Semester Start?

The fall semester typically starts in late August or early September and lasts through December. Early to mid-December is also the time when a week for final exams is scheduled.

When Does Fall Semester End?

The fall semester lasts through December and ends with the final exams week, which may take place any time in early to mid-December, depending on the school.

When Does Spring Semester Start?

The spring semester generally starts in mid-to-late January. Depending on the school, it may either enroll students for the spring semester or not, so check your college calendar for more information about spring semester dates and enrollment schedule.

When Does Spring Semester End?

The spring semester generally ends in early May.

When Does Summer Semester Start?

In most colleges, summer semesters typically start in May or June, depending on when the spring term ends.

When Does Summer Semester End?

The summer semester usually ends around July or August, depending on when it started—in May or June. Not all universities have summer programs.

What Semester Is It Now?

When this blog post is being written, the fall semester in U.S. colleges and universities is going to an end.

How Many Classes per Semester Are in College?

A typical college curriculum includes three types of classes: the Core Curriculum, Free Electives, and the Area of Study (major courses). The number of classes a student has to take in college depends on the major and the school—and the number of credits each course requires. There are courses that require 1 credit, but most courses require 3–4 credits to be completed. So, for the student to earn 3 credits on one subject in the semester, 3 classes and 6 hours of homework time per week are required. Here’s more information on how to calculate the number of classes per semester.

How Many Credits Students Have to Make per Semester in College?

Most subjects require 3–4 credits on average. To get a Bachelor’s degree, a student needs to complete about 120 credits during 4 years, which is 30 credits per year or 15 credits per semester. With 3 credits being an average requirement for most subjects, students will be taking 5 courses every semester. Read more about college credits and how they are calculated in our blog post.

What Is a Semester Unit?

There is a difference between the terms “unit” and “credit,” though they are often used interchangeably. As we’ve already mentioned, credits are the number of hours needed to complete a college degree—associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree. With 5 courses and 15 credits per semester, one course typically requires 3 credits. Units, or continuing education units (CEUs), are given to those who participate in a continuing education program. They are applied toward professional certifications (e.g., noncredit courses and contract training). One CEU requires 10 hours of contact study under a qualified instructor.

Calculating Semester Grades

Calculating semester grades manually is relatively easy. Here is the formula for the percentage:

Semester Grade = g1st×w1st + g2nd×w2nd + gfinal×wfinal

g1st: grade of the first quarter

w1st: weigtht of the first quarter grade

g2nd: grade of the second quarter

w2nd: weigtht of the second quarter grade

gfinal: grade of the final exam

wfinal: weight of the final exam grade

Here is an example:

Grade of Weight of
80% 30%
85% 30%
90% 40%

Semester Grade = 80×30% + 85×30% + 90×40% = 85.5%

You can also calculate your semester grade in letters. Check this semester grade calculation page for more information and a detailed explanation.

What Is a Semester Grade Calculator?

Alternatively, if you don’t want to make all these calculations yourself; instead, use any calculator you find online—this semester grade calculator or the calculator from 10converters.

A semester grade calculator helps you determine your semester grades based on the quarterly grades and final grade weighting percentages. Just put in the data and click on “calculate.”

What Is a Semester GPA Calculator?

A semester GPA calculator is a tool that helps determine a student’s GPA during a semester. It is calculated by multiplying the number of credit hours assigned to a course by the value of the grade earned that semester. Here is how to check the value of grades earned for your courses this semester:

Grade🥇 Points per Credit Hour💯 Grade🥇 Points per Credit Hour💯
A 4.000 D 1.000
A- 3.700 D- 0.700
B+ 3.300 F 0.000
B 3.000 CR* 0.000
B- 2.700 NC* 0.000
C+ 2.300 W* 0.000
C 2.000 WP* 0.000
C- 1.700 WF* 0.000
D+ 1.300 I* 0.000

* Don’t affect your GPA

Also, check once again the exact number of credits required for each course. Finally, you can use this semester GPA calculator or calculate your semester GPA manually.

In our blog post, you can read more about GPA in college and how to calculate it.

What Is Average College Tuition per Semester?

