Working Vacation: Benefits of Winter J Term

J Term: Working Vacation This January, University of Rhode Island students will study healthcare in France, kinesiology in Hawaii, sustainable technologies in Indonesia, and dolphin behavior in Honduras as part of Winter J Term, a program of accelerated, for-credit coursework begun and completed during winter break.

About 1,000 students will take a J Term course this January, more than double the number who enrolled in the program when it was first introduced five years ago. Winter J Term offers students opportunities to study abroad or on campus. There are also online courses available.

“While searching for schools, I was always told that studying abroad and graduating in four years as an engineer was impossible, but URI proved countless people wrong.” Riley Temple ’18

Winter J Term was created to provide students with a means to graduate in a timely fashion. In addition to being once-in-a-lifetime experiences, making films in Belize or studying culture in ancient Rome provides students with a way to catch up on credits,  said John Olerio, assistant director, summer sessions and Winter J Term. “All classes, everything is credit-bearing,” said Olerio.

For some students, Winter J Term  factored into their choice of universities and programs.

“While searching for schools, I was always told that studying abroad and graduating in four years as an engineer was impossible, but URI proved countless people wrong,” said Riley Temple ’18. “I was able to visit three major cities in China and learn so much about the people and the culture.”

All are faculty-led, as well.

“Basically tenured URI folks are giving up their whole winter break to hang out with students in cool places,” said Olerio.

J Term appeals to students for other reasons — affordability being one of the most compelling. On-campus courses are offered at a lower cost than fall and spring ones. The per credit rate for Winter J Term tuition is discounted by more than 50 percent. And for students enrolled and matriculated in a degree program at URI, some financial aid may be available.

Study abroad, of course, offers the experience of another culture. Off-campus experiences tend to cap at $5,000. “The Office of International Education works with universities, hostels, and other organizations to make the trips affordable,” Olerio said.

This winter, trips abroad to Belize, China, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Philippines, Portugal, Senegal, and Taiwan are planned in addition to others in New York, Florida and Hawaii.

Another reason to take a J Term class: variety. J Term allows students whose schedules are generally very demanding to explore something they might otherwise not have time for. The program is popular among upperclassmen and in-state students, Olerio said. “Juniors or seniors in intense programs can knock out a J Term class and make that next semester a bit easier.”

Learn more about J Term application deadlines, financial aid, and course information.


Justine Mirek ’19 is busy. Nail-biting, stomach-churning, tic-inducing, insomnia-provoking busy. The kind of busy fueled by chips and cookies chased with supersized cups of coffee or Red Bull.