Words to Know

Understand the ins and outs of higher education

Words to Know

Use our Words to Know resource to understand the ins and outs of higher education, specifically transfer resources.


2+2 Program
A program that offers an associate degree whose credits can be directly applied toward a bachelor’s degree in the same field of study. These programs may be within the same college or between two colleges.

21st Century Scholars
A scholarship program offered by the State of Indiana to students who enroll during their seventh or eighth grade year of school and fulfill the program requirements. This program offers up to four years of tuition assistance at an eligible Indiana college. See Scholars.IN.gov for more information.



An Associate in Arts (AA) degree is a two-year postsecondary degree designed to prepare a student for transfer to a 4-year institution to pursue their bachelor’s degree.


An Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree is designed for students seeking employment immediately upon graduation.


An Associate in Science (AS) degree s a two-year postsecondary degree designed to prepare a student for transfer to a 4-year institution to pursue their bachelor’s degree.

AS & A Levels/AICE Diploma

Cambridge International AS & A Level courses and exams and the Cambridge AICE Diploma bring college-level work to students in high school. There are over 55 AS & A Level courses.  Many Indiana institutions now grant credit or placement for satisfactory grades on AS & A Level exams. Students receive the AICE Diploma when they get credit for AS & A Level courses and exams across four discipline areas. Cambridge International is part of the University of Cambridge.

Academic Advisor

A counselor or designated individual who has been formally trained to counsel students regarding academic choices. Your counselor’s advice will enable you to enroll in the courses that best support your academic goals.

Academic Dismissal/Suspension

An expelled student who is no longer accepted and may not register for credit courses at a college or university for a specified period of time.

Academic Honors Diploma

A high school diploma awarded if you have excelled in your studies by going above and beyond the minimal requirements. It is recommended that you submit an Academic Honors Diploma (AHD) application if you plan to apply to a college or university.

Academic Probation

If your grade point average falls below what is required by the end of a semester, you will be placed on academic probation.

Academic Standards

College or university standards you must maintain, such as a minimum grade point average, in order to remain in good standing with the school.


Accreditation is the endorsement by a third party of an institution’s quality of education. A school’s accreditation determines its eligibility to receive federal (Title IV) and state financial aid. Proper accreditation is also important for the acceptance and transference of credits between schools. For more information, see http://www.back2college.com/library/accreditfaq.htm.

American College Testing (ACT)

One of the most common entrance exams often required for admission by many colleges and universities. The ACT consists of four sections including math, science, English, and reading as well as an optional writing assessment. Typically, you would take the ACT for the first time in the spring of your high school junior year and again during your senior year.

Add/Drop Period

A period of time before classes begin when schedule changes can be made. You may be charged a penalty for changes made after classes begin.

Advanced Placement (AP)

AP refers to college-level, subject-specific classes offered by some high schools. Enrolling in AP courses enables you to take national AP exams prior to the end of the school year for college or university placement. Receiving high scores on AP exams can enable you to earn credits for specific courses without having to take the course.

American Council on Education (ACE)

ACE reviews military training (courses) and experiences (occupations) with the goal of awarding equivalent college credits for those experiences.

Application Fee

The fee charged to process your application.


The process of comparing and equating courses from one institution to the courses of another institution.

Articulation Agreement

An agreement between two or more schools that allows course credit(s) from one school to be transferred and accepted, so you can apply them toward a degree or certificate from another school. This includes formal agreements between two-year institutions and baccalaureate degree-granting institutions.

Arts and Sciences

A group of academic studies that may include fine arts, languages, social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities.

Associate Degree

A degree that typically requires two years of full-time study and course work or the part-time equivalent.


Auditing a course enables you to attend classes without receiving a grade or credit. You might choose to audit a course for personal enrichment, enabling you to learn without effecting your GPA or to pre-take the course to help you earn a better grade when you re-take it later for credit. In most schools, students taking the course for credit will be given priority seating. Fees for auditing courses may vary.



A Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree is a broad interdisciplinary undergraduate program encompassing general education, electives and major area of study courses. It offers instruction in the humanities, social sciences or liberal arts.

Baccalaureate or Bachelor’s Degree

A degree that typically requires four or five years of full-time study and course work or the part-time equivalent.


