A young woman dances inside a huge snow globe.
Center for Engaged Liberal Arts

Winter Term

Students celebrate the season at the Winter Term Carnival held in Hales Gym.
Photo credit: Yevhen Gulenko

Oberlin’s Tradition of Immersive Learning

Winter Term at Oberlin is a time for students to pursue interests outside of regular course offerings through immersive learning experiences each January.

Students complete three Winter Term projects, which can be done independently or in groups, on Oberlin’s campus, across the U.S., or around the world. Winter Term supports students as they expand their academic knowledge, prepare for future careers, conduct intensive research, put on artistic performances, and develop new skills. No two Winter Term projects are exactly the same, but all share a commitment to personal and intellectual growth.

Meet with a Winter Term advisor

After logging in to Handshake, select “Winter Term” and then either “Winter Term Internships” (for internship-related inquiries) or “Winter Term Advising” (for all other inquiries) to see the available days and times for an appointment.

Make an appointment via Handshake

January means Winter Term.

What your Winter Term means is up to you.

The On-Campus Experience

During Winter Term, when regular classwork and exams are cleared from the agenda, Oberlin’s campus takes on a unique and lively vibe. Students spend their weekdays engaged in project work, while evenings and weekends are filled with winter-themed festivities, performances, trips to Cleveland, and events like the annual Winter Term Ball.

Browse the Winter Term catalog

Group Projects

Winter Term is an invitation to learn new things in new ways, while working in small groups with faculty and peers. Every January, students may choose to enroll in one of over fifty different faculty- and staff-led group projects.

Interdisciplinary Arts

The open-ended nature of Winter Term encourages students to push artistic boundaries in finding new forms of creative expression. A vibrant arts community on campus fosters collaborative innovation in areas from dance and book arts to composition and light-sculpture.

Two dancers rehearse.

For Winter Term 2020, the conservatory’s TIMARA department teamed up with Cleveland-based dance company GroundWorks for a project that united composers and dancers under the guidance of professor Peter Swendsen ’99.

Photo credit: Peter Swendsen ’99

Research and Practice

Winter Term projects are a great way to jumpstart future research and professional projects. Whether learning a new programming language, training as a museum educator, or apprenticing as a researcher in a scientific laboratory, students can use Winter Term to roll up their sleeves in their chosen discipline.

A professor and a student work at a computer.

Associate Professor Zeb Page and Hiba Shaalan '25 at the controls of the VEGA3 Scanning Electron Microscope as part of a Winter Term research project.

Photo credit: Yvonne Gay

Community Engagement

An on-campus Winter Term project provides the perfect context for working with community partners in Oberlin and the greater Cleveland area. From podcasting local news to arts therapy and interfaith dialog, Oberlin students pursue meaningful projects to help bring about positive change while honing their collaboration and leadership skills.

A student stands proudly next to a Mercy Health sign at Chuang Medical Center, Akron Children’s Pediatrics.

During a recent Winter Term, Jackie Brick ’25 interned in the emergency room at Mercy Health – Allen Hospital.

Photo credit: Yvonne Gay

Musical and Theater Performance

Every January Oberlin’s musicians, actors, and technicians go all out in their love for craft and performance. Whether mounting a new opera, staging a series of Lieder performances, or promoting gender inclusivity in voice ensembles, Winter Term brings music and theater alive for the entire community.

A group of musicians recording in a studio.

Students in the Film and Television Scoring intensive take center stage in the Joseph R. Clonick Studio with LA-based television and film composer Adam Cohen ’91.

Photo credit: Peter Swendsen ’99

Independent Winter Term Stories

Traveling Strings

The Kulas String Quartet, composed of four first-year Oberlin students, traveled to the embassies of Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia for enthusiastically received performances in January. The Winter Term tour was conceived shortly after connecting during orientation week just months earlier.

The Kulas String Quartet

The Auto Drink Dispenser

Creating an auto drink dispenser was something Thomas Heffer ’21 had toyed with for a long time. It wasn't until an individual project during Oberlin's Winter Term that he was able to learn everything he would need to make it a reality.

Thomas Heffer

Building Solidarity with Nepali Youth

When researching colleges in the United States, Bikalpa Baniya was drawn to Oberlin because of the opportunities he would have to engage in service projects on a local and global scale. With a Shansi In-Asia grant he was able to return to Nepal with fellow Obies to help communities impacted by the 2015 earthquake.

The group in Nepal

From the Classroom to the World

The Engaged Liberal Arts at Oberlin takes what you’re learning in your courses and puts it into practice through internships, research, study away experiences, winter term, career exploration, and beyond.

Aerial view of snowy campus during winter.

Next Steps

An Oberlin education puts the liberal arts to work in achieving a life of meaning and purpose.

People dressed in winter hats and coats, holding hot drinks with both hands.
Students gather as part of the Winter Oberland festival featuring skating, music, and hot chocolate.
Photo credit: Mike Crupi