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

Winter Term

Students celebrate the season at the Winter Term Carnival, one of numerous social events planned for those who choose to pursue Winter Term projects on campus.
Photo credit: Yevhen Gulenko

Oberlin’s Tradition of Immersive Learning

Winter Term is a time to pursue interests outside of regular course offerings through in-depth learning experiences each January.

Oberlin students complete a total of 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, present artistic performances, and develop new skills. No two Winter Term projects are exactly alike, but all share a commitment to personal and intellectual growth.

Meet with a Winter Term advisor

Students with questions about their Winter Term project planning may:

January means Winter Term.

What your Winter Term means is up to you.

Winter Term is Everywhere

Every year, Oberlin students pursue Winter Term projects in just about every place you can imagine: from Oberlin’s labs to their own hometowns, on prominent stages and in locales around the globe.

With the bustle of regular classwork and exams cleared from the schedule, Winter Term on campus takes on a unique and lively vibe: Students spend their weekdays pursuing their projects, while evenings and weekends are filled with winter-themed festivities, performances, trips to Cleveland, and social 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 more than 50 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.

One recent Winter Term saw the conservatory’s TIMARA Department team up with the Cleveland-based dance company GroundWorks for a project that united composers and dancers in events on campus as well as in Cleveland.

Photo credit: Peter Swendsen ’99

Research and Practice

Winter Term projects are a great way to jump-start 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 field.

A professor and a student work at a computer.

Geosciences professor Zeb Page and student Hiba Shaalan at the controls of the VEGA3 Scanning Electron Microscope, used for Shaalan’s Winter Term research project.

Photo credit: Yvonne Gay

Community Engagement

On-campus Winter Term projects provide the perfect context for working with community partners in Oberlin and throughout the Cleveland area. From podcasting local news to art therapy to interfaith dialogue, Oberlin students pursue an endless array of meaningful projects that support positive change and hone 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, student Jackie Brick interned in the emergency room at Mercy Health–Allen Hospital.

Photo credit: Yvonne Gay

Musical and Theater Performance

Every January, Oberlin musicians, actors, and technicians go all out in their love for craft and performance. Whether they’re mounting a new opera, staging a series of lieder performances, or promoting gender inclusivity in voice ensembles, their work 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 L..A-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 the students first connected during Orientation Week just months earlier.

The Kulas String Quartet

The Auto Drink Dispenser

Creating an auto drink dispenser was something student Thomas Heffer had toyed with for a long time. It wasn't until an individual project during 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 affected by a devastating 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 more.

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