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random university terminology and students

College Terms 101

Who are undergraduate students versus graduate students? What's the FAFSA? What are general education or core requirements?
Applying to college can be an intimidating process, and you’ll likely see many new terms that you’re unfamiliar with. We've created an extensive list of common university terms to help you navigate the college landscape. You'll find common higher education terms as well as those unique to UHD.

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

Academic Advisor
Assigned upon enrollment, your academic advisor provides support and counsel on which classes to take and when to take them.

Academic Calendar
The UHD Academic Calendar is the official publication of all important dates and deadlines for a given term, such as term begin and end dates, registration dates, payment deadlines and holidays. Students are responsible for reviewing the calendar and becoming aware of all applicable deadlines.

Academic Probation
A student may be placed on academic probation when they fail to meet minimum GPA or grade requirements. During this time, they must improve their academic performance or risk suspension or dismissal.

Academic Year
The combined fall, spring and summer semesters make up an academic year. Bachelor's degree programs typically require four academic years to complete.

Accelerated Program
Students who want to graduate from their programs early often choose an accelerated option so they can start their careers more quickly.

Available in both institutional and programmatic forms, accreditation signals that a school adheres to certain educational standards set by state, federal, and non-government agencies.

Add/Drop Period
Most colleges provide a 1-2 week add/drop period at the beginning of a semester during which students can change their courses after they have begun attending class.

Admission Requirements
Individual schools have unique requirements for students who want to attend the institution. These can include minimum GPAs, standardized test scores, and extracurricular experience.

Associate Degree
An associate degree is an introductory undergraduate degree. Associate degree programs require two years of full-time study and are commonly offered by community colleges and vocational schools.

Asynchronous Learning
A type of online education, asynchronous learning allows students to watch lectures and complete assignments on their own time rather than having to attend classes on a specific schedule.

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Bachelor’s/Baccalaureate Degree
A bachelor's degree is an undergraduate academic degree where students typically take 40 courses or minimum 120 credit hours to complete over a four to five-year span. It can lead to countless entry-level positions after graduation.

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Career Fair
Employers looking to hire upcoming graduates often attend campus-based and virtual career fairs to share what their companies do and recruit potential job candidates.

Career Services
A common department on college campuses, career services works with students to help them find internships, part-time work, and jobs after graduation. They also connect students with local employers.

A certificate verifies that a student has received education in a specialized topic. Certificate programs typically take less than a year to complete and are offered both online and in person.

Certifications demonstrate successful passage of an exam or other requirement for performing certain work or meeting industry standards.

A cohort refers to a group of students that enter a particular degree program together and progress alongside one another until graduation, usually taking the same classes simultaneously.

The University consists of four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities & Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and the College of Sciences & Technology. Each of these colleges has a specific academic focus, such as business, liberal arts, social work, and engineering.

After completing all degree requirements, learners qualify for graduation. Commencement is the ceremony in which students celebrate their academic achievements.

Within programs that cover a wide array of information, concentrations allow students to specialize their knowledge in a particular area.

Core Requirements
Within a degree program, core requirements refer to the classes that students must pass in order to graduate. Electives typically complement core classes.

Course Catalog
Learners use the course catalog to find classes related to their degrees, including both core courses and electives. Schools typically post the catalog online.

Course Instruction Mode
UHD offers five instruction modes that outline the class format and how you will participate in a course over the term. As a student, you have options when building your class schedule. You can choose classes in a variety of instruction modes for a given session. These instruction modes determine if the course will be conducted face-to-face, online, or in a hybrid format. Visit the Course Instruction Modes website for detailed description of instruction modes.

Course Load
The number of classes a student takes each term is known as their course load. Most full-time undergraduates take a course load of 12-16 credits per semester.

A college credit is a metric used to determine the intensity/length of a course. Most classes constitute 1-4 credits.

The curriculum includes the general education, major-specific, and elective classes taken by a student to graduate.

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Deans serve as the leaders of academic and student life departments. They oversee faculty and students, set departmental goals, and handle other administrative tasks.

