College 101: How Long Are College Classes?

Your questions about the duration of college classes answered.

The transition from a high school class schedule to a college class schedule can be quite the change for many incoming college freshmen. One of the main differences between high school and college classes schedules is the length of college classes.

To better help you prepare for your upcoming college classes, we’ll discuss the topic of how long are classes in college in this blog post.

How long are college classes?

Instead of consistent class lengths in high school, college class lengths can vary from 50 minutes to 2 or more hours.

College class length depends on a few factors:

  • On how many credit hours the class is worth – typically the more credit hours, the longer the class.
  • Which semester you are taking the class in – Maymester and summer college classes tend to be longer.
  • How many days a week the class meets – typically the more often the class meets, the shorter the class length.
  • Difficulty of the class – typically classes that are 3000 or 4000-level (upper-level major or minor classes) will meet for longer.

For example, classes that are worth 3 credit hours and meet three times a week, will be shorter in length, approximately 50 minutes. But classes that are worth 3 credit hours and meet twice a week, will usually meet for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

However, classes that are worth 4 credit hours, which are usually upper-level classes or classes with labs, will meet for 2 hours or more. And if you take classes during a Maymester, or in the summer, you can expect to be in class for 2 or more hours multiple times a week.

Below you can see two real-life examples of college classes. You can see how the length of classes are influenced by on how many times they meet per week:

An example of a college class that meets three times a week and lasts for 50 minutes.

An example of a college class that meets 3 times a week and each class session is 50 minutes long.

Example of a college class that occurs twice a week for an hour and 15 minutes.

An example of a college class that meets once a week and each class session is 2 hours and 45 minutes long.

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What time do college classes usually start?

You will find that most college classes start either on the 1-hour mark or the half-hour (30-minute) mark.

For example, a class may start at 9:00 AM or a class may start at 9:30 AM.

What time do college classes end?

Usually college classes will end on the 1st quarter (00:15) or 4th quarter of the hour (00:45).

For example, a class that starts at 9 AM and meets 2 times a week, will end at 10:15 AM. Or if a class starts at 10:30 AM and meets 2 times a week, it will end at 11:45 AM.

However, if a class meets for only 50 minutes, it will usually start on the hour (00:00) and end at the 50 minute (00:50) mark.

How long is a semester in college?

Fall and spring college semesters are 15-weeks long. However, colleges may offer classes during the fall and spring semester that are 7-weeks long.

If you choose to take classes during a May semester (Maymester), those are 2-weeks long.

And summer semester classes are usually offered in 10-week, 4-week, 8-week, and 6-week formats.

However, colleges will vary in what semester lengths they offer. And more importantly, not all classes are available in each semester format, so make sure you plan college class schedule accordingly.

What month do most colleges start and end?

For the fall semester, most colleges start in August or September and end in December. For the spring semester, most colleges start in January and end in May.

May semesters begin in May, right after the spring semester ends, and end before June.

Finally, summer semester courses start in June and end in either July or August right before the fall semester begins.

Concluding thoughts how long college classes are

For some incoming college freshman, it can be quite a “culture shock” when they learn how much college class length can vary between classes.

In this blog post, we talked about how long college classes are to help you learn what to expect when enter college and start registering for classes.

In general though, you can expect most of your classes to last either 50-minutes or 1 hour and 15 minutes. Long classes are usually STEM classes with a lab or upper-level major classes, so you don’t need to worry about them too much at the beginning of your college experience.

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