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Quarters vs. Semesters


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Hello everyone! I just had a quick question for those of you who have had a semester schedule, or for those of you who have had both quarters/semesters. The school I have decided to attend is on a semester system, and I'm just trying to figure out what to expect. I have only ever been on the quarter system so I am used to taking about 3 classes per quarter totaling around 15 credits for all three classes (usually 5 credits per class). I am looking at my grad packet with my classes listed for next fall and it also totals 15 credits, but there's 5 classes. (3, 3, 3, 4, 2). Anyway, I am beyond confused. Looking at it almost feels overwhelming because I am not used to taking so many classes at the same time, but I know the semester system is more spread out than the quarter system.

If you all have experience with the semester system please let me know what you liked/didn't like about it! if you have had experience with both, can you tell me what going from one to the other is like? Anything I should be aware of? Any advice?!

Thank you all so much!!

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I've had experience with both: semesters for BSc/MSc, and quarters for PhD.

You should check what each school defines as "one credit". My BSc school, on semesters, defined 1 credit as 1 in-class work hour per week, with the expectation that you spend 2 additional hours at home. A typical class was 3 credits. So, 15 credits of courses is 45 hours of coursework per week. My PhD school, on semesters, defined 1 "unit" as 1 hour of work (whether in-class or at home). A typical class was 9 units, which is equivalent to a 3 credit class. During my first year of my PhD, we were on 27 units of courses since the remainder of our work time was on research.

I don't really think a quarter class has more or less work per week than a semester class. The only difference is the length of the class, but the amount of work per week, per class was the same. Students in only-coursework degree programs at my PhD school (e.g. undergrads, course-based masters) took 5 classes per quarter though. 

Anyways, you should check what your new school's expectation on time spent on courses by either seeing what they mean by "1 credit" and/or discussing it with your professors.

Finally, as for the transition, I didn't find a big deal. Your day-to-day and week-to-week work is the same. The main difference is the timing of the breaks. 

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