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What exactly is the D-plan? What are some intricacies of academic planning at Dartmouth?

A: Profile picture of Garrett Crouch

With the D-plan, planning your academic journey at Dartmouth becomes a fairly nuanced task. Let's talk about it!

Academic Planning/D-Plan

The first component of Dartmouth's famous D-Plan starts with our academic quarter system—traditionally, universities around the U.S mimic the traditional semester system (one large fall and spring semester). At Dartmouth, our academic calendar is comprised of four academic terms per year: fall, winter, spring, and summer. Dartmouth is pretty much open to students year-round. In order to graduate, students are required to participate in 12 terms of studying through Dartmouth, this can be accomplished both on campus or abroad! Study abroad opportunities are extremely accessible as well as encouraged, well over 50 percent of undergraduates participate in at least one offered program! The D-Plan offers a lot of flexibility, from the 12 available terms of study you essentially craft your own academic calendar selecting when and where you wish to study for three terms per year; however, there are a few required sequences you still need to fulfill as a student. For first-year students, you're required to be on-campus for fall, winter, and spring. On top of this, Dartmouth requires you to spend at least one summer on campus, most students opt for the summer after their sophomore year, a tradition commonly known as sophomore summer! Seniors are also required to be on campus for two terms, other than that, you have total control over your education's timeline and setting.

The D-Plan offers robust opportunities for internships, research, job-searching, and everything in between! It's something I admire a lot about Dartmouth, but it's also something that can be a struggle at times. I'm only a first-year student so I haven't experienced this first-hand yet, but upperclassmen like to highlight the fact that it can sometimes prove challenging to be on campus with your friends after your first year on campus, as everyone's timeline is different. This is definitely something I consider a lot, but ultimately I don't think it outweighs the benefit of freely scheduling your time here.

Nuances of the D-Plan

I'm currently in the process of drawing out my own D-Plan, and there are definitely lots of things I have to consider, especially being a pre-health student (I plan to attend medical school after Dartmouth). Because there are certain courses I'm required to take in order to prepare for medical school, and not every course I need to take is offered every term, I have to work around my schedule a bit. My tentative plan, after the conclusion of my first year on campus, is to spend four back-to-back terms on campus starting in the fall of 2023 and then to take off fall and summer of my junior year, while I'll be on campus for the fall, winter, and spring of my senior year. I know this may seem odd, but it's relatively normal to take four consecutive "on" terms. These are just some of the nuances of crafting your own personal D-Plan! 

Closing Comments

Because the D-Plan is so customizable, sometimes it can be overwhelming to think about as a current or prospective student, no need to worry though! Dartmouth is very strategic and has lots of equipped planning and guiding professionals readily available for any advice, guidance, or encouragement. The pre-health advisors and mentors are also really top-notch as well, so rarely do the nuances of Dartmouth's academic schedule bother me, and when they do there's always someone ready to help!

I hope you've enjoyed this Q&A post, and hopefully, as a result, know more about the academic planning/the D-Plan here at Dartmouth!

Your friend, 


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