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Exploring Summer Courses

Exploring Summer Courses

By Kimberly De Oliveira 

It’s that time of year again where there are only a few months left in the winter term and we all start thinking about how we will spend our summer. Some students have their sights set on internships, travelling, or resting and preparing for the next fall term. If you’re still exploring your options, you should consider spending a part of your summer taking summer courses.  

Professor talking to his students in a lecture hall

Over my past three years at York, I’ve come to see summer courses as an underrated gem of the university experience. Here are just four of the many reasons why I recommend summer courses to my friends and mentees that I mentor as an LA&PS Colleges Peer Mentor. 

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Spreading out your course load

Many people find that taking a few courses in the summer allows them to have a lighter course load in the FW terms. For a typical 120-credit degree, people generally aim to complete 30 credits per year to graduate in 4 years. If taking 30 credits in the FW term is overwhelming, or you’d appreciate having some extra time to spend outside of your studies on work or extracurriculars, taking summer courses is a great option. For example, you could take 24 credits in the FW term and complete the remaining 6 credits in the summer. All while staying on track to complete your degree in the 4 years.

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Alternatively, get ahead.

I personally used the summer terms to get ahead of the typical graduation schedule. By taking 15 credits in two separate summer semesters, I am on track to graduate an entire year early. It is a sacrifice, but I found it rewarding. I know other students who have taken some credits in the summer to graduate one semester earlier, or to make their last semesters lighter in order to prepare for the next chapter of their life after their graduation.

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Availability of online and asynchronous courses

If you’re persuaded to take summer courses but do not want to or cannot commute to campus during the summer, I have great news for you! There is a good selection of available courses that are fully online which means you would be able to complete it from virtually anywhere in the world. This is especially appealing to international students who are planning on returning home for the summer. It is always good to double check if your selected online courses are synchronous or asynchronous as that could have some impact on your plans. For example, “ONCA” courses have online lectures and/or tutorials but the exams are in person.

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Smaller classes and great campus experience

If you have the ability to complete some courses on campus, something that I really enjoyed while taking summer courses is that they generally lead to smaller classes where you are more likely to engage with your classmates and professors. The campus is also a lot less crowded which meant virtually no difficulty finding study spots at the library and no lines for coffee! If you drive to campus, the parking situation is also significantly better. The Harry W. Arthurs Common (green space in front of Vari Hall) has great spots to get together with friends or enjoy spending time in the sun.


It is incredibly important that I note perhaps the most important difference between FW courses and summer courses. In the summer, courses can progress at twice the speed of FW courses. For example, a 3.0 credit course that is typically 4 months long in the FW could last only 2 months. This could mean that the course will have two lectures in a week instead of one, and so on. It is important to consider how this speed could impact your other commitments or your own learning preferences.

In order to gauge if this would be the case, you would be paying special attention to Term in which a course is labelled under. S1 lasts from early May to late June and S2 lasts from late June to early August. In these cases, the courses would be progressing faster. However, if you take an SU course, which runs from early May to August, a 3.0 credit course would run at a relatively normal speed compared to F or W.

Now, what? Well, if you’re interested in checking out the course offerings for this upcoming 2024 summer term, they have been posted to the Courses Website. Also make sure to check out when your enrollment window is through Student Web Services. Finally, while not yet available, check out the Important Dates for the summer. If you have any questions, a great resource to consult is your Academic Advisor!

In short, you’ve earned this summer! Enjoy the beautiful weather and the opportunity to rest. If you do find yourself looking for a rewarding way to spend a part of your summer, taking one or a few courses just might be it.

Best wishes!