Oberlin’s winter term enables students to pursue academic interests outside of Oberlin’s regular course offerings. During the month of January, students complete faculty/staff-sponsored individual or group projects of their choice, either on or off campus. Projects may be proposed by faculty, students, and occasionally by members of the administrative and professional staff and alumni.

For the student, winter term is an opportunity to dedicate energy full time to one intensive project or, alternatively, to two half-time projects. During winter term, a student might:

  • Pursue a subject related to a first-semester course
  • Work with a particular faculty member on research or a specific project
  • Study a musical instrument
  • Take an intensive foreign language course
  • Explore a potential career field through an internship
  • Volunteer with a community group
  • Participate in a theatrical or musical production
  • Explore a field of inquiry that is new to the student
  • Pursue a hobby or physical skill
  • Travel internationally or domestically with a faculty sponsor

For a faculty member, Winter Term is an excellent opportunity to direct research projects, to invite specialists to campus for intensive courses, to teach courses or offer guidance in subjects that do not fit into the regular curriculum, and to support students pursuing self-directed educational projects. 

The goals of winter term are:
  1. to provide opportunities for intensive and or unusual educational activities which might be difficult for students or faculty to fit into their fall and spring schedules;
  2. to encourage students to conceptualize and pursue self-directed educational projects, in consultation with the faculty;
  3. to provide faculty with increased opportunities for educational experimentation, collaborative work with students, interdisciplinary projects, scholarly and artistic activity and development, and the exploration of areas of expertise not reflected in their usual course offerings;
  4. to encourage students to test and apply knowledge in off-campus settings through internships, community service, applied research, or career-related experiences;
  5. to promote educationally valuable interactions among students, faculty, members of the administrative and professional staff, and alumni; and
  6. to provide educational flexibility.