SMC Jan Term: Goals and Philosophy

Creativity, Breadth, Diversity and Intensity: Jan Term classes are intended to be a lively, challenging, exciting and horizon-broadening academic experience.


Jan Term is an intense, immersive, experiential, and challenging academic experience. Here's our mission statement: 

"Jan Term at Saint Mary's College offers a curriculum of rigorous, intensive, unique courses outside students' usual realms of inquiry using analytical, focused, immersive, and experiential methods of pedagogy and critique, with the aim of broading the academic, social, cultural and spiritual life of the College, in accordance with a Lasallian ethic of social justice, civic responsibility, and personal transformation."

In one month, your Jan Term course will meet at least as often as a full-credit regular semester course, and many Jan Term travel courses will meet more than three times the hours of any regular semester course. As there aren’t three other courses vying for your attention in January, your Jan Term instructor will expect more from you. The pace of instruction accelerates. Courses usually require broader reading, more reflection and careful writing, more thorough preparation for course meetings and, often, time commitments on top of regularly scheduled meetings. At least two hours of preparation for every hour of class time is required to stay on top of Jan Term.  Plan accordingly. You will need to bring significant personal initiative to your course in order to succeed.


For both students and faculty, Jan Term can be a laboratory for experimentation in both subject matter and technique. It offers all of us a chance to try new ideas and explore topics in greater detail than is possible within the constraints of a regular semester. It is in keeping with the College’s mission that we offer this unconventional space of freedom and challenge to our students and faculty.


Jan Term courses are non-departmental for several reasons. For one, this frees students from feeling as if they should be fulfilling area/departmental requirements at the same time. We encourage you to be bold in your choice of a course. Dare to explore. Surprise yourself. Make yourself uncomfortable and make it work for you. Search this catalog for courses beyond your major field. Take this unique opportunity to broaden your educational experience!

Jan Term courses are also non-departmental for the benefit of our faculty. Most SMC faculty members have expertise and passions that thrive outside the constraints of academic disciplines and standard curricula.


Jan Term offers special opportunities for academic exploration and enrichment. Four options make these opportunities possible:

  • Full-credit on-campus courses, both lower division (JAN 020 – JAN 070) and upper-division (JAN 100 – JAN 160).
  • Travel courses (JAN 170 – JAN 188). (International travel courses are not open to freshmen.)
  • A small selection of quarter-credit courses, up to two of which are free for full-time students each semester.
  • Independent Study courses proposed by juniors and seniors with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. See specific proposal requirements to your left under "Jan Term 2018 Course Listings", subhead "How to Register for Jan Term").