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Glossary

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.

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

N  glossary line
National Accreditation Accreditation conferred for career, vocational and trade schools and colleges. National Accreditation is not based on geography and allows nontraditional colleges (trade schools, religious schools, certain online schools) to be compared against similarly designed institutions.
National PONSI Now known as USNY, Regents Research Fund, National College Credit Recommendation Service. Prior to changing, it stood for “Program on Noncollegiate Sponsored Instruction.” USNY evaluates training and education programs for organizations throughout the United States and overseas and makes the results available in a directory, the College Credit Recommendations Online (CCRS Online), for colleges to use as a guide in awarding credit for noncollegiate course work.
"Native" 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 "direct entry student."
Non-Credit Course A course for personal or skill development that doesn’t apply toward a college degree.
Non-Matriculated Student An individual who has not yet been accepted for admission to the college, or who has lost enrollment status.
Non-Regional Accreditation Accreditation conferred by an agency that is not one of the regional accrediting bodies.
Non-Traditional Learning Learning that varies from traditional classroom learning either in its method of delivery or by its origin.
Non-Traditional Student A student older than the typical college age of about 18-25 years. Also may refer to a student who is preparing for an occupation that has been traditionally an occupation of the opposite gender of the student.
Nontransferable Degree A degree not designed to transfer toward a more advanced degree. Note: not all Associate’s degrees are designed for transfer. See Associate in Arts, Associate in Fine Arts, Associate in Science, Associate in Applied Science and Transferable Degree.
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Occupational Outlook A prediction of the number of job openings there will be at a certain time for specific jobs.
Occupational Programs Programs designed to lead directly to employment or career advancement, usually in a specialized field. Also known as career or technical programs.
Official Transcript A transcript that has been received directly from the issuing institution. A paper official transcript should include the college seal or its facsimile, date of issue, and an appropriate signature or facsimile. If a student provides the transcript in a sealed, unopened envelope, the transcript is considered official; otherwise, if the envelope is opened, the transcript becomes unofficial. A transcript that is delivered electronically is considered official. See Transcript.
Ombudsperson In education, a person who acts on behalf of individuals who are having difficulties in the college or university community.
On-the-job Training Training provided for employees while they are learning a job; the employee creates a product or provides a service, while being trained.
Online Course Course offered via the internet. See Internet Course.
Online Program Programs that are delivered entirely or almost entirely over the internet.
Open Admission Policy (Open Door Policy) A policy that supports admission to most or all students who apply to the college, usually requiring a minimum age and/or completion of a high school diploma or GED. This policy is typically found in community and/or technical colleges.
Orientation A session during which new and transfer students and/or parents are introduced to academic programs, facilities, and services provided by a college or university. Orientation usually takes place before or at the beginning of the academic year and/or before the start of a new term. Students may be given an opportunity to register for classes during orientation. Some orientations may be offered online or specifically for transfer students. Some colleges and universities require orientation for all students.
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P  glossary line
Part-time Student A student who carries less than a full time load of classes - usually less than twelve credit hours per semester.
Pass/Fail A grading system that designates requirements to pass and fail a course rather than using letter grades (A, B, C, D, F). Students can earn credits toward graduation by passing these courses but the grades will not count in their GPAs. It is best to check with an advisor to make sure that Pass/Fail grades will transfer to another college or university. Some institutions may assign a pass ("P") only if students earn an A, B, or C in the course, and some may limit the number of Pass/Fail credits allowed.
PEP Proficiency Examination Program. An exam that tests for specific proficiencies that may replace required coursework.
Period Time spent in class and/or lab each week. For example, one period may be equivalent to 50 minutes per week for a one-credit course that meets during a 15-week semester.
Petition A procedure whereby a student seeks to make an exception to a college or university rule or requirement. Also called an appeal.
Ph.D. The highest academic degree awarded by a university. Oral and written examinations and original research are required and are presented in the form of a dissertation (thesis). Also called a doctoral degree. Doctor of Philosophy. See Doctorate.
Placement Test An examination used to assess a student’s academic ability, usually in reading, writing and math so s/he can be placed in a course at an appropriate level. Also called Assessment Test.
Plagiarism When a student copies another source of information and claims it as their own without citing it. Colleges and universities have policies and sanctions for plagiarism, and it can result in permanent expulsion from the course and/or institution.
Portfolio A file of materials created by a student which displays and explains skills, talents, experiences, and knowledge gained through life or work. Portfolios may be required for admission to performance-based majors such as art.
Postsecondary Education Education following high school including programs at community colleges, technical colleges, or four-year colleges and universities. It may be public, private, vocational, technical, proprietary, trade, or business-oriented. See Higher Education.