The cost of tuition per semester depends on the state, school (public or private), and degree. According to Education Data Initiative, the average cost of tuition at any 4-year institution is $19,020. As a school year consists of 2 semesters, we can divide this number in half. Therefore, we get $9,510 respectively per semester. You can read the most comprehensive post about average school tuition on the Education Data Initiative website, and you can also read about how much a Ph.D. and other degrees cost in the U.S. on BookScouter.

What Is Average Tuition per Year or Semester?

According to Education Data Initiative,

  • The average in-state tuition at a public 4-year institution is $9,377 per year and $4,688 per semester, respectively.
  • The average out-of-state tuition at a public 4-year institution is $27,091 per year and $13,545 per semester, respectively.
  • The average tuition at a private 4-year non-profit institution is $37,641 per year and $18,820 per semester, respectively.
  • The average tuition at a private 4-year for-profit institution is $18,244 per year and $9,122 per semester, respectively.
  • The average tuition at any 2-year institution is $4,289 per year and $2,144 per semester, respectively.

How Much Is a Semester at Harvard?

Harvard is considered one of the “reach schools” with exceptional selectivity and low acceptance rates. In 2022, Harvard’s acceptance rate was 3.19%. At the same time, it’s one of the most expensive schools to go to. Depending on the major, tuition costs differ; however, here is an example: Harvard college tuition and fees for 2022–2023. The estimated cost of tuition is $52,659 per year (and $26,329 per semester, respectively):

What Is Community College Semester Cost?

According to the Education Data Initiative, “The average cost of community college attendance is $7,460 total or $1,865 per semester.” The tuition alone in a community college can range from $3,400 to $25,000 per year on average, depending on the institution, which is from $1,700 to $12,500 per semester.

Can You Take a Semester off from College?

Yes, it’s possible, and most universities allow their students to take a semester off from college. There are several reasons why students may need a semester off from college (e.g., personal or financial ones), or they want to use this time to gain professional experience. To understand how things work and the process of taking the semester off, make inquiries in your school administration office.

Can You Spend a Semester Abroad?

College students can study abroad, but the terms of such studies depend on the school’s policies. There are no common guidelines for all colleges and universities when it comes to students studying abroad. Some institutions offer programs to go abroad to gain credits and valuable experiences; others have different options, from short-term to traditional study abroad experiences for all students. Some colleges restrict first-year students from studying abroad. Therefore, you should contact your college’s study abroad office for more information.

What Is a Gap Semester?

A gap semester is pretty much the same as a gap year but shorter: 3–4 months that coincide with an academic term. According to Gap Year Association, it’s “A semester or year of experiential learning, typically taken after high school and prior to career or post-secondary education, in order to deepen one’s practical, professional, and personal awareness.” However, it’s not only high school graduates that can take a gap year; undergraduates during college and graduates after college can take advantage of a gap semester.

What Are the Benefits of Taking a Semester off College?

Why is it that you may need to take a gap semester instead of a gap year? Taking a full year off your studies may be excessively costly, so instead, a semester will give you plenty of time to go on an extended, immersive trip and even take a part-time job and get all sorts of experience.

Can You Transfer Colleges Mid-Semester?

Yes, it’s possible to transfer colleges mid-semester; however, it’s pretty complicated and not exactly recommended unless you really have to. Transferring in elementary and secondary schools was easy, as the educational process and the programs were the same. That’s why you could change schools in the middle of a term without losing anything; college transfers can’t be so smooth. Different colleges and universities have different classes and programs taught at different times (even if you transfer to a seemingly identical program and major). The process of a midsemester transfer is stressful enough; besides, you’ll lose the credit hours earned. Also, remember that many schools allow transfers only in the fall semester, so you’ll have to wait for almost half a year if you decide to transfer mid-spring. One more drawback is that you’ll have to pay the tuition twice: both at your existing school and a transfer school.

The Bottom Line

At BookScouter, we provide the best bookselling opportunities and advice. We also want to help students handle their studies in the most effective way possible. We hope this article about college semesters and all the semester-related questions will be helpful to you. We also recommend checking our career planning posts and posts with numerous study tips. Good luck with your studies!