S4E3: The Academic Calendar

Doug McKenna |
November 15, 2022
  • AACRAO Publications
  • For the Record

The Academic Calendar

Most people don’t give the academic calendar a second thought...those people are not registrars. The way the academic year has been structured has changed over time, and will likely continue to change. Registrars will remain front and center in the management of the academic calendar. In this episode we dive into the history of the various calendar categories, highlight some considerations for creating an academic calendar, and present best practices for making sure the dates are accurate and the appropriate people are informed.  

Key Takeaways:

  • The academic calendar is a critical piece of higher education infrastructure that has morphed and changed over time since the beginning of the higher education enterprise in America.
  • There are three basic calendar categories: semester, quarter, and trimester. Each category brings its own set of benefits and challenges. There isn’t one “right” academic calendar; the academic calendar in use at an institution should be measured by how well the system meets the specific institution’s needs.  
  • Someone at your institution should be responsible for maintaining the academic calendar--usually someone in the registrar’s office. A broadly inclusive calendar working group is a good idea to ensure various perspectives are represented and informed.References and Additional Information:

References and Additional Information:

  • Bressler, M. (1973). The structure of academic time. In Report of the Committee on the Future of the College (pp. 129–158). Princeton University Press. http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x1cc1.10
  • Coleman, D., Bolte, J. R., & Franklin, L. (1984). Academic calendar change impact on enrollment patterns and instructional outcomes. Research in Higher Education20(2), 155–166.
  • Davis, J. R. (1972). The changing college calendar. The Journal of Higher Education43(2), 142–150. https://doi.org/10.2307/1980371
  • Friestad-Tate, J., Schubert, C., & McCoy, C. (2014). Understanding modular learning—Developing a strategic plan to embrace change. I-Manager’s Journal on School Educational Technology9(4), 32–44.
  • McEntire, D. (1963). The academic year: Nine months or twelve? AAUP Bulletin49(4), 360–363. https://doi.org/10.2307/40223042
  • Quann, C. J., & And Others. (1979). Admissions, academic records, and registrar services. A handbook of policies and procedures. Jossey-Bass, Inc.
  • Schoenfeld, C. A. (1970). Making peace with the summer calendar. Improving College and University Teaching18(2), 161–164.
  • The Next Casualty of the Coronavirus Crisis May Be the Academic Calendar. (2020, April 16). The Chronicle of Higher Education. http://www.chronicle.com/article/the-next-casualty-of-the-coronavirus-crisis-may-be-the-academic-calendar/