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Definitions of terms often vary a little from one school 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 school to clarify the definition of a particular term.

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F  glossary line
Faculty Individuals who teach courses at a college or university. See adjunct faculty, professor, or instructor.
FAFSA See Free Application For Federal Student Aid.
FERPA Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. This federal law protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
FICE Federal Interagency Commission on Education. A six digit code assigned to identify higher educational institutions in the United States.
Final Exam An examination at the end of the academic term. It may cover the last section of material taught since a previous exam or material covered for the entire course (comprehensive final exam). The schedule for final exam dates and times for each term may be included in the schedule of classes.
Finals Week Time at the end of the term when classes do not meet and final exams are given.
Fine Arts Disciplines of creative writing, dance, music, theatre or the visual arts in which artistic purposes are primary.
Fiscal/Business Office The office where tuition/fees are paid. Also known as the Bursar/Cashier’s Office.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) A form students applying for financial assistance are required to complete in order to determine eligibility for financial aid. It is free of charge. This form can be found on the web: Students must file their application for the year they plan to attend a college or university.
Fresh Start A policy offered at some colleges and universities allowing certain portions of a student’s prior educational history to be removed from the computation of the student’s cumulative credit and grade point average totals. It is requested by the student. The policy only applies to the institution where it is granted and does not apply to financial aid eligibility. Previous credits and grades that a student has earned (after a specified period of time of non-attendance at that or another institution) are ignored in the calculation of the student’s cumulative credits attempted, cumulative credits earned, and GPA. The courses, however, remain on the transcript and a reviewer must have some way of knowing that these credits are being ignored. Also called "Academic Forgiveness" or "Academic Renewal."
Full-time Student A student who carries a minimum number of credits or hours to be considered "full-time" by a college. The number of credits considered to be a full-time load can vary from college to college and for various purposes. A full-time course load is often 12 or more semester credit hours. State grant programs require 15 semester credits for full-time status.
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G  glossary line
General Education A cohesive curriculum to develop general knowledge and reasoning ability through an integration of learning experiences in the liberal arts and sciences.
General Education Requirements A variety of classes in different academic areas, usually in the liberal arts. For example a certain number of courses in sciences, communications, math, humanities, and social sciences may be required.
General Educational Development Test (GED Tests) The Tests of General Educational Development (GED Tests) are designed to measure the skills and knowledge equivalent to a high school course of study. The subject area tests which comprise the GED test battery are Mathematics; Reading; Language Arts; Writing (including essay); Science; and Social Studies.
Goal Area The Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC) consists of ten goal areas: Communication; Critical Thinking; Natural Sciences; Mathematical/Logical Reasoning; History and the Social and Behavioral Sciences; The Humanities and Fine Arts; Human Diversity; Global Perspective; Ethical and Civic Responsibility; and People and the Environment. Each goal area is defined and has specific competencies.
Grade A qualitative rating of a student’s knowledge or performance usually designated with a letter. Grades of A, B, C, D generally correspond to the terms "excellent," "good," "satisfactory," and "lowest passing quality." An "F" grade represents "failure" and is unacceptable for credit in a course. Courses with grades of "F" do not transfer, and courses with "Ds" may not transfer. Other grading systems sometimes used are Pass/Fail, Pass/No Record, Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory, and Credit/No Credit.
Grade Point The numerical value of a grade multiplied by the credit hours for a course (A=4 points; B=3 points; C=2 points; D=1 point; F=0 points). If, for example, a student earned an A in English 101 (3 credit hours), then the student earned 12 grade points: A=4 points x 3 (credit hours) = 12 grade points. See Grade Point Average.
Grade Point Average (GPA) The average of a student’s grades. The term "GPA" is an average of grade points earned during that term. Cumulative GPA is an average of all grade points earned in a certain degree program or at a certain college or university. Grade point average is determined by dividing the total number of grade points earned by the total number of credit hours attempted. For example, 45 grade points divided by 15 credit hours = 3.0 GPA. See Grade Point.
Graduate A person who receives a certificate, diploma, or degree from a college or university.
Graduate Record Examination® An exam typically required for admission to graduate school that tests verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing.
Graduate Student A student who has completed a bachelor’s degree and is enrolled in a post-baccalaureate program, such as a master’s, specialist or doctoral program.
Graduate Studies Collegiate programs beyond baccalaureate degrees that lead to masters, specialist, professional or doctoral degrees.
GRE® Graduate Record Examination®
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H  glossary line
Higher Education Refers to all programs for students beyond high school including programs at community colleges, technical colleges, or four-year colleges and universities that may be public, private, vocational, technical, proprietary, trade, or business-oriented. See Postsecondary Education.
Hours Hours, credit hours and credits are terms used interchangeably. Some vocational programs may use clock hours.
Hybrid Course A combination of two or more types of distance learning courses (e.g., web, email, ITV) with traditional classroom instruction.
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I  glossary line
IB® International Baccalaureate®. International Baccalaureate® (IB)®offers programs of international education to a worldwide community of schools.
IP In Progress. A course that is currently being taken.
Incomplete Grade ("I") A grade assigned when a student who has prior satisfactory coursework is unable to complete tests and/or assignments near the end of a term. If the student does not complete the missed assignments and/or exams by the deadline according to the school’s time frame/policy (usually by the end of the next term), the "I" will be changed to an "F."
