2020–21 Academic Calendar 

In pursuit of an academic experience that conforms to public health considerations, Grinnell will divide both semesters into two 7.5-week terms. Important dates associated with each term are listed below:


2020–21 Academic Calendar
Term Fall 1
Fall 2
Spring 1
Spring 2
Target Last Day
to be Notified of
Term Course Schedule
and On-Campus
Residency Option
July 15 Sept. 14 Dec. 23 Feb. 20
First Day of Term Aug. 31 Oct. 29 Feb. 1 April 1
Last Day to Add/Drop Sept. 8 Nov. 6 Feb. 5 April 9
Last Day to
Withdraw or
Elect S/D/F Grading
Sept. 25 Nov. 30 Feb. 26 April 30
Last Day of Classes Oct. 16 Dec. 17 March 19 May 20
Last Day of Exams Oct. 21 Dec. 22 March 24 May 25

Updated 2/23/2020

Important dates to remember

Calendar Considerations

(updated 7/15/2020)

Our revised calendar was the most appropriate given each of our planning priorities. If it should become necessary to shift several classes to an online format, we will be ready this year and our calendar will better support students and faculty than a semester-long period.

7.5-week Terms

The faculty, staff and administration considered a wide range of calendar options before concluding that offering four 7.5-week terms--with an optional summer term--would best respond to the guiding principles of community health, academic continuity and equity. Our students made it clear that in an online modality they would prefer to focus simultaneously on two rather than four courses. Dividing two semesters into four equal terms allowed us to achieve that objective. Our intention is to offer every student the opportunity to be on campus for at least one of these terms.

Start and End Dates

Beginning earlier in the summer would have compromised critical time needed for our faculty to reengineer their courses for 7.5 weeks, often in a completely online format. Dismissing classes following Thanksgiving would have meant that students living on campus for Fall 2 would have been limited to 4.5-weeks in residence.

Mid-Cycle Adjustments

We have rebuilt our academic calendar to be as flexible as possible. In consultation with a team of professionals with expertise in infectious disease, computational health mathematics and epidemiology, we are closely monitoring relevant data to determine if we can follow through on the plans we have developed or if an adjustment is required in response to the pandemic. A combination of test positivity counts, doubling time of reported infections, hospitalizations and case fatality rates and emerging policy choices to mitigate the spread of the virus will guide our decisions. We will only reduce the on-campus enrollment targets we have announced if we agree with our team of experts that it seems essential to protect the health of our students and community. Otherwise, we intend to increase enrollment over the course of the year. In any case, we plan to retain the 7.5-week term format throughout the optional summer term.

Departure Schedule

As is always the case, departure dates will depend upon the particular circumstances of the courses in which students are enrolled. Some courses will have scheduled finals; others will not. The first fall term will include two days of finals, set for Oct. 20 and 21. Please consult the 2020–21 Academic Calendar for questions pertaining to future terms.

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