Research and Scholarship

U.S. Summer Session Strategies in Context: Past, Present, and Future

  • Jon Harbor (Purdue University)
  • Blake Nemelka (Purdue University)


The wide variety of summer session formats and strategies that were pursued in the past, are being enacted in the present, and will emerge in the future all reflect the diverse histories and contexts of specific institutions, as well as state and national trends. Exploring historical and present-day contexts that have driven summer session strategies at United States colleges and universities provides a basis for considering how summer session strategies can be developed to address current and emerging changes in higher education. To provide summer session staff and administrators with usable ideas, participants in three conferences for leaders of college and university summer sessions engaged in a small-group activity that focused on ideas for potential long-term strategies that would be responsive to what they viewed as key current and emerging institutional, state, and national developments. A wide range of common issues and trends were identified and linked to both well-accepted and emerging strategies, including alternative summer tuition models and course structures, novel summer-learning experiences, courses packaged to allow completion of minors in the summer, competency-based approaches, segmented and targeted marketing, and an emphasis on the role of summer sessions in on-time degree completion and revenue enhancement. These trends and strategies are presented here and can be adapted to the challenges and opportunities facing a wide range of colleges and universities that are considering how to position summer session as a key element of future institutional success.

How to Cite:

Harbor, J. & Nemelka, B., (2016) “U.S. Summer Session Strategies in Context: Past, Present, and Future”, Summer Academe: A Journal of Higher Education 10. doi:

Download PDF



Published on
13 Dec 2016
Peer Reviewed