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Cal Poly, last CSU operating on a quarter system, announces transition into semester system

Posted at 1:11 PM, Oct 18, 2021

A letter went out to students and staff Monday from Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong announcing the university is transitioning from the current quarter system to the semester system.

Over a decade ago, the CSU Chancellor’s Office asked all quarter-calendar campuses to transition to a semester calendar. Cal Poly is the last of the 23 California State University's to make the transition into the semester system.

To break it down, a semester system generally consists of two 15-week terms, while a quarter system consists of four 10-week sessions. A quarter system consists of four 10-week sessions in the fall, winter, spring, and summer. The average full-time student takes 3-4 courses per term or 9-12 credits.

President Armstrong announced that the transition to a semester system will take place over the next four years, officially starting in the 2025-26 academic year.

In the email, CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro outlined why he believes the semester system will be beneficial to students. "First, a semester calendar will better allow us to address some important articulation and equity issues; second, it will enhance student success in several areas, such as summer internship start and end dates and study abroad; and third, we can achieve greater administrative efficiency both locally at Cal Poly and more widely as part of the CSU system."

Academic affairs outlined the process they will take in order to achieve the four-year transition. They will begin gathering best practices in converting from quarters to semesters from other CSU campuses that recently made the change. Over the past 10 that includes five CSU campuses: CSU Bakersfield, CSU Los Angeles, CSU San Bernardino, CSU East Bay, and their sister school Cal Poly Pomona.

Academic affairs plan to have a conversion plan in place by spring 2022 so that in the summer, they can lay the groundwork for the conversion process to begin in the fall of 2022.

Over the 2022-23 and 2023-24 academic years, they plan to map their curriculum to the semester system and design their current and new courses to account for this change. In the 2024-25 academic year, these changes will be reviewed in close partnership with the Academic Senate and additional stakeholders and the catalog will be updated.