January Term Campus Wide Conversation

The campus-wide January Term conversations, hosted by Jay Akridge, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity, focus on adding an optional four-week January Term to the academic calendar. The J-Term would allow students to take courses needed to progress toward their degrees, study abroad, enroll in immersive experiences, or take courses that don’t fit into their normal semester schedule. While many questions are addressed during these sessions, the Provost’s Office hopes to continue the conversation through this Frequently Asked Questions webpage and the form below.


  • How would a J-Term affect the academic calendar?
    J-Term would be a four-week self-contained term that would begin immediately after the University holiday closure. Fall and Spring semesters would be shortened by one week each (15 weeks instead of 16 weeks). Fall classes would begin one week later and Spring semester would begin after the four-week J-Term.

    How would this affect the Maymester term?
    ‘Maymester’ (4-week term at the end of the Spring semester) will still be possible, starting 1 – 2 weeks later in May. Maymester would end in early June.

    How would a J-Term affect 8-week-long courses – both face-to-face and online?
    The 8-week sessions would likely become 7.5-week sessions, depending on the decisions of the faculty/units.

  • By shortening the courses in J-Term, are we concerned that students may be less prepared to take subsequent courses? Are we depriving them of the knowledge needed to be successful in their college careers?
    We recognize that not all courses are an appropriate fit for a voluntary J-Term. But we do believe there is value to students who may be drawn to this modified learning structure. The vice provost for teaching and learning is prepared to assist instructors as they rethink their course structures, course syllabi, and consider how they would meet the desired learning outcomes during this four-week term. In addition, we already offer more than 150 four-week Maymester courses.

    What research has been documented about attainment of student competency during daily, multi-hour instruction? Fitting a three-credit course into a four-week period requires a demanding level of mental engagement and very little time to process new information.
    We acknowledge that we have a variety of teaching and learning styles across campus and so it’s important to emphasize that J-Term would be strictly voluntary – with instructors deciding which courses could translate successfully to a four-week format. Our research and that of our peers who currently offer a four-week “winter session” indicate that more than 80% of students surveyed found the shortened, immersive format just as effective as a full semester course. As mentioned above, Purdue instructors already teach many residential and on-line courses in a four-week format.

    One of the stated reasons for having J-Term is to allow students to make progress toward graduation. This is often an issue for students who struggle academically. Is it unreasonable to think that a student who struggles academically will be able to learn the material in a course at four times the normal rate?
    Our students possess a broad range of learning styles, and students fail or succeed for a variety of reasons. The J-Term will not be appropriate for all students. But it may be appropriate for the student who wants to focus on one subject at a time (rather than as part of a full course schedule) or students who desire a more immersive experience. An important goal of January Term is to offer more options for our students.

  • What about professional programs whose accreditation can be at risk if they do not meet instructional minutes requirements?
    Many of our peer institutions with 15-week semesters offer the same types of accredited programs that we offer, for example MIT, Ohio State, and Michigan. This calendar change does not appear to have a negative effect on accreditation.

  • How will J-Term impact summer research?
    The J-Term proposal still allows for a four-week ‘Maymester’ as part of a full 12-week summer session, which will allow ample opportunities for summer research.

  • How would a J-Term affect AY faculty and instructor pay?
    AY faculty and instructors would still be paid for the same number of weeks but would be paid for two weeks before Fall/Spring instruction begins (instead of one week), to allow additional time for orientation and course preparation.

    How will instructors be compensated for their time if they opt to teach a course during the J-term?
    Compensation for J-Term will mirror the pay structure of Summer Session in that it will be self-contained. Academic units determine faculty compensation during summer. The most common practice is compensating one month of AY pay per three credit course. Compensation for Study Abroad and non-course/non-credit activities will follow Summer Session practice.

    How will faculty be compensated for having to change/revise course formats to accommodate a reduction in regular semester length by one week?
    If faculty/instructors choose to participate in J-Term, resources will be made available to help modify courses through Purdue Innovative Learning. This Spring 2021 semester we took three Reading Days out of a 16-week academic calendar, which is near to the proposed 15-week semesters in the January Term proposal.

