January Term

January term or J-Term at Luther College is a unique time in Luther's academic year when you can explore different interests, focus your studies, or try new experiences. You’ll have the time and space to take a seminar, study abroad, get an internship, and more.

I like the J-Term schedule, because it gives everyone a month to just try something out. I know a lot of my friends who are still unsure about their majors used J-Term either to decide on a major or decide that one wasn’t right for them.

Grace Huber '20
Vocal Performance, Music Education, and Theatre Major

What is J-Term?

J-Term at Luther College is a unique 3.5-week term that provides a break from the fast-paced regular semesters so you can spend your time on one topic or experience. In that way, you’ll have both greater freedom and responsibility for your learning. During your four J-Terms at Luther College, you’ll be able to take classes, study abroad, get internship credit, and perform research.

You will complete at least two J-Term experiences during your time at Luther. To fulfill this requirement, you can:

  • Take a course to explore a new academic interest, dive deeper into your current major, or complete a general education requirement
  • Study away and take courses in the United States or abroad
  • Participate in an internship, field experience, or service-learning opportunity
  • Complete directed readings or research
  • Design a course of independent study

We encourage you to take advantage of all four of your J-Terms and spend your January in creative and fulfilling ways. A sample J-Term schedule over your college years might look like this:

  • First year: Explore an interesting topic in a J-Term course
  • Second year: Participate in an internship
  • Third year: Study abroad
  • Fourth year: Concentrated work on your senior project

Preview a J-Term Class

Get an inside look at the J-Term course, "On Rafts and Skis," taught by Anna Peterson, associate professor of history.

What are the Benefits of January Term?

Take an Engaging Course

Luther College’s J-Term helps you explore new interests and grow as a person. You’ll get in-depth knowledge on an innovative topic developed by Luther faculty, without having to worry about any additional courses. Some of these courses have an experiential learning component in which you will engage with the community, complete creative projects, and more!

Travel the World

Our J-Term schedule means you can find time to study away, no matter what you major in. A big hurdle for many students who want to study abroad is that semester-long programs can conflict with academic scheduling. But with J-Term, you’ll be able to study away for a shorter duration with a focused topic. You’ll immerse yourself in a new environment while staying on track to graduate.

Time to Explore

Finally, you can shape your Luther years with J-Term. You might find a new passion or career through a J-Term course. You’ll find internships and service opportunities in Decorah and abroad. You can build your skills and contribute to the local neighborhood. Your J-Term experiences will help you become a well-rounded, responsible citizen.

January Term Numbers

Luther College students participate in many diverse experiences during J-Term. See the breakdown from 2024:

  • 723 students enrolled in on-campus courses
  • 244 students enrolled in study away courses
  • 82 students did supervised clinicals, practicums, and field experiences
  • 46 students had internships
  • 37 students participated in individualized study

J-Term Offerings

Take advantage of J-term’s on-campus courses. You can delve deeper into your major or try out a completely different field. You can also take our “hybrid” courses that combine lectures with experiential learning. You might volunteer at a social service agency, create a visual project, or network with professionals.

Spend your J-Term exploring new cultures and perspectives. You’ll travel and learn with fellow students and Luther faculty. Previous destinations include Mexico, Norway, and Tanzania.

Learn About J-Term Study Away Programs

Discover potential career paths with a J-Term internship. Our Career Center can help you connect with a local organization or even one in a different state.

Explore Internships

Collaborate with a faculty member during J-Term. You’ll conduct research and assist with their projects. You might even publish your findings or present them at a conference.

Explore Student-Faculty Research