General College Terms

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Academic Advisor

A professor assigned to help students choose appropriate courses each semester.


Recognition that a college meets acceptable standards in its programs, facilities, and services.

Associate Degree

A degree given by a community college. Comparable to two years at a 4-year university. Marks the completion of a two year program of study.

Bachelor’s Degree

A degree given by a college upon completion of a program of study. Usually takes four years.


An institution that teaches students and gives them bachelor’s degrees upon completion of their studies. Might be stand-alone or part of a university.

Community College

Offers a 2-year associate degree, certificates, technical degrees and continuing education. Offers classes to the community surrounding them, and is very accessible in terms of location, price, and time. Great stepping stone to get credits and then transfer into a 4-year university to earn a bachelor’s degree.


A specialized branch within a major.

Core Curriculum

A group of courses, in varied areas of the arts and sciences, designated by a college as one of the requirements for a degree.


Unit that gives weighting to the value of an academic course taken at a school. Usually based on how long you are physically in the class a week.


A group of related programs of study within a college. For example, a biology department could offer degrees in cellular biology and marine biology.

Distance Learning

An option for earning course credits off campus, via cable television, Internet, satellite devices, videotapes, correspondence courses or other means.

Double Major

Any program in which a student completes the requirements of two majors at a time.

Dual Enrollment

The practice of allowing students to enroll in college courses while still in high school.


A course that is not required for one’s chosen major or the college’s core curriculum and can be used to fulfill the credit hour requirement for graduation.


Study that takes place outside the classroom and provides students with hands-on experience in their major.

Full Time Student

An enrolled student who is carrying a full time academic workload. This is usually 12 or more credit hours per fall or spring semester. A full time workload is determined by the institution and is applicable to all students enrolled in a program.

Graduate Degree

A degree pursued after a student has earned a bachelor’s degree.


A short-term, supervised work experience, usually related to a student’s major field, for which the student earns academic credit. The work can be full- or part-time, on or off the campus, paid or unpaid.


A student’s primary field of study. All students must pick a major and complete a specific set of classes required by the department.


Coursework that is not as extensive as that in a major, but gives students some specialized knowledge of a second field. Students may choose a minor in the department of their major or in a different department.


A course that must be taken as a preparation for more advanced coursework in a particular field.

Private University

A university that relies on private donations and tuition for funding. Private universities do not receive state funds.

Proprietary (For-Profit) Schools

Educational institutions operated by private, profit-seeking businesses.

Public University

A university that relies on state funds, private donations, and tuition for funding.

Study Abroad

An arrangement in which a student completes coursework, typically for a semester or a summer session, studying in another country.

Transfer Student

A student who attends a college-typically for a period ranging from a single term to up to three years- and is then accepted by and enrolls in another college.


An institution made up of an undergraduate division which confers bachelor’s degrees and a graduate division which comprises a graduate school and professional schools which may confer master’s degrees and doctorate degrees.

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