Polk Place / UNC Chapel Hill Photo by Dan Sears

What is Summer School?

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Summer School administers UNC-Chapel Hill courses taught in summer in Academic Affairs. It ensures the best possible summer educational opportunities at Carolina for UNC-Chapel Hill students as well as for visiting students.

About 45 departments or curricula of the College of Arts and Sciences and six professional schools in Academic Affairs offer a diverse array of summer classes. Field courses, research courses and graduate-level labs are also offered. More than 550 undergraduate class sections include hundreds of courses that meet General Education perspectives and other academic requirements.

The summer calendar has two sessions, each covering 5 1/2 weeks of classes plus final exams, and Maymester. Regular session classes typically meet every day for 90 minutes. Daytime, late-afternoon, and night courses allow students to coordinate courses with work, family, and travel. Summer School offerings include many of the university’s most popular and sought-after courses.

Maymester, begun as a pilot project in 2007, became a permanent part of First Session in 2010.  About 50 courses are taught in extended class time in three weeks, and a few include travel.

More than 90 percent of the instructors are the same faculty and graduate students who make Carolina one of the top public universities in the U.S. Summer instructors include some selected visiting faculty.

Generally small class sizes in summer and fewer students on campus contribute to a small-college atmosphere. The student population in summer is as diverse as in the academic year and includes a cohort of visiting students from other college campuses and high schools.

UNC-Chapel Hill’s Summer School celebrated 135 years in 2012 and was possibly the first residential summer school in the U.S.

 

History

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill established what was possibly the first residential summer school in America in 1877.

“The Summer Normal School,” as it was then called, enrolled 235 students in courses in more than 10 disciplines. About half the students were teachers; students came from 42 counties across North Carolina and neighboring states.

Summer School was the first school at UNC-Chapel Hill to enroll women, beginning in its first year and continuing thereafter. By 1925, records indicate that 19,983 students had enrolled in Summer School. From 1934 to 1987, these programs were administered by the Office of Summer Sessions. The traditional name of Summer School was reinstated in 1988.

The University has continued to provide a wide offering of annual summer academic opportunities to its students, the people of North Carolina, and other residents in this country and abroad. About 600 sections of courses are offered in about 60 disciplines. About 7,000 students attend the summer sessions in Academic Affairs.