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Learn the Language

Learn the terms and phrases used by PA TRAC colleges and universities handling transfer related processes, information and policies.


Academic Advisor

The person at a college assigned to advise a student on their major, course selections and degree requirements.

Academic Standing

The measure of a student's academic achievement relative to his/her degree requirements at a college. Academic standing determines eligibility for a program and graduation.

Academic Year

A college’s annual academic schedule. Academic years are usually divided into quarters, semesters or trimesters.


Recognition by national and regional agencies that a college meets certain established standards of educational quality.

Admission Requirements

Minimum standards that a student must meet to be eligible to apply for admission to a college or university.

Advanced Coursework

Courses with advanced depth of content knowledge in the field of study and carry the expectation of more complex competencies identified in the expected student learning outcomes is referred to as advanced coursework. These courses often have prerequisites and are usually beyond the “Introduction to…” or “Foundation of…” level.

Advanced Credit

Academic credit awarded by a college to students who receive high scores on advanced placement tests.

Advanced Placement (AP)

College-level courses and exams designed by the College Board that students can take while enrolled in high school to receive college credit. Acceptance of credit is determined by the college based on scores achieved on AP exams. Results are often used in helping with decisions about course placement and exemption upon admission.

Advanced or Early Registration

A period of time set by colleges during which students can register early for classes.

American College Test (ACT)

One of two major standardized exams used to assess high school achievement and to determine admission eligibility.

Application Fee

A fee a student pays to apply to a college. In some cases, this fee is waived if a student shows financial need.


The aligning of curriculum between institutions of higher education to ensure the efficient and effective movement of students among those institutions. This may be accomplished by aligning courses or programs.

Articulation Agreement

A written agreement that shows how courses and/or programs at one college are equivalent or accepted for credit at another college.

Arts and Sciences

A group of academic studies that often include subject areas such as communication, mathematics, fine arts, languages, social sciences, natural sciences and humanities.

Associate Degree

A degree awarded upon satisfactory completion of a planned program consisting of a minimum of at least 60 college credits or the equivalent. Common associate degrees include the Associate of Arts (AA), Associate of Science (AS) and Associate of Applied Science (AAS). They type of associate degree awarded varies by major and institution.

Associate of Arts (AA) and Associate of Science (AS) Degree

A degree consisting of at least 60 college-level credits and designed for transfer into a baccalaureate degree program.


Baccalaureate or Bachelor's Degree

A degree awarded upon satisfactory completion of a planned program of study consisting of a minimum of 120 college credits. Common bachelor degrees are Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS), Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA), etc. They type of bachelor degree awarded varies by major and institution.



How a college divides a year for classes and grading. Calendars usually run from August to December and January to May, with an additional summer calendar.


The primary source of general information about classes, faculty, costs, policies, and admission and degree requirements for a college.


A credential granted to a student who completes coursework in a specific occupation or career program. Certificates vary by institution and program. Some certificates include college coursework that may be applied toward an associate degree in the same field of study.


The highest administrator of an academic department, which is usually a professor.


A school offering studies that lead to an academic degree. A college can be part of a larger university system or stand alone.


An option or special emphasis within a degree program (i.e., BA in Psychology with a concentration in Family Studies).

College-Level Examination Program (CLEP)

A series of standardized subject examinations that provides students the opportunity to demonstrate college-level achievement. Students may earn college credit for achieving certain scores on CLEP exams.

College Preparatory Subjects

Subjects that prepare high school students for entry into college and often are required for admission.


Graduation from a degree program.

Community College

A college that offers programs (usually two years or less for full-time students) leading to postsecondary diplomas, certificates or associate's degrees. These programs prepare students for employment or for transfer to a college or university offering bachelor’s degrees.

Conditional Admission

A college may admit students who have not met all the admission requirements. To remain, these students must fulfill specified requirements before or during their enrollment.

Consortium Agreement

A written agreement between institutions that enables degree-seeking students to participate in financial aid programs while concurrently attending two accredited higher education institutions.

Core Classes

General education classes that all students in a major program or college are required to take.