A Bachelor of Science (BS) degree is designed to focus the area of study on courses that are closely related to the student’s major.


The Office of the Bursar bills and collects tuition, fees, campus housing, and other university related charges.



A school’s official publication course offerings. The catalog typically contains course descriptions, major/minor and general education requirements, college policies, procedures and standards, and student rights and responsibilities. It may also be referred to as a bulletin.

Competency-Based Education (CBE)

The CBE approach allows students to advance based on their ability to master a skill or competency at their own pace regardless of environment. This method is tailored to meet different learning abilities and can lead to more efficient student outcomes.


An academic certificate is a document that certifies that a person has received specific education or has passed a test or series of tests.

College-Level Examination Program (CLEP)

A series of undergraduate college course exams that can provide you the opportunity to demonstrate college-level knowledge and earn college credit.

Community College

College that offers programs (usually two years or less for full-time students) leading to certificates or associate’s degrees. These programs can prepare you for immediate employment, or for transfer to a four-year college or university.

Community College of the Air Force (CCAF)

A federal program offered by the United States Air Force which grants two-year Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees in association with Air University.

Conditional Admission

An institution may choose to admit you if you do not meet all admission requirements. To remain enrolled as a conditional admission, you’ll need to fulfill specific requirements before or during your attendance.

Continuing Education

Continuing Education is designed to offer you an alternative to the traditional full-time college enrollment.

Cooperative Education (Co-op Education)

A structured method of combining classroom-based education with practical work experience. It enables a student to combine employment in a related career field and coursework to earn credits.


One of three diploma types offered by the State of Indiana. The requirements of the CORE 40 diploma exceed those of the General diploma by requiring you to complete additional credits in various subjects. The CORE 40 is considered the minimum college-track diploma.

Core Classes

All courses required for a specific major, minor, or general education program.


A course which must be taken the same semester as the course that specifies the co-requisite.

Core Transfer Library (CTL)

A list of courses approved by all Indiana public and six private institutions that transfer among all public colleges and universities, assuming adequate grades.


A professionally trained staff member who helps you with academic, career, or personal concerns.

Course Withdrawal

The process you would follow to end enrollment in a specific course.

Credential Engine

Credential Engine is a 501C3 non-profit organization dedicated to the mission of promoting transparency and credential literacy in the marketplace to reveal the world of credentials and inform the public


A certificate, diploma, or other type of evidence that a person has completed specific requirements determined by a provider.


The numerical unit earned for the completion of a specific course.


A planned sequence of courses or program of study designed for you to achieve a specific academic or occupational goal.



The Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support helps service members and veterans pursue their educational goals during and after their service.

Declare a Major

You officially tell a school your major or focused area of study. See Major.

Deferred Admission

An institution may accept you into their school but then allow you to delay attending for a specified period of time.


After finishing a program of study at a college or university, you will receive a degree or an academic title.

Degree Audit

A personalized report that lists the courses and requirements for completion of a chosen major(s), minor(s), and certification(s).


A field of study. See Major.


You can be dismissed or expelled for consistently poor grades or misconduct.

Distance Education

Learning that is available outside of the traditional classroom, such as: via satellite or television, online, by video or CD, or by correspondence. Instruction and learning occurs when the instructor and you do not physically meet.


Discontinuing a class during the drop/add period. A dropped course is typically not recorded on your transcript.


The DANTES Subject Standardized Tests that are available to anyone who is seeking college credit outside the traditional classroom, including college students, adult learners, high school students and military personnel.

Dual Credit

Dual credit courses are courses that are taken by high school students that satisfy requirements for earning both a high school and postsecondary credits. Dual credit courses are taught by regular high school faculty or by regular or adjunct postsecondary professors. The term “concurrent enrollment” is also used to describe dual credit.



One institution’s course that may be equivalent or equal to a similar course at another institution.


If you have fulfilled a course or graduation requirement by means other than traditional classroom work, you may qualify to be exempt from certain requirements.



See Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Federal Pell Grant

A federal financial aid grant program for postsecondary education. You can apply for a Federal Pell Grant by completing and submitting a FAFSA form.

Federal Perkins Student Loan

A low-interest loan available if you can prove financial need. It must be repaid with interest after you leave school. You can apply for a Federal Perkins Student Loan by completing and submitting a FAFSA form.

