Difference Between Quarter and Semester

Quarter vs Semester

We all know what a quarter is, but what is semester? In the academic calendar terms, a quarter system indicates 4 small but equal sessions, while a semester is like having two halves of the academic session. There are some more differences, besides just making more slices in a calendar year in an educational institute, which will be discussed in this article.

A vast majority of schools and colleges in the western world operate on a semester system, and a student gets fixed grades at the end of a semester before Christmas and then again fixed grades at the end of the second semester at the end of the session. In between, it is possible to switch some classes between the two semesters. However, some institutions prefer a much faster paced quarter system. Let us find out a bit more in detail about the two academic calendars.

One semester keeps you in school for about 16 weeks that include 15 weeks of hard studies plus a week for exams. This means that an academic year requires 32 weeks of school. Colleges that operate on a semester system, start early (around August) and end early too with one long break in between, around Christmas. The duration of a semester is such that a student can work at his own pace and complete the class work. However, this also works to your disadvantage if you do not like a particular class in a semester.

When there are 4 quarters in an academic year in a college called fall, winter, spring, and summer, students need only three of them to complete their course; so it is a trimester and not a quarter system unless a student decides to make use of the summers, as well. The duration of a quarter is 10 weeks and then there is a week of exams. This means that a student is kept at the school for 33 weeks (3X10 + 3 = 33). This belies the claim that quarter system is longer for the students as there is a difference of merely a single week. Classes are held on just two days of the week, which means that, in a quarter system, a student attends classes just 20 times. What it obviously means is that the pace in a quarter is much more hectic, and a student cannot afford to miss a single class. Thus, many feel that quarter system is much more challenging and unforgiving to students.

What is the difference between Quarter and Semester?

• A semester and a quarter system just divide the course into 4 and 2 parts while the curriculum remains the same.

• In a quarter system, 4th quarter is rarely used; in fact, only 3 quarters are used, with a big break for summers.

• In a semester system, the break comes around Christmas.

• The duration of the two systems is more or less same for students (32 weeks in a semester system and 33 weeks in a quarter system).

• Quarter system is considered faster paced; therefore, more challenging and unforgiving for students. Students cannot afford to miss classes as they will lag far behind.