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When Does Spring Semester Start in USA? (Spring Semester Months)

It’s that time of year again when students and their families are starting to think about the next school year. For high school seniors, this means making the decision of when to start college.

Some students may choose to start in the Fall semester while others may decide to wait and start in Spring. There are pros and cons for both choices, but ultimately the decision is up to the student.

In this post, we’ll provide information on when does Spring semester start at colleges across the United States as well as how to apply for admission for the Spring semester.

Is Spring or Fall the First Semester?

With year-round admissions across many colleges, you may be wondering, which of the semesters actually comes first – Spring or Fall?

Just as in high school, each academic year starts in late August or early September, meaning that the first semester is traditionally the Fall semester. Things are a bit different in college, however, in that each class you take lasts only one semester and can often be take either in Fall or Spring.

This is why it is totally possible to start your education in Spring and have minimal impact on your course of study in college.

When Does the Spring Semester Start in 2022-2023?

Traditionally, Spring semester starts in January in most colleges.

The start of the Spring semester typically comes after the winter break of several weeks that takes place between mid-December to mid-January. This gives students time to relax and recharge after the busy Fall semester before starting a new class.

While most colleges start off the Spring semester in January, the exact date ranges depending on each university. In order to learn the exact Spring semester start dates for each of your colleges of interest, it’s a good idea to check in with their academic calendar.

The academic calendars are published on the university websites and can easily be found by typing in “academic calendar” + “*college of interest*” in Google.

students standing in front of brown concrete building on campus during the Spring semester
Photo by Bucerius Law School @ Unsplash

When Does the Spring Semester End?

The Spring semester usually ends in the month of May. Typically, the earlier the semester starts in January, the earlier in end in May. The average duration of the Spring semester is 4 months, give or take.

In the Spring semester, usually the classes finish around 2 weeks prior to the end of the semester in order for the students to have enough time to prepare for and take the final exams. Therefore, classes usually end around late-April or early-May, while the semester ends mid- or late-May.

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To give you a few examples, we have compiled a table of some popular US universities with their start and end dates of the Spring semester for the 2022-2023 academic year.

UniversitySpring Start DateSpring End Date
California State University, Northridge (CSUN) January 18 May 25
University of Central Florida (UCF)January 9May 2
University of Delaware (UD)February 6May 25
University of Florida (UF)January 9 May 5
Arizona State University (ASU)January 9 May 6
California State University (CSU)January 23May 18
Kent State UniversityJanuary 17May 10
Penn State UniversityJanuary 9May 5
University of Maryland (UMD)January 25May 19
Washington State University (WSU)January 9May 5

Again, if you would like to learn the start and end dates for the Spring semester of a given university, it’s best to follow their official websites to find the semester schedules in their academic calendars.

How Many Semesters Are in College?

Most colleges in the United States organize their academic year into three semesters: Fall, Spring, and Summer. Two of these, namely Fall and Spring semesters, are the main semesters during which most students take courses and spend their time on campus (for on-campus programs).

On the other hand, students often spend Summer semester as a break (especially undergraduate students) or doing an internship at some company away from the campus.

Some students, however, decide to stay on campus and take a few courses during the Summer semester to get ahead on their studies and finish their degree earlier. Others decide to take classes they weren’t able to pass in the Fall or Spring semesters.

Besides the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters, some colleges have a short Winter semester, which is an opportunity for students to use their winter break to take one intensive course in a short period of time. Overall, there are 2 main and 2 “optional” semesters in most colleges.

assorted-color lear hanging decor signifying the Spring semester
Photo by Chris Lawton @ Unsplash

How Long Are The Semesters?

Typically, a semester is around 3-4 months long, depending on the university and when exactly it starts. Fall semester usually starts in late-August or early-September and end in early- to mid-December, thus being around 3-3.5 months long.

Spring semester usually start in January and finishes in May, which in total makes around 4 months. Summer semester lasts around 2-3 months over the summer, and Winter semester lasts around a month in the universities that do offer it.

Do All Colleges Have Semester System?

Not all colleges in the United States or elsewhere in the world have semester schedule. Some universities follow a quarter schedule.

Quarter system tends to be a more compact schedule when compared to semesters. Most colleges on quarter system typically have 3 main academic quarters per year (with summer quarter being optional), instead of the two main semesters. This means that classes last for 10 weeks instead of 15 weeks.