Postsecondary Enrollment Option (PSEO) A program allowing high school juniors and seniors to take courses, either full-time or part-time, at a postsecondary institution for high school and college credit. Students do not pay for tuition, fees, or for required textbooks. Abbreviated as PSEO. Colleges and universities have varying policies regarding the transfer of PSEO credit.
Preparatory Course A lower-division college level course, outside of an academic program, that compensates for insufficient high school or equivalent preparation. Also called Developmental Course.
Prerequisite A prerequisite course is a college level course (or its equivalent) within an academic program that all students must complete before enrolling in another college level course or major. Non-course prerequisites include assessment scores, high school background, specific training or certifications.
Private College Institution that is not operated by a governmental entity. See Independent College and Private Institution.
Private Institution In education, an educational organization that a private individual, company, or agency owns and operates.
Probation A status resulting from unsatisfactory academic work; a warning that the student must improve academic performance or be dismissed after a specific period of time. May be accompanied by restricted credit hour enrollment. If academic standing doesn't improve, academic suspension may occur. Also called academic probation. See suspension.
Proctor A person who monitors examinations given to large groups to guard against cheating, and to ensure that other rules are followed.
Professor A teacher or instructor at a college or university. See Faculty or Instructor.
Program Closure An academic program that is permanently closed to new enrollment.
Program of Study Set of required courses for a degree in a major area of study. See Curriculum
Program Requirements Courses needed to meet certificate, diploma or degree requirements.
Proprietary Schools Colleges that are run as profit-making institutions. These colleges provide students with practical training in specific fields. Transfer of credit may vary from these institutions depending on accreditation and other factors.
Prospectus A booklet of general information about a college or program.
Provost The college chief academic officer who is responsible for faculty and curriculum.
Public College In the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, a two-year community college. Consolidated and/or technical college supported by the state; the state pays part of the college’s operating costs.
Public University In the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, a four-year state university supported by the state; the state pays part of the university’s operating costs.
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Quarter A term during which courses are normally in session for ten weeks. An institution on the quarter system usually has three quarters (fall, winter, spring) in the academic year; a fourth quarter may be offered in the summer term.
Quarter Credit A quarter credit is worth .667 of one semester credit, since a quarter term is shorter than a semester term.
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R  glossary line
Readmission Approval of the admission of a former student.
Receiving Institution Institution to which you are transferring.
Regional Accreditation Accreditation conferred by a regional accreditation body established to serve six defined geographic areas of the country for accreditation of schools, colleges, and universities. The six regional accreditors are Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The Minnesota State Colleges & Universities are accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Registrar The official responsible for maintaining student academic records. The registrar may manage course schedules and in some cases, may verify and validate applications for admission.
Registration Enrollment of a student into specific courses after they have been admitted to the college or university. Students also make a payment or deposit for tuition and fees by a certain date.
Repeated Course When a student takes the same course over again. Colleges and universities vary in their policies with some only counting the highest grade of the two courses in the GPA and others counting the more recent grade. Some colleges and universities average the grades of the two courses together. Some colleges and universities require certain grades in the first course (e.g. an "F") or second course (e.g. at least a "C") in order to count it as a repeated course. Policies vary as to whether the equivalent course taken at a different institution can count as a repeated course.
Required Courses Courses that a student must take in order to complete program requirements.
Requirements A set of conditions that must be met to achieve a goal, such as to be accepted to a college, complete a degree, etc.
Residency Requirements A minimum number of credits that must be taken at the institution. It can also refer to requirements pertaining to living on campus. This term can also mean the minimum amount of time a student must live in the state to pay in-state tuition, which is lower than the fee paid by out-of-state students.
Restricted Electives Electives from specific choices that students are required to select.
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Sabbatical A period of time when a faculty member is conducting his/her own education or research, but is not teaching. The sabbatical project often benefits the institution.
SAT® The SAT®and SAT Subject Tests®are a suite of tools designed to assess student academic readiness for college. Required by most colleges for admission. Some colleges accept this test or the ACT®. Most students take the SAT® or the ACT® during their junior or senior year of high school. http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/sat/about.html/
SAT Subject Tests® Standardized tests given by the American College Testing Program or College Board in specific high school subjects, such as biology, literature, U.S. History, and foreign languages. Colleges look at these test scores when making decisions about course placement or admission to a specific program. Many programs do not require these tests. See Subject Area Tests.
Satisfactory Academic Progress Completion of courses according to school standards. Satisfactory academic progress must be shown by students to receive financial aid and to continue enrollment in the college or university. Withdrawal from courses can impact satisfactory academic progress.
Schedule of Classes A college publication that lists all courses offered during a term, including dates and times of class meetings, names of instructors, buildings and rooms, credit hours, and other important registration information. Course schedules are often available online.
School-to-Work An effort to connect education and the work world.
