A Glossary of Important College Terms

Academic year: The school year that begins with autumn (fall) classes. The academic year at most colleges and universities start in August or September.

Advisor: School official who guides and advises students with educational matters; such as degree requirements, transfer requirements, graduation, and much more.

Associate’s degree: A type of degree awarded to students at a community college, usually after earning 60 or more college credits.

Audit: To attend a class without receiving academic credit.

Bachelor’s degree: A degree awarded to undergraduates usually after four years of college classes who have earned 120 or more college credits.

Catalog: An official source, released every year that includes the College’s mission, policies, programs of study and requirements, course descriptions, and general education course listing.

Commencement: Day of graduation.

Course Number: The number your college or university uses to classify a course. You usually need this number in order to register for a class.

Credit Hour: The number of hours assigned to a specific class. This is usually the number of hours per week you are in the class. The number of credit hours you enroll in determines whether you are a full-time student or a part- time student.

Developmental Education: Courses that prepare students for college level work. Students are placed in courses as a result of their scores on the College’s placement test.

Doctorate: The highest academic degree conferred by a university to students who have completed at least three years of graduate study beyond the bachelor’s and/or Master’s.

Drop: Students may drop a course from their schedule during the first week of the term, depending on the length of the course. It is always best to check the calendar in your student center. A dropped course will not show on the transcript. The amount of the refund is determined by the drop date in the catalog.

Elective: A class you can take that is not specifically required by your major or minor.
Extracurricular activities: Groups you belong to outside of class, such as sporting teams, clubs and organizations.

Financial Aid: Money you receive for your college tuition or expenses that you may or may not have to pay back. (See: “Grant,” “Loan,” and “Scholarship”)

Freshman: First-year college student and/or 0 – 29 credits Full-time student: A student who enrolls in at least 12 credit hours.

General education classes: Classes that give students basic knowledge of a variety of topics. Students often must take general education classes in order to graduate. This set of classes includes different courses and is called by different names at various colleges and universities.
Grade point average: The average of all of the course grades you have received, on a four-point scale.

Grant: A form of financial aid from a non-profit organization (such as the government) that you do not have to repay.

Hybrid: Classes that are taught with a mixture of face-to-face classroom experiences and online course room experiences.

Internship: A temporary job, paid or unpaid, usually in the field of your major. You may be able to receive college credit for an internship.

Junior: A student who has earned 60 – 89 college credits. Loan: A form of financial aid that you must repay.

Major: Your primary area of study. Your college major is the field you plan to get a job in after you graduate (for example: business, fire science, nursing, biology, psychology).

Master’s degree: A degree awarded to graduate students. The awarding of a master’s degree requires at least one year of study (and often more, depending on the field) after a student earns a bachelor’s degree.

Non-resident: A student who isn’t an official resident of the state where a college is located. Tuition at community colleges is less expensive for residents.

Office hours: Time set aside by professors or teaching assistants for students to visit their office and ask questions or discuss the course they teach. Your professor or teaching assistant will tell you at the beginning of the term when and where office hours will be every week.

Online courses: Classes you take by computer instead of in a traditional classroom.

Part-time student: A student taking between 6 – 11 credit hours.

Placement Tests: Tests that measure a student’s college readiness in the areas of reading, writing, and mathematics. The results of a placement test determine which classes are best for a student to enroll in.

Prerequisite: A class that must be taken before you can take a different class. (For example, Astronomy 100 may be a prerequisite for Astronomy 200.)

Program of Study: The major subject area a student will study in college.

Private university: A university that is privately funded.

Public university: A university that is supported by the state and funded by the government. 

Registration: The process of enrolling in classes.

Required Course: A course that is needed to complete a student’s Program of Study.

Schedule of Classes: A schedule available online and sometimes in print that identifies what courses are offered, important dates for the semester, which courses meet General Education requirements, and which courses require and/or meet pre-requisites.

Scholarship: A form of financial aid that you do not have to repay.

Section / Class number: A five-digit number that designates the time, day and place that a particular course is offered.

Semester: Type of academic term. A school with this system generally will have a fall semester and a spring semester (each about 15 weeks long), along with a summer term.

Senior: A student who has earned 90 or more college credits. Sophomore: A student who has earned 30 – 59 college credits.

Syllabus: A contract between teacher and students, outline of course competencies and requirements. Will generally include teachers contact information, grading policy, timeline for assignments.

Term: The length of time that you take a college class.

Transcript: An official academic record from a specific school. It lists the courses you have completed, grades and information such as when you attended.

Withdrawal – Student withdrawal: Students may withdraw from classes for any reason during various times in a semester (check the website for maximum date) and receive a grade of “W” on a transcript. A “W” will have no impact on your GPA and you will not receive any money back for the course. Students should check their my.maricopa.edu for more information.

Withdrawal – Teacher Withdrawal: The teacher may withdraw a student throughout the semester. Past the date of student withdrawal, it is only the teacher that can request a withdrawal (please refer to your student center for specific dates). A teacher may withdrawal a student with either a “W” (see explanation above) or a “Y” (this is a withdrawal/fail, and will affect your GPA).