By participating in summer session students have the opportunity to graduate and earn earlier and potentially reduce educational expenses. CSU summer session 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, gain career-based experience, or fulfill a prerequisite. 

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

Student Experiences: The Value of Summer Study

Additional insights: Registration for Summer Session 2024 is open in RAMweb and continues on a space-available basis through the add/drop period for each class.

Easily search courses by subject, term within summer session, online, and AUCC core classes at Courses at a Glance.

Additional Insights: : Stay in town with your friends and make new ones this summer while staying on track with your graduation plans. Or try something new or that you’re not good at (yet) that may become a passion!

Carli is practicing the skills featured in this video learned through her CSU minor in American Sign Language. The Intersection mural was created through a summer collaboration of CSU graduate students, artist Armando Silva, and local volunteers through Community Engagement in the Arts.

Additional insights: Study in person or online and catch up or get ahead on credits. Easily search 4-, 8-, 12-week, and additional-length terms, field experiences or internships. Gain new perspectives through in summer experiential learning at the CSU Mountain Campus or with Education Abroad.

Additional Insights: : Gain career-building skills through research, labs, and field courses. Deepen ties with peers and faculty with on-campus experiences. Take advantage of the summer opportunity to learn at the CSU Mountain Campus.  Explore summer Programs for Admitted Students, including Research, Education Abroad and Bridge Scholars.

Additional insights: The short terms of summer offer opportunities to create a summer experience unique to you. Explore a new or favorite subject and expand your knowledge and skills, while making progress toward graduation.

Non-resident undergraduates pay 30% less for summer base tuition. Summer financial aid is available to students who meet eligibility criteria regardless of residency.

Summer brings a quiet energy with more time to focus deeply and connect with others.  Shorter summer terms create time to study and work with room for play and exploring our beautiful surroundings. Improve your GPA, balance your coursework over fall, spring, and summer, and create a summer experience that is uniquely yours.

Additional insights: By completing one or two courses each summer, Naeemah stays ahead in credits so she can graduate earlier which can reduce the cost of attendance and provide an opportunity for greater career earnings over time. She receives financial aid through the Department of Athletics and family Veteran Benefits.

Additional insights: A first-generation student, Brisa attended summer session courses with support of the CSU Tuition Assistance Grant available to undergraduate Colorado residents who meet eligibility criteria. She gains career-based experience through her campus work-study job. Earning summer credits is helping Brisa graduate in four years while pursuing a major, minor, and two concentrations. She is looking forward to using her education to help others!

Additional insights: Aaron chose CSU because the Office of Financial Aid offered him the strongest financial aid package and because a four-week on-campus summer course would allow him to earn credits and then complete his out-of-state military job training. He also received a scholarship through CSU’s Adult Learner and Veteran Services.

Additional insights: Colleen benefited from CSU’s undergraduate non-resident summer base tuition rate which is reduced 30% from fall and spring semesters. A New Jersey native, she explored life in the Midwest to experience different areas of the United States. Colleen’s CSU coursework prepared her for her internship experience and she was able to gain more from the courses that followed. She learned she wanted to change her area of focus within her major to better suit her career goals.

 In-Depth Insights from Student and Faculty on CSU Summer Session

Additional Insights: Students and faculty provide their perspectives on the unique value of CSU summer session. With in-person and online courses, the condensed summer terms allow an immersive focus on fewer courses and an experience distinct from fall and spring semesters.

Faculty and students alike appreciate the opportunity to connect with each other. They describe creating community and making lifetime memories. Students can take advantage of summer session to gain career-based experience, get caught up on credits or even get ahead and graduate earlier. Additionally, students can meet the challenge of reaching beyond their comfort zone while exploring or discovering a new passion.

Students who take summer courses tend to persist and graduate at higher rates, especially students seeking to improve their GPA or who struggled during their first academic year.

CSU summer session courses are available in terms of four, eight, and 12-week terms and terms of varying lengths. Discover what is possible and easily search courses.

Overview and What to Expect

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 an average of 5.85 credits over summer.
    • Students receiving financial aid and/or scholarships will need to meet specific requirements (which vary by award) and can connect with a counselor in the  Office of Financial Aid to be sure the maximum aid is received.
    • Students may take fewer or more credits depending on interests, family and work commitments, travel and other considerations.

Students should be prepared for the pace of the condensed terms within summer and make a plan for devoting adequate time to their studies.

Advantages of Summer Session

Discover the educational, financial, and time-saving benefits of summer session, along with the advantages of summer’s shorter terms and accelerated courses and programs.

  • 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 waitlist 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 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 the first 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:
    • Non-resident undergraduates benefit from a summer base tuition rate at 30% less than fall/spring with registration in RAMweb.
    • 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.

Accelerated Programs at Colorado State University provide a pathway for students to graduate in 3-3.5 years or less. Graduating earlier allows students to complete their next step in life including career entry or graduate school and may provide financial benefits. Currently offered through 31 programs in five colleges, Accelerated Programs typically include credits taken during summer session. Learn more at Accelerated Programs.


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 have ongoing deadlines.
    • 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.