Section Number A numerical code used to identify each course section for each course listed. For example, there may be several sections for English Composition I, each with a different instructor and class time that would each have a separate section number. Section numbers are listed in the schedule of courses and may be available online.
Self-paced Courses Self-study courses that permit students to set flexible schedules. Self-paced courses are recommended for students who are self-motivated, are strong readers, have good problem solving skills, can manage time well, and set their own deadlines. Some of these courses are delivered through computer programs available in the institution’s computer lab.
Semester A term in which classes are normally in session for fifteen to sixteen weeks. In a semester system, there are normally two semesters (fall and spring) in an academic year. One or more summer sessions may be offered. See Calendar.
Semester Credit A semester credit is worth 1.5 times a quarter credit since a semester term is longer than a quarter term.
Seminar Classes with few students that consist of intensive study of specific subjects or topics.
Sending Institution Institution that you are transferring from.
Service Learning A field experience that combines community service with classroom instruction, focusing on critical thinking, values clarification and social responsibility. The key components of Service Learning are linkages to course competencies or objectives, a relevant experience and a meaningful contribution to the community.
SOC Serviceperson’s Opportunity Colleges provide educational opportunities to servicemembers, who, because they frequently move from place to place, have trouble completing college degrees. They are dedicated to helping servicemembers and their families get college degrees. Military students can take courses in their off-duty hours at or near military installations in the United States, overseas, and on Navy ships (http://www.soc.aascu.org/).
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.
Standardized Admissions Tests (SAT® Tests designed to measure verbal and mathematical knowledge or skills used to predict achievement in college. The test score may be considered along with other factors for admission to a college or university.
State University In Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, a four-year public institution that offers baccalaureate and/or graduate degrees.
Student Body All students who attend a particular college or university.
Student-designed Major Offered at some colleges and universities to allow students the opportunity to plan a customized major. Such programs must be approved by appropriate college or university administrators. See Individualized Major.
Student ID A unique number assigned to the student by the institution. This number is usually required for access to registration and student records, for borrowing library books or for admission to school-sponsored activities.
Student Services Services provided by most colleges and universities to help students in areas such as academics, veteran’s affairs, counseling, advising, financial aid, admissions, special-needs, etc. Also called support services.
Student Support Services (TRIO) Part of the TRIO Program that is a federally funded program. The Student Support Services (SSS) program provides opportunities for academic development, assists students with basic college requirements, and serves to motivate students towards the successful completion of their postsecondary education. The SSS program may also provide grant aid to current SSS participants who are receiving Federal Pell Grants. The goal of SSS is to increase the college retention and graduation rates of its participants and facilitate the process of transition from one level of higher education to the next. Low-income students, first-generation college students, and students with disabilities evidencing academic need are eligible to participate in SSS projects.
Study Abroad Programs where students engage in educational experiences in another country that counts toward academic credit.
Subject Area Tests Standardized tests given by the American College Testing Program or College Board in specific high school subjects, such as biology, foreign languages, etc. Colleges look at these test scores when making decisions about course placement or admission to a specific program. Many programs do not require these tests. See SAT Subject Tests®
Subject Codes 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 Course Prefix.
Summa Cum Laude The highest honorary recognition of a graduating student. Requires a minimum grade point average (GPA). Summa Cum Laude requires a higher grade point average than Magna Cum Laude or Cum Laude.
Support Services Services provided by most colleges to help students in areas such as academics, veteran’s affairs, counseling, advising, financial aid, admissions, special-needs, etc. Also called student services.
Summary Suspension A suspension imposed without a formal hearing to ensure the safety and well-being of members of the college or university community.
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. Also called academic suspension.
Syllabus A document prepared by the instructor to provide students with information on the course content, course requirements, course expectations and learning outcomes based on the institutional course outline.
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T  glossary line
Tech Prep Courses Courses in which material is learned in an active or applied manner, usually in high school. These courses may transfer to specific college programs that enter into articulation agreements.
Technical College Two-year colleges that have the authority to confer undergraduate certificates, diplomas, associate in science, and associate in applied science degrees.
Technical Program Programs designed to lead directly to employment or career advancement, usually in a specialized field. These programs are not typically designed for transfer unless articulation agreements exist between specific colleges and universities. Also called career or occupational program.
Term A specific period of the academic year while classes are in session. See quarter, semester.
Term paper A work written by a student that explores a subject in-depth. There are usually parameters for the number of pages required.
TES ® Transfer Evaluation System ® offered through CollegeSource®. Offers direct access to course descriptions and can be used to track course equivalencies.
Total Withdrawal When a student is no longer enrolled in all his/her courses after the add/drop period. There is usually a process that the student must follow to formally withdraw. Most schools have deadlines to withdraw before a certain date in the term. Also see withdrawal.
