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Glossary of Collegiate Terms

So you haven't quite mastered the college lingo yet. That's okay! Check out the glossary of terms below if you come across terminology that you aren't familiar with.

If you still need help making sense of things, feel free to contact your Admissions Counselor or Success Coach. That's what they are there for!


Accredited refers to the recognition of an educational institution by an official agency or professional association as maintaining certain quality standards.

Academic Adviser:

An academic adviser is a member of a college faculty who helps and advises students solely on academic matters.

Academic Probation:

To be eligible for continued enrollment in good standing in the university, a student must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.00. Students who fail to maintain a cumulative grade point average of 2.00 will be placed on academic probation (also referred to as scholastic probation).

Should any probationary student fail to maintain a 2.00 semester grade average in the academic courses attempted in any semester of probation, the student will be required to leave the University on academic suspension for at least one calendar year.

Academic Suspension:

A student placed on academic suspension is not allowed to take classes at the university until the term of suspension has been served. Academic suspension bars a student from registration.

Academic Year:

An academic year is the period of formal instruction, usually August to May; may be divided into terms of varying lengths: semesters, trimesters, or quarters.


A standardized examination used by colleges to assist in determining admissibility of undergraduate students. For more information please visit:


Add/Drop is a process at the beginning of the term whereby students can delete or add classes with an instructor's permission.

Admitted Student:

An admitted student is a student who has been offered admission to the university.

Bachelor's Degree:

A bachelor's degree (also called a baccalaureate degree) is a level of education marked by the completion of the equivalent of four or more years of full-time education (at least 120 semester units or 180 quarter units). Texas A&M University-Commerce awards two types of bachelor's degree; a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science degree.


A college is a post-secondary institution that provides undergraduate education and, in some cases, master's level degrees. College, in a separate sense, is a division of a university; for example, College of Business & Technology.

College Catalog:

A college catalog is an official publication giving information about a university’s academic programs, facilities, entrance requirements, and student life. You may access the Texas A&M University-Commerce undergraduate catalog at:


A concentration is a certain number of credits/courses in a major program of study that is more specialized than the general degree program. It may also be referred to as an option or special emphasis within a degree program.

Core Requirements:

Core requirements are mandatory courses required for the completion of a degree.


A course is a regularly scheduled class session of one to five hours (or more) per week during a semester. A degree program is made up of a specified number of required and elective courses and varies from institution to institution.

Course Load:

Refers to the number of courses or credits taken in a specific semester.


Credits are units institutions use to record the completion of courses (with passing grades) that are required for an academic degree. The catalog of a college or university defines the number and kinds of credits that are required for the university's degrees and states the value of each course offered in terms of "credit hours" or "units."


A curriculum is a program of courses approved for a specific degree or certificate. To earn a degree or certificate in a specific program, you must complete the curriculum for that program.


A degree is a diploma or title conferred by a college, university, or professional school upon completion of a prescribed program of studies.


A department is the administrative subdivision of a school, college, or university through which instruction in a certain field of study is given (such as English department or History department).


Electives are courses of your choice, which may be taken for credit toward a degree or certificate in your curriculum. They may be chosen from a wide variety of courses.


The term faculty refers to members of the teaching staff, and occasionally the administrative staff, of an educational institution. The faculty is responsible for designing the plans of study offered by the institution.


Fees refer to an amount charged by universities, in addition to tuition, to cover costs of institutional services.

Financial Aid:

Financial aid is a general term that includes all types of grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study programs offered to a student to help pay tuition, fees, and living expenses.


A freshman is a first-year undergraduate student at a secondary school, college, or university who has earned less than 30 semester credit hours.

Full-Time Student:

A full-time student is an undergraduate student who is enrolled at a university and is taking at least the minimum number of credits (often 12) to meet the university's requirement for a full course load.

Grade Point Average (G.P.A.):

The grade point average, also called G.P.A., refers to the average of all grades earned by a student.


