Dear fellow members of the Columbia community,
Having moved through detailed planning by the Education Working Group and having been approved by the University Senate, the contours and character of the 2020-21 academic calendar, linked from this message, now are set.
As President Bollinger announced last month, we will more fully utilize the familiar three-term academic year, not just the customary fall and spring terms but an augmented summer. You will recall that this schedule has been adopted in order to make as much in-person instruction and campus life possible as conditions allow by controlling density, enhancing pedagogical flexibility across different schools and programs, and working to ensure that students’ plans for their education can best proceed.
With these goals in mind, the calendar has been organized in the following manner:
- While the timing for the fall remains similar to previous years, starting the day following Labor Day (September 8), spring and summer terms will take place earlier than usual. Classes for spring 2021 will first meet on January 11; in the summer term on May 3.
- Each term will offer the optional possibility of immersive courses by being divided into two equal-length sequential blocks. This arrangement of A and B time frames will provide flexibility to faculty as they develop curricula for specific programs and for students as they select coursework, even as most courses are likely to take the more traditional full-term shape.
- The earlier start to the spring term will allow a prompter opening for the summer term, thus assisting students who enroll in summer coursework (including those who concentrate their work during ‘summer A’) to have the ability to participate in internships, summer employment, and other seasonal activities.
- Commencement events will take place following the spring term exam period, as is traditional, but earlier than is common, during the last week of April.
While schools may determine how to structure their academic programs, across the University all will adhere to the dates announced in this calendar.
More details—school by school, program by program—will be forthcoming, but this established structure is the framework within which collective and individual planning for the coming academic year will be proceeding.
Looking forward with anticipation,
Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History