Academic calendar change to increase student flexibility

Thursday, July 17, 2014 6:25:00 PM

The Office of Enrollment Services is leading an effort to transition the University to a new academic calendar that will offer consistent course lengths for greater student convenience and scheduling flexibility.

The current non-term based academic calendar allows for a wide variety of class lengths and start dates that, in the past, has been used to accommodate the cohort structure of many of Stritch’s academic programs, which allows student to progress through the courses of a program together.

However, recent analyses connected with Visioning and Planning have revealed that a non-term structure has become increasing rare at colleges and universities because of its complexity and difficulty to administer. For example, students who elect to take a break from their studies and step out of their cohort for a period of time can have difficulty easily returning to their studies, as cohorts can start at any time and run on their own unique schedules.

Moving forward, the University will utilize two adjoining academic calendars.

  • A non-standard academic calendar – This replaces the non-term calendar, and is based on the structure of four terms of 12 weeks each. This calendar will accommodate the evening programs in the College of Business and Management and many of the cohort programs in the College of Education and Leadership and College of Nursing.  The non-standard schedule will offer courses that are consistently either six or 12 weeks in length. This allows students more flexibility to leave and reenter a cohort, to pick up a class in another cohort, or to take two courses at once. It also reduces the complexity of courses starting and ending every week, which was the norm under the old non-term model. The new “6-12” format also allows financial aid awards to be distributed more easily. 
  • A standard academic calendar, based on the traditional model of fall, spring, and summer course offerings. All daytime programs and several cohort programs fall into this category.

“Where the old system was extremely difficult to manage and administer, the new calendar is more standardized and yet remains flexible for students,” said Stacy Becker, senior director of enrollment systems/registrar. “It also allows for some common breaks or time off. Many of our graduate programs will be moving to the non-standard calendar.”

To facilitate the change to two adjoining calendars, the lengths of some classes will be altered.

The official rollout of this new academic calendar structure will occur mid-October, although there will be no immediate changes to the student academic experience. To avoid disruption, students presently enrolled in non-term based programs will be allowed to complete their studies in that format.

“We will be having a long teach out process before the new structure is fully implemented,” Becker said. “We will continue to operate non-term schedules for a while longer.”

Despite these changes, Stritch will continue to offer a single commencement ceremony (In May for Wisconsin graduates and in June for Minnesota graduates) and will officially confer degrees three times a year:  May, August, and December.