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US Application Deadlines for the Semesters and Quarters

US Application Deadlines for the Semesters and Quarters

In USA, most universities and colleges follow either semester or quarter system but mostly accept applications twice a year in `Fall’ and `Spring’. Some universities take applications only for the fall semester. Hence, it is very important for students to research these details before applying.

Most international students wonder about the best time to apply and the advantages and disadvantages of each intake semester. It is very important to be clear about the semester and quarter systems followed by US institutions. We at Minglebox provide you with some basic information regarding the semesters and quarters to help you clear your confusion.

Semester system and application deadlines

Fall Semester (mid-August to December): This is the main semester of the year, the period from mid-August to December. The fall semester of 16-18 weeks is the most preferable of all semesters as the intake is usually higher and the number of Scholarships offered is also greater when compared to the spring semester. Top universities close admissions by November or end of December of the previous year. If you are planning for the fall semester of 2014, apply around November/ December 2013.

Spring Semester (January to May): The spring semester is from January to May. This semester also consists of 16 to 18 weeks. Most universities welcome applications only for the fall semester. Hence the admission intake for spring is usually low. If you plan to apply for the spring semester, you should finish your application process by the end of July of the previous year. Some universities have September or October deadlines. Again, if you want a head start in admission and scholarship considerations, you should send your application packet by the end of August.

Summer Semester (mid-May to mid-August): The period from mid-May to mid-August marks the summer semester. This is a short semester of 10 to 12 weeks usually divided into two sessions of 5-7 weeks each: summer session I and summer session II. Students must remember that some universities do not provide admissions for summer semester. Hence students must carefully go through the admissions policy of the university/college they plan to join.

Quarter system and application deadlines

Fall Quarter (late September to December): The period from late September to December marks the fall quarter semester. As in fall semester, most universities offer huge intakes and Scholarships during the fall quarter, which usually consists of 12 to 13 weeks. Candidates applying for the fall quarter should complete the application procedure by the end of June of that year. Some universities have July or August deadlines.

Winter Quarter (January to late March): The winter quarter is from January to late March.  Like the fall quarter, the winter quarter too consists of 12 to 13 weeks. Candidates applying for the winter quarter should complete the application process by the beginning of October of the previous year. Students must take note that some universities have November or December deadlines.

Spring Quarter (April to late June): The period from April to late June is called the spring quarter in most US institutes. Like the other quarters, the spring quarter also consists of 12-13 weeks. Candidates planning to apply for the spring quarter should complete the application process by the beginning of January of the year you wish to start the course. Some universities also have February or March deadlines.

Summer Quarter (July to late August): The period between July and late August marks the summer quarter. This is the shortest quarter with 8-10 weeks. Like the summer semester, the summer quarter is also divided into sessions. Students must take note that most universities do not offer admissions for summer sessions.

Some Universities offering Quarter System are University of California, Davis, UCLA and University of Washington.

Since the admission policies and deadlines for the semesters/quarters differ from one university to another, students are advised to look up the official websites before choosing to apply. It is always advisable to apply 8 to 12 months prior to the deadline to avail scholarship benefits and to stay ahead in the admission race. So make the right choice and then – once you have the mandatory documents in place – apply.

Difference between Semester and Quarter system:

Quarter Academic Calender


Semester Academic Calender


The quarter system divides the calendar year into four quarters. Three of which constitute a complete academic year.

The semester system divides the calendar year into two semesters.


Quarters are typically 10 weeks long.


15 weeks per semester (30 total weeks).


Approximately 20% of US universities are on the quarter system.


Optional summer sessions of varying lengths.


Fall quarter will be from September to mid-December.

Fall semester from late August to mid-December


Winter quarter from early January to mid-March.


Spring semester from early or mid-January to early or mid-May


Spring quarter from late March or early April to mid-June.


Optional summer session (Summer 1 and Summer2)



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