Three of five students participate in summer session during their CSU journey. 

Students who participate in CSU’s summer session generally:

  • Strive to accelerate their academic progress, advance in their profession, or gain hands-on experience.
  • Graduate at higher rates.
  • Are more likely to earn higher summer term grade point averages than in fall and spring.
  • Take 5.5 credits on average over summer
    • Please note: Students may take more than five credits depending on requirements of financial aid and/or scholarship requirements.

Summer offers a unique opportunity to focus on one or few courses at a time, making it a great time to complete a challenging course, participate in experiential learning, or fulfill a prerequisite. By participating in Summer Session, students have the opportunity to graduate and earn earlier, and potentially reduce educational expenses.

Students should be prepared for the condensed terms within summer and make a plan for devoting adequate time to their studies. Discover the educational, financial, and time-saving benefits of summer session, along with the advantages of summer’s shorter terms and accelerated courses.

Advantages of Summer Session

  • Opportunity to improve GPA:
    • Many CSU students who take summer courses earn a higher summer-term grade point average than in fall and spring terms.
  • Take a class that may have a waiting list during the fall or spring semesters;
  • Explore a new interest;
  • Change or add to a program of study:
    • Add a minor or concentration, or
    • Add or change a major.
  • Gain experience through internships, research, study abroad, and experiential/field courses.
  • Take one or two classes at a time to focus deeply on fewer subjects.
  • Smaller on-campus class sizes, on average, allow for:
    • More individual attention from faculty;
    • Building a strong learning community; and
    • Enhanced in-class discussion.

Benefits and Advantages of Summer Session

Lighten course load in other semesters

  • Summer session can help in balancing work and scholastic commitments and distributing more demanding courses across semesters.

Graduate in a timely manner

When students take the recommended 15 credits in both fall and spring semesters, Summer Session courses may contribute to graduating in four years or less. (Note: credit requirements vary by major).

  • Nearly 65% of CSU undergraduates who participate in summer session are seniors.
  • Participate in summer session earlier in your program of study to help avoid needing credits after your intended graduation term.
  • A delayed graduation may also delay professional employment options and earnings.

Reach the next class level

  • Sophomore (completion of 30 credits by end of freshman year)
  • Junior (completion of 60 credits by end of sophomore year)
  • Senior (completion of 90 credits by end of junior year)
  • Completion of degree (120 credits or more depending on program of study)

Catch up on credits if you have changed your major

Changing majors before sophomore year may add one month (on average) to time-to-degree. Nationally, 35% of students change majors after their sophomore year, which can add a full term to their graduation plan. If you’ve made, or are considering a major change, include summer session in your plan to promote timely graduation.

Earn credits before first year of college

High school students may take classes before their first semester of college. This can help to ease the transition to college life, while earning credits in advance. These students may:

  1. Take classes through CSU Online if taking online classes only
  2. Enroll as a “Summer-Only” student and take face-to-face classes, with or without online classes.

Please note: If admitted as a degree-seeking student beginning with the summer term, the student must attend Summer Session in order to remain admitted for fall semester.

  • The CSU campus and Fort Collins community are more casual in the summer!
    • Fewer people, less traffic, and parking spots abound.
    • Entertainment, including  free campus Lagoon concerts.
    • Community events include summer music concerts.
    • Hiking, boating, bicycling, and other activities in the great outdoors.
  • The majority of campus and learning resources available in the academic year remain available in the summer.
  • Prorated on-campus housing options allow the flexibility to live on campus during the time needed.

Summer session can be an integral part of graduating in four years or accelerating time to graduation.

  • Reduce educational expenses: Graduating on time may help students avoid additional living and educational expenses associated with an extra semester or year.
  • Earn money sooner: By accelerating time to graduation, students enter the job market earlier.
  • Earn while you learn: many on campus and local summer jobs are posted in RAMweb;
  • Tuition:
    • 30% reduction on base tuition on all summer credits regardless of delivery method.
    • If tuition increases, it usually increases in the fall semester.

Financial aid may be available in summer for students who meet the eligibility criteria. Half-time enrollment is typically required for financial aid purposes (usually 6 credits for undergraduates; 5 credits for graduate students). Please review Summer Financial Aid, then consult with a counselor in the Office of Financial Aid to determine your specific needs and options.

  • Take prerequisite or introductory courses in the summer to meet requirements for upper division courses. Be ready to progress with program requirements in the fall semester.
  • Participate in Summer Session earlier in your program of study to help avoid needing credits after your intended graduation term.
  • Maximize your financial aid benefits. Students who are eligible for a Pell grant may apply the grant to Summer Session 2020.


Explore which course delivery formats and combinations work best for your learning preferences and success. Assess the advantages/disadvantages of face-to-face courses and online courses for your situation:

  • Smaller average campus class size means more opportunity to build community with students and more individual attention from faculty.
  • Online classes provide flexibility for studying at a distance, working, and balancing study and life demands.
    • The majority of online courses are not self-paced; and
    • Online classes can simplify transportation logistics and costs.

The condensed course formats of Summer Session’s shorter terms mean a fast start and consistent pace enhance learning.

Students frequently mention they enjoy the condensed course formats because they can:

  • Immerse themselves in fewer topics than during the fall or spring semester,
  • Complete credits in a shorter time period,
  • Complete a prerequisite during the summer, and
  • Take a difficult class and focus solely on that topic for a shorter period of time.