Difference Between Term and Semester with Proper Definition and Brief Explanation

Term vs semester

Term and semester are words commonly heard in educational institutions. These words are used for the duration or period of time during which a session lasts or has been scheduled. Term is a generic word that is applied to the duration of the academic session, whereas universities have specific words such as semester and trimester that are used, as the case may be. Many new students are confused when they hear two words that are used for the same length of the academic program. This article attempts to clarify the differences between the terms term and semester.


Term is a general word in the English language that means duration or the length of time. In academic circles, term means the academic term or the school’s schedule for the year. Different schedules are followed by different schools and colleges in the world due to differences in weather and climate.

While, in the southern hemisphere, the term begins in February and continues through December, hot summers in the northern hemisphere do not allow the session to extend into May and June, which are considered too hot for studies. However, it should be understood that terms are of varying duration at different educational institutions, and there could be 2 or even four terms at a university in a single year.


Semester is an English world which means half a year or a period of six months. The academic term for a university can be a semester, which means that there are two terms in a single year, and the academic session is divided into two equal semesters. In some universities, a quarterly pattern is followed that divides a year into three parts, each lasting 4 months. There are even trimesters like terms in a university that divides a session into 4 equal parts. If a university is following a semester pattern, the term can be divided into fall and spring semesters. There are only two semesters in an academic session, both of which are roughly equal in length.

What is the difference between term and semester?

• Term is a generic word used in educational institutions to describe the length of an academic calendar.

• Term is the word that is used the most in Great Britain, while semester is the most common word in educational institutions in the United States.

• The duration of a semester is 6 months and therefore there are 2 semesters in a year.

• Some schools have trimesters, and even trimesters, to have 3 and 4 terms per year.

• Both the term and the semester indicate the duration or period of time of the sessions in an educational institution.

• Term is a general word, while semester is more specific.

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