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Some best-ranked schools, such as the University of Chicago, Stanford University, and the University of Washington operate on a quarter system.

Can You Start College in Spring?

Many students ask “Can I start college a semester late?” and the answer is, yes, you can definitely start college in Spring as long as the school you are interested in offers Spring admissions.

Typically, when applying to colleges, most students apply for the Fall admissions to start their studies in September. However, many colleges offer Spring admissions, where you could begin taking your classes in January.

If you are interested in starting college in Spring, we encourage you to check out the academic calendars of your target schools and their application deadlines to see when they accept applications for the upcoming Spring.

Spring admissions is a great and valid option for students who wish to take a break after graduating from high school to rest, travel, work, or attend to personal matters.

student wearing backpack facing a building
Photo by Tim Gouw @ Unsplash

Should You Start College in Spring or Fall?

Ultimately, what matters most when considering starting semester in Fall or Spring is your personal circumstances and desires. If you feel like you need some time due to personal reasons to start college a little later and your schools of choice offer Spring admissions, you should absolutely attend to your needs.

In some cases, colleges may themselves offer you a spot in Spring semester instead of Fall, which is also a good option, if you consider this university a suitable choice for you.

While there are many circumstances that may affect your decision to start college in Fall or Spring semesters, we want to outline some pros and cons of each option to help you decide.

Advantages of Starting in Fall

  • You will have more courses you can take. Fall courses are usually prerequisites to many of the Spring courses, which means you won’t be able to take some Spring courses if you don’t start in Fall.
  • If you apply early, you may have access to more scholarship or funding opportunities when starting in the Fall.
  • You will be able to join many campus activities and community organizations when they are just getting started in the Fall, rather than when they may be winding down at the end of the year.

Advantages of Starting in Spring

  • Spring semester may be a more ideal option if you need some time to decompress and rest after your high school graduation before diving into college studies.
  • If you feel more prepared when classes start in Spring, you may be able to start your college career on a stronger footing academically when compared to when you start in the Fall.
  • Some colleges or universities may offer you a spot in Spring semester instead of Fall, when you apply, which can be a strategic way of ensuring you get into your target school.
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Ultimately, when deciding whether to start college in Fall or Spring semesters, you should consider your individual needs and goals when making this important decision.

How Do Spring Admissions Work?

At many colleges and universities, Spring admissions work in a similar way to Fall admissions. Typically, when applying to start your studies in the Spring, you will need to submit your formal application, transcripts, test scores, and other relevant materials by a specific deadline.

In addition to submitting your application in a timely manner, you may also need to attend an interview or submit a personal statement when applying for Spring admissions.

In terms of the actual application process, you may find that some colleges or universities simply allow you to apply and then determine whether or not you will be admitted on a rolling basis. Other schools may have a set admissions cycle, similar to the one for Fall semesters.

Whatever your individual situation may be when applying for Spring admissions, it is important to do your research and understand the application process at your chosen school. In order to do that, you should check the applications page on your chosen universities’ websites and proceed with attention to the individual timeline and requirements.

stressed student preparing for Spring semester admissions

When You Should Start Applying for Spring Admissions

The exact deadline for Spring admissions will vary depending on the college or university you are applying to. However, as a general rule, you should start applying for Spring admissions in the Summer of the previous year and have your applications done by October.

As an example, if you want to apply for the Spring of 2024, you should start your application process in the Summer of 2023 and be ready for the deadlines that would often be during Fall of 2023.

For reference, here are some Spring 2023 intake deadlines for several popular US universities.

UniversitySpring intake deadline
Columbia UniversityNovember 1
University of Massachusetts October 15
Massachusetts Institute of Technology October 15
University of Chicago, Illinois October 3
University of Central FloridaNovember 1
Washington State University November 15

If you are applying to a popular or highly selective school, you should also plan to start your application early and give yourself plenty of time to gather all the required materials. By doing so, you will be able to submit your application well ahead of the deadline and put yourself in a good position when it comes to getting into your chosen school.


Choosing when to start college can be a difficult decision. You may want to consider all of your options, including starting in the Spring semester.

In this blog post, we have outlined some reasons why you may want to choose Spring admissions. We also provide helpful information on how the process works and when you should apply.

By taking into account the deadlines and requirements of your chosen school, you can make an informed decision about when is the right time for you to start college.