Independent College A college or other school which is not financially supported by a state. Some independent colleges have a religious affiliation or are single sex schools.
Independent Study Study or research independent of an offered course, but supervised and graded by a faculty member. A college or university may offer independent study courses.
Individualized Major Offered at some colleges and universities to allow students the opportunity to plan a customized major. Such programs must be approved by appropriate school administrators. See Student-designed Major.
Institution An established organization; in the education field, it is a school, college or university. Institutions may be public (usually governed by the state legislature) or private.
Instructor Teacher or faculty member. See Faculty or Professor.
Interdisciplinary Programs or courses using knowledge from two or more academic areas.
International Baccalaureate ® International Baccalaureate ® (IB)® offers programs of international education to a worldwide community of schools.
Internet Delivered Course - Predominantly Online In the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities, where predominately all, or nearly all, course activity occurs in an online environment. One to two activities may occur face-to-face in a classroom, with the maximum being two activities. The course may also have required proctored exams, in addition to the face-to-face meetings.
Internet Delivered Course - Completely Online In the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities, where the delivery method is entirely online. Courses where all instruction is delivered online, where there are no face-to-face meetings, no proctored exam requirements and no required synchronous meetings.
Internet Delivered Course - Completely Online with Synchronous Meetings In The Minnesota State Colleges & Universities, where all instruction is delivered online, where there are no face-to-face meetings, no proctored exam requirements, but there are required synchronous meetings.
Internet Delivered Course - Blended/Hybrid In the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities, where courses blend online and face-to-face delivery, resulting in reduced classroom seat time. Some of the course content is delivered online. The course has more than two face-to-face meetings per term.
Internship Course credit given to students who work at jobs on or off campus that gives them practical experience in their major. Internships may or may not be paid.
Intersession Term offered between regular fall and spring semesters.
ITV Interactive television that can be used to deliver courses and meetings. Individuals on all sites can see, hear and interact with those on the other sites.
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J  glossary line
J.D. A degree conferred to law students when they have met degree requirements from Law School. Doctor of Jurisprudence; Doctor of Law. See Doctorate.
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Key to the Transcript Definitions and explanations, usually on the back of the transcript, to allow interpretation of the student’s record.
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Laboratory Setting where practical learning and demonstration take place in science, language, and other subjects. Some online courses may have a virtual laboratory component.
Learning Community Classes that are linked or clustered during an academic term, often around an interdisciplinary theme, and enroll a common cohort of students.
Learning Outcomes Specific indicators for what a student should learn as a result of taking a course.
Lecture A method of instruction in college or university courses when a faculty member conveys information by speaking to the class.
Liberal Arts and Sciences Include disciplines in the humanities, mathematics, natural sciences and social sciences.
Load The number of credits a student is enrolled in during a term. See academic or course load.
Lower Division Course Courses typically numbered 100 or 1000 through 200 or 2000. Content that prepares students for specific academic program outcomes or for upper-division undergraduate coursework at a university.
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M  glossary line
Magna Cum Laude High honorary recognition of the success of a graduating student that requires a minimum grade point average. Magna Cum Laude requires a higher grade point average than Cum Laude.
Major A curriculum component of an academic program intended to provide in-depth study in a discipline, a professional field of study or an occupation. A major may include an academic program emphasis.
Major Area of Study A specialty within an academic discipline in which the student is enrolled, e.g., "mechanical engineering" within "engineering." May be referred to as "concentration" or "emphasis."
Master's Degree A graduate degree earned after a bachelor’s degree, usually taking one or two years to complete. Some master’s degrees may be completed concurrently with a bachelor’s degree.
Matriculated Student A student who has been accepted for admission to the college, has registered in a curriculum and is pursuing courses toward a certificate, diploma or degree.
M.D. A degree conferred to medical students after they have met degree requirements from Medical School. Doctor of Medicine. See Doctorate.
Mentor A person who gives advice, guidance and support to another individual. It may be a formal arrangement where specific skills are developed in the mentee.
Mid-Term Examination An (often major) examination given in the middle of the term.
Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC) A collaborative effort among all two and four year public colleges and universities in Minnesota to help students transfer their coursework in general education. 40 semester credits are required in ten goal areas that reflect competencies adopted by the public higher education institutions in Minnesota.
Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC) Course Course that meets the definition of one of the ten goal areas in the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum, and meets at least 51% of the competencies attached to that goal area.
Minor A curriculum component of limited depth and/or breadth within a baccalaureate academic degree program.
Mission Statement Conveys an institution’s broad intentions and distinctive character; may describe any of the following: its primary educational programs and their purposes; the diversity of its learners; the students to be served, including particular constituents; a primary service area; a commitment to the advancement of society’s values and common purposes; the advancement of excellence in higher learning.
MnLINK The Minnesota Library Information Network (MnLINK) is a statewide virtual library that electronically links users to Minnesota’s rich library resources. See MnLINK’s web site at
MnSCU The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system is a public higher education system comprised of 31colleges and universities, including 24 two-year colleges and seven state universities. The system is separate from the University of Minnesota. Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.
Multiple Choice Examination Exam that offers possible choices (including all or none of the above) from which a student selects a response.
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