Rutgers University Senate
Instruction, Curricula and Advising Committee
Report in Response to Charge S-0303
Winter Session Review
January 2004
Revised February 2004

Original Charge S-0303:  Review the status of recommendations made regarding Winter Session, pursuant to the Instruction, Curricula and Advising (then Educational Policy and Planning) Committee report approved by the University Senate on October 27, 2000.

The Senate Instruction, Curricula and Advising Committee has reviewed the implementation of the October 2000 recommendations of the University Senate regarding Winter Session.  In the course of our investigation we have examined the Winter Session catalogs and schedules for each campus over the last three years, solicited information from the directors of each Rutgers campus Winter Session program and from the deans of each school offering courses during Winter Session, and also looked at how the Rutgers program compares to those offered at other AAU public institutions.

Winter Sessions at Rutgers: Overview

Camden, which was the first of the Rutgers’ campuses to offer a Winterim, has the largest program by far with 70 courses offered in the Winter of 2004.  New Brunswick by policy restricts WinterSession to 50 course sections or fewer; Newark, which has only recently begun to offer a full-fledged Winter Session program, offered 21 courses in the Winter of 2004.

Rutgers Winter Session Number of Courses Offered
2002 2003 2004*
Camden 41 51 70
New Brunswick 32 44 51
Newark 5 7 21
*Courses scheduled as of 11/15/03.  Some courses may not have run due to limited enrollment.

In New Brunswick, WinterSession courses generally meet once before the holiday break and then begin meeting again immediately after December 25th.  In 2004, 15 class days were scheduled.  This schedule has a built-in allowance for any time lost to inclement weather:  most New Brunswick WinterSession courses actually allow for approximately 20 percent more contact time (2700 minutes) than Fall/Spring courses (2250 minutes).

In Camden, the general schedule is to hold one session before the holiday break, and then 10 class sessions between the 1st of the year and the Spring semester.  2004 is the first year that Newark began its Winter Session before the break; in 2002 and 2003, Newark Winter Session classes met 12 times beginning on January 2nd.

Rutgers Winter Session Schedules for Winter 2004
Camden December 23; January 5-January 16 Monday-Friday 
3 hours & 40 minutes per day
New Brunswick December 23; January 5-January 16 Monday-Friday 
4 hours per day
Newark December 23; December 26; December 29-December 30; January 2-January 16 Monday-Friday 
3 hours per day (excluding break)
2000 Senate Recommendations

Curriculum Review Process for Winter Session Courses

2000 Senate Recommendation: “All courses, including three-credit courses that are currently on the books, must go through the normal curriculum-review process (i.e., review by department and college curriculum-review committees) prior to being offered during the Winter Session.”

This recommendation was the result of a general consensus that it was extremely unlikely that the exact equivalent of a previously approved three-credit course could be offered in the Winter Session abbreviated time frame, and that any course being modified for the Winter Session format, including "Special Topics" courses, should be considered a new course.

Most courses offered in the New Brunswick Winter Session do go through the recommended review process.  The majority of courses offered are FAS courses, and as approved by the FAS faculty in 2001, all FAS New Brunswick courses being offered for the first time during Winter Session, including courses already approved for Fall/Spring sessions, must be reviewed and approved by the FAS Curriculum Committee. Materials to be reviewed must include a lecture-by-lecture syllabus for the proposed course in the winter session format, along with the department’s evaluation of each course specifically as a Winter Session course. When a Winter Session course is to be taught by a graduate student, the department is asked to elaborate on the relevant teaching experience of that graduate student.

In Newark and Camden, courses that are already on the books do not have to be reviewed; almost all courses being offered during these Winter Sessions have been previously approved for Fall/Spring semesters.  Departments proposing to offer a course during Winter Session submit their proposals directly to the Summer/Winter Session Office.

Winter Session Course Credits

2000 Senate Recommendation: “Winter Session courses should be primarily one- to two-credit courses.  Three-credit courses should be the exception, not the rule.”

The Senate recommendation was the result of a general consensus that it was extremely unlikely that the normal expectations for a three-credit course could be met within the constricted Winter Session time frame.  However, even with the review process that most New Brunswick courses undergo, most of the courses offered on all three campuses continue to be three-credit courses.

2002 2003 2004*
6-Credit Courses 0 0 2
4-Credit Courses 0 0 1
3-Credit Courses 41 51 67
2-Credit Courses 0 0 0
1-Credit Courses 0 0 0


2002 2003 2004*
4-Credit Courses 1 1 4
3-Credit Courses 27 35 41
2-Credit Courses 1 1 1
1.5-Credit Courses 1 4 1
1-Credit Courses 2 3 4


2002 2003 2004*
3-Credit Courses 0 3 19
2-Credit Courses 5 3 1
1-Credit Courses 0 1 1
*Courses scheduled as of 11/15/03.  Some courses may not have run due to limited enrollment.

