SOUTH KINGSTOWN – The University of Rhode Island will launch its inaugural “mini-semester” January term this winter at its South Kingstown and Providence campuses, the university announced Tuesday.
The so-called “J Term” will run from Jan. 2 to Jan. 17, during the break between URI’s fall and spring semesters, and will offer 21 undergraduate- and graduate-level courses both on campus and online, in addition to nine travel courses.
“The winter J Term will provide students with a full spectrum of academic opportunities, ranging from getting a chance to complete a prerequisite before the spring semester, to catching up on a needed general education course, or enjoying the prospect of traveling the world to learn new subject matter not possible within the confines of the traditional classroom or academic semesters,” said URI Provost Donald D. DeHayes in a release announcing the new term.
Developed over the course of two years by Dean Libutti, URI vice provost for enrollment management, in collaboration with faculty and staff, the J Term drew proposals from faculty members for courses that best fit the term’s two-week format.
According to John Olerio, the J Term coordinator, the submitted course proposals fell into four categories: high-demand fall and spring semester general education and major courses, courses with high repeat rates, courses encompassing specific research interests and special topics better suited for a shorter time frame, and courses allowing students to travel and explore the world for credit.
“Having these courses offered between semesters allows students to meet major requirements without falling behind,” said Olerio in a release. “We’re looking to give students a chance to stay on track for graduation in a setting where they can focus on one course at a time.
In addition to general education and major courses, the J Term will also offer an alternative community service experience and a career-development seminar for one credit, allowing undeclared students to explore different majors and careers.
Registration for the J Term opened Oct. 28 at 9 a.m. for all students. The per-credit cost for undergraduate J Term courses is $278 for in-state students, $417 for regional students and $461 for out-of-state students. Graduate courses cost $356 for in-state students, $445 for regional students and $515 for out-of-state students. The per-credit cost does not include any related travel and program fees.
“We are very cognizant of making sure that the J Term is affordable,” said Olerio. “The price per credit is significantly lower than the spring and fall semesters’ costs. We also have limited need-based scholarships available, with some made possible through alumni who have stepped forward and donated to the winter J Term.”
According to Olerio, the university’s efforts to market the J Term through social media, email and the web have already met with an encouraging student response.
“We could potentially see [more than] 200 J Term students sign up this first pilot year alone,” he said. “There are students with many different kinds of needs that will benefit from these course offerings… There are lots of neat niches we are looking to fill with unique and different classes. There’s something for everybody.”