I am currently working as a junior faculty member at a university where we teach a 2:2 (2 fall, 2 spring) on the semester system. I would like to know the differences between this and teaching a 2:2:2 (2 fall, 2 winter, 2 spring) on the quarter system. What is the workload difference? How is class preparation different? Intensity of each week? Grading timeline and expectations? Other considerations?

Edit: @Buffy is correct. The current courses are each 3 credits. The 2:2:2 courses are each 4 credits. The three-credit courses meet once per week for 3 hours (or are online) and the four-credit courses meet once per week for 3.75 hours (or are online).

  • Roughly speaking, you cover the same amount of material over the course of a year. If you do a midterm and a final each quarter, you have more of those to deal with, but perhaps a bit less homework to grade.
    – Jon Custer
    Mar 25, 2019 at 13:40
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    Can you explain what "2:2" should mean? And where you are located?
    – user105967
    Mar 25, 2019 at 14:12
  • So "2:2" means two hours per week per fall and spring semester? Or what? And what is the definition of a "credit"?
    – user105967
    Mar 25, 2019 at 14:36
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    @TommiBrander Added US tag! good plan. Actually in both cases I am teaching to master's level students and the convention is once per week for 3 hrs. vs once per week for approx 4 hours I guess!
    – Dawn
    Mar 25, 2019 at 17:05
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    Please define what the numbers mean in your question. This reads like gibberish to me. Mar 25, 2019 at 20:20

1 Answer 1


There is another variable at play, actually. Some places 2:2 will mean two courses each semester where the courses meet 3 times (hours) per week, where 2:2:2 means two courses each "quarter", but where the course meet 4 or even 5 hours per week for fewer weeks. The students also, typically, then take fewer, but more intense, courses in a term.

But that means that you may be able to handle about the same amount of material in a course under each system as you meet for more hours and the students are (hopefully) more engaged in your course.

Another possible variable, is the quality of the students (and faculty). Dartmouth has traditionally been on the quarter system, and the students are very (very) good. And in CS, at least, they work very (very) hard. You may have a challenge keeping up with them. This is likely true for other similar institutions as well.

I'll note for completeness that some institutions, including Dartmouth, use the quarter system so that they can run four terms of equal length per year (hence "quarter" system). Faculty normally get to choose three of those four terms, but may not, in general, be permitted to avoid summer quarter always. Students likewise, my be required to have schedules that include some summer quarters and some "time away" quarters (for travel in Europe, duh). This makes better use of other facilities and funds.

Under such a system, it is also (theoretically) possible, if not encouraged, to have a year's "sabbatical" "every" four years if you teach for six consecutive quarters, then take off for a year and then teach six consecutive quarters. Twelve quarters over four years is a full load, if you are required to teach (on average) three per year. This requires the dean's ok, of course, which is granted only occasionally and for good reason.

  • Good point about student quality. I expect the students to be moderately, but not dramatically, more prepared.
    – Dawn
    Mar 25, 2019 at 14:27
  • Expect "dramatically" and you may not be disappointed. Better to be prepared yourself for the worst(best) case.
    – Buffy
    Mar 25, 2019 at 14:32
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    So this is all about the United States?
    – user105967
    Mar 25, 2019 at 16:41

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