The New Brunswick FAS Curricula Committee has made a significant effort in the past few years to encourage the development of 2-credit courses for Winter Session.  Despite this effort few submissions are received.

In Newark, departments are given the option to offer 1-, 2-, or 3-credit courses.  While all the courses in the initial Newark Winter Session schedule were 2 credits, most of the courses offered during the 2004 Winter Session were 3-credit courses.

Camden, which has the largest Winter Session program, in 2002 and 2003 offered 3-credit courses only; in Winterim 2004 there were 67 3-credit courses, one 4-credit course, and two 6-credit courses offered.

There are probably a number of reasons for the continued proliferation of three-credit courses offered during Winter Session.  There is certainly a perception, no doubt justified, that most students subjecting themselves to completing a course in this constricted time frame and during their "break" would prefer to receive the maximum number of credits possible for their efforts.  As compensation for teaching Winter Session courses is also tied to the number of credits being offered1, it is natural for regular faculty—not to mention financially strapped graduate students—giving up their own "break" to also look at receiving the maximum for their efforts.

[1In general, faculty compensation for Winter Session is exactly the same as it is for Summer Session.  For full-time faculty, salaries are paid at the rate of 2½% of salary per credit taught (3¾% for 1½ credits, 7½% for 3 credits, 10% for 4 credits), although Newark has a maximum which equals range 26, step 39 of the assistant professor salary scale.  PTLs are paid based on their latest per-credit rate.  If they taught in Fall 2003, in Winter 2004 they would be paid the same rate.  If they have not taught before, the base salary is $2,300 for a 3-credit course.  Graduate students teaching 3-credit courses are paid at the instructor level, range 17, step 1, 8, 15 and 25 based on classification and experience (experience = semesters taught: 0-1 semesters $2,377, 2-3 semesters $2,522, 4-5 semesters $2,687, 6+ semesters $2,853).]

In some cases, infrastructure considerations seem to be impacting the number of 1- and 2-credit courses that can be offered.  For example, in New Brunswick the Psychology Department has a series of 1-credit lab courses that it would be interested in offering during Winter Session.  It has been unable to do so because Winter Session in New Brunswick is restricted to College Avenue facilities.

This situation is certainly not unique to Rutgers.  For example, the three other AAU public universities that also offer winter session courses predominantly offer three-credit courses.

AAU Public Universities 
2004 Winter Session Courses
Courses2 Less than 
3 Credits
3 Credits More than 
3 Credits
University of Arizona 141 1-credit: 3 
2-credit: 3
122 4-credit: 12 11 of the 12 4-credit courses 
are language courses
University of Iowa 39 1-credit: 7 
2-credit: 6
24 0
University of Maryland 199 1-credit: 11 
1.5-credit: 1 
2-credit: 5
178 0 12 study abroad courses (11 3-credit, one 2-credit) are being offered
  Camden 70 0 67 4-credit: 1 
6-credit: 2
  Newark 21 1-credit: 1 
2-credit: 1
19 0
  New Brunswick 51 1-credit: 4 
1.5-credit: 1 
2-credit: 1
41 4-credit: 4
[2Includes courses for which credit hours are to be determined "by arrangement."]

While the Committee still has some pedagogical concerns, the reality of the situation seems to be that whether it be by design or inertia most institutions offering Winter Session offer primarily three-credit courses.  If the safeguards that New Brunswick FAS has instituted with their stringent curricula review of courses offered during Winter Session were to be adopted by the other Rutgers units and campuses as well, there would at least be assurances that courses being offered in this format were the appropriate ones.

While the Committee is willing to concede that the 2000 Senate recommendation regarding winter course credit limits may not have been realistic, we would nevertheless urge that efforts continue to develop innovative courses of less than three credits and to eliminate the barriers to offering existing courses that may be appropriate to the Winter Session format.  The Vice President for Continuous Education has indicated that, if a department can anticipate sufficient thresholds for their offerings, the New Brunswick WinterSession office would certainly be willing to consider expanding WinterSession beyond the confines of College Avenue to accommodate departments wishing to offer certain lab courses, for example.  We would certainly urge that discussions take place that might allow for this to be implemented for the 2005 New Brunswick WinterSession.

