Course Scheduling

Guide to the Grid

Prepared by the Curriculum Review Committee

The Course Scheduling Grid at Bates is designed to give faculty and students a certain amount of flexibility in class time usage.  To this end, it has a number of unusual features which faculty can make use of creatively.


The first and most noteworthy of these is the existence of four MWF 80-minute time slots (beginning at 8:00 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 1:10 p.m., and 2:40 p.m.).  New faculty should realize that they do not have to meet courses scheduled in these MWF slots for a full 80 minutes each session (though they can if they want).  Each course must meet for a minimum of 160 minutes per week.  Given the extra number of minutes available in these time slots (3 x 80 = 240), there are several ways of meeting this requirement.  Here are a few examples:

–A faculty member could choose to hold their class three times a week, but only for 55 minutes (e.g., MWF from 8:25-9:20 a.m. or MWF from 9:30-10:25 a.m.)  Students can simply be dismissed at the end of 55 minutes, or faculty can hold class office hours during the extra time, or field questions, or schedule help sessions, or let groups of students get together to talk about projects, etc., etc.

–Alternatively, a faculty member could choose to hold their class only twice a week, e.g. on MW or WF or MF for the full 80 minutes starting at 8, 9:30, 1:10, or 2:40. Such courses should be listed as meeting only twice a week in the registration materials so that students will be aware of this ahead of time. However, in order to combat “creeping three-day weekendism,” departments should make sure that at least half of their courses scheduled in such MWF 80-minute slots include a Friday meeting (i.e., don’t schedule all of them for MW).

–Thirdly, a faculty member could choose to hold their class twice a week and reserve the third day for discussion, or for two discussion sessions of 40 minutes each, or for film showings or whatever.  Such courses should be listed as meeting three times a week in the registration materials.

–Finally, a faculty member could choose usually to hold their class twice a week but occasionally to meet on the third day, for a make-up session, or an exam, or whatever.  Such courses should be listed as meeting three times a week in the registration materials, since students should keep all three days available in their schedules, even though they might not always use them.


In addition, a faculty member who only plans to hold their class twice a week for 80 minutes has available four time slots on Tuesday-Thursdays:  TR 8:00-9:20, TR 9:30-10:50, TR 1:10-2:30 and TR 2:40-4:00.


A faculty member who only plans to hold their class three times a week for 55 minutes has a couple of options:

–As indicated above, to schedule the class in a MWF 80 minute slot but only use 55 minutes of the 80 minutes available.

–Or, more efficiently, to schedule the class on MWF from 11:00-11:55 or MWF from 12:05-1:00.


Language classes and Math classes and others that wish to meet for regular class sessions more than three times a week, also have available a number of options:

–The simplest is to meet MTWRF from 11:00-11:55 or 12:05-1:00 (for classes that wish to meet five times a week); or MTWF or MWRF from 11:00-11:55, or MWRF from 12:05-1:00 (for classes that wish to meet four times a week).

–Alternatively, classes that need to meet more than three times a week can also be scheduled for three sessions in any time slot on MWF, AND ALSO in one (or two) of the “extra class session times” on TR for their fourth (or fourth and fifth) meeting times.  The “extra class session times” available are:  T and/or R from 11:00-11:55 or 12:05-1:00.  Thus, for example, a class needing to meet four times a week could be scheduled for MWF 2:40-4:00 + R 12:05-1:00.


Classes that break up into smaller groups for separately scheduled discussion sections (typically once a week) have a number of options available:

–As indicated above, it is possible to schedule a class in a MWF 80 minute slot, meeting for the full 80 minutes on two days (e.g., MW) and scheduling two 40-minute discussion sections in the time slot on the third day (e.g., F).  This works for classes that split up into only two discussion sections, and for faculty who feel that 40-minutes is enough time for those discussion sections.

–Alternatively, it is possible to make schedule discussion sections in any of the 55 minute TR “extra session times” referred to above. These “extra session times” are:  T from 11:00-11:55 and R from 11:00-11:55, or from 12:05-1:00.

