Office of Academic Affairs

Site Navigation

Quarter-to-Semester Updates

Quarters to Semesters Update

May 2013

Dear Colleagues,

This marks the 35th and final issue of QSU.

In a university this large and decentralized, communication is key to all that we do. Since QSU began in December 2009, the goal has been to send a regular communication to the entire university community relating to progress being made on the calendar conversion. Each month, we have tried to provide a concise set of information about decisions made and issues still to be resolved, as well as commentary from key offices/organizations that were central to the conversion, with their perspectives on progress to date. Your response to QSU has been overwhelmingly positive. Thank you.

A Semester Conversion Communication Subcommittee has guided the production of each issue. Thanks to its members who have served over the three years: Brian Agness, Lauren Boyd, Jordan Davis, Steve Fink, Tim Gerber, Ruth Gerstner, Connie Goodman, Dave Isaacs, Jay Johnson, Teresa Johnson, Peter Koltak, Karen Patterson, Merijn Van der Heijden, John Wanzer, and Nancy Wygle. Melinda Nelson, assistant provost and subcommittee chair, has played a central role in the production of every issue. Her thorough, highly professional work with QSU is very much valued and admired by everyone involved. 



Semester impacts on students: Thoughts from our leaders of undergraduate and graduate education.

My first thought, when we began the calendar conversion to semesters, was that it was a Herculean task. Technology helped us with some of the more pressing conversion issues. One of the most important technology innovations in this process was the program and course portal Other important technology solutions were the MySwitch website, which provided students with a single access point for all information related to the new calendar, and with its additional information for students and advisors. Another conversion milestone was the university's "Pledge to Students" stating that academic progress, costs, financial aid, and instructional time would be largely unaffected as a result of the conversion, as long as students were deliberate about engaging with their academic advisors. I'm happy to say that we have encountered only a very few such situations, and most have been resolved through discussions with the students' home colleges. The real heroes in this effort are our students. They have successfully prepared for the change. It turned out that it was indeed a Herculean task, but together we all made it happen.

-- Wayne Carlson, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies and Dean of Undergraduate Education 

Making the move to semesters for the graduate side of Ohio State was a massive and successful undertaking. We have 90+ doctoral programs and some 115 master's programs, and 10,000 graduate students, with about half of them on appointments as graduate associates or fellows. That last fact made our work even more challenging. We looked with fresh eyes at every aspect of the graduate experience. Many degree programs made important changes to their curricula that will increase Ohio State's visibility. In the Graduate School, we guided that activity while revising all policies/procedures associated with the graduate degree experience. This process demonstrated again to me how interconnected we are. Everything the Graduate School did leading up to Fall 2012 involved collaborations with the colleges and departments, sponsored programs, Human Resources, the CIOs office, the Registrar, Graduate Admissions, Student Life, and others. There is more work to do. Going forward, we are working with colleagues across campus on such projects as simplifying graduate associate appointment dates, getting graduate student data incorporated into SIS, and improving career development resources for graduate students.
-- Patrick S. Osmer, Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate School 

Update on May Session. This year will inaugurate Ohio State's May session, which begins on May 6, 2013, and concludes on May 31, 2013. This four-week session is meant to provide a concentrated experience when students can focus on just one class, perhaps a topic beyond their educational track. Some 8,600 students have signed up for a May session class, and registration may top 9,000 by the time the session starts.

Currently enrolled full-time students who are not graduating at the end of spring semester can take up to three credits during the May session at no tuition charge. Students will not be responsible for General and Instructional Fees and Non-Residency Fees, but they must plan to pay all other fees, including the tuition for a course that is greater than three credit hours. Regional campus students who have completed at least 30 credit hours and have maintained a minimum 2.0 GPA are eligible to come to the Columbus campus to attend the May session.

More than 130 courses will be offered during the May session by the colleges of Arts and Sciences; Engineering; Education and Human Ecology; Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences; Nursing; Public Health; and Social Work. In addition, students can choose from more than 40 "Global May" study abroad programs intended for first- and second-year students of any major. They are led by Ohio State faculty and feature program instruction in English. 

Other key dates. In addition to the May session, the university community will want to be aware of a number of other summer dates. These include: 



Summer Session begins

June 10 (M)

Independence Day - no classes, offices closed

July 4 (R)

Final examinations

July 29-31 (M-W)

Summer commencement

August 4 (Sun)


Summer courses can take place during the four-week May session; during the seven-week summer session; or during May and summer, spanning both sessions for a total of 12 weeks, including the one-week break between the two sessions.

Autumn semester, 2013, begins on Wednesday, August 21, and concludes on Tuesday, December 3, with final exams set for December 5 - 11, and autumn Commencement taking place on Sunday, December 15.

The full academic calendar is available at


Upcoming key dates. In addition to the coming new May session, the university community will want to be aware of a number of other key dates. These include:
  • Spring break -- March 11-15 (Monday -- Friday)
  • Spring semester exams -- April 24-30 (Wednesday -- Tuesday)
  • Spring Commencement -- May 5 (Sunday)

The full academic calendar for 2012-13 is available at

Changes: pending and pondered. Even as we settle into the rhythm of semesters, the Semester Conversion Coordinating Committee is meeting-and will continue to do so - in order to identify where adjustments yet need to be made and recommend appropriate remedies. Here are some changes to anticipate and some rethinking that is under way.

  • Change to the tuition Option Payment Plan (TOPP). In academic year 2012-13, to help with the transition to semesters, the university increased the number of installment payments available through TOPP to four per semester. In academic year 2013-14, those who enroll in TOPP will make three payments per semester. Autumn 2013 payments must be made in August, September, and October; spring 2014 payments will be due in December, January, and March. For full details, including information about how to enroll in TOPP, go to
Restructuring autumn semester. We have now been through a full academic year on semesters. We know that with it have come adjustments, among them: for faculty, the pacing of instruction; for students, the number and timing of assignments; for everyone, no break similar to what occurs in spring. In the future, autumn semester may need to be restructured, perhaps beginning earlier in August and providing additional days between sessions. 


As has been said many times, this entire effort has been a remarkable example of President Gee's "One University" concept. Overall, approximately 300 colleagues led the conversion at various levels within the university, but there is no academic or academic support unit, or individual within it, that has not been involved with or affected by the conversion in some way. As we close this first year on the semester calendar, it should be gratifying to all of us that Ohio State experienced the transition so seamlessly - more so than might have been expected at an institution of our size and complexity. However, just being on the semester calendar does not mark the end of the transition. We will be monitoring continuously as we move forward, making adjustments as need be, to ensure that the semester calendar serves Ohio State as effectively as possible.

On a personal level, I am grateful to President Gee, Provost Alutto, my colleagues in the Office of Academic Affairs, and the University Senate for their total commitment to the success of the conversion and their involvement in so many ways; and to Melissa Soave in the Office of Academic Affairs, who works with me daily in many ways, but whose role in the entire semester conversion process has been central to its success and needs to be acknowledged formally to everyone.

At this point the QSU newsletter has served its purpose and will become part of the archive of information on how to effect massive institutional change. With a final thanks for your participation in that amazing and memorable process.

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



  Questions or comments about the transition to the semester calendar?

Contact Assistant Provost Jay Johnson,