Academic term

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(Redirected from Semester)

An academic term is the time during which a school, college or university holds classes. Most such schools use either semesters or quarters.

A semester typically lasts between 15 and 18 weeks. Institutions often have two (spring and autumn) semesters in an academic year, with the possibility of a summer semester as well. A quarter (or trimester) lasts between eight and 12 weeks, and there are typically three (autumn, winter and spring) per year, again with the possibility of a summer quarter.


Academic year

A term associated with the academic term is the academic year. The Academic year is a period of time which schools, colleges and universities use to measure a quantity of study.

In Britain, an academic year usually runs from October of one year through to June or July of the following year, with the time split up into three terms. In the United States, a school's academic year may consist of a fall and spring semester. In an academic year, a student must complete a set number of semester hours. Academic years vary from school to school and even from educational program to educational program at the same institution.

Structure around the world

Australia and New Zealand

In most of Australia and New Zealand, the school year lasts from January to December, and is split into four terms. The exact dates vary from year to year, as well as between states, and for public and private school. In Tasmania, the school year is split in to three terms, the first one being the longest and including an extended Easter holiday.

Australian universities have two semesters a year, between February and November.


In Japan, almost all schools run a three-term school year. Most schools have a first term from April 1 to mid-July. An exact date of the beginning of the summer break and its duration vary across regions, but commonly the break usually lasts nearly two months. The break originated to avoid the heat in summer, so elementary and middle schools in Hokkaido tend to have a shorter summer break than the rest of Japan. A second term lasts from early September to late December with a winter break at the end of the year. The term is followed by a third term from early January to early March and a brief spring break lasting several weeks. The graduation ceremony occurs in March, and the enrollment ceremony in early April.

Some universities and colleges accepts students at September to let those students from other semester systems to enroll. Few colleges have began experimenting with having two semesters instead of traditional three with the break between two semesters in summer

United Kingdom

In the UK most schools run a three-term school year. They usually have a break half way through (half-term) and are structured as:

  • Autumn term: September to December
  • Spring term: January to March
  • Summer term: April to July

The time between the end of school and the start of the next academic year is known as the summer holiday or, as was the traditional length of the break, the six-week holiday. Some counties and schools have recently experimented with different school year arrangements with the general idea of having shorter blocks of both school and non-school time.

United States

Generally the United States runs on a two-semester arrangement, although in some states (particularly western ones) three-term trimesters are the dominant method.


Generally in Canada, high schools run on a two-semster arrangement, starting in September running until June. There are a few school boards in Canada experimenting with a year schooling.ja:学期


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