According to an association of college bookstores, 71% of universities operate on a semester calendar while just 15% use the quarter system. And the gap is widening. In 1990 only 62% of universities had a semester calendar.
InsideHigherEd reports that more institutions are switching to semesters as a way to align courses and credits from transfer students. Semesters also allow students to graduate earlier and take advantage of internship or job opportunities.
I taught on the quarter system once and found the pace intense. The rhythm helped keep students engaged, but it meant that they could not catch up if they missed more than a few classes. It’s also difficult to assign a long-term research project when there’s just 10 weeks to complete it. On the other hand, a semester can drag on and allows for less variety of courses.
On a medical campus, the calendar is different altogether. Graduation occurs in May at BU, but that doesn’t slow the activity in the hospital or the research labs.