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The Antelope

Winter J-term returning for 2021-2022 academic year

After winter break, students were welcomed back to campus by several inches of snow. The weather caused the university to cancel the first two days of classes.

After a successful first J-term last January, UNK officials have plans to keep the intersession in its future academic calendars. Starting in the 2021-2022 academic year, J-term will continue to be offered for winter learning.

UNK officials said the J-term was a response to changes caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

“It was related in part to the pandemic,” said Charles Bicak, senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs. “When we began to think about what the academic year 2020-2021 would look like, we wanted to ensure that we kept students, faculty and staff safe. One approach to that was to delay the start of the spring semester, but be able to utilize that time.”

Other schools have implemented J-terms in the past, but this year represents the first time UNK will make the optional term a feature of the academic calendar from the outset.

Students could use this three-week break to work or take an online class, and students appreciated this opportunity.

“I definitely enjoyed it,” said Tanner Butler, a senior political science student. “It was pretty nice since all you had to do was focus on that one class. It was better than sitting at home and doing nothing over the break.”

Bicak was pleased with the number of students who took a J-term class. Lisa Neal, the university registrar, said that 582 students took at least one class. All three undergraduate academic colleges — Arts and Sciences, Business and Technology and Education  — were represented.

Faculty said students adapted well to the J-term courses.

“If you give students meaningful activities, they’re going to gobble them up, and they did,” said Peter Longo, a professor in the political science department. “I could write a letter of recommendation for anyone in my class based on their performance. I marvel at their adaptability.”

Officials and faculty are already making plans for future J-terms. Some of these plans include shortened study abroad trips and more class offerings. It is thought more students will participate in future J-term events.

While there was a positive response to the J-term, administrators were unable to fit a spring break into the semester, putting an accelerated load on students with no breaks to recover.

“We needed a spring break, desperately,” Longo said.

Students felt the weight of the semester as the pandemic dragged on and classes condensed schedules following weather conditions that cancelled the first day of  spring classes and later a string of days due to extreme cold. 

Bicak said the administrators will schedule a spring break for Spring 2022, whether it be a full week or a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off mid-semester. Finals week and graduation will be pushed back one week with the J-term.

The Board of Regents approved the J-term schedule in April. A tentative schedule has been released for the 2022 spring semester. This includes a J-term session Jan. 3-21 with regular classes starting on Jan. 24, spring break March 12-16, finals week May 9-12 and graduation on May 13. 

To learn more about UNK’s 2021-2022 academic calendar and stay notified about upcoming events and days off, visit

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