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Glossary

Definitions of terms often vary a little from one college/university to the next. This list represents generally accepted definitions for some of the terms you are likely to encounter during your college experience. Some of the definitions provided are particularly for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. It is your responsibility as a student to check with your college or university to clarify the definition of a particular term.

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

A  glossary line
2+2 Program A program offering an associate’s degree that will transfer directly toward a bachelor’s degree in the same field of study. These programs may be within the same college, between two colleges, or between a college and university. 2 + 2 programs can also refer to High School programs that transfer to college programs.
Academic Advising A meeting between a student and an advisor, faculty advisor, or college counselor to discuss educational issues such as courses required for a program, transfer of courses into or out of the institution, or course selection prior to registration.
Academic Award A certificate, diploma or degree.
Academic Load The number of credits a student is enrolled in during a term. For Federal or other purposes, a full-time course load is defined as 12 credits (per semester). For state grant purposes, a full-time course load is defined as 15 credits (per semester). Also called course load.
Advanced Program A cohesive arrangement of college-level credit courses and experiences designed to accomplish predetermined objectives leading to the awarding of a degree, diploma, or certificate.
Academic Program Suspension A change in status which temporarily closes an academic program to new enrollment.
Academic Record A document maintained by the registrar’s office that reflects the complete academic history of the student at the institution. It contains a chronological listing of the student’s entire academic experiences for which they’ve received credit and may include any information pertinent to the evaluation.
Academic Standards College standards that students must maintain, such as a certain grade point average, in order to remain in good standing with the college or university.
Academic Standing The scholastic standing of a student based on his/her grade point average (GPA) such as good academic standing, academic warning, probation or suspension.
Academic Suspension An individual’s involuntary separation from the institution for failure to maintain academic standards for a specified period of time after which the student is eligible to return. Conditions for re-enrollment may be specified. Also called suspension.
Academic Term A specific period of the year during which classes are in session. Also called term. See quarter, semester.
Academic Year The period of formal academic instruction. It is divided into quarters (usually extending from September through June) or semesters (usually extending from August through May). Students may also be able to take classes during summer or other sessions. See calendar.
Accreditation Certification that a college, university or specific program meets a set of criteria established by their accrediting agency. The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities are regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Technical and specialized programs may be accredited by specialized accrediting bodies. Colleges usually must be accredited for their students to receive financial aid. The type of accreditation can impact the transfer of credits.
Accuplacer Assessment test used by the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities to assess reading, writing, and math skills and place students in beginning college courses.
ACE American Council on Education is the major coordinating body for all of the nation's higher education institutions. http://www.acenet.edu/
ACT® The ACT® is a national college admissions examination that consists of subject area tests in English, Mathematics, Reading and Science: The ACT® Plus Writing includes the four subject area tests plus a 30-minute Writing Test. ACT® results are accepted by all 4-year colleges and universities in the U.S. http://www.actstudent.org/
ACT®:Code A code assigned to colleges and universities in the United States and Canada by the American College Testing Program.
Add/Drop Period Refers to a period of time at the beginning of a semester where students can make changes in registration to enroll (add) or stop enrollment (drop) course(s). There is typically a refund schedule that applies during this time that is usually published in the course schedule.
Adjunct Faculty A faculty member who works fewer than five (5) credits in a term. Such faculty do not accrue seniority and are not probationary.
Admission Acceptance into a college after the student has filed a completed "Application for Admission" and any other required materials with the Admissions, Admissions and Records, or Enrollment Services Office and has been admitted according to admissions criteria. Students who have been admitted are eligible to register for courses. Sometimes there is a separate application for specific programs.
Admissions Office Office in a college or university that receives applications for admission and other supporting materials and makes admission determinations and/or notifications. Also known as enrollment services office.
Admissions and Records Office Office in a college or university that receives applications for admission and other supporting materials, makes admissions determinations and/or notifications, and also maintains student records, course schedules and/or catalogs.