Federal PLUS (Parent Loans or Undergraduate Students) and/or Federal Direct Plus

Financial aid processed through a bank, other lending agency, or college or university to help pay for college. These must be repaid with interest after you leave school and are not eligible for deferment.

Federal Stafford Loan and Direct Ford Loan

Student financial aid processed through a bank and/or a college or university. You must be enrolled at least part-time in a postsecondary degree program to receive a Stafford Loan. These must be repaid with interest after you leave school. This was formerly known as the Guaranteed Student Loan. You can apply for them by completing and submitting a FAFSA form.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)

This federal grant is available if you have an exceptional need. You can apply for an SEOG by completing and submitting a FAFSA form.

Federal Unsubsidized Stafford / Direct Unsubsidized Ford Loan

This is similar to a Federal Stafford Loan, except you pay the interest during college.

Federal Work-Study Program

A student work program on school campuses that enables you to work during the school year to earn money to help cover your expenses. Federal work-study jobs are awarded to students based on financial need. You can apply for a work-study program by completing and submitting a FAFSA form.

Final Exams

Tests or exercises given at the end of a term that are often comprehensive; that is, they may include all material covered during the semester.

Financial Aid

Federal, state, college or university, and private programs which help you pay for college expenses. Financial aid can be in the form of grants, loans, or work-study programs.

Financial Aid Counselor

A college staff member who helps students and parents complete and submit financial aid forms and processes financial aid money.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

This is the required application for many federal, state, and institutional financial aid options. You must file your application between October 1 and April 15 of the year you plan to attend a post-secondary school.

Full-Time Student

A student who schedules a minimum number of credits or hours to be considered “full-time” by a college or university. The number of credits considered to be a full-time load can vary from school to school.


General Education/General Studies Requirements

Many schools require you to take courses that cover a variety of academic areas. For example, they may require a completing a number of courses in science, foreign language, English, and/or math.

General Educational Development Test (GED Test)

These are tests which measure the knowledge and skills usually learned in high school. Passing the GED test will give you the equivalent of a high school diploma.

Gift Aid

Financial aid which is not repaid, such as grants and scholarships.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

Grade-point average is determined by dividing the total number of grade points earned by the total number of credit hours attempted.


Financial aid awarded by the federal and state governments based on your financial need. Grants are not repaid, so they are often described as “free money.”

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

The GRE is a standardized test that is an admissions requirement for most graduate schools.

Guest Student

If you are currently enrolled and in good standing at one institution but want to take courses at another college or university to fulfill your home institution’s degree requirements, you are a guest student or a visiting student.



Hours, credit hours, and credits are terms used interchangeably.


The branches of learning concerned with human thought and relations, especially literature, philosophy, fine arts, and history.



If you are doing satisfactory work, but are forced by illness or another emergency to miss the final exam or a major assignment, you may qualify to receive an incomplete (I) grade.

Independent College

A college which is not supported by a state. Some independent colleges have a religious affiliation or are single-sex schools.

Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI) 

A non-profit association which represents Indiana’s 30 private, non-profit, regionally-accredited colleges and universities.

Independent Study

Studying a subject for credit outside the typical classroom, such as correspondence courses, video or online instruction, and student-instructor meetings. See Correspondence Course.

Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)

An agency of the Department of Justice which administers and enforces immigration-related provisions and statutes within the United States.


Programs or courses using knowledge from two or more academic areas of study.

International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB)

The IB diploma requires you to complete rigorous pre-college coursework and pass specific exams. Its curriculum involves languages, sciences, humanities, and mathematics, and is intended to be an academically challenging program for highly motivated high school students. It is offered at a limited number of schools.


You can earn class credit by working pre-approved jobs on or off campus. These jobs will provide practical experience in your major.


Joint Services Transcript (JST)

JST is the Joint Services Transcript that has replaced the Coast Guard Institute Transcript, the Army/American Council on Education Registry Transcript System (AARTS) and the Sailor/Marine American Council on Education Registry Transcript (SMART). JST is an academically accepted document approved by the American Council on Education (ACE) to validate a service member’s military occupational experience and training along with the corresponding ACE college credit recommendations.


