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Summer Sessions

School’s (Not) Out for Summer: Is Summer Sessions Right for You?

Days are getting longer and drier, the last cherry blossoms have fallen and the school year is winding down. So, what are you doing this summer?

You can take advantage of the University of Washington Summer Sessions program, which provides more than 1,000 courses in more than 100 different fields of study for current UW students, those visiting from other U.S. colleges, high school students, international students, and working professionals and other learners. While most courses are held on UW campuses, online courses are also available.

people walking on uw campus

Connor Ritchie is majoring in history and music performance and credits Summer Sessions course Images of War in History, Literature & Media with setting him on a path to declaring a double major. Connor’s desire to challenge himself year-round prompted his decision to extend his school year.

“Before I took a Summer Sessions course, I always got the impression that it was simply a removal of summer break,” Ritchie said. “But honestly, staying productive over those few months on a quiet, sunny campus that lacked a lot of the anxieties of the usual school year was a good experience for me.”

Some students take a Summer Sessions course to fulfill requirements in science or math while leaving breathing room during the school year. Some take them to finish college faster. A lower student-to-faculty ratio is another plus.

“I was able to talk with my professors almost every day,” said computer engineering major Andrew Cunningham, who’s taken Summer Sessions courses the past three years. “The smaller class sizes and reduced congestion on campus are a wonderful, relaxing break.”

class on the grass uw campus

Summer Sessions courses either follow a full quarter’s schedule or are condensed into two four-and-a-half week terms: Summer Sessions A-term and B-term. Taking a summer course also doesn’t mean giving up your entire break between spring and fall. There’s still a six-week break between summer and fall quarter.

The UW Summer Sessions course catalog also offers unique opportunities to take intensive foreign language and field courses that get students off campus to locations like the Olympic Peninsula or a state prison.

Instructor Claudia Jensen leads the Honors course In Your Name: Education in Prison. This five-credit offering has no prerequisites (but does require a background check to access the prison) and provides students with an understanding of education’s crucial role in the prison and post-prison context through work with incarcerated men at the Twin Rivers Unit at the Monroe Correctional Complex.

“The projects we work on have been generated by these incarcerated students over many months, and our intense three-hour class sessions at the prison bring these groups of students together,” Jensen said.

Jensen notes that the title of the class reflects an important theme: “’In Your Name’ reminds us that we, as citizens, are ultimately responsible for the American prison system,” she said.

Class projects center on citizenship and voting rights during incarceration as well as virtual reality applications during incarceration and after release — a collaborative effort with the UW Reality Lab.

“This is a course that absolutely changes lives, inside the prison and outside,” Jensen said. ”Each time we have offered this class I am truly honored and astonished at the level of collaboration and productivity it has generated.”