What is the difference between "term" and "semester"?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by rejelx, Feb 19, 2009.

  1. rejelx Member

    Would you please tell me what the difference between "term" and "semester" is? I am saying about the college and university system.
    Thank you.
  2. cropje_jnr

    cropje_jnr Senior Member

    Canberra, Australia
    English - Australia
    A semester is half a school year. There are always two semesters, and two only, in each school year.

    The duration of a "term" will vary from system to system. Here in Australia, there are four terms in a school year. Therefore, a semester is made up of two terms.
  3. Cypherpunk Senior Member

    Springdale, AR
    US, English
    A term is the length of time a standard course lasts. The length of a term depends on the number of terms that a school offers courses. A term may be a semester (at a school that has two terms: fall and spring), a trimester, or quarter. Here is more on college terms.
  4. rejelx Member

    Thank you all. I appreciate your explanation.
  5. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Etymologically, semester means six months. (There is also the term trimester for three months, usually used in relation to pregnancy.) While a semester in a university is not necessarily six months long, it should be sufficiently close to that duration and therefore there can only be two semesters in a year.

    A term is a more general term and it can be of varying duration. UK universities used to operate on the basis of three terms: an autumn (Michaelmas/Martinmas), spring (Lent/Epiphany/Hilary) and summer (Trinity/Easter). Some still do; others operate on a semester system. Some have both, where the spring term spilts up into the last bit of the first semester and the first bit of the second semester.

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