Saint Joseph’s Offers Virtual Intersession for Current and Visiting Students

by Erin O'Boyle

Student profile with the Philadelphia skyline in the background.
  • Intersession offers students the opportunity to earn their credentials faster, with 20+ courses from 12 academic departments being offered over 12 days in January.
  • Intersession offers a chance to catch up on coursework, plan ahead for future semesters, or work on a secondary major or minor.
  • All classes are virtual, allowing the college experience to continue over the break.

This January, Saint Joseph’s is expanding its intersession offerings to allow students to take courses and fulfill requirements over winter break. Intersession, the academic offering period between the fall and spring semesters, will run this year from Jan. 4 to Jan. 16, and is offering over 20 courses from 12 different academic departments.

The ability to offer an expanded intersession came as part of the University’s strategic pandemic planning, which included expanded online summer courses in 2020, hybrid, hyflex and online courses this fall, and a modified spring semester schedule. “This will allow students more varied course opportunities than in prior years,” explains Cheryl McConnell, Ph.D., provost and vice president of academic affairs.

Many students use intersession as an opportunity to catch up on their coursework, or even to get ahead. For this reason, intersession typically consists of primarily general education course requirements. “Some students may have chosen to only take four courses in the fall, to create more mental space for themselves,” explains James Caccamo, Ph.D., associate dean for students and experiential learning. “This is a great opportunity for them to get up to speed or even get ahead of schedule. Some students may be thinking of future internships, or have plans to study abroad. They may want their future semesters to be more flexible, so they will take advantage of an intersession course.” 

In addition to general education courses, this year Saint Joseph’s intersession has expanded to offer a few major-focused courses. “The department of Health Studies, for example, is offering a few Interdisciplinary Health Services courses, which are core to the major,” explains Maria Beazley, manager of advising operations. These additions give students more variety and options as they make progress on their degree, or if they are picking up a second major or minor. It also allows students to check off major requirements so they can make room for internship or co-op opportunities in spring or summer.  

Course subjects vary from art to economics and English to physics. All courses will be virtual. Some will be offered synchronously, with scheduled meeting times throughout the week. Other courses will be offered asynchronously.

With asynchronous classes, there are no scheduled meeting times. Asynchronous activities, such as discussion boards and pre-recorded lectures, may be used in the design of the course. This means that the course may fit the student’s schedule better. Faculty will still be available to meet with students individually through their office hours. All classes – synchronous and asynchronous – will have the equivalent hours of a regular semester.

The Advising Center is already seeing an increased interest in enrolling in intersession courses. Beazley suspects this is COVID-driven. “People may have more time on their hands this winter. We may be back indoors, isolating again. There will probably be fewer opportunities to go on vacations or get together with families,” she says. “Students may have more time on their hands, and so may choose to use this opportunity to take another course.”

Registration for intersession opens Oct. 26 and runs through Jan. 4. Students can view the course schedules here.