Teaching and Learning

How does the proposed calendar affect the rhythm of the academic year, such as the start and end of the fall and spring semesters, the placement of University breaks, and the length of summer?

How would the proposed change affect the timing of midterms and end-of-term work, including the deadline for fall Junior Papers?

What would be the fall-term deadlines for written work and grading under the proposed calendar?

What would happen to the PhD general exam period in January?

How would the proposed change impact study-abroad programs or other international or experiential opportunities?

How would the proposed calendar impact the co-curricular activities that currently frame the academic year, such as orientation and reunions/commencement?

  • How does the proposed calendar affect the rhythm of the academic year, such as the start and end of the fall and spring semesters, the placement of University breaks, and the length of summer?

The revised calendar would move the start of the fall term approximately one week earlier, between September 1 and 6.  There would be at least a full 6 weeks of instruction before the fall break, 4.5 – 5.5 weeks of instruction between the fall and Thanksgiving breaks, and then 4-9 instructional days after the Thanksgiving break.  The fall term would conclude with exams in December, between December 19 and 23. 

The spring term would start and end one week earlier than the current model.

We would maintain a 1-week midterm break in the fall and the spring semesters, and a 3-week winter break that would span from late December until mid-January (in two out of seven years, this break would be approximately 19 days long).  The two weeks preceding the start of the spring term would be set aside for a 2-week “Wintersession” period for optional non-credit-bearing activities.

Summer period (defined as starting after Commencement) would start one week earlier than in the current calendar in all years.  In five years out of seven, when fall classes start after Labor Day, it would end eight days earlier. In the remaining two years, when fall classes start before Labor Day, it would end two weeks earlier. Thus the net summer duration would be one day shorter than the current calendar in five years out of seven, and one week shorter in two years out of seven. This shortfall would be offset partially by gaining two additional days in the period between the end of spring exams and Commencement. Overall, the proposed calendar largely continues to support the summer period as an essential time for research and travel for faculty, and better aligns with summer internships and other summer programs for students.

  • How would the proposed change affect the timing of midterms and end-of-term work, including the deadline for fall Junior Papers?

The revised calendar model makes no changes that would affect any faculty who wish to place midterm exams or assessment in week 6 of the term.  At the end of term, the reading period would need to be limited to 8 days in the fall but maintained at 9 days in the spring (for reasons of faculty and departmental accessibility on Dean’s Date and the day preceding it, this deadline must fall on a Tuesday-Friday).

The final exam period, which is currently 11 days long, would be shortened to 7 days in the revised model.  However, students’ exams would be optimized to avoid requiring any students to take more than one exam in the same day (students are currently permitted to reschedule any exams falling within the same 24-hour period, so this would be a minor change).  In the spring term, the first two days of the exam period would be set aside for departmental and senior comprehensive exams, bringing the total number of days in the spring exam period to 9.  No other final exams would be scheduled during these two days.

Fall junior papers would be due the first Friday of Wintersession (the Friday between January 14 and 20).  This deadline would apply to SEAS independent work as well.  Thus, the JIW deadlines for COS 397-398, ELE 397-398, etc. should continue to be aligned with the AB deadline, even though these are recorded on the transcript as courses.

  • What would be the fall-term deadlines for written work and grading under the proposed calendar?

Dates for submission of written work to instructors

Junior Independent work – The Friday in January between January 14 and 20

Written work – remains Dean’s Date, which falls on the last reading day

Take-home final exams – remains fourth day of the exam period

Final exam period – seven days in December

Dates for submission of grades to Registrar’s Office

Midterm grades – remains the Monday after midterm break

Courses with no scheduled final or take-home exams – Last day of exams

Undergrad courses with final exams and less than 20 students – 3 days after exam or the Wednesday in January between January  12  and 18, if grades would be due after December 23 using the 3-day formula

Undergrad courses with final exams and 20 or more students – 6 days after exam or the Wednesday in January between January 12 and 18, if grades would be due after December 23 using the 6-day formula

Junior Independent Work – The Friday in January between January 21 and 27

Graduate Course Grades – The Wednesday in January between January  12  and 18

  • What would happen to the PhD general exam period in January?

The January general exam period would continue. The general exam period must be at least 21 days in length, which allows for flexible scheduling.  The proposed calendar’s structure for January would mean that in most cases students would no longer still be completing coursework or AI assignments at the time they are sitting for a general exam in January.  In the last academic year, about 27% of general exams were conducted during the January exam period.

  • How would the proposed change impact study-abroad programs or other international or experiential opportunities?

Aligning our instructional term with other colleges and universities would benefit study abroad opportunities for students.  Currently, Princeton students studying abroad in the spring often complete their final papers and exams abroad, where they have already begun a new term of study with a partner institution.  (In Spring 2018, 31 of the 43 study abroad programs that Princeton students took part in started in January.) The 2-week non-credit bearing Wintersession would also provide extended time for course-related travel (such as an optional international trip that would conclude or precede a semester-long course) as well as domestic and international experiences in service, internships, and research.  Class travel during fall and spring breaks will be unaffected.

  • How would the proposed calendar impact the co-curricular activities that currently frame the academic year, such as orientation and reunions/commencement?

Orientation for first-year students, including course advising and enrollment, would be revised to align with the altered start to the fall term.  We expect that reunions and Commencement would be held one week earlier in May.  Currently these fall on Memorial Day weekend about one out of seven years.  In the revised model, reunions and Commencement would fall over Memorial Day weekend in six out of roughly every seven years.

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