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Quarter versus semester system

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This page compares the quarter and semester systems as found in US universities. These are two different systems for organizing academic terms. See also the Wikipedia page Academic term.

Criterion Quarter system Semester system
Example universities University of Chicago, Stanford, Northwestern MIT, Princeton, Harvard (note the MIT has a somewhat unusual structure because they have a separate Independent Activities Period (IAP) in January).
Number and timing of terms Three major academic terms (called quarters): Fall or Autumn (late September-December), Winter (January-March), and Spring (March-June). An additional Summer Quarter late June-August. Two major academic terms (called semesters): Fall (August-December or September-January), Spring (January or February to May). An additional summer term May-July or June-August
Duration of terms Typically, the quarter has ten weeks of academic study and one week of final exams. Summer Quarter may be somewhat shorter, at 8-10 weeks. Typically, the semester has fifteen weeks of academic study and one week of final exams. See here for more.

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