RIT is transforming the timetable by which it delivers its academic programs. Beginning in fall of 2013, the university will convert from its current quarter system to a semester-based calendar, President Bill Destler announced on Feb. 10.
The semester system that will be employed is based on a flexible 5x3 model, meaning most students will take five 3-credit courses per semester. Currently, RIT students typically take four 4-credit courses during each of the fall, winter and spring quarters.
Under this new alignment, fall semester will get underway each year in late August—allowing for an extended holiday break from late December through much of January. Spring semester will conclude in late May.
Destler cites the diminishing number of colleges and universities operating under a quarter-based academic calendar as one reason for the change. In 1988, 25 percent of higher education institutions in the United States used the quarter system. It is estimated that number will decline below 10 percent in 2012. Schools recently announcing a transition to semesters include the University of Cincinnati and Northeastern University, which, like RIT, have strong cooperative education programs.
“RIT is in an increasingly isolated position that clearly complicates our interactions with other institutions in such areas as credit transfer, student exchange and study-abroad opportunities,” explains Destler. “A semester calendar would also allow for the possibility of a true Rochester-area academic common market as all other institutions in the area are on semester calendars.”
In addition, the modified pace of a semester—which extends five weeks longer than a quarter—may help RIT improve student retention and graduation rates. It also eliminates a winter quarter that is disrupted by the holiday break.
While many students have expressed concern over the transition to semesters, Student Government President Matt Danna praised Destler for weighing the input of all RIT stakeholders—most importantly students.
“There is no magic fix-all solution,” states Danna. “Nevertheless, we can agree that all parties care deeply about RIT and want nothing but the best for the future of this fine institution.”
According to Jeremy Haefner, RIT provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, the conversion to semesters affords the university an opportunity to examine its portfolio of academic programs and course offerings.
Feedback on RIT’s conversion to semesters from the campus community may be sent directly to President Destler at firstname.lastname@example.org.