Admissions Officer/Counselor A person who assists students to prepare application materials. They usually work in the Admissions/Enrollment Services office.
Advanced Credit A waiver or award of credit for an undergraduate degree granted to a student based on their prior study or experience. It is usually indicated by the student’s performance on an examination.
Advanced Placement (AP)® Courses offered in high school and exams that cover the material taught in AP® courses. Students who pass the AP® Exam with a minimum score can have credit awarded at colleges and universities according to institutional policies. http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/ap/about.html/
Advanced (Early) Registration A period of time set by most colleges during which students can register early for courses. See Registration.
Advisor A designated individual who has been trained to assist students with academic information that will enable them to enroll in courses related to their academic goals and utilize student services. They may also be able to assist students with course transfer evaluation and help students transfer in or out of the institution.
Advisory Committee A group established to provide guidance on academic program development and improvement including need, design, accountability, and closure.
Alma mater The college or university from which one has graduated and received an academic award.
Alumnus/Alumni A person or persons who attended or graduated from a college or university.
AP® Advanced Placement® courses offered in high school and exams that cover the material taught in Advanced Placement®courses. Students who pass the Advanced Placement® Exam with a minimum score may have credit awarded at colleges and universities according to institutional policies. http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/ap/about.html/ See Advanced Placement®
Appeal A procedure whereby a student seeks to have an exception to a college or university rule or requirement. Also called petition.
Application Fee A fee to process a student’s application.
Application for Degree, Diploma or Certificate Application students complete to ensure they receive their certificate, diploma or degree, usually one term before their last term to complete program requirements. The application ensures that the student receives the award and information about graduation.
Apprenticeship A training program, like carpentry or welding, which results in certified skills for a trade.
Articulated Credit Courses/credits that have transferred from a college or university to another college or university and that apply to the student’s academic program.
Articulation Agreement A formal agreement between two or more educational entities to accept credits in transfer toward a specific academic program. Articulation agreements are typically for technical, scientific or career-oriented programs, and involve the transfer of one completed program to another program. Transfer often occurs without articulation agreements.
Arts & Sciences A grouping of academic studies that may include fine arts, languages, social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities. The grouping may be called a division, college, or school, for example, the School of Arts and Sciences.
Assessment Test Assessment is a way of evaluating students’ present skills, such as in English, reading and math so students are placed into appropriate level courses. Assessment is based on placement test scores that are used as a guide for proper course placement to maximize student success. Also called Placement Test.
Associate Degree A degree traditionally awarded by community or community and technical colleges after completion of at least 60-64 semester credit hours of specified course work. There are different types of associate degrees with varying transferability. Universities may also award associate degrees.
Associate in Applied Science (AAS) An associate in applied science degree is awarded upon completion of a 60 minimum credit academic program in a named field of study in scientific, technological or other professional field. This degree is not designed for transfer; however, articulation agreements may exist whereby at least part or all of this degree transfers between specific colleges and universities.
Associate in Arts (AA) An associate in arts degree is awarded upon completion of a 60 minimum credit academic program in the liberal arts and sciences without a named field of study. It is designed for transfer to baccalaureate degree-granting institutions.
Associate in Fine Arts (AFA) An associate in fine arts degree is a named degree awarded upon completion of a 60 minimum credit academic program in particular disciplines in the fine arts. This degree transfers in its entirety in accordance with articulation agreements between specific colleges and universities
Associate in Science (AS) An associate in science degree is awarded upon completion of a 60 minimum credit academic program in scientific, technological, or other professional fields designed to transfer in its entirety to a related baccalaureate program by way of an articulation agreement between specific colleges and universities.
Audit When a student enrolls in a course that will not count for credit or in the student’s grade point average. Students are not required to complete assignments or exams. Students pay to attend the course and registration for audit may require the permission of the instructor.
Award A certificate, diploma or degree.
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B  glossary line
B.A. or B.S. "Bachelor of Arts", and "Bachelor of Science." These are four-year degrees; however, it can take less or more than four years to attain them.