Core-to-Core Agreements

Agreements that allow a student to use general education courses earned at one college to fulfill the general education requirements at another college. To benefit from a core-to-core articulation agreement, a student typically must earn an associate's degree (usually as part of an A.A. or A.S. degree), the four-year institution's core requirements are satisfied except for core courses required by the intended major and possibly for other requirements that reflect the specific values of the transfer institution (e.g., religion, foreign language).


A required class or lab that must be taken with a related course.

Correspondence Course

A type of distance education course in which students receive lessons in the mail and send completed assignments to instructors.


Another name for "class."

Course-to-Course Articulation

Course-to-Course Articulation is when two colleges compare the content of similar courses and determine transferability. Students use course articulation to assure that the courses they complete will not have to be repeated at the receiving institution. Course articulation is usually completed when a student actually decides to transfer and may or may not be explained in a written document between the two institutions.

Course Number

Numbers assigned to courses to show their level of difficulty or depth/breadth of study.


How a college measures a student's progress toward a certificate, diploma or degree. The number of credits assigned to a course depends, in part, on how much time is spent in class each week. Credits are also referred to as "credit hours" or "hours."

Credit/No Credit

A form of grading whereby a student enrolls in a course and then either receives a grade of Credit (CR) for satisfactorily completing the course or Non-credit for not completing the course.

Cross Enrollment

Some universities allow community college students to enroll in a limited number of courses before being admitted to the university. This is a good way to get a head start on university-level courses or to fulfill prerequisites not available at the community college. Limitations apply. Not all institutions allow this practice.


The courses that makeup a program of study at a specific college.



The highest officer of a division, college or school, such as Dean of the School of Education. Deans usually report directly to a provost or the president of a college.

Declare a Major

Officially enter a college major or area of study.

Deferred Admission

A college may accept a student, but then allow the student to delay coming to the college for one year.


Academic recognition conferred by a college or university signifying that a student has satisfactorily completed a program of study.


An area of study in a college or school. For example, French may be a department in the College of Arts and Sciences at a university.


A field of study.


Students who are on probationary status can be dismissed or expelled for consistently poor grades or breaking rules.

Distance Education

The delivery of instruction for academic credit when the instructor is physically located at an address that differs from the physical location of the student at the time of instruction. The modes of delivery can include: correspondence, television, film, radio, computer, and other supportive devices using current or future technology.

Doctorate Degree

Awarded upon the completion of a prescribed program beyond the master’s degree level.

Double Counting

In select cases, a course may fulfill a requirement for both general education and a major or minor.

Double Major

Meeting requirements for two majors attached to a single degree. Example: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and History

Dual Admissions Agreements

A Dual Admission agreement is a cooperative partnership between two institutions that facilitates the admission process for students interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree. The agreement prepares students to transfer their associate degree credits into a bachelor degree program with no loss of time or money, providing the student maintains the required academic standard and follows the requirements of a program parallel to the desired transfer program. Dual Admissions programs are typically written between two-year and four-year institutions.

Dual or Concurrent Enrollment/ Dual Credit

Dual Enrollment refers to programs whereby high students enroll in college-level coursework and use then use those credits to fulfill high school graduation requirements. Students must gain permission from the high school principal or guidance counselor and be admitted to the college.


Early Admission

A college admission plan in which students apply earlier in the year than usual and receive an admission decision early as well. Most colleges that participate in early admission request applications by October 15th or November 1st instead of January 1st and return results by December 15th instead of April 1st. Common early admission plans include Early Action and Early Decision. Early Action is not binding, whereas Early Decision constitutes a binding commitment to enroll.


Courses which are not required for the major or general education, but which are acceptable for credit toward a degree.

English Language Proficiency (ELPT)

An SAT II Subject Test designed for students with English as a second language or limited English proficiency, who have had at least two years of English-language study in a U.S. high school.


To become a student at a college or university by registering for courses and paying tuition and fees.

Enrollment Confirmation

Once a student is accepted to a college, the student must confirm in writing that s/he plans to enroll at that college, and, if applicable, pay an enrollment deposit. The enrollment confirmation is often a form that the student fills out and submits by the college’s confirmation deadline.