Dean's List
Students added to the dean's list have demonstrated academic excellence by achieving a specific GPA by the end of the term. Colleges typically publish the dean's list twice annually.

A degree is the document awarded to a student upon completion of a higher education program. Associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral credentials are all different levels of college degrees. Visit the degree & majors website for description of all UHD's degrees.

Colleges divide academic disciplines into departments to help with organizational management and encourage networking among students in similar majors.

Academic disciplines refer to overarching study areas. For instance, in the business discipline, study areas may include accounting, finance, marketing, and human resources.

Distance Learning
Another name for online learning, this refers to taking classes or full degrees on a computer through the internet rather than attending classes in person.

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Unlike general education and core courses, electives allow students to take classes in any subject they find interesting. For instance, business students who want to learn art can take an art class as an elective.

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Also known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the FAFSA is a document students must file each year of enrollment to qualify for federal student aid. Learn more about submitting the FAFSA.

Fall Semester
Fall is the beginning of the academic year at UHD. The fall semester includes three sessions: Regular Academic Session, Eight Week First, Eight Week Second.

Federal Grant
Supplied through the U.S. Department of Education, federal grants provide approved students with educational funding that does not require repayment as long as all the terms are met.

In addition to tuition, most colleges charge students fees for services such as facilities usage, technology, student life and activities, and parking.

Known as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, this law governs who can access students' educational records. It protects both students and their parents or guardians.

Financial Aid
Financial aid, whether offered by a government entity, college or university, or private organization, refers to the money students receive to help offset the cost of college.

Financial Need
Many scholarships and grants require students to demonstrate financial need to qualify for funding. This means they must prove that they cannot pay for their education on their own.

First-Generation Student
To qualify as a first-generation college student, learners must be the first individual in their immediate family to pursue higher education. These learners often qualify for additional financial aid.

Freshman/First-Year Student
Also known as incoming students, these are learners who are in their first year of study at a college or university. Freshman classification is determined by the number of credit hours which have been completed: 0-29 semester hours.

Full-Time Student
To qualify as a full-time student, learners must take a minimum number of credits per semester. At the undergraduate level, most schools and funders require at least 12 credits to qualify.

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General Education Courses
Usually taken in the first two years of studies, general education classes cover topics within the arts and sciences and serve as a foundation for advanced learning.

A grade point average refers to the numerical value of students' final grades in their classes. Learners can calculate their GPA by averaging their grades from each class at the end of the semester.

Graduate School
Students attend graduate school to acquire a master's degree, doctorate, or other advanced professional degree, regardless of the subject area. Students attend graduate school after receiving a bachelor's degree.

Graduate Student
Graduate students are learners working toward advanced degrees after completing their undergraduate studies.

A grant is a type of financial aid typically provided by state and federal governments, as well as by private institutions. It does not require repayment so long as learners meet the terms of the grant.

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Higher Education
Another term for post-high school study, higher education refers to the education students receive at colleges and universities, which culminates in the achievement of diplomas, certificates, and degrees.

Honors College
Students with top academic marks may be invited to join an honors college, a more rigorous track at a college or university with an accelerated general education curriculum and a culminating project, such as a thesis or research assignment.

Disciplines like English, history, foreign language, and drama fall into the category of humanities. Unlike social sciences, these classes usually promote qualitative, rather than quantitative, thinking.

Hybrid Degree
Learners who pursue hybrid degrees mix campus-based and online learning. Students considering this path should live somewhat close to their colleges.

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In-State Tuition
Public colleges and universities allow students who reside in the same state as the institution to pay in-state tuition, or a lower amount than what nonresidents pay. Most schools require the student to have lived in the state at least one year prior to enrollment.

International Student
An applicant who is requesting a student visa (F-1) or transferring from another college under a student visa.

Internships give students the opportunity to gain relevant, hands-on work experience before graduating.  Most internships offer college credits and some pay.

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A student in the third year of college/university. Junior classification is determined by the number of credit hours which have been completed: 60-89 semester hours.

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Liberal Arts
The liberal arts is a broad field of study including subjects within the arts, sciences, and humanities.