Baccalaureate or Bachelor's Degree The degree granted by a university upon completion of a minimum 120 credit program (semesters) incorporating general education, major requirements and, as appropriate, a minor.
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C  glossary line
Calendar How a college or university divides the academic year for courses and grading. Academic years are usually divided into quarters, semesters, or trimesters.
Career Plan A set of steps to be followed over a period of time to obtain education or training to get a desired job.
Career Programs Programs designed to lead directly to employment or career advancement, usually in a specialized field. Also called occupational or technical programs.
Catalog A document for a specific college or university containing course descriptions, program and general education requirements, college policies, procedures and standards, and student rights and responsibilities. Catalogs are usually revised and reprinted every one or two years. Catalogs are usually available online.
Catalog Year The catalog in effect at the time the student begins attending a college or university. If the student maintains continuous enrollment, the student may choose to follow the program requirements in effect for that catalog or any subsequent catalog.
CBE Competency-Based Education--In a competency-based system desired learning outcomes are clearly defined and students are assessed by whether they can demonstrate those learning outcomes. Different learning outcomes are called "competencies." Students progress through the curriculum by demonstrating that they have met the competencies in a variety of skill and knowledge areas.
CEEB Code College Entrance Examination Board code. This code is assigned to colleges and universities in the United States and Canada by the Educational Testing Service and authorized by the College Entrance Examination Board.
Certificate Programs that offer short-term training in a wide variety of areas and are often offered by community and technical colleges. A certificate program may have an occupational outcome or address a focused area of study. Certificates are typically not designed for transfer unless articulation agreements exist between specific colleges and/or universities.
Chancellor Chief administrator of a university or college campus, college district or state system of colleges and universities.
CIP or Classification of Instructional Programs A coding structure administered by the U.S. Department of Education that identifies academic programs.
Class Rank The position of a student in their class compared to their peers.
Class Schedule A listing of all of the courses offered during a particular term, along with other useful information such as how to register, academic policies, support services, etc. Not all courses are taught each term; some courses are taught every term while others may only be offered periodically. Class schedules are usually available online.
Class Section A particular course offered at a definite time. Courses are identified by specific section numbers. There may be several sections of the same course offered during a term, each with a different instructor, place and time. Class sections are listed in the class schedule for each term. See course section.
Class Standing A student's official year in school such as Freshman (first year), Sophomore (second year), Junior (third year) or Senior (fourth year). The years are based on the number of college or university credits completed.
CLEP ® The College-Level Examination Program ® or CLEP ® provides students of any age with the opportunity to demonstrate college-level achievement through exams in undergraduate college courses. http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/clep/about.html/
Closed Class A limit is placed on the size of each class section. When this limit is reached, it is closed to further enrollment unless an opening occurs. Course openings can usually be monitored online or with the Registration Office.
Collaborative Agreement A formal agreement between two or more colleges or universities to co-deliver an academic program. One or more colleges or universities signing the agreement may confer the award.
College In the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, community colleges, technical colleges, and consolidated colleges are institutions that are separately accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. Universities have colleges that house specific areas of study (e.g., business, health sciences, etc.).
College-Level Examination Program ® The College-Level Examination Program ® or CLEP ® provides students of any age with the opportunity to demonstrate college-level achievement through exams in undergraduate college courses. http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/clep/about.html/
Community College Community Colleges have the authority to confer undergraduate certificates, diplomas, associate in arts, associate in fine arts, associate in science, and associate in applied science degrees.
Competency Specific curricular outcomes. The Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC) consists of 10 goal areas that consist of particular competencies.
Competency Based Education In a competency-based system desired learning outcomes are clearly defined and students are assessed by whether they can demonstrate those learning outcomes. Different learning outcomes are called "competencies." Students progress through the curriculum by demonstrating that they have met the competencies in a variety of skill and knowledge areas.
Competitive Admission Policy An admission policy where a college or university only admits students who meet stringent requirements.
Conditional Admission A college or university may admit students who have not met all the admission requirements. To maintain enrollment status, these students must fulfill specified requirements before or during their enrollment.