Liberal Arts

A school or course of study which focuses on developing your general knowledge and reasoning ability instead of a specific discipline. Liberal Arts degrees are often considered to provide a well-rounded, general education in the arts and sciences.


Financial aid that must be repaid with interest after a student leaves school.

Lower Division

Normally freshman- and sophomore-level courses offered by a college or university. Community colleges offer ONLY lower division courses. Four-year institutions offer lower division courses and upper division courses, which are junior-level and senior-level courses. Traditionally, the course numbers of lower division courses are in the 100s or 200s.



An area of interest in which you can earn a degree.

Matriculated Student

A matriculated student has been accepted for admission to the school, has registered in a curriculum, and is taking courses toward a degree or certificate.


A secondary area of interest you can study in addition to your declared major. Minors are typically disciplines in a different department from your major and require fewer classes than a major.


National Achievement Scholarship Program for Outstanding Negro Students

A scholarship program for African-Americans only, similar to the National Merit Scholarships. This scholarship is based on your high school junior-year PSAT scores.

National Direct Student Loan (NDSL)

See Federal Perkins Student Loan.

National Merit Scholarships

These competitive scholarships are offered by corporations and institutions and are limited in number. Scholarships are awarded based on your PSAT scores and other criteria.

Native Student

A student who enrolled in a post-secondary institution and continued their education at the same institute without transferring.

Need Analysis Form

A form, completed by you and/or your family members, that is used to determine the amount of financial aid you are eligible to receive. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a need analysis form. See FAFSA.


See National Merit Scholarships, Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).

Non-Traditional Student

A student older than the typical post-secondary student age range of 18 to 25 years old.

Nontransferable Degree

A degree, usually an associate’s degree, that cannot be used as credit toward another degree, such as a bachelor’s degree, at the same school or different college or university. See Transferable Degree.


Official Transcript

A transcript is a record of the courses you have taken, the grades you earned, and your graduation information, if relevant. It is maintained by the high school and college registrar. It is the only document receiving institutions will accept to consider transference of course credits.


In education, a person who acts on behalf of students and others in the school community who have complaints about the school and attempts to resolve such issues.


Part-Time Student

A student enrolled in a number of course credits or hours which are less than the number required to be full-time.


This gives you the option to enroll in a class in which you receive a grade of Pass or Fail in lieu of a letter grade (A, B, C, D). You can earn credits toward graduation by passing these courses, but the grades will not affect your GPA. Check with your advisor to verify that Pass/Fail grades will transfer to another college or university.

Placement Test

See Assessment.


Often referred to as the “pre-ACT,” this is a practice test for the ACT assessment exam. The PLAN test is offered during your sophomore year of high school.


A file of materials you compile to showcase and explain your skills, talents, experiences, and knowledge.

Postsecondary Education

Education after high school at a public, private, vocational, technical, proprietary, trade, or business college or university.

Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test / National Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT)

A high school test which measures your verbal and math skills and prepares you for the SAT I exam. This test determines your eligibility for the National Merit Scholarship. See Scholastic Assessment Test.


A beginning class that prepares you for a more difficult class.

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

Prior learning is learning gained outside the college classroom in a variety of settings and through formal and non-formal means.

Private Institution

See Independent College.


A warning that you are not in good academic standing. Probation may be accompanied by restricting credit hour enrollment.


A set of courses required to earn a degree in a major area of study. See Curriculum.

Proprietary Schools

Colleges or universities that are run as profit-making institutions. These schools provide practical training in specific fields.


See Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).

Public College

College or other school that receives financial support from the state for its operational costs.


Receiving Institution

The institution to where a course’s credits will be transferred.


The person in a school who manages class schedules and academic records.


Your actual enrollment into specific courses after you have been admitted to the college or university.

Remedial Course

A course that teaches basic math, writing, and reading skills, etc. that are needed to succeed in college. Many students learn these skills in high school.

Required Course

A course you must complete to meet certain goals or to complete a specific curriculum.

Residency Requirements

  1. Most schools require you to spend a certain amount of time on campus or to complete a minimum number of hours through their institution.
  2. The minimum amount of time you must live in the state to be eligible for in-state tuition. For public institutions, in-state tuition is lower than the fee out-of-state students pay.

