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Ready, Set, Semesters! UC Is on the Semester Calendar as of Aug. 27, 2012

For the first time in nearly 50 years, UC is following a semester-based calendar vs. a quarter-based calendar. The switch to semesters takes place with the start of the new fall term on Aug. 27, 2012.

Date: 8/21/2012 12:00:00 AM
By: M.B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Lisa Britton

UC ingot   The University of Cincinnati makes history when it starts classes on Aug. 27, 2012.

That’s because the university will be on the semester calendar at the start of classes, and that hasn’t happened since the 1963-64 school year. It was in then that UC switched from semesters to quarters at the request of the State of Ohio. And now, in 2012, UC and all other Ohio public colleges and universities still on quarters have been asked by the state to move to semesters.

UC will now divide the academic year into fall, spring and summers terms vs. four quarters. So, fall semester starts at the end of August, whereas fall quarter typically started closer to the end of September. And next spring’s graduation will come at the very end of April, instead of mid-June.
Bearcat at the Conversion Cookout

UC began preparing for the transition back in 2008, and preparations included three major phases:
  • Curricular revisions: Every course – about 9,000 in all – that would transition to the semester system had to be revised to cohesively fit into a semester calendar, with each course integrating with others across disciplines, majors, departments and colleges. UC added a twist by also taking this opportunity to streamline degree requirements to meet the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s workforce, industry and community needs.
  • Encoding and cataloging: Behind-the-scenes encoding and cataloging of the new curriculum so that students’ online course registration process was both enhanced and simplified. UC also added new technology to track student learning.
  • Student advising: Students making the transition – including about 20,000 undergraduates in degree-granting programs – have individual transition plans/degree audits and the offer of academic counseling to map out degree completion during and after the switch to semesters. The goal has been to keep students on track to graduate on time.
Of the challenges involved, conversion co-chair Kristi Nelson, UC senior vice provost, said, “With the course revisions alone, you can liken it to putting together an incredibly complex, three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. Each one of tens of thousands of pieces had to fit with other pieces due to the nature of prerequisites and requirements of accrediting bodies.”

When it comes to semesters, the benefits to students include job-hunting advantages as well as experiential-learning benefits, like those associated with cooperative education  and study abroad since, for example, almost all study abroad options with partner institutions are based on the semester calendar.

Conversion will provide graduating students a “first-mover” advantage when entering the job market. Most large employers schedule recruitment of new hires according to the semester calendar. Until now, UC grads entered the post-graduation job market much later than regional peers because of the university’s late graduation date.

And employers involved in UC’s cooperative education program often prefer the semester system (already in place at most other co-op schools) because it allows for a longer work cycle, enabling employers to benefit by entrusting students with projects of greater longevity and responsibility. In addition, employers will often team co-op students from differing schools on important projects. When these students are on incompatible academic calendars, co-op students from quarter-based schools “arrive late” and “leave early” and thus, miss out on work-based opportunities.

History of UC’s Academic Calendar
  • UC first made the decision to go to semesters in 1892 and stayed on semesters about 70 years.
  • In the 1963-64 school year, UC switched to quarters at the request of the State of Ohio.
  • Now, in 2012, almost 50 years after that 1963-64 switch, UC is going back to semesters, again at the request of the state. The switch will take place on Aug. 27, 2012.

  • See a List of Ohio institutions switching to semesters.
  • See a List of new academic offerings for Fall 2012.