Trade An occupation requiring skilled labor, such as an electrician or tool and die maker.
Transcript A document indicating the academic record of the student, including courses taken and grades earned. See offical transcript.
Transfer Appeal A procedure whereby a student seeks to make an exception to a college or university rule or requirement related to the transfer of courses or credits. In the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities, students may submit a transfer appeal at the college or university, and to the system office. Also called transfer petition.
Transfer Credit Course credit that is accepted by another college or university and applied to meet program requirements.
Transfer Guarantee Some Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) offer a transfer guarantee that states that if you plan with a counselor/advisor to take courses to transfer to a specific program at a specific college, the courses will transfer. If they do not transfer, the institution will compensate the student with a free course or tuition refund. See college web sites and catalogs to check if your college has a transfer guarantee.
Transfer Policies Requirements established to provide consistency in factors governing the transfer of courses, credits, grades, etc. In the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities, there are both system and institutional transfer policies and procedures.
Transfer Program College program that prepares students to complete a more advanced degree (usually a bachelor’s degree) at another school. Two-year colleges often have transfer programs to prepare students for four-year universities; however, not all college programs are designed to transfer.
Transfer Specialist An individual in a college or university who assists students with transfer issues and has a deep understanding about transfer. The transfer specialist may be a registrar, admissions officer, counselor or advisor.
Transfer Student A student who has earned credit in one college or university, and then transfers to attend another college or university. Grades and credits from the first college or university may or may not transfer to the second college or university. There is variation in the definition of a transfer student - some are transfer students if they transfer one credit; others are transfer students after a higher number of credits have transferred.
Transferability The extent to which a course taken at one college or university will be accepted by another college or university. Different factors determine whether courses transfer including whether the receiving institution offers an equivalent or comparable course, the accreditation of the college or university where the course was taken, and whether the course applies to the student’s academic program.
Transferable Degree A degree, usually an associate’s degree, that is designed to complete a significant part of a more advanced degree, such as a bachelor’s degree. Note: not all associate’s degrees are designed for transfer. See Nontransferable Degree, Associate Degrees listed, and Transfer Program.
Tuition The amount of money that colleges charge for courses. There may be additional fees.
Tuition Waiver When all or part of a student’s tuition aren’t charged.
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U  glossary line
Undergraduate Student A student who is attending a college or university taking courses toward an undergraduate program.
Undergraduate Program A program in a college or university that leads to an academic award. Undergraduate awards include certificates, diplomas, associate, and baccalaureate degrees.
Undergraduate 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 a vocational or 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.
Undergraduate Course Level Reflects the degree of difficulty, the breadth and depth of learning expectations or the sequential learning required. Course content and level are determined by faculty through established procedures.
University Post-secondary institutions that confer academic awards through the graduate level.
Unrestricted Electives College level courses from which students can select that are from any department without any restrictions.
Upperclassperson A student who is a junior or senior but who has not yet received an undergraduate degree.
Upper Division Course Courses typically numbered 300 or 3000 through 400 or 4000 that build upon and integrate knowledge gained in lower division courses. They are generally more focused and/or more advanced in nature. Content of upper-division courses is determined by the university faculty through established procedures.
u.select ® Allows students to see course equivalency guides and to obtain planning guides for participating transfer schools. Students can enter the courses they’ve taken to see how they will transfer. Offered through CollegeSource ® --shows course equivalencies and how credit at one participating institution transfer and apply to another participating institution.
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V  glossary line
Videoconferencing (ITV) A method of delivering courses using two-way audio and/or video. This delivery system is interactive so students can communicate with the instructor.
Visiting Faculty A faculty member who teaches for a temporary timeframe.
Vocational College An institution that offers technical or occupational programs leading to a specific occupation. These programs do not typically transfer unless there are articulation agreements between specific colleges and universities.See Technical College, Proprietary School.
Vocational-Technical (Terminal) Program A program designed to prepare students in a specific occupation for immediate employment. Some general education courses and technical courses in a technical program may not be transferable to other colleges and universities unless articulation agreements are in place between specific colleges and universities.
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W  glossary line
Waiver An exception provided so that a specific course or requirement that is usually part of a certificate, diploma or degree program is not required for a particular student.
Web-Enhanced Course Course where some material may be available online.
Withdrawal The procedure in which a student officially removes himself/herself from taking one or more courses. 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. Most schools have deadlines to withdraw before a certain date in the term. Grades of "W" do not count against the GPA but can impact satisfactory academic progress. There may be implications for financial aid. See Course Withdrawal.
Work Study A financial aid program that allows students to work part-time during the school year while they take courses. The jobs are usually on campus and the money earned is used to pay tuition or other college expenses. Part- or full- time students in need of financial assistance may apply in the Financial Aid Office.
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