Consolidated Colleges Consolidated colleges are community colleges and technical colleges that have formally organized into a single institution.
Consortium An arrangement between schools that enables students who attend one school to go to class and use resources at another school.
Consortium Agreement Required for financial aid purposes when a student receiving aid and attending one institution takes course(s) at a different institution to meet program requirements. The student may need to pay for the course(s) and be reimbursed later.
Contact Hours The total hours of class and lab required per week in a course.
Continuing Education Course A course separate from the standard academic curriculum. Separate registration and fee structures exist, and they are not eligible for financial aid. While most of these courses do not earn academic credits, they may provide CEU’s necessary for professional development or lead to professional certifications. Continuing Education departments offer a wide variety of special non-degree vocational, leisure, developmental, and professional courses.
Continuous Enrollment The process of registering for and completing courses during consecutive terms, which may include, but not require summer sessions.
Cooperative Education (Co-op Education) A program in which a student combines employment and study in a career field.
Core Courses/General Requirements Courses that all students in a major program are required to take.
Corequisite A course which must be taken during the same term as another course.
Counselor A professionally trained staff member who helps students with educational, career, and/or personal concerns that may include transfer advising. Counselors may also teach career or personal enrichment classes.
Course A set of designed learning experiences with defined outcomes. Courses may be offered for academic credit or for non-credit.
Course Designator A three or four-letter code that identifies the subject area of a course (e.g., ENGL in ENGL 1011 indicates a course in English). Also called subject code or course prefix.
Course Description A course description explains what is taught in the course. It may include course objectives, credit hours, lab hours (if any), and prerequisites/corequisites needed. Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC) goal areas met by the course may also be listed in the course description for courses in the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC).
Course Evaluation A survey usually given at the end of a term that requests students to give feedback and opinions about the instructor and the course.
Course Fee A charge for services, supplies, and/or materials for a course, in addition to tuition and registration fees.
Course Load The number of credits a student is enrolled in during a term. For Federal or other purposes, a full-time course load is defined as 12 credits (semesters). For state grant purposes, a full-time course load is defined as 15 credits (semesters). Also called academic load.
Course Number A number attached to a course to differentiate it from other courses. Numbers assigned to courses reflect class standing. For example, 1000-2000 (100-200) level courses are usually taken during the first two years (Freshman/Sophomore). 3000-4000 (300-400) level courses are usually taken during the third and fourth years (Junior/Senior). The level of a course may affect its transferability.
Course Outline The course outline is the document approved by the college or university committee to communicate detailed information about system college and university courses. The course outline is the document used to evaluate courses for transfer within the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system.
Course Overload Defined by most colleges/universities as a course load greater than a specified number of credits. Administrative approval is required to take an overload.
Course Prefix A three or four-letter code that identifies the subject area of a course (e.g., ENGL in ENGL 1011 indicates a course in English). Also called course designator or subject code.
Course Section A particular course offered at a definite time. Courses are identified by specific section numbers. There may be several sections of the same course offered during a term, each with a different instructor, place and time. Course sections are listed in the Course Schedule for each term. See class section.
Course Syllabus A document prepared by the instructor to provide students with information about the course content, course requirements, and course expectations based on the institutional course outline.
Course Title The name of the course that describes course content. For example, a course title may be "General Psychology" or "Interpersonal Communication."
Course Withdrawal The procedure in which a student officially removes himself/herself from taking a course. Tuition may or may not be refunded, depending on the date of withdrawal or other extenuating factors. Students withdrawing from one or more courses must notify the college or university in writing and request that they be officially withdrawn. Refunds, if any, are based on the refund schedule set forth in the catalog. At many institutions, after a specified date, students must have the instructor’s approval before withdrawing from a course. Grades of "W" do not count against the GPA but can impact satisfactory academic progress. There may be implications for financial aid. See withdrawal.
CPE College Proficiency Exam. Exams that measure a student’s knowledge and/or abilities in a particular subject or course.