Rolling Admission

Schools with a rolling admission practice accept applications throughout the year. They may or may not admit you as soon as they receive the required application materials.



See Scholastic Assessment Test.

SAT II: Subject Tests

See Subject Area Test.


Scholarships are awarded for academic, artistic, athletic, and other achievements and do not have to be repaid.


ScholarTrack is the one-stop-shop for Hoosiers’ state financial aid needs, including the 21st Century Scholarship and other need- and merit-based aid. ScholarTrack guides users through the process of applying for and maintaining state financial aid.

Scholastic Assessment Test I (SAT I)

The SAT I is a standardized admission test published by the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB). See Standardized Admission Tests.

Self-Paced Courses

Self-study courses permit you to set flexible schedules. If you are self-motivated, a strong reader, have good problem-solving skills, and can manage time well and set your own deadlines, self-paced courses could be right for you.

Sending Institution

The institution where a course had been taken and from where its credits will be transferred.

Service Learning

Combines community service with classroom instruction, focusing on critical thinking, value clarification, and social responsibility. Service Learning provides you with relevant experience and a meaningful contribution to the community.

Servicemember’s Opportunity College (SOC)

The SOC is a consortium of schools who work together to make it easier you, as a service person, and your family to obtain postsecondary education despite frequent moves by facilitating credit transfers, reducing residency requirements, etc.

Standardized Admissions Tests (SAT I, ACT, etc.)

These tests are designed to measure your verbal and mathematical knowledge and skills. They are used as performance predictors for postsecondary schooling and may be considered along with other factors when you apply for admission.

Indiana College Core (Formerly the STGEC) 

The Indiana College Core consists of 30 semester hours of credit, the completion of which at one public institution means it can transfer as a block and count as satisfying the Indiana College Core equivalent at the receiving institution.

Student-Designed Major

At some schools, with the approval of school administrators, you can create and tailor a major to meet your specific goals.

Study Abroad

Study-abroad programs offer you the opportunity to study for some time in another country while making regular progress toward your diploma or degree.

Subject Area Tests

Standardized tests given by the American College Testing (ACT) Program or College Board in specific high school subjects, such as biology, a foreign language, etc. Institutions may consider your scores on these tests when deciding course placement or admission to a specific program.

Support Services

Services provided by most colleges to help you in specific areas, such as academics, veterans affairs, adult learning, and special needs.


If your academic performance is poor, you will not be allowed to enroll in classes for a specified number of semesters, usually one academic year.


An outline of course content and/or statement of policies for a given course section. Typically issued in the first week of classes, the syllabus often contains required reading, grading scales, attendance policies, and/or descriptions of major assignments. The syllabus will introduce you to the structure and expectations of the course.


Total Withdrawal

When you withdraw from all of your courses. Most schools have deadlines by when a total withdrawal must be processed.


A transcript is an official record of the courses you have taken, the grades you earned, and your graduation information, if relevant. It is maintained by the high school or college registrar and is the only document receiving institutions will accept to consider transference of course credits.

Transfer Credit

The acknowledgment and acceptance by a college or university of credits you earned at a different institution.

Transfer Program

A program that prepares you to complete your degree at another school. Often two-year colleges have transfer programs to prepare you for four-year colleges. These programs typically award associate’s degrees.

Transfer Single Articulation Pathway (TSAP)

TSAP degree programs were established to help you achieve a bachelor’s degree in the most time- and cost-efficient manner. These pathways enable you to apply an associate degree earned at Ivy Tech Community College or Vincennes University towards a corresponding bachelor’s degree program at a four-year public university.

Transfer Student

A student who begins their postsecondary education at one school, but then moves to another school. Grades and credits from the first school may or may not be accepted by the second school.

Transferable Degree

A degree, usually an associate’s degree, that can be used as credit toward another degree, such as a bachelor’s degree, at the same school or different college or university. See Nontransferable Degree and/or Transfer Program.



A student who is a junior or senior but has not yet received his or her undergraduate degree.

Upper Division

Normally junior- and senior-level courses offered by a four-year institution. Traditionally, the course numbers of upper division courses are in the 300s or 400s.



An exemption from normal policies, procedures, or requirements.


Officially dropping any or all courses during a school term.


See Federal Work-Study Program.