After exhausting other financial aid options, some students still need to take out federal student loans to cover the remainder of their college costs. Loans require repayment at a set interest rate over a specified amount of time.

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The academic subject area that a student chooses to focus on during his or her undergraduate studies. Students typically must officially choose their major by the end of their sophomore year, allowing them to take a number of courses in the chosen area during their junior and senior years.

Master's Degree
After completing a bachelor's degree program, a student may decide to pursue a master's degree for advanced study in their field. Master's degree programs usually take 1-3 years to complete.

To enroll in a program of study at a college or university, with the intention of earning a degree.

Merit-Based Aid
While need-based aid supports students with limited finances, merit-based aid supports those who demonstrate academic and/or personal excellence but may or may not have financial constraints.

Merit Scholarship
Colleges, private foundations, nonprofits, and professional associations often offer merit scholarships to deserving students.

In addition to declaring a major in undergraduate studies, many learners declare a minor. These require fewer credits than majors but allow for directed study.

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Need-based financial aid
Financial aid that is awarded to students due to their financial inability to pay the full cost of attending a specific college or university, rather than specifically because of their grades or other merit.

Net Price Calculator
An online tool that allows students and families to calculate a personalized estimate of the cost of a specific college or university, after taking into account any scholarships or need-based financial aid that an applicant would receive. Try the UHD Net Price Calculator.

Learners attending public colleges outside their home states are considered nonresident students. This status often means they pay higher tuition rates.

Nontraditional Student
While each college determines who counts as a nontraditional student differently, this term typically means a learner who is not a first-time student entering a bachelor's degree program directly from
high school.

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A college or university's official process of welcoming new, accepted students to campus and providing them with information and policies before classes begin.  Orientation takes place before classes officially start for incoming students. During orientation, students often participate in icebreaker activities and learn about life at the school.

Out-of-State Tuition
Students attending public schools outside their home states typically pay out-of-state tuition, which is higher than in-state tuition.

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Part-Time Student
Unlike full-time learners, part-time students take a smaller number of classes per semester to help them balance personal and/or professional obligations.

A pass/fail class is a course that does not use the standard A-F grading scale but instead offers only a pass or fail grade.

Pell Grant
Offered by the U.S. Department of Education, the Pell Grant is a type of need-based funding that supports students with limited financial means.

Placement Test
Placement tests help school administrators determine a student's readiness for postsecondary education and allow them to place students in the appropriate class levels.

Plagiarism occurs when students knowingly or unknowingly use another person's work without providing proper credit or attribution.

Postgraduate refers to any classes taken or degrees pursued after completing a bachelor's degree program.

Postsecondary refers to any classes taken or degrees pursued after high school.

Prerequisites are classes that colleges expect applicants to have taken prior to enrollment. These can apply to both high school and college students.

A status or period of time in which students with very low GPAs, or whose academic work is unsatisfactory according to the school, must improve their performance. If they are unable to do so, they may be dismissed from the school. Students may also face "disciplinary probation" for nonacademic reasons.

The senior academic officer of a college or university who typically oversees all academic policies and curriculum-related matters.

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Registrars function as college administrators, overseeing data surrounding incoming and outgoing students, handling credit transfers, and conducting degree evaluations.

Registration takes place at the start of each semester or quarter and provides students the opportunity to register for the classes they'll take that term.

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Scholarships reduce the cost of education and do not require repayment. Universities, foundations, professional associations, and employers commonly offer scholarships to college students.

Semesters function as a measurement of time in college. Most semesters last 16 weeks in the fall and spring, and there are typically two semesters in an academic year.

This type of high-level, discussion-based class offers a deeper focus on a specific subject and a more intimate class atmosphere.

Seniors are students in their fourth and final year of undergraduate studies. Senior classification is determined by the number of credit hours which have been completed: 90 semester hours and above.

Service Learning
Service learning allows students to step outside the classroom and gain skills by helping others. Many colleges maintain service learning offices to connect students with volunteer opportunities.

Sessions exist/occur within and are bound by a Term.

Spring Semester
Spring is the second semester of the academic year at UHD. The spring semester includes four sessions: Mini Session, Regular Academic Session, Eight Week First, Eight Week Second.