It is hard to envision, however, how courses offering more than three credits during this constricted time period could meet the requirements set forth in the university regulations regarding units of credit:

University Regulations 2.4.4B: Units of Credit:

The number of credits granted a student for any course in Rutgers University shall be determined by the college, school, or Faculty authorizing the course.  The credit value of a course shall be assigned on the basis of the estimated amount of time a median student can be expected to devote on the course, at the rate of three hours a week per credit, including time in class, in laboratory, in conference with the teacher, or in reading, writing and preparing for class.
As a Winter Session class day is basically equivalent to one week during the regular semester, a student taking a three-credit course would be expected to devote 9 hours a day on that course.  A student taking a four-credit course would then be expected to spend 12 hours a day on that course.  As a sustained effort that would seem both counter-productive and unlikely!

In Winter Session 2004, New Brunswick offered four 4-credit courses, and Camden offered one 4-credit course and two 6-credit courses, a 400-level Nursing practicum3 and an internship4 in the Masters in Public Administration Educational Leadership and Policy track.  While both of the 6-credit courses were capstone courses offered only to Rutgers students completing specific, approved certification programs, and both required in class and practical work to be done before and after the actual winter session, it is difficult to envision how either could be justified as an appropriate Winter Session course.

[3Catalog course description:
Contemporary Issues in School Nursing Practicum (Cr.6)
Times by Arrangement
Contact the Nursing Department at (856)225-6226 for further information.  Students work in the public school program and school health setting with certified school nurses, health educators, and clinical faculty to further develop knowledge, competencies and skills needed for certification as a school nurse.  Students perform assessments, screenings, injury care, illness interventions, and health care planning for the school population.]
[4Educational Leadership and Policy Internship I (Cr.6)

2000 Senate Recommendation: “No student should be allowed to register for a total of more than three credits during a single Winter Session.”

In Camden, the following policy was approved by the CCAS Faculty Senate on April 22, 2003:

Students may carry no more than 4-credits in a single session without special approval.  Requirements for taking an overload include:  GPA 3.0 or higher; meeting times of classes must not overlap; permission of student’s academic advisor; permission of the Summer Session/Winterim Director.
In Newark, any student seeking to register for a Winter Session course overload must obtain written permission from their respective academic dean.  In the past, credit overload has been defined as more than 4 credits.  In the future, it is being defined as more than 3 credits.

In New Brunswick, students may register for only one Winter Session course.  Rutgers students with a grade point average below 2.0 and first year students may not register for a Winter Session course unless approved by their academic dean.

While no campus has adopted the Senate recommendation exactly as stated, each campus has set policies designed to set limits to student Winter Session registrations.  So at least in spirit this recommendation has been implemented.

2000 Senate Recommendation: “Emphasis should be placed on developing field or study-abroad courses (for example, “London Theater,” “Renaissance Art in Florence,” “Coral Reefs,”).”

The 2000 Senate report noted that “Such courses could take advantage of the Winter Session format and genuinely enrich Rutgers’ course offerings.”  Unfortunately little progress can be noted in this area since 2000.

Camden has offered a marketing course in South Africa, and a Public Administration course to Havana.  Camden Winterim field experiences have included a Practicum in Education for teacher preparation students.

New Brunswick regularly offers an undergraduate and graduate course in Coral Reef Biology and Ecology in Little Cayman Island during Winter Session.  Exercise Science offers a 1-credit field experience focusing on working with individuals with disabilities, while Sociology has offered a 1-credit CASE Internship in Social Gerontology.

[This course was cancelled as of 11/18/04.]

Newark regularly offers a 2-credit Tropical Field Biology course in Puerto Rico during their Winter Session.

In contrast, the University of Maryland offered 12 study abroad courses during its 2004 Winter Session:

Considering the size and range of interest and expertise of the Rutgers University faculty, there is certainly no reason why courses of this nature could not be developed at Rutgers.

Other Issues:

Winter Session Faculty

The 2000 Senate report focused primarily on issues relating to the courses being offered during Winter Session, no recommendations were offered relating to the faculty teaching those courses.

In looking at this year’s offerings, the Committee noted that both Newark and New Brunswick had at least one faculty member teaching two different courses during Winter Session.  Teaching university-level courses 7 or 8 hours a day, combined with the necessary preparation and other student-contact times, would seem to be equivalent to, and potentially as counterproductive as, a student taking more than one Winter Session course during a single session.

Academic Calendar

Winter Session courses have now been officially offered at Rutgers University for the past six years.5   While there may still be a number of issues that need to be resolved regarding Winter Session offerings and any number of things that can be done that would make these courses even more valuable to Rutgers' students, it seems clear that we have passed the stage where it is appropriate to refer to this program as "experimental" or a  'pilot. '  Therefore it is probably appropriate that Winter Session be
included in the University Academic Calendar just as Summer Session is currently.

