Complete the FASFAIn recent years, many of Tennessee’s community colleges have increased the number of courses taught in terms shorter than the traditional 15-week semester (i.e., accelerated courses). Many of these accelerated courses are taught in 7-week terms, and colleges will often embed two 7-week terms within the 15-week semester. Accelerated courses allow students to focus more intensely on fewer courses at a time while still accumulating the same number of credit hours. For example, instead of taking four 3-hour classes for 15 weeks, students could take two 3-hour classes in the first 7-week session and two 3-hour classes in the second 7-week session and would still accumulate 12 credit hours in that semester. Accelerated courses also provide students with twice as many entry and exit points so that they can enroll in the terms that work best with their schedule and more easily take a break from school if life gets in the way. For instance, if a student has a family emergency in the tenth week of the semester, they may have to withdraw from all their 15-week courses. If they split their courses between the first and second 7-week sessions, however, the student will have already completed half their courses by the tenth week and would still have accumulated credit hours during the semester, even if they had to withdraw from their courses in the second 7-week session.


Given the increasing prevalence of these types of courses, TBR is studying the impact of accelerated courses on students, faculty, and staff. This project includes a quantitative analysis estimating the impact of accelerated courses on students’ academic outcomes for all 13 community colleges. This project also includes several qualitative components conducted in partnership with three community colleges (Chattanooga, Dyersburg, and Nashville). The qualitative work includes student surveys and interviews with faculty, staff, and students. The findings from this project will provide insight on whether accelerated courses affect student outcomes and how faculty, staff, and students are experiencing accelerated courses.

Research about Accelerated (7-Week) Courses 

Presentations about Accelerated (7-Week) Courses 

  • DREAM presentation coming in February 2024!