    If instructors and students are in session during J-Term, won’t there be more work for staff in units that support those populations?
    We acknowledge that there will be additional work for staff in student service and academic-facing units, though the nature of that work will depend on the mix of on-campus courses, online offerings, and study abroad experiences. While J-Term wouldn’t officially begin until after the official University holiday closure, the need for staff presence and support will undoubtedly increase. Depending on the types and quantity of offerings, we will add staff capacity where needed.

    Many staff on campus teach courses in addition to their full-time jobs. What about us?
    We value the staff who teach courses in the Fall and Spring semesters and believe that would still be possible with the new calendar. Given many staff are on fiscal year appointments, decisions on staff teaching during J-Term would need to be considered on a case-by-case basis.

  • Would adding a January Term affect Study Abroad offerings once international travel can resume?
    We have engaged with Mike Brzezinski, dean of International Programs, on this issue and are exploring options. Our students have indicated an interest in winter study abroad and field study experiences. Several units have already begun offering ideas for J-Term study abroad experiences.

    Would students be able to earn the regular study abroad course credits (more than three) in the J-Term?
    More than likely, three would be the maximum course credits due to the short time frame.

  • If Maymester is pushed later into May, won’t it have an impact on summer internships that begin June 1?
    We have gathered input from major employers and almost all report flexibility in start dates for internships because they already recruit students from other universities that end their semester later in May. Employers we have consulted include: 3M, Abbott, Davidson Hospitality, Enterprise Holdings, Exxon Mobile, EY, General Electric, General Motors, Kimberly-Clark, Liberty Mutual, Marriott, and Tesla, among others.

  • How will academic advisors be supported in this initiative?
    Academic advisors are represented on the J-Term working committee. Currently, a group of head advisors from each college are working with the University Advising Office to create recommendations on how best to support our advising community should a J-Term be adopted.

    All advisors are encouraged to share ideas with their head advisor or directly to the University Advising Office.

  • How will student tuition, and the calculation/disbursement of aid be impacted by offering an additional term?
    Tuition for J-Term will be charged on a per credit hour basis. Financial aid will be disbursed before J-Term but will be part of the spring semester financial aid. The cost of J-Term will be added to the spring cost to afford additional financial aid to students who qualify.

    Will this have impact on scholarship students?
    Satisfactory academic progress will not be calculated at the end of J-Term. It will be calculated at the end of spring and will include J-Term grades at that time.

  • How will the reduced number of weeks in Fall and Spring semesters affect graduate teaching assistants’ gross salaries?
    The proposed J-term would have no negative effects on graduate teaching assistants’ gross salaries, nor would it affect their health insurance.

    For graduate students being TA for two regular semesters, can they get tuition waived for the J-Term if they choose to enroll?
    Yes, the remission for the spring semester would count for J-Term as well.

  • How can we make sure we are doing what’s best for student (and staff) mental health?
    No one would be forced to teach or attend class year-round. Students and instructors will make choices. For those who choose not to engage in J-Term, this calendar provides a longer break between the two long semesters. This also provides an opportunity for faculty to work on their scholarship if not teaching during J-Term. It’s important to note that Spring Break is part of the of the J-Term calendar.

    Wouldn't it make more sense to make this change (if it is decided to happen) in 2023, given the already very complex situation of COVID-19 and the short timeline for planning for 2022?
    We’ve already altered the academic calendar due to our COVID situation; the result is a Spring 2021 calendar that is very close to what an academic year with J-Term would look like (16 weeks minus 3 Reading Days). Implementing a new J-Term in 2021-22 may be a shorter step for us to make than if we return to the “traditional” calendar for a year and then have to make a larger revision to the calendar for J-Term at a later time. Implementing a new J-Term in 2021-22 allows us to build on what we have learned during the pandemic to offer new academic opportunities for students and faculty who want to participate in a voluntary, optional J-Term.

Submit a question

(optional) (optional)



Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

© 2016-2017 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Office of the Provost

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact Office of The Provost at purdueprovost@purdue.edu.