List of Colleges on the Quarter System

Do you know how to improve your profile for college applications?

See how your profile ranks among thousands of other students using CollegeVine. Calculate your chances at your dream schools and learn what areas you need to improve right now — it only takes 3 minutes and it's 100% free.

Show me what areas I need to improve

What’s Covered:

 

Most colleges and universities in the United States use the semester system, in which the academic year is divided into Fall and Spring halves (semesters). Others, however, use alternative calendars, such as the quarter system. This can be advantageous, but it also has some drawbacks for students.

 

What does the quarter system entail? Is it the right fit for you? Keep reading to find out.

 

What is the Quarter System?

 

In the semester system, the academic calendar typically looks like this:

 

Fall Semester: September–late December

Winter Break: late December–late January

Spring Semester: late January–late May

Summer Break: late May–September

 

Usually, semesters last around 15 weeks each (commonly reduced this academic year due to COVID-19).

 

Under the quarter system, the academic year is divided into four terms: Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer. Each term lasts around 10 weeks, and one is optional (usually Summer, although some institutions, like Dartmouth, allow students to choose their quarters). In this system, Fall quarter typically follows this calendar:

 

Fall quarter: late September–December

Winter quarter: early January–late March/early April

Spring quarter: early-mid April–early June

Summer quarter: late June/early July–late August

 

Pros and Cons of the Quarter System

 

Pros

 

There are more opportunities to explore different topics and courses.

 

In the quarter system, students are able to take more classes, each one lasting a shorter period of time than under the semester system. This means students can pursue more electives and explore subjects they might not otherwise. If you don’t like a particular course, it’s not as much of a commitment as a semester-long course would be.

 

Students get exposure to more faculty.

 

More courses also mean that you’ll meet more faculty. Developing relationships with faculty is important for your education, especially if you’re planning to apply to grad school and will need recommendations.

 

It’s easier to change majors.

 

Because courses don’t last as long as they do under the semester system, you won’t have invested too much in a major if you decide to change disciplines, and it will be easier to catch up and rack up the credits you need.

 

Students have breaks more frequently.

 

Instead of two long breaks, students have shorter, more frequent breaks between quarters. This can be beneficial for their well-being and will help them recharge, while still keeping them in the academic mindset. 

 

You’ll be able to recover from GPA setbacks more quickly.

 

More courses means more opportunities to recover from damage to your GPA. Each course will have less of an impact on your overall GPA, and you’ll have an easier time boosting your average if you don’t do well in any one course.

Discover your chances at hundreds of schools

Our free chancing engine takes into account your history, background, test scores, and extracurricular activities to show you your real chances of admission—and how to improve them.

Cons

 

Graduates enter the job market later than their peers

 

Because most institutions are on the semester system, with an academic calendar that ends earlier than schools on the quarter system, graduates of quarter-system schools are often entering the job market later than their peers and have a disadvantage when looking for jobs right out of college.

 

Courses can feel rushed

 

Because terms last around 10 weeks each, some instructors may try to pack more material into their courses, which can be challenging for students. The courses can feel rushed and not as in-depth as semester-long courses.

 

Transfers face logistical issues

 

Most schools, including many two-year colleges, are on a semester system, which can make transferring logistically difficult. The schedules often don’t align, so transfers may have to wait and lose time. Plus, courses are worth different amounts of credits, which may cause students to lose credits when they transfer (many quarter-system schools say to multiple credits by 1.5, but this formula is not standardized).

 

Course materials often don’t complement quarter-long courses

 

Textbooks and other course materials, particularly those intended for introductory courses, are geared toward semester-length courses, so they often don’t align to quarter-length courses. Again, instructors may try to pack more content into a shorter course or not cover certain content that is usually covered in a semester counterpart.

 

Students have less time to adjust to the rigors of a course or college in general.

 

Many students have trouble adjusting to more challenging courses and material but settle in after a period of time. This can be more difficult for students who attend colleges on a quarter system, who don’t have as much time to get used to a rigorous curriculum before the quarter ends or make up for poor grades.

 

Colleges on the Quarter System

 

Institution

Location

California Institute of Technology

Pasadena, CA

California Polytechnic State University

San Luis Obispo, CA

Capella University

Minneapolis, MN

Central Washington University

Ellensburg, WA

Dartmouth College

Hanover, NH

DePaul University

Chicago, IL

Drexel University

Philadelphia, PA

Eastern Oregon University

La Grande, OR

Eastern Washington University

Cheney, WA

Loma Linda University

Loma Linda, CA

Louisiana Tech University

Ruston, LA

Milwaukee School of Engineering

Milwaukee, WI

Northwestern University

Evanston, IL

Oregon Institute of Technology

Klamath Falls, OR

Oregon State University

Corvallis, OR

Pacific Union College

Angwin, CA

Portland State University

Portland, OR

Rose–Hulman Institute of Technology

Terre Haute, IN

Santa Clara University

Santa Clara, CA

Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah, GA

Seattle Pacific University

Seattle, WA

Seattle University

Seattle, WA

Southern Oregon University

Ashland, OR

Stanford University

Stanford, CA

The Evergreen State College

Olympia, WA

University of California, Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA

University of California, Davis

Davis, CA

University of California, Irvine

Irvine, CA

University of California, Riverside

Riverside, CA

University of California, San Diego

La Jolla, CA

University of California, Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, CA

University of California, Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, CA

University of Chicago

Chicago, IL

University of Denver

Denver, CO

University of Oregon

Eugene, OR

University of Washington, Seattle

Seattle, WA

University of Washington, Tacoma

Tacoma, WA

Walla Walla University

College Place, WA

Western Oregon University

Monmouth, OR

Western Washington University

Bellingham, WA

 

Is a Quarter System School Right for You?

 

Ultimately, the best academic calendar for you depends on your learning style, ability to grasp content quickly, and desire to explore different topics. You should also consider other factors when assessing fit, such as the school’s location, the disciplines and courses available, extracurricular opportunities, and more.

 

CollegeVine’s chancing engine and school search tool can help you find the right fit for you. These free tools will predict your odds of getting into more than 500 colleges across the United States, and show you schools that match your preferences and criteria. 

 

It can be overwhelming to figure out which school is best for you, but our free platform streamlines the process. We highly recommend checking it out!

 

Want more tips on improving your academic profile?

We'll send valuable information to help you strengthen your profile and get ready for college admissions.


Laura Berlinsky-Schine
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.