New academic calendar takes effect this fall

April 12, 2017

A new academic calendar will go into effect in the upcoming academic year. The complete calendar is available for academic years 2017 through 2021. Major changes include:

  •  Fall semester 2017 will start on Wednesday, Sept. 6, and all future fall semesters will start on a Wednesday.

  • Spring semester 2018 will start on Tuesday, Jan. 23, and all future spring semesters will start on a Tuesday.

  • Each semester will now comprise 69 days of instruction over 15 weeks.

  • Spring commencement will always occur on the second Saturday in May, with doctoral and medical professional commencement the preceding day.

  • The faculty contract year (for 9-month employees) will now start two weeks before the start of fall classes.

  • The date on diplomas will now always be the last day of the respective term.

    These changes are the result of the work of several groups over the course of a couple of years. The most recent changes, approved by the Faculty Senate in Fall 2016, build on earlier changes that eliminated a Friday start to the fall semester, set the spring semester based on counting backwards from commencement on the second Saturday in May, and added a formal 4-week session in the summer before the traditional 8-week session.

    As a result of these changes, semesters will end sooner, which will allow more time between the last exam and winter holiday, create more time for departmental commencement events in the spring, and make it easier to process grades and other academic actions between terms.

    Additional benefits to students and faculty of this new calendar include greater predictability and ease of planning due to consistent start dates and semester lengths. These changes also eliminate the conflict that occurred for some students between exams and commencement ceremonies, and put UW–Madison’s academic calendar more in line with peer institutions.

    The revised calendar can be found at A print version of the overall approved calendar is available as well as year-by-year versions. If you have any questions regarding the calendars, please contact the Office of the Secretary of the Faculty at