Taking Summer Classes In College: A Complete Guide

There are pros and cons of taking summer classes that you should consider

Flickr user Andy

Summer classes offer a long list of benefits, but it also means spending the summer indoors attending classes instead of having fun in the sun. Before choosing this option, check our complete guide to taking summer classes. Find out how long they are and a full list of pro’s and con’s.

How Long Are College Classes in the Summer?

The good news is they aren’t very long and won’t take up all of your summer vacation. Here’s a more detailed look at the typical length of college classes in the summer.

The duration of summer classes varies significantly from one college to another. Regardless of the specific duration, one thing remains the same in all colleges. Summer classes have a compressed schedule. The typical duration in most colleges is between 4 weeks and 6 weeks.

There are a few schools however that have shorter summer sessions of just 2 weeks and others that have longer summer sessions of 8 or even 10 weeks.

The length of college classes in the summer have a major impact on the pace of the course and the amount of material crammed into it. The shorter the duration, the faster the course pace will be.

The duration of summer classes in college also affects the number of times you’ll need to meet with your class. For example, if the summer session is 8 weeks long, you can expect with your professor and classmates about twice a week. Each session will last on average about 3 hours.

On the other hand, if the summer session is only 2 weeks long, you can expect to meet up about 4 times a week. Each session could last up to 5 hours.

Knowing how long summer classes in college are can help you create a schedule that allows you to catch up with your academics without compromising on fun times. Understanding the pros and cons of taking summer classes is the next step towards determining whether this is the best use of your summer vacation.

Pros and Cons of Taking Summer Classes

A large number of students enjoy taking summer classes as campus is less busy at this time. Many choose this option to get a head start on earning credits while they work. Others choose it to catch up on academic work and ensure they graduate on time. But for every benefit there’s a drawback. Here are some pros and cons to taking summer classes.


You won’t have to overload your fall and spring semesters

With summer courses in the mix, you can ease off during regular school sessions. This can make your course load much more bearable. They allow you to spread out

You can graduate earlier

Who doesn’t want to graduate early? It opens up different opportunities for employment after graduation since you won’t be competing with the majority of your fellow graduates. Especially if you take your courses at a community college, you might make it more affordable.

It’s a great way to deal with gen eds

Once you finish your general education courses, you get to take the “fun” classes, the ones that are actually in your field. So the sooner you finish the mandatory classes, the sooner you can take things you’re interested in!


Summer classes can get expensive.

Summer courses aren’t generally covered under scholarships (although there are some scholarships that do help). And because most people only take one or two courses, you’ll likely have to pay by credit hour taken. There are other options, such as community college courses, but you’ll want to make sure those credits will transfer.

Summer courses can be super intensive.

This is especially true of the four- and six-week programs. You have to keep in mind that summer courses include just as much information as your normal courses, but all that information is compressed. Classes are usually 3-4 hours a day, 3-5 days a week. It can be a lot to take on.

Sometimes you need a break to avoid burnout.

Unless you’re used to the constant grind of year-round school, summer courses might be rough. Most of us like to have a summer break, even if it’s used for work or an internship. Constant learning can take a lot out of you, and burnout can linger for a long time.

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