A course requirement that is fulfilled by passing an exam in the subject.



Charges paid by a student to the college for services such as lab materials, computer use and recreational facilities.

Filing Periods

The period of time during which specific requests or applications must be submitted. This commonly applies to enrollment for a specific quarter or semester, applications for scholarships, or applications to a specific college or university.

Foundation Coursework

Courses at a level of comprehension usually associated with freshmen and sophomore students and offered during the first 60 credits of a baccalaureate degree program. Such coursework typically does not have course prerequisites.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Federal application that determines eligibility for financial aid at an institution. The U.S. Department of Education offers a variety of financial aid programs, such as grants and loans that students can use to pay college.

Full-time Student

A student enrolled for 12 or more semester credits.


Grade Point Average (GPA)

The indication of the overall level of academic achievement. It is an important measure in making decisions about probation and disqualification, eligibility for graduation, and transfer to the four-year institutions. The GPA is derived from the following credit unit system: A – 4 grade points per credit unit, B – 3 grade points per credit unit, C – 2 grade points per credit unit, D – 1 grade point per credit unit, and F – 0 grade points per credit unit. The GPA is calculated by dividing the total number of grade points received by the number of credit units attempted.


A person who receives a certificate, degree or diploma from a school.

Graduation Petition

Students indicate their intent to graduate by submitting a Graduation Petition prior to the college deadline. Typically, the petition should be submitted one semester before the student expects to graduate.

Guest Student

A student enrolled and in good standing at one college who takes courses at another college to fulfill the home institution's degree requirements.


Independent College/University

An institution of higher education which is operated not for profit and entitled to confer degrees in accordance with standards and qualifications prescribed by the State Board of Education.

Independent Study

Studying a subject for credit without regular classroom instruction. This may refer to on-campus courses that you take independently or through distance education.


In the education field, this is usually a school, college or university.


Any competition or activity taking place between different colleges.


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


Experience gained by students working at jobs on or off campus. Students get practical experience in their area of study.


Liberal Arts

Programs and courses in the communication, humanities, mathematics, natural sciences, and social sciences.

Lower Division

Courses at the freshman or sophomore level of college. Community colleges offer lower division courses.



Planned series of courses designed to develop special skills or expertise in a particular field of study.

Master’s Degree

Awarded upon the completion of a prescribed program beyond the bachelor’s degree level. Common types of master’s degrees are Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS) degrees.


To enroll in a college.


A secondary field of study outside the major, often requiring substantially less course work.


Native Student

A student who entered a given college or university without first matriculating at another college.

Non-transferable Degree

A postsecondary degree that may not be fully counted as credit toward more education. Certain types of associate degrees are not designed for transfer.


Open Admission Policy

Admission policy in which anyone with a high school diploma or its equivalent may enroll.


Parallel Bachelor Degree

A bachelor's degree program in a comparable field of study and with similar foundation-level major-specific content and competencies as an associate's degree program.

Part-time Student

A student enrolled in less than 12 credits per semester.


Assignment of students to appropriate classes or programs.


A file of materials created by a student that displays and explains skills, talents, experiences and knowledge gained throughout life. Portfolios are often used when applying for a job.

Postsecondary Education

Educational instruction beyond high school.


Undergraduate coursework either recommended or required for enrollment in professional schools. Examples include pre-law and pre-medicine.


Requirement that must be met before enrolling in a particular course.


Academic status of a student whose GPA falls below a minimum level at the school. The minimum GPA varies from school to school.


Set of required courses for a degree in a major area of study.

Program-to-Program Agreements

A Program-to-Program (P2P) or Program Specific Agreement is a type of articulation in which an entire curriculum or program of study at one institution is accepted for transfer at another institution. This type of articulation agreement allows a student with an associate degree to transfer as a junior into a specific bachelor degree program.

Proprietary Schools

For-profit postsecondary institutions that typically provide students with training in specific career fields.

Provisional Admission (Conditional Admission)

Most four-year institutions will initially admit students on a provisional basis. This means that admission may be revoked if the student does not fulfill specified requirements, such as submitting final transcripts from their community college.


