Alternative Start Classes

Alternative start classes are undergraduate classes that begin later in the fall or spring semesters than regular 15-week courses. Currently, UMBC offers a small number of alternative start classes in an 8-week session format. These classes begin midway through the semester. These condensed courses cover the same amount of material as a regular semester class.

What courses are offered?

UMBC is currently in the pilot phase of the alternative start program, so only a small number of classes are being offered in the 8-week format during the Spring 2024 semester.

These classes include SPAN 101, SPAN 102, SPAN 201, MATH 106, and Math 151. Details are available in the Schedule of Classes. Use the option to search by “Session” and choose the 8-week option to review class details.

What are the benefits of taking alternative start classes?

Students may consider enrolling in an alternative start course for many reasons. Some of these include:

  • A student may decide there is room in their schedule for an additional class needed to fulfill requirements and can add an alternative start class rather than waiting until the following semester to enroll in the course.
  • A student who is considering dropping a regular-length class in which they are enrolled may find that adding an alternative start class helps them stay on target for degree progress.
  • Sometimes, students may be advised to consider an alternative start option as a “reset” on a class sequence. For example, a student enrolled in a regular semester SPAN 102 class may be struggling because it has been some time since they last studied the language. Swapping the regular semester SPAN 102 class with an alternative start SPAN 101 class might allow them to move forward at the appropriate level without risking a poor grade or waiting until the following semester.

How do I enroll in alternative start classes?

Students considering alternative start classes are encouraged to first speak with their academic advisor. Because the classes are offered in an 8-week condensed time frame, it is important for students to review their current schedule and verify that they will be able to commit to the additional hours required both in class and for out-of-class coursework. Some alternative start class sections require the permission of the academic department before enrolling.

Once a student has identified  a class, consulted with their advisor and obtained permission if needed, they can enroll in the class through the registration deadline. Both the first day of classes and the last day to enroll in alternative start classes for Spring 2024 is March 12th.

Tuition and Fees

Students who are already enrolled full-time can add alternative start classes without additional tuition charges.

Part-time students and students whose status changes from part-time to full-time because of the addition of an alternative start class will be billed accordingly.

Students who did not enroll in the regular term but who registered for an alternative start class will be charged a $20.00 late registration fee if enrolled on or after the first day of the regular semester.

Considerations for Schedule Adjustment

Students who swap or drop regular semester classes and add an alternative start class will receive a grade of W for the regular semester class if it is dropped after the schedule adjustment deadline. Refer to the Academic Calendar for dates and deadlines.

Students who drop a regular semester class which includes a Course Materials Fee will still be responsible for that fee even if the late start class being added also has a Course Materials Fee. Course Materials Fees are noted in the Schedule of Classes for those sections with fees.

The last day to drop an alternative start class is the same as the last day to withdraw from  individual classes for the regular semester. Students who request full-semester withdrawals will also be dropped from any alternative start classes in which they are enrolled.

Further Questions?

Please contact the Registrar’s Office if you have further questions about alternative start classes


Financial Aid Considerations

Enrollment, used to determine financial aid eligibility, is fixed based on your credit enrollment as of the regular term’s last day to add/drop classes (Schedule Adjustment Deadline).

  • If an alternative start class is added after the regular term’s add/drop deadline, it will not increase your eligibility for federal, state, or institutional need-based grants/loans.
  • If an alternative start class is added before the regular term’s add/drop deadline your financial aid will be adjusted accordingly. However, if you do not begin attendance in the alternative start course, it may result in reduced Financial Aid.
  • If you completely withdraw or fail your regular term classes, it may result in a return of federal financial aid, based on the date that you withdrew.
  • Alternative start classes will count towards UMBC Merit Scholarship full-time requirements.