Credentials A certificate, diploma, degree or other type of evidence that a person has completed specific requirements.
Credit A quantitative measure of instructional time assigned to a course or an equivalent learning experience such as class time per week over an academic term.
Credit by Exam An examination designed to demonstrate knowledge in a subject where the learning was acquired outside a traditional classroom. A person who learned management skills while working at a restaurant could take an equivalency exam to earn credit in small business management, for example. See Credit for Prior Learning and Equivalency Exam.
Credit for Prior Learning Credit awarded to a student who demonstrates knowledge and/or proficiency in a subject through an exam or evaluation of a portfolio. See Equivalency Exam and Credit by Exam.
Credit Course A course that has a value of a specified number of credits attached. Students earn the credit value when they successfully pass the course.
Credit Transfer The acknowledgement by a college or university of student credit earned at a different institution or by exam.
CTC Community and Technical College.
Cum Laude An honorary recognition of the success of a graduating student that usually requires a minimum GPA.
Curriculum A coherent set of instructional experiences designed to achieve desired student learning outcomes. Curriculum may refer to a program, a major, an instructional unit, the general education component, or the entirety of offerings of a college or university. See Program of Study.
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D  glossary line
DANTES The DSST Program allows individuals to receive college credits for learning acquired outside the traditional classroom including reading, on-the-job training, or independent study. Formerly known as the DANTES Subject Standardized Tests-Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support. See DSST. http://www.dantes.doded.mil/DANTES_Homepage.html
DARS Degree Audit Reporting System-Audit that lets students know what program requirements have been met and what requirements remain to be completed.
Dean The highest officer of an academic division of study or student services area.
Declare a Major To officially tell a college your major, or area of study. Some colleges require a formal process for declaring a major and may even require a separate admission application. At some institutions, students may simply follow the program requirements without a formal declaration of their major and apply for their program of study award when they have met all the requirements. See Major and Application for Degree, Diploma or Certificate.
Deferred Admission When a college or university accepts a student but then allows the student to delay enrolling until a later time.
Degree An academic award conferred to a student after finishing a program of study at a college or university such as an Associate of Arts (AA) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree. The degree indicates the student’s successful completion of requirements for a particular program of study.
Degree Audit An advising document that indicates a student’s progress toward completing program requirements. A degree audit may include additional information such as the student’s academic status, test scores, proficiencies completed, transfer work, appeals, etc.
Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS) Audit that lets students know what program requirements have been met and what requirements remain to be completed. This audit is used by advisors and students. See DARS.
Degree Program Specific courses that lead to an academic award upon successful completion.
Degree Requirements Requirements a student must complete successfully before he/she completes a degree.
Delivery Method The method used to provide or transmit a course such as in a classroom, via television at a remote site, television, videotape, internet, computer disk or by mail.
Demonstrated Competencies Experiences for which credit may be awarded upon validation of student knowledge/abilities. Examples include military experience, life experience, CLEP ®, AP ®, ACT/PEP ®, and other nationally standardized examinations, and institutional tests.
Demonstrated Proficiencies Abilities a student can demonstrate. The institution maintains records of these proficiencies in the institutional database, but they may not be indicated on the transcript.
Department A division of the college or university which offers instruction or houses a student service area, for example the Sociology Department or the Advising Office.
Department Chair A faculty member who in charge of a specific academic department in a college or university.
Developmental Courses Courses that prepare students for entry into college level courses. Developmental level course credits are not college level and do not apply toward a certificate, diploma, or degree or transfer. Also called preparatory courses.
Diploma Programs that offer training in a wide variety of areas and are often offered by community and technical colleges. A diploma program may have an occupational outcome or address a focused area of study. Diplomas are typically not designed for transfer unless articulation agreements exist between specific colleges and/or universities.
Direct-Entry Student A student who has attended a college or university from the beginning of their higher education career and who has not transferred. Also referred to as "native" student.
Discipline In education, refers to a field of study such as English or Psychology. See Major.