A college's chief academic officer. A provost often reports directly to the college president.

Public College/University

College or university receiving financial support from the state.


Quarter System

An academic term consisting of no fewer than 10 weeks of instruction.


Receiving Institution

The college or university where a transfer student plans to enroll and to apply previously earned credit toward a degree program.


Person (or office) at a college who manages class schedules and academic records.


The act of officially enrolling in classes for the upcoming term.

Religious Affiliation

Private colleges associated with religious organizations.

Remedial Course

A course that teaches basic skills needed to succeed in college courses. These skills are often in the general areas of math, writing, and reading.


A set of conditions that must be met in order to do something, such as be accepted to a college, complete a degree, etc.

Residence Hall (Dormitory)

A campus building where students live. Some colleges require students to live in residence halls for a certain amount of time.

Residence Requirement

A certain number of credits that must be taken at the college from which the students expects to receive a degree.

Resident/Non-Resident Status

Student status based on place of legal residence. Certain colleges may charge non-residents (out of state) higher fees or require them to meet higher admission requirements than in-state students.

Rolling Admission

An admission decision given by the college as soon as possible after an application is completed. No notification deadline is specified.

Room and Board

The cost for living in residence halls or other campus housing (room) and receiving meals from the housing food service (board).


Satisfactory Academic Progress

Completion of courses according to school standards. Satisfactory academic progress must be shown to receive financial aid and continue registering for classes.

Selective Admission Policy

An admission policy in which a college only admits students who meet certain requirements (sometimes referred to as Competitive Admission Policy).


An academic term consisting of no fewer than 15 weeks of instruction.

Student Designed Major

At some colleges, students can plan an individualized major. Such programs must be approved by appropriate college administrators.

Summer Term

Additional session, semester, trimester or quarter offered at the end of the regular academic year.

Support Services

Services provided by a college to assist students with financial aid counseling, orientation and guidance, course and program placement, etc.


Technical College

Colleges that offer programs (usually two years or less for full-time students) that prepare students for immediate employment or transfer to a college or university offering bachelor's degrees. The emphasis at these colleges is usually industry-specific and includes hands-on training in a specific career area.


A list of all courses attempted at a college or university showing the final grade received for each course and the number of credits attempted and earned. Official transcripts bear a seal of the college and signature of a designated college official.


The process by which a student moves from one postsecondary institution to another. Also refers to the mechanics of credit, course and curriculum exchange between institutions.

Transferable Credit

Credit granted by a college or university for college-level coursework completed at another institution.

Transfer Degree

A degree, usually an associate’s that can be counted as credit toward another credential, such as a bachelor's degree, at the same or different college.

Transfer Program

A program between two-year and four-year colleges that offers transfer students priority consideration or guaranteed admission if certain academic criteria are met.

Transfer Student

A student who enters a participating college or university after earning college-level credit at another college or university.


An academic term consisting of no fewer than 15 weeks of instruction.


The cost of classes or credits at a school.

2 + 2 Program

A program offering an associate's degree that will transfer directly toward a bachelor's degree in the same field of study. These programs may be within the same college or between two colleges. This type of articulation may also be referred to as program-to-program articulation.


Unconditional Admission

Students are given this status if they meet all of an institution's admission standards.


A student enrolled in the years of college study prior to receiving a bachelor’s degree.


A postsecondary institution that has several colleges or schools, grants undergraduate and graduate degrees, and may have research facilities. Universities are more comprehensive than colleges, although the two terms are often used interchangeably.

Upper class person

Student who is a junior or senior but has not yet received an undergraduate degree.


Visiting Student

A visiting student, or guest student, is someone who is currently enrolled and in good standing at one college but who takes courses at another college to fulfill the home institution's degree requirements.


Waiting List

A list of students who will be admitted to a college only space is available. Students placed on a waiting list are then notified at a later date if they are admitted, typically in May or June.

Weekend College

A program that allows students to complete a course of study by attending classes only on weekends.


An exemption from normal procedures or requirements. For example, a course waiver can excuse a student from taking a required course.


A form of financial aid in which students earn money by working part time at their college. Students apply for work-study by filling out a FAFSA form.