Skip to main content

About January 2021 Term

Grading & Credits | Eligibility | Pre-Enrollment & Add/Drop | Dates | Class Structure & Meeting Times | Leaves of Absence | J-term Course Schedule

Swarthmore added a 4-week remote, optional, January term (J-term) for the 2020-2021 academic year. Eligibility to enroll in the January term depends on being enrolled in either the fall or spring semester.  

Grading & Credits

First-year student grading: For the 2020-2021 academic year, the mandatory CR/NC first semester policy for first-year students is extended to include the January 2021 term.

The January 2021 term has a load limit of 1.5 credits, which can be spread over as many as two classes.

Students studying in the J-term should clarify with their advisors the credit progress toward their degrees. The recommended, normal course load in the 2020-21 academic year will be 3-1-4. But some students may wish to take 4-0-4; others may take 3.5-1.5-4. And still others may take 3-1-3, if they have enough credits to do so. While there is no penalty for not registering for the J-term, be sure this is the best course of action for you. For the 2020-2021 academic year, regular tuition covers the normal program of up to 10 credits earned over the fall, January, and spring terms.


If you wish to take a January course, you may do so as long as you are enrolled in either the fall or spring semester, with one exception. First-year students and transfer students may not begin in January; they must either begin by enrolling in the fall semester or in February when the spring semester begins, regardless of whether they will be on campus. January will not be billed separately but will be included as part of tuition for any student enrolled, regardless of presence on campus, in either fall or spring semesters.

Each academic department will handle labs during the J-term in their own way. Please consult the departmental websites.

Pre-Enrollment & Add/Drop

If you pre-enrolled in April 2020 for a course that was subsequently shifted to the J-term, your registration for the course(s) was already shifted automatically to the J-term. If you want to drop that course, you can use the Add/Drop e-form in mySwarthmore until January 5, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. If you do not plan to take the course(s), please drop the course(s) so that your spot opens up for another student. If the course was lotteried, you may have been lotteried out. Please check your J-term course registration to see if you were lotteried out.

Add/Drop for J-term is open throughout fall semester. Students use the mySwat Add/Drop process to add or drop a J-term course.  


January 4: Classes begin. All classes are remote.
January 4-7: Week one
January 5: Last day of Add/Drop for J-term courses. Deadline 11:59 p.m. Eastern.
January 11-14: Week two
January 18: MLK Day Holiday. No classes.
January 19-22: Week three. Note shift in classes days for MLK Day.
January 22: CR/NC and Course Withdrawal W deadline
January 25-28: Week four of classes
January 28: All papers/projects due; all final exams; end of J-term.


Class Structure & Meeting Times

The structure of the class, how much is synchronous, and how much is asynchronous is determined by the faculty member/instructor. For many classes, time will be split into 2 or 3 sessions (e.g., a session from 10:30-noon and another session from 1-2 p.m.), totaling about 7 to 8 hours per week of class time broadly construed (with homework in addition). Note that most courses are full-credit courses with the normal amount of workload expectation for a one-credit course. All J-term classes will be taught remotely.

The J-term Course Schedule includes provisional meeting times, but these should be understood to be provisional depending on the professor.

Leaves of Absence

If you are on a Fall 2020 leave of absence and you aim to participate in the January term, then you need to:

  1. Request return (re-enrollment) for the J-term using the leave/return e-form in mySwarthmore. 
  2. After you have been approved for J-term return, you can use the Add/Drop procedure to Add or Drop a J-term course.

If you are on a Fall 2020 leave of absence and you are unsure about whether you want to enroll in the J-term, then you can wait until later in the Fall semester to request a return and to decide about J-term enrollment. The deadline for requesting January or spring return is November 15.

J-term course schedule

The J-term course schedule is now available here [pdf]