Distance Education or Distance Learning Courses that take place free of time or space limitations. Such courses may be via television at a remote site, television, videotape, internet, computer disk, mail (correspondence), web-based, web-enhanced, through interactive video, or via other technologies.
Distributive Requirements How credits are categorized in a program. For example, there may be general education requirements, major course requirements and/or elective requirements. See General Education Requirements.
Division A group of faculty who teach classes in related subjects, such as Communication, English, Natural Science, Mathematics, and Social Science in the General Education or Liberal Arts Division.
Doctorate The highest university degree awarded by a university to students who have completed studies beyond the bachelor’s and/or master’s degrees, and who have demonstrated their academic ability in oral and written examinations and through original research presented in the form of a dissertation (thesis). Also called doctoral degree.
Double Major Declaring two degrees in two different majors and fulfilling the course requirements for both. See Major.
Drop De-registering from a class within the drop/add period. A drop is not recorded on the student’s transcript and there is usually at least a partial refund for the course.
DSST The DSST Program allows individuals to receive college credits for learning acquired outside the traditional classroom including reading, on-the-job training, or independent study. Formerly known as the DANTES Subject Standardized Tests-Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support. See DANTES.
Dual of Concurrent Enrollment When colleges enroll high achieving high school students in college courses which may fulfill both high school and college graduation requirements. Students need permission from the high school principal or guidance counselor and admission to a college or university. In Minnesota, the Post-Secondary Enrollment Options Program (PSEO) is an example of concurrent enrollment.
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E  glossary line
Early Admission When students take the necessary standardized tests and apply early in their senior year for admission to some colleges/universities.
Early Registration When students enroll in courses in advance of the general student population.
Ed. D. Doctor of Education. See doctorate.
Education Specialist Degree A professional education degree that may be awarded to a holder of a master’s degree after the successful completion of a course of graduate study of at least 30 semester credits.
eFolio Minnesota An electronic portfolio program that can be used by students and residents of Minnesota to showcase individual lifelong and life-wide learning. For example, a student could use eFolioMinnesota to showcase their prior life experience in requesting credit for prior learning.
Elective A course a student chooses to take that is not required in their major field of study, but may be used for credit toward program requirements. There can be restricted electives and unrestricted electives.
Electronic Portfolio Electronic portfolios are similar to "hard copy" portfolios, except that they are created in a virtual environment. Documents, pictures, computer graphics, audio, and video files can be uploaded into an electronic portfolio.
Emeritus Faculty Honored faculty members, usually retired from teaching.
Emphasis A focused component of an academic program.
Enroll To officially register for classes.
Enrollment Services Office Office in a college or university that receives applications for admission and other supporting materials and makes admission determinations and/or notifications. Also known as admissions office.
Equivalency The comparison of courses at one college or university to courses at another college or university. The course is considered equivalent when a minimum percentage (usually 75%-80%) of the content or learning outcomes overlap. Courses with the same or similar title are not necessarily equivalent. Course equivalencies don't necessarily go both ways.
Equivalency Exam An examination designed to demonstrate knowledge in a subject where the learning was acquired outside a traditional classroom. A person who learned management skills while working at a restaurant could take an equivalency exam to earn credit in small business management, for example. See Credit for Prior Learning and Credit by Exam.
Essay A written response composed by the student to an assignment or examination. Some colleges and universities require an essay as part of the admissions process.
eTranscript Process that electronically transmits a student’s transcript from one college or university to another without the student’s request.
Excelsior College Exams® Excelsior College Examinations®(formerly ACT/PEP®) are used to meet specific college degree requirements of the Excelsior College degrees and are accepted for college credit by over 900 colleges and universities. Formerly called the ACT Proficiency Examination Program ® (ACT PEP®). http://www.excelsior.edu/ecapps/exams/creditByExam.jsf?gw=1/
Exemption A course requirement which is fulfilled by passing an exam or demonstrating proficiency in the subject.
Expulsion When a student is dismissed and is no longer able to attend a college or university.
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