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


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