Academic Schedule and Load

Academic Schedule

Seattle Pacific University uses a quarter calendar system that spans three regular quarters (Autumn, Winter, and Spring quarters) and an optional summer term, used by most students as a vacation period. 

Winter and Spring Quarters each consist of ten weeks of instruction. Autumn Quarter includes ten weeks of instruction preceded by September Session, an optional period of four-to-six weeks beginning after summer session ends and prior to start of the regular autumn term. September Session provides an opportunity for students to enroll in unique or specialty courses, including short-term study abroad Global Seminars.

Credits taken during September Session count toward students’ Autumn Quarter credit load, and students are allowed to apply their financial aid toward these classes. (If students take more than a combined 18 credits during the September Session and Autumn Quarter, they will be charged for the overload.)

September Session allows flexibility and opportunity for our students who may want to catch up on credits, or move toward degree completion more quickly. Learn more about September Session.

Academic Load

Definition of Academic Credit

One “credit” signifies the value toward graduation of a class meeting one period of approximately one hour each week for a quarter of approximately 10 weeks together with satisfactory completion of the assigned out-of-class work. Two (and sometimes three) 50-minute periods of laboratory work are regarded as equivalent to one such period of regular class work.

The SPU “credit” is a “quarter” credit and is equal to two-thirds of the “semester” credit in use at some institutions. (For instance, 45 quarter credits are equivalent to 30 semester credits.) It is expected that students will spend at least two 50-minute periods of work outside the classroom for each 50 minutes spent in class.

Enrollment Status

Enrollment status for doctoral candidates and students seeking master’s degrees or certificates is determined by the following:

  • Full time: 6 or more credits 
  • Three-quarter time: 4–5 credits 
  • Half time: 3 credits
  • Quarter time: 1–2 credits

Permissable Academic Load

The term "academic load" refers to the schedule of studies for which a student is registered. Six to fifteen credits are considered a regular academic load for graduate and doctoral students. Although Summer Session consists of more than one session, to be considered full time, a student must be registered for at least 6 credits within the entire Summer Session.

Due to the rigorous academic nature of advanced degree programs at Seattle Pacific University:

  • Matriculated students who wish to take more than fifteen credits of 6000- and 7000-level coursework in one quarter must first obtain permission from their Program Coordinator.
  • Non-matriculated students are limited to six credits per quarter.
  • During the Summer Sessions, master’s and doctoral students should take no more than six credits in any four-week period. 
  • Students employed full time should take no more than eight credits per quarter. 
  • Financial-aid recipients must carry a minimum of three regular on-campus credits to be eligible to receive financial aid.

Concurrent Enrollment

Graduate students may, with prior permission, take courses concurrently elsewhere, provided the combined load does not exceed the number of credits per registration period outlined by the academic load limits specified above.