The colleges that we are working with are aware that American students often are only able to study abroad for one term or semester (due to course requirements at home, finances, etc.). If they welcome a student for one term they naturally wish to be sure that he or she will receive a substantial and coherent academic program.
The eight-week period is that part of the Oxford term during which the University lectures are given. Degree candidates normally arrive in zero week (the week before the first week of the eight weeks period) to meet with their supervisor regarding the term’s courses, etc. Tutorial courses may extend into ninth or tenth week. According to experienced tutors, most degree candidates do academic work for at least 39 weeks a year (an average of 13 weeks a term). An important point is that Oxford degree candidates normally work on reading lists during the three vacation periods. For instance, a Oxford Classics Handbook says “Vacation study is vital.”
The Vice-Chancellor recently confirmed this view of the Oxford academic year in the Oxford Gazette. He wrote “attention is being given to ways in which existing practices may be formalised to make explicit the fact that the academic year at Oxford is more nearly the thirty week year of other institutions, and not, as is commonly assumed, a twenty-four week year.” OSAP will ensure that Visiting Students or Associate Members will be in residence for 13 weeks a term and will (depending on the individual college) normally study in one primary tutorial course of nine tutorial sessions and one secondary of five tutorial meetings. Alternatively, in some cases, three secondary courses of five tutorials each might be educationally desirable. Senior Fellows also expect to consult with the student’s U.S. professors to work out the best academic program for him or her.
This will mean that an Associate Member could properly earn 13-14 U.S. semester credits over 12-13 weeks of intensive academic work (see our Associate Member and Transcript pages for more information).
If you are considering applying through another U.S. overseas program (as some students do) you should ask them specifically how many weeks of residence you will have. (Most offer only 8-9 weeks and students often must get their own housing in vacation periods if they come for two or three terms). Also ask how many tutorials will you have (most offer only 12 tutorials in 8 weeks). Also, ask if the other program has an office and staff in Oxford to help you. (Several have no Oxford office.) The academic rankings of the colleges they work with may also be of interest. Ask about the “Norrington Tables”.
You could also ask how many tours they offer, do they have a medical plan, and what is the location of their housing? Additionally, will you receive a transcript authorized by Oxford University or a US transcript?
"I was taught by two Professors [holders of Chairs, usually only one don in the University in each subject], both of whom were Fellows of the British Academy. My academic program could not have been better."
"I would say OSAP is better because there is more integration with British students and a better safety net. Plus, the housing is better."