Graduates throwing Graduation hats in the air

How Long is a College Semester?

Here's what we'll cover

A college semester typically lasts for 15 weeks. However, that duration depends on the college. Colleges usually divide their academic calendars into three semesters, each lasting for 15 weeks. We have the spring and fall semesters, both 15 weeks long, and a summer semester, which is usually shorter than the spring and fall semesters.

A typical college year doesn’t starts in January to September. The academic year then ends the following year in August. It is the spring semester that begins in January, while the fall semester starts in September. Summer semesters fall between May and August.

The Number Of Weeks In A Semester

Most universities and colleges in the U.S.A have semesters that last r between 14 to 16 weeks. However, with the advent of online education, a semester can be shorter 14-16 weeks.

Summer semesters can be 6, 8, or 9 weeks long, and in many cases, holidays get included in the academic calendar.

Sometimes a college calendar can get disrupted due to bad roads or bad weather. Unfortunately, the disrupted classes never get compensated except for the end of the semester. Classes can only be fixed in extreme cases when an entire semester is affected. In such cases, the students can get transferred to other colleges/campuses to continue with their studies.

In the U.S.A the semester lengths vary from college to college. So when planning to join any college, find out how long their semester is to help you prepare for your program. This will, in turn, determine how long you’ll take before you complete a program.

Colleges offer different classes every semester. This means if you miss a particular course in the current semester, you’ll not be able to take it until the following academic year unless you can be available to take them during the short (summer) semesters.

Usually, a college will post all the classes that will be available in a semester, and which semester these classes will be availed to help students plan well. You should get this information in advance so you can plan for a whole academic year.

The weeks in a semester are further broken down into semester hours, which again translates to credit hours.

What are semester-hours and credit-hours?

In the U.S. these two terms mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably. A credit-hour is the number of credits you’ll earn for completing a contact hour and two hours of preparation in a week. A contact-hour is that time that you have a contact with your professor in class and the lab. In normal circumstances, a contact hour is equivalent to 50 minutes of ordinary time.

Spring And Fall – The Usual College Semesters

As stated earlier, an academic year in the U.S.A can be divided into three semesters of 15 weeks long. The summer semester also called the third semester, is about 12 weeks long. The length of semesters varies from college to college, but they can’t vary beyond three weeks.

Summer (Third) College Semester: A Time to Catch Up or Advance

The third semester provides you with an opportunity to accelerate or supplement your program. This semester is crucial to catch up if you couldn’t manage to take up all the classes during the two long semesters.

You can also use this semester to accelerate your program. That is, if you don’t want to take long in your program, you can use this semester to get ahead of the others.

Given that it is shorter, it will also give you a break that you deserve after working so hard in your program.

It is worth noting that if you take classes during the summer semester, you’ll have longer contact hours, or you may have to meet your professor several times a week. When you have to meet several hours a week, you may not have enough time to take additional lessons/classes.

The Two Shorter Semesters

It is worth noting that, in some colleges, the summer semesters are two in number, and they are very short – taking only six weeks per semester. These two semesters serve the same purpose as the long summer semesters – to help students catch up or to accelerate their programs.

In a bid to help students more, some colleges even have mid-semester courses. The mid-semester courses may start with the ordinary courses, run concurrently with the other classes, but end in the middle of the semester. Some can also begin in the middle of the semester and end when other regular courses end.

Having all this information beforehand will help you know which and how many classes you can take in a semester so you can make the most of your time.

Whatever the normal or accelerated course you take, each class you attend will be measured in credit hours. Typically, a scheduled course will require you to meet your professor for an hour a week for every credit hour. If you undertake an accelerated program, you have to complete it within eight weeks, which will require you to meet for about two hours every week.

What Are The Class Days?

A semester can also be split into class days. Usually, one academic year has about 150 class days (some can have up to 180 class days), while a semester has 75 class days. A week has 5 class days.

Usually, there’s one long and two short breaks within a semester, in addition to the long breaks between semesters. This means you’ll take four to six courses every semester, which translates to 30 credits.


As you can see, the question “How Long is a College Semester?” has no specific answer. That’s because we don’t a fixed number of days of weeks in a semester. As a student, find out how long a semester lasts in your college. If you are taking an online course, the length of your semester can be so different from the ordinary semesters.

How long is a college semester in months?

A typical college semester has three months, However, this can vary from state to state. Normally, the spring and the fall semesters  have 15 weeks while summer is usually shorter with about 12 weeks

How many semesters are in the college year?

A college year has two semesters where the student attends classes for 15 weeks. Then the student proceeds to a winter break between September and December. Then classes resume in spring.

How long are 4 semesters in college?

A typical bachelor’s student takes 3 academic years while a master’s degree take about 4 years.

How much does a 3 credit class cost?

Each class has a specific number of credit hours. That is generally 3 hours for the 15 weeks. Each hour costs $200

Scroll to Top