Glossary of Terms
You’ll see many of these terms as you choose a college. The definitions may vary slightly.
Accreditation: An endorsement given to universities or academic degree programs by an organization that reviews qualifications.
Associate degree: A two-year degree from a community or junior college.
Audit: To attend a class without receiving credit for the class.
Bachelor’s degree: A four-year degree from a college, university or professional school; usually requires at least 120 credit hours.
Church-affiliated university: Some private colleges have a religious affiliation. Students at these colleges often must attend chapel or religious classes of some kind.
Community college: Two-year college also known as junior college. You can either transfer your courses to a four-year university or receive an associate's degree in a certain field.
Course numbers: Numbers assigned to specific classes.
Credit hour: Credit given for attending one lecture hour of class each week for 15 weeks or equivalent. Most college classes are three credit hours, meaning their total meeting time for a week is three hours.
Degree: A certificate of completion of a course of study.
Degree plan: A specific list of required courses and electives to be completed for a degree.
Doctoral degree: The most advanced degree that can be earned.
Fees: Course-related costs to attend college.
Four-year university: Four-year colleges award bachelor’s degrees. Many offer graduate-level courses leading to master’s and doctoral degrees.
Freshman: A student who has completed fewer than 30 hours of college credit.
Full time: 12 or more credit hours per semester for undergraduate students.
GPA: Grade point average; the average of your class grades, generally based on a 4.0 scale.
Grants: Financial assistance that does not require repayment.
Half time: Six credit hours per semester for undergraduate students.
Internship: A job in a student’s field of study; may be required in some academic programs and may include salary and college credit.
Junior: A student who has completed 60 to 89 college credit hours.
Junior college: See Community college.
Loans: Financial assistance that must be repaid.
Major: A student’s concentrated field of study.
Master’s degree: A graduate degree that usually requires two or more years of study beyond the bachelor’s degree.
Minor: A student’s secondary field of study.
Minority-serving institution: Colleges or universities whose primary mission is to serve African American, Hispanic, American Indian or Asian American/Pacific Islander students.
Nonresident: Any student who lives out of state or does not meet specific state residency requirements.
Online courses: Classes held online instead of in a traditional classroom.
Prerequisite: A course that must be taken prior to enrollment in another course.
Private university: A non-state-assisted college or university that relies on private funding, tuition and fees.
Public university: A college or university that receives funding from the state, lowering costs students pay.
Registration: Enrollment in classes.
Resident: A student who meets state residency requirements.
Rolling admission: A policy in which a college’s admissions office sends out acceptance letters to students as they are accepted.
Scholarships: Financial assistance based on merit; do not require repayment.
Semester hour: See Credit hour.
Senior: A student who has completed 90 or more hours of college credit but has not received a bachelor’s degree.
Sophomore: A student who has completed 30 to 59 college credit hours.
Summer session: A summer term of about six weeks.
Three-quarter time: Nine credit hours for undergraduate students.
Tuition: Costs for courses, not including certain fees.
Undergraduate: A student at a college or university who has not yet earned a bachelor’s degree.
Web-based classes: See Online courses.
Web registration: Online registration for classes.
Work-study program: A federal financial aid program that allows students to work on campus.