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Nov. 22, 2021

Student-focused fall break added to annual academic calendar

Michigan State University furthers its commitment to supporting student health and wellness by making a fall break for most students a permanent part of the university’s academic calendar.


Following a request from the Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU), leaders planned a pilot fall break for the 2020-2021 academic year but deferred it to the 2021-2022 term because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Academic Calendar Task Force, formed by the University Council, then examined the MSU academic calendar and presented recommendations for revision and restructuring.


“Making student success our main focus means collaborating with our students, faculty and staff to develop ideas and undertaking a thorough examination of any changes to structure and support services to ensure the best possible outcomes for our students,” said MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D.


In the future, fall break will occur near the middle of the semester on a Monday and Tuesday. On those days, there will be no classes or instruction, synchronous or asynchronous. Additionally, no assignments may be due, and no quizzes, tests or exams may be administered. To balance the number of class days during the fall semester, beginning in 2023, classes will start on a Monday instead of a Wednesday. Future fall breaks will occur as outlined on the Office of the Registrar’s Academic Calendar.


The Academic Calendar Task Force also reviewed the spring semester calendar. To balance the number of instructional days between the fall and spring semesters, the spring semester will be shortened by one week beginning in 2024. Spring semester classes will begin as they currently do, on a Monday within the first 10 days of the new year and end a week earlier than currently scheduled. Spring break will occur in late February or early March. This change enables more instructional similarity between fall and spring semesters and ensures learning objectives are met within an appropriate time frame. An outcome of the change is that students will be able to seek summer employment earlier.


“Adding a student fall break to our calendar will provide students with dedicated time away from instruction near the middle of the semester and support their academic success, mental health and well-being,” said Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D., MSU provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “Changes in the spring semester similarly work to ensure we pair the best instructional environment with student learning goals. I would like to thank the Academic Calendar Task Force and University Council for their work on the restructuring of our academic calendar around student success and learning metrics.”


The Academic Calendar Task Force included members representing ASMSU, the Council of Graduate Students, the University Committee on Graduate Studies, the University Committee on Undergraduate Education, the Office of Financial Aid and the Office of the Registrar. Accreditation standards, learning needs and student success were the foundation of discussion and recommendations by the task force to the University Council.


The academic calendars of MSU’s medical colleges, the College of Law and some professional graduate programs might not match the general academic calendar. Students in those areas of study should seek additional information from their respective college or program.

By: Cathy Burns and Melody Kindraka

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