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Quarter-to-Semester Updates - October 2010

Quarters to Semesters Update 

October 2010

Dear Colleagues,

We hope your autumn quarter is off to a promising start. As we launch this next-to-last academic year on the quarter system, we want to extend an especially warm welcome to those newcomers to Ohio State who are reading QSU for the first time. This special monthly newsletter is meant to keep the university community apprised of how we are preparing for the conversion to a semester calendar in June, 2012.

We are now officially in the second year of planning for the conversion. To bring new readers quickly up to date, and to remind our not-so-new readers of the steps we are taking to inaugurate the coming semester calendar, this issue of QSU will highlight last year’s primary accomplishments, starting with a crucial development for students.

The pledge to students. Among last year’s most important efforts was the creation of a pledge to students plainly stating the university’s commitment to protect their academic progress during the transition to semesters. Developed by students themselves, along with faculty, advisors, and advising administrators, the pledge is Ohio State’s promise that students will see no disruption in earning their degrees if they:

  • Decide on their major and degree within a time compatible with four-year graduation;
  • Meet the standards for progress defined by their academic unit and continue to complete appropriate course loads successfully; and
  • Actively develop and follow academic plans in consultation with their academic advisors.

Academic advisors will understand how the changes in courses and curricula may affect students’ degree programs, will know where and how programs can be flexible, and will be prepared to assist students in planning for on-time graduation. Students will be responsible for getting and using this advice, which will be essential to their progress toward their degree.

Read the full text of the semester conversion pledge to students.

Other highlights of last year’s work. Thanks to the efforts of colleagues -- some 250 strong -- working across the entire university, Ohio State has developed:

In addition, our thinking about and planning for effective uses of the May session have continued to evolve, and the Graduate School Handbook has been thoroughly reviewed. Revisions are nearly complete for the handbook that will become effective under the semester calendar.

While some fine tuning is still taking place with regard to registration and payroll issues for Graduate Teaching Assistants performing instructional duties during the May session, and while final copy editing of the handbook is still in process, the following points about graduate education can be reported, all applying to the autumn and spring semesters. Analogous rules have been promulgated for the May session, summer session, and summer term.

  • Sixteen credit hours per semester is the maximum graduate student course load without permission from a student’s advisor and the Graduate School.
  • Eight hours establishes “full-time” semester enrollment for graduate students. Full-time status for post-candidacy doctoral students, however, is established at three hours.
  • Graduate Associates holding 50% or greater appointments must maintain full-time enrollment status (eight hours pre-candidacy for GAs, three hours for post-candidacy GAs).
  • Fellows and trainees must register for a minimum of 12 hours per semester (except post-candidacy students, who must register for only three).
  • Half-time enrollment status (four hours) requires a graduate student to carry health insurance and offers a student access to the university’s health insurance plans.
  • A minimum of 30 graduate credit hours is required to earn a master’s degree.
  • A minimum of 80 graduate credit hours beyond the baccalaureate degree is required to earn a doctoral degree. If a master’s has been earned by the student, then a minimum of 50 graduate credit hours beyond the master’s degree is required.
  • An approved graduate minor or graduate interdisciplinary specialization requires a minimum of ten hours of graduate-level course work in at least three courses. Twenty hours of graduate-level course work is the maximum allowance for graduate minors and graduate interdisciplinary specializations.
  • Graduate students holding a 50% or greater GA appointment for two consecutive semesters (autumn and spring) are entitled to a full fee authorization during the immediately following summer session without being on appointment.
  • Students may enroll for up to three credit hours for the May session without charge if they were enrolled full time for the spring semester.

Past issues of QSU contain a comprehensive overview of these and other semester conversion efforts to date.

UCAT Institutes and other programs. The University Center for the Advancement of Teaching (UCAT) is a front line resource in preparing for the move to a semester calendar. The center regularly sponsors programs to assist faculty with the transition to semesters.

For information about course design institutes, please visit UCAT also offers one-on-one support for the calendar conversion. Please email or call 292-3644 for information about tailored departmental workshops and other assistance with the calendar conversion.

In addition, UCAT has inaugurated a Semester Brown Bag Series on Fridays in October. All brown bags take place from 11:00 to 1:00 in the Younkin Success Center Room 150, each focusing on a specific semester conversion issue.

Statewide semester summit. On October 25, Ohio State will host a Semester Summit that is expected to draw some 400 faculty and administrators from institutions across state that, like Ohio State, are moving to a semester calendar in 2012. Attendees will be welcomed by President Gee and Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut. The keynote speaker, Dr. Peter Zetterberg, directed the University of Minnesota's semester conversion project from 1995 to 2000.

In sessions during the all-day summit, representatives from the participating institutions will have the opportunity to consider such calendar conversion issues as the semester-based curriculum, advising challenges, financial aid, articulation and transfer, faculty load under semesters, communications strategies, and more. 

Coming new student communications. Later this autumn, students will begin to receive separate, targeted messages dealing with calendar conversion issues of special importance to them. A group made up of students and representatives from the Offices of Student Life, Undergraduate Studies, and Academic Affairs is considering the most effective ways to keep students aware of coursework requirements, advising reminders, upcoming deadlines, and other changes to be expected on the semester system.

Students will also continue to receive the QSU newsletter so that all members of the campus community are fully aware of events, planning, and the many other preparations being made to ensure a seamless transition to semesters. Our aim is to keep everyone fully up to date as we make this landmark shift.


 W. Randy Smith
Vice Provost for Academic Programs and Co-Chair,
Semester Conversion Coordinating Committee

 Steven S. Fink
Associate Professor of English and Co-Chair,
Semester Conversion Coordinating Committee

Questions or comments about the transition to the semester calendar?
Contact Assistant Provost Jay Johnson,