–Finally, classes may also schedule discussion sections on T and/or R from 4:10-5:00 p.m.  The only rule here is that such classes must also have another discussion section that meets some time prior to 4:00 p.m.   This is to ensure that students who have extra-curricular activities after 4:00 p.m. will have an alternative pre-4:00 p.m. time when they can participate in a discussion section.

“Extra session times” are to be used only: (a) by MWF classes that need to meet regularly four or five times a week, and (b) as a discussion section time by classes with multiple discussion sections. These are to be used as a lab only if five sections of the lab are scheduled at other times, or under special circumstances.


Typically classes in the Natural Sciences or other fields that have Laboratory sections, schedule those from 1:05-4:00 on any afternoon (MTWR or F).  In addition, under special circumstances, it is also possible to have lab sections scheduled from 8:00-10:50 a.m. on Tuesday or Thursday mornings, or from 7:30-10:30 p.m. on Tuesday or Thursday evenings.


Seminars (i.e., advanced, generally small classes, that meet only once a week for three hours) are typically scheduled on Tuesday or Thursday evenings from 7:30-10:30 p.m.  Alternatively, they may meet any afternoon (MTWRF) from 1:05-4:00 p.m.


Classes (generally in Art, Music, Dance, or Theater) that need to meet twice a week for two hours per session can do so on TR from  9:00-10:50 a.m. or in the afternoons anytime between 1:05 and 4:00 on TR or MW or MF or WF.


The CRC asks that each department and program schedule approximately 20%  (one out of five) of its courses in some combination of the following time slots:  MWF 8:00-9:20am, TR 8:00-9:20am, TR 7:30-8:50pm, TR 7:30-10:30pm.

We have observed that the 20% requirement has led to some pedagogical and logistical issues for a small number of programs and departments. Because of these concerns, there are three specific cases where we will consider exceptions to the 20% guideline for the grids of departments and programs:

1) When departments or programs offer many cross-listed courses that appear on other grids in the unpopular time slots.
2) When departments or programs offer many language classes that work much better in the 4 or 5 day a week 11:00 or 12:00 slots.
3) When departments or programs offer fewer than five classes in a semester.


Typically Wednesday morning and afternoon time slots are in higher demand than any other day of the week. We therefore request that programs and departments balance their offerings across all days of the week, including Fridays, and avoid the overuse of Wednesday. For courses only meeting two days, please utilize all combinations of MW, WF and MF in addition to TR.


While there is no formal grid for meeting patterns for Short Term courses there are a few requirements:

  • Beginning in Short Term 2021, Short Term will run for 4 weeks (3 full weeks plus 3 days) in May. Each Short Term course counts for 0.5 Bates credits (or, in federal terms, 2.0 federal credit hours), and each must require 90 total ‘student academic work hours’ (2 federal credits x 45 work hours per federal credit). This means 22.5 student work hours per week. This could be achieved, for example, by scheduling 7.5 hours of class meetings and assigning 15 hours of out-of-class work per week.
  • Short terms that involve a lot of field work, or travel, or community service (i.e., work outside the traditional classroom) need to be clear that students will still be expected to devote a minimum of 90 hours to their short term work. If such courses are scheduled to meet for fewer than the average 7.5 hours in the classroom per week, they will need to make up the balance with additional out-of-class expectations, in order to reach the minimum total of 90 hours. These expectations should be specified in the description of the short term course.
  • Courses should start on the hour and run until 5 minutes before the hour.
  • If meeting three days per week – courses must meet either Monday or Friday (or both).
  • Over the 4 weeks of Short Term courses can meet in varying patterns. If meeting with a varying pattern please specify date ranges for each pattern.
  • Lunch breaks should not be counted in meeting hours. If there is a break for lunch please note that in the meeting schedule (e.g. TR 10:00am-12:00pm and 1:00-3:00pm)