There is a difference between graduation and commencement. Graduation occurs when the college determines you have successfully completed all the requirements for your degree. Commencement is a ceremony: a public celebration of your accomplishment.

Independent Study:

Independent study refers to official coursework undertaken outside the classroom setting. It will usually be monitored by an instructor.

International Student Adviser (ISA):

An ISA is the person at a university who is in charge of providing information and guidance to international students in such areas as government regulations, visas, academic regulations, social customs, language, financial or housing problems, travel plans, insurance, and legal matters.

International Student:

An international student is any student that currently attends the university who is not a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. International students are granted entry into the U.S. on an F 1 visa issued by the consular office in their country of residence.


A junior is a third-year undergraduate student at a secondary school, college, or university that has earned at least 60 semester credit hours.


A loan is a sum of money lent to an individual (or organization) with an agreement to repay the money, possibly with interest.


A major is a program of study that leads to a degree; the subject area in which a student pursuing a college degree develops the greatest depth of knowledge.


Matriculation is the process of initially enrolling in college. A matriculated student is one who has been accepted into a degree program. This is different than a non-matriculated student who is simply taking classes, but is not working towards a degree.


A minor is a secondary field of study outside of the major field. Some degrees require a minor.


A non-resident is a student who does not meet the residency requirements of the state. Tuition fees and admission policies may differ for residents and nonresidents. International students are usually classified as nonresidents, and there is little possibility of changing to resident status at a later date for tuition purposes.

Part-Time Student:

A part-time student is any student who is taking fewer than twelve (12) credit hours in a semester.


Plagiarism is the use of another person's words or ideas and passing them off as your own.


Prerequisite refers to a course or courses that must be successfully completed before a student can enroll in the next level course or more advanced courses.


Registration is the process through which students select courses to be taken during a quarter, semester, or trimester.

Residence Hall:

Residence halls (also called dorms or dormitories) are housing facilities on the campus of a college or university reserved for students. A typical residence hall would include student rooms, bathrooms, common rooms, and possibly a cafeteria.

Resident Assistant (RA):

A resident assistant is a person who assists the residence hall director in campus housing facilities, and is usually the first point of contact for students with problems or queries regarding on campus housing. RAs are usually students at the college who receive free accommodation and other benefits in return for their services.


A standardized examination used by colleges to assist in determining admissibility of undergraduate students. For more information please visit:


A scholarship is typically a study grant of financial aid, usually given at the undergraduate level that may take the form of a waiver of tuition and/or fees.


Semester refers to a type of term within an academic year marking the beginning and end of classes. Each semester is 15 weeks in length, and there are two semesters (Fall and Spring) in an academic year.


A senior is a fourth-year undergraduate student at a secondary school, college, or university that has earned at least 90 semester credit hours.

Social Security Number:

A Social Security Number (SSN) is a number issued to people by the U.S. government for payroll deductions for old age, survivors, and disability insurance. Anyone who works regularly must obtain a Social Security Number. Many institutions use this number as the student identification number. At Texas A&M University-Commerce, your student number is called the Campus Wide ID (CWID) and is assigned to each student who files for admission to the university.


A sophomore is a second-year undergraduate student at a secondary school, college, or university that has earned at least 30 semester credit hours.


A transcript is a complete record of academic work completed by a student, i.e. all subjects taken and grades or marks secured in each subject.

Transfer Student:

A transfer student is a student who, after attending a college or university, seeks admission to another college or university. At Texas A&M University-Commerce, a transfer student is any student who has completed at least 21 transferable hours.

Transient Student:

A transient (visiting) student is a student currently enrolled at another regionally accredited college or university in the United States and takes a course at Texas A&M University-Commerce to transfer back to their home institution.


Tuition refers to the money an institution charges for instruction and training (does not include the cost of books).


An undergraduate is an enrolled student who has not completed a baccalaureate degree; a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior.


A university is a large post-secondary institution that offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Withdrawal is the administrative procedure of dropping all courses in a given semester or leaving a university.

The above listed definitions were taken in part from:

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