New international students are often confused about the way that academic terms are structured in Canada. Many of them get anxious during their first year on whether to enrol or drop courses for shoulder terms like spring and summer, because the practises abroad are usually different! Furthermore, it doesn’t help that the exact start date, orientation week, required arrival dates differ across institutions and provinces. Here is a general overview:
Most universities and colleges in Canada follow the semester system in which an academic year is divided into
Fall Term: usually September to December
Winter Term: usually January to April
Spring/Summer break: usually May to August, with short optional spring and/or summer classes in between
Students in universities or colleges that follow this system do not need to drop classes or apply for deferment in the spring/summer break, because you are considered on break by default. Often, limited spring and summer classes are offered for students who want to take them.
Exceptions to this system are
- Institutions with big Co-op programs like University of Waterloo and Simon Fraser University
To suit their co-op students, who work throughout the year and need flexibility in the summer, these universities offer full terms (which means regular class offerings) during summer.
2. Université du Quebec system
Most francophone universities in Quebec use the trimester system with three distinct terms of 15 weeks.
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