[5While the first official "Winter Session" at Rutgers seems to hve been a two-week session offered by the Rutgers-Newark Law School in 1995, the first multi-course session was offered at Camden in the Winter of 1999 with 90 students enrolled in some dozen courses.  New Brunswick began their WinterSession the following year with 415 students in 19 courses.]

In Conclusion

The New Brunswick Faculty of Arts and Sciences is to be commended for their efforts to ensure that all courses being offered during the New Brunswick WinterSession undergo rigorous review specifically as WinterSession courses.  The New Brunswick Summer/Winter Session Office has worked closely with the FAS-NB faculty in their effort to ensure that what is offered is a quality program and should also be commended for their work in expanding the Winter Session time frame, controlling the program size, and enforcing program standards.

While there are those who will never be convinced that courses offered over an 11- to 15-day session can ever pedagogically sound, it is apparent that the Rutgers Winter Session is not likely to disappear anytime in the near future.  For the sake of the institution, its reputation, and its students, it is critical that the Winter Session courses that are offered be format and time-frame appropriate, rigorous and educationally sound, and also take advantage of the opportunity to do things that might not be
possible during the course of a normal semester.

Ultimately, for any or all of this to happen there must be significant input on the part of the Rutgers faculty.  The faculty is responsible for the curriculum.  Neither the University Administration nor individual Winter Session Directors can ensure that the appropriate courses are offered and the educational standards are met.  This is the job of the faculty.


1. We recommend that the faculties at other units offering, or considering offering, courses during winter sessions look at implementing standards and procedures similar to those adopted by the New Brunswick Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

2. We recommend that the deans of units participating in winter sessions strongly encourage and support their faculties in the development of innovative courses of less than three credits as well as field or study-abroad courses.

3. We recommend that the Winter Session offices on the three campuses take the lead in opening discussions with academic departments on their campuses aimed at eliminating any existing barriers to offering courses that may be appropriate to the Winter Session format.

4. We recommend that faculty not be permitted to teach more than one three-credit course during a winter session.

5. We further recommend that Winter Session be added to the University Academic Calendar.

rev. 2/20/04

Appendix A
Winter Session at AAU Public Universities

Universities with Winter Sessions:
University of Arizona
University of Iowa
University of Maryland, College Park
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
2004 Winter Session Schedules
Duration Usual Schedule for a 3-Credit Course
University of Arizona December 22-January 13 Monday-Friday 
2 hours & 50 minutes per da
University of Iowa December 29-January 16 Monday-Friday 
2 hours & 40 to 3 hours & 35 minutes per day
University of Maryland January 5-January 23 Monday-Friday 
3 hours per day
  Camden December 23; January 5-January 16 Monday-Friday 
3 hours & 40 minutes per day
  Newark December 23; January 5-January 16 Monday-Friday 
4 hours per day
  New Brunswick December 23; December 26; 
December 29-December 30; 
January 2-January 16
3 hours per day (excluding break)


Course Load Policies For Winter Session
University of Arizona Maximum Study Load: 
Winter: 1 course/3-4 units 
“The dean (or the dean's representative) of the college in which you are enrolled or your academic advisor must give written approval for any exception. Students who add more than one course without proper approval may be automatically cancelled without notice.”
University of Iowa “3 semester hours is the maximum registration for Winter Session without special permission which you would request from your college.”
University of Maryland “Students will be limited to enrolling in a maximum of 4 credits for Winterterm”
  Camden "Students may carry no more than 4-credits in a single session without special approval. Requirements for taking an overload include: GPA 3.0 or higher; meeting times of classes must not overlap; permission of student's academic advisor; permission of the SummerSession/Winterim Director."
  Newark Any Rutgers students seeking to register for a Winter Session course overload must obtain written permission from their respective academic dean. In the past, the credit overload had been defined as more than 4 credits.  In the future, that is being changed to more than 3 credits.
  New Brunswick Students may register for only one course during any WinterSession.


2004 Winter Session Courses
Courses6 Less than 
3 Credits
3 Credits More than 
3 Credits
University of Arizona 141 1-credit:  3 
2-credit:  3
122 4-credit:  12 11 of the 12 4-credit courses are language courses
University of Iowa 39 1-credit:  7 
2-credit:  6
24 0
University of Maryland 199 1-credit:  11 
1.5-credit: 1 
2-credit:  5
178 0 12 study abroad courses (11 3-credit; one 2-credit) are being offered
  Camden 70 0 67 4-credit:  1 
6-credit:  2
  Newark 21 1-credit:  1 
2-credit:  1
19 0
  New Brunswick 51 1-credit:  4 
1.5-credit: 1 
2-credit:  1
41 4-credit:  4
[6Includes courses for which credit hours are to be determined "by arrangement."]

nxb 11/20/03