Colleges and Universities
on the Quarter System or Block Plan
Last updated June 13, 2016
When my son was going through the college search process, he had some unusual constraints. He was involved in elite level athletic training during the winter. His training required him to miss classes during much of the months of November through March. This makes attending a typical college or university tricky, as he would need to miss the end of most schools’ first semester, and much of the spring semester as well. So we tried to identify the dwindling number of schools that operate on the quarter system or on other alternate calendars. Surprisingly, I have not been able to find any online college search tool that lets one search on the type of academic calendar the school uses. As a result, I spent a lot of hours doing Google searches and looking at various schools’ websites to see if they have a calendar that would work for my kid.
Given that I put a lot of time into this, I figured I’d share, since I suspect I’m not the only parent or student in the USA who might want this kind of information. Below you’ll find the list of two year and four-year quarter- and block-system schools that I’ve accumulated. If you know of others that should be added, if you find broken links or out-dated information, or if you find this information useful and just want to say hi, please send me an email to   dlbauer (at) hotmail.com
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BLOCK SYSTEM UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES
Under a block system, a student takes only one class at a time, typically for about 3.5 weeks. Blocks might be organized into semesters (for example, at Colorado College, there are 4 blocks in each of the fall and spring semesters, plus 3 optional blocks in the summer session). However, the admissions department in these schools might be willing to allow a student to attend only selected blocks during a term. Inquire with the school if this suits your needs. There are only a few four-year schools in North America that follow this type of schedule, including one in Canada.
Colorado College. Colorado Springs, Colorado
Cornell College. Mount Vernon, Iowa
Maharishi University of Management. Fairfield, Iowa (be sure to read the history of this school and of transcendental meditation before considering enrollment)
University of Montana-Western. Dillon, Montana
Tusculum College. Greeneville, Tennessee
Keiser University. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Spalding University. Louisville, Kentucky – seven 6-week sessions per year, with classes daily Monday-Thursday
Quest University. Squamish, British Columbia, Canada. Quest University also contacted me to point out that they have a flexible program specifically designed for professional and elite athletes. Details can be found here.
Prescott College in Tuscon, AZ offers a modified “block and semester” plan where, at the beginning of each traditional semester, a four-week intensive block class is offered. Students take only this one class during this time, often in the field. NEW!
Brown-Mackie College is a collection of for-profit, career-oriented schools offering both associate and bachelors degrees on a one-class-per-month schedule at most locations.
Also, you might want to look at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Worcester, MA, which has unique 7-week terms, different than both Blocks and Quarters.
FOUR-YEAR QUARTER SYSTEM UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES
Under a quarter system, also known as a trimester system, the academic year is divided into three terms (fall, winter and spring) called quarters or trimesters, instead of the typical two semesters. Most schools also offer a fourth summer quarter.
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TWO YEAR COLLEGES ON THE QUARTER SYSTEM
One of my readers, Belin, provided a lengthy list of two-year colleges on the quarter system which formed the starting point for the list below. Thanks, Belin!
Did you find this information helpful? Do you have a college or university to add to this list? Contact me at dlbauer(at)hotmail.com .