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How long is Spring Break for universities and colleges? Dates listed by institution

Hordes of college students are gearing up for “Spring Break” and the vacation hotspots that will host them. Here’s when institutions have their break

Spring Break dates and length for universities and colleges

The first official day of spring is approaching in the Northern hemisphere, arriving Monday 20 March. After the frigid temperatures that have put a chill in the bones of many across the United States this winter, plenty will be looking forward to the chance to go someplace warm when their “Spring Break” period comes around.

Hotspot Spring Break destinations like California, Florida and Texas will be bracing for a flood of college students over the next two months. Here’s a look at when US colleges and universities will give their students and faculty some much desired rest and recreation time.

How long is Spring Break for colleges and universities?

Spring Break last about a week or two for most institutions. Some give students time off during the last week of March and another break for Easter. The bulk of colleges and universities will be on holiday between 11 March and 1 April in 2023.

Below are the Spring Break dates at a selected list of universities in the United States. For other institutions not listed here, you can consult the extended list of universities and the dates of their respective Spring Breaks.

Spring Break dates for colleges and universities

  • Brown University, RI: 25 March – 1 April
  • California Institute of Technology, CA: 25 March – 1 April
  • Columbia University, NY: 18 – 25 March 
  • Cornell University, NY: 1 - 8 April
  • Dartmouth College, MA: 18 – 25 March
  • Duke University, NC: 11 – 18 March
  • Harvard University, MA: 18 – 25 March
  • Johns Hopkins University, MD: 11 – 18 March
  • MIT, MA: 25 March – 1 April
  • Northwestern University - Chicago, IL: 25 March – 1 April
  • Princeton University, NJ: 18 - 25 March
  • Stanford University, CA: 25 March – 1 April
  • University of California - Berkeley, CA: 25 March – 1 April
  • University of Chicago, IL: 25 March – 1 April
  • University of Pennsylvania, PA: 4 – 11 March
  • Yale University, CT: 11 – 18 March

Brief history of Spring Break

The debauchery of Spring Break can trace its roots back to the Greeks. However, the modern spectacle that often makes the nightly news and even became an annual staple on MTV got its start in the 1930s. A swimming coach took his team down to sleepy Fort Lauderdale, Florida to make use of a brand-new Olympic-size pool for some early training.

The idea caught on with other swim coaches and German U-boats patrolling the Atlantic during World War II made Florida a safer destination than offshore locations like Bermuda. The spring tradition got a mega-boost in 1960 with the publication of ‘Where the Boys Are’ by Glendon Swarthout and the subsequent movie based on the book.

The Michigan State University English professor’s story was based on what he saw of the Beatnik-era shenanigans in Fort Lauderdale when he accompanied a group of students. The number of college co-eds travelling to the now famous Florida Spring Break destination swelled from 20,000 to 50,000 and then to an estimated 350,000 by 1985.

The boozed-fueled antics of the Spring Break revelers eventually got the mayor to go on “Good Morning America” and tell them to go somewhere else. While still a popular location, Panama City, Florida has become the “Spring Break Capital of the World.” However, while it still holds the title, things got out of hand there too, and now alcohol is banned from the 27-mile beach during the month of March, a move being implemented in other Spring Break destinations.