Social Sciences
The social sciences examine how individuals and societies relate to one another from an academic perspective. Disciplines in social sciences include sociology, political science, and psychology.

Students in their second year of undergraduate studies are called sophomores. Sophomore classification is determined by the number of credit hours which have been completed: 30-59 semester hours.

Standardized Test
These exams are scored in a consistent manner to evaluate a variety of candidates. Examples of standardized tests include the ACT, SAT, and GMAT. Many institutions look at students' exam scores as part of the admission process.

Standing for science, technology, engineering, and math, STEM refers to a cluster of disciplines within academic studies.

Student Portal
Colleges use student portals to help learners stay organized. They can access email, review assignments, see their grades, and request documentation on these sites. Log in to myUHD to access these services.

Student Success and Student Life
3SL seek to create a comprehensive and seamless experience for students from pre-college programs through graduation, and into their futures. 3SL supports all students by providing student services, and opportunities for engagement, connection, and a sense of belonging.

Study Abroad
Learners who want to study outside the U.S. commonly study abroad. These educational trips to other countries can last anywhere from two weeks to a full academic year.

Subsidized Loan
Provided by the U.S. Department of Education, these types of loans provide subsidization of interest accrued on a federal loan while the student is enrolled. Some also provide a six-month grace period after graduation.

Summer Semester
Summer is the last semester of the academic year at UHD. The summer semester includes six sessions: Mini Session, Six Week First, Five Week First, Regular Academic Session, Six Week Second, Five Week Second.

At the start of each semester, professors hand out a document, or syllabus, for each class that provides an overview of required readings, assignments, tests, and other necessary information.

Synchronous Learning
A type of online learning, synchronous learning requires students to attend real-time lectures and complete assignments at specific times.

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The Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA) is a free application that collects information to help determine eligibility for state (or institutional) financial aid programs administered by institutions of higher education in the state of Texas. Learn more about submitting a TASFA.

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
A standardized exam administered by the nonprofit Educational Testing Service (ETS), which measures English-language proficiency in reading, listening, speaking and writing.  Visit UHD's TOEFL score requirements for international students.

This is another word used to describe a semester.

Title IX
This federal law was enacted in 1972 and prohibits any school or education-related program from discriminating on the basis of sex. Visit the UHD Title IX website for more information.

A transcript displays an overview of a student's academic progress and grades throughout college. Transcripts indicate which classes a student has attempted and completed. Visit this webpage on how to submit an official transcript to UHD to UHD. Visit this webpage to request a UHD transcript.

Transfer Credit
Learners who start their college careers at one school but move to another typically transfer their credits. This way, they receive credit for classes already taken and passed at the first institution.

Transfer Student
Transfer students are learners who start their college careers at one school but move to another institution.

Tuition refers to the money students provide their universities in exchange for taking classes. Tuition typically only covers classes and does not include other fees.

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Students who are undeclared or undecided have yet to choose or qualify for their undergraduate major.

Undergraduate studies refers to academic programs offering associate and bachelor's degrees. Students in these programs are also known as undergraduates.

Universities are typically larger institutions than colleges and offer both undergraduate and graduate learning opportunities.

Unsubsidized Loan
Unlike subsidized loans, unsubsidized loans do not cover costs associated with accrued loan interest while the learner is enrolled in school.

Upperclassman/Upper-Level Student
Upper-level students are in their third or fourth year of college and are often called juniors and seniors, respectively.

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An official mark or stamp in a passport that allows someone to enter a country for a particular amount of time. Common visa types for international students and scholars in the United States include the F-1 (student visa) and J-1 (exchange visitor visa). To apply for a U.S. visa, student applicants must first receive a Form I-20 from the college or university they plan to attend, which is created by the U.S. government's SEVIS database. 

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A student may withdraw from a class if they realize they will not earn the grade they need, either for their major or any financial awards. They can retake the class again and aim for a higher grade if needed to fulfill program requirements.

Students who qualify for work-study funding through the FAFSA or TASFA can apply for part-time, campus-based jobs that pay hourly wages.

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