Jan Term Is BACK — At Home and Abroad

A signature program at Saint Mary’s returns full force in 2023. Students immerse themselves in one special course—right here on campus or in countries around the world. Here’s a quick refresher and a preview.

Jan Term Journey: Looking out from Elephant Cave near Arusha, Tanzania

Each January, when undergrads at many colleges are adjusting to the flurry of a new semester and course load, Saint Mary’s students revel in a rare opportunity: The chance to dive deep into a single topic of their interest. Known as Jan Term, it offers an intellectual journey and often a physical one, too—perhaps carrying students halfway around the world. A time-honored tradition at Saint Mary’s College, Jan Term is one of our most distinctive and popular programs.

Courses might explore the psychology of happiness in Scandinavian countries or storytelling through video games, ecofeminism or fencing, green chemistry or the Great Silk Road. They might involve travel—to India or Morocco, Bali, or Spain, and other locales across the globe. And there are dozens of intriguing opportunities for students to learn and serve right here, in the vibrant San Francisco Bay area.

A Deep Dive at an Accelerated Pace 

Sea and Sky: Along with weeks of working beside and learning from communities in Puerto Rico, a moment of celebrationAt the start of each calendar year, Jan Term gives Saint Mary’s students a chance to spend a whole month exploring one subject in depth at an accelerated pace. The courses fulfill a range of core curriculum requirements, from performance to history to lab science. 

Saint Mary’s traditionally offers a number of travel courses—four weeks of hands-on learning in another culture. For the past two years, Jan Term classes were limited because of restrictions necessitated by COVID-19. But no longer: January 2023 sees the triumphant return of travel classes and one of the widest array of course offerings ever. 

“I am delighted that students will have the opportunity to travel during January Term again this year!” says Claire M. Williams, Interim Director of Jan Term. She is not the only one. Faculty and students alike are thrilled to be reigniting this signature program.

“Travel courses provide students a unique opportunity to study abroad during an immersive month when otherwise they may not be able to due to financial constraints and/or commitments such as work or athletics,” Williams says. “As in the past, students will have life-changing experiences that enhance their education and bring otherwise theoretical concepts to life."

Even if students aren’t traveling, there is a plethora of one-of-a-kind classes being offered on campus. Here’s the lowdown on Jan Term from a few Gaels past and present.