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Glossary

When discussing articulation/transfer issues often times the following terms are used. The first set of terms have been specifically defined by the AGSC for use across the state of Alabama. The other terms are generally used in higher education to give guidance and direction when it comes to transfer issues. These terms may vary slightly when looked up in different academic sources.

Special terms

Alabama articulation program

A web-based articulation and credit equivalency program designed to facilitate students’ transfer of courses from Alabama’s community colleges to its four-year universities (henceforth referred to as Alabama Transfers).

Concentration

A specialized field of study within a major a student has chosen. For example, a student majoring in Business Administration may have a concentration in Marketing.

Concurrent enrollment

Concurrent enrollment, commonly known as dual enrollment, refers to a program where a student is enrolled at two institutions simultaneously. The following conditions apply:

  • The student must declare a home institution.
  • The student must adhere to the home institution's policy on concurrent enrollment status.
  • The home institution's policy must be consistent with the policies of the statewide Articulation and General Studies program.
Native students

A degree-seeking student who enters a college or university as a first-time freshman.

Non-matriculated student

A student who has not been accepted into a degree program by a college or university, but who is allowed to enroll in courses. See also: Matriculated student.

Non-transferable course

A course offered by a community college or other institution that will not transfer to another college or university. Some examples of these courses are developmental courses in English or mathematics and most vocational/technical courses.

Pre-requisite

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

Receiving institution

A college or university who has accepted a student upon transfer and first must evaluate coursework taken at the sending institution for articulation/transfer credit.

Sending institution

The college or university from which the student is transferring.

Transferable courses

Courses offered by one college (e.g., a community college) that will transfer to another college (e.g., a four-year college or university). These courses can usually be applied toward the bachelor degree requirements at the four-year college or university.

Transient student

A student who wishes to attend an institution other than the home institution on a temporary basis. The following conditions apply:

  1. The student must adhere to the home institutions policy for transient student status. This policy must be consistent with the policies of the statewide Articulation and General Studies program.
  2. The student must present written evidence of advisement from the home institution that identifies the recommended courses the student is advised to take while on transient status. In order to facilitate articulation of credit, these courses should be approved for transfer back to the home institution during the advisement process.

Common terms

Academic term

The period of time that students are enrolled in a specific group of classes. Most colleges and universities schedule two semesters of 14 to 16 weeks between August and June. Many offer terms in the summer months (summer term or mini-terms).
Note: In Alabama all schools colleges/universities are on semesters.

Articulation agreement

A written agreement between two colleges or universities that outlines how a course(s) or academic program will transfer from one to the other.

Associate degree (A.S.)

Degree awarded for the completion of at least 60 credits of work that typically includes General Education Requirements, major program of study requirements, and electives. Community colleges and two-year private and proprietary colleges generally award the associate degree.

Bachelor degree (B.A. or B.S.)

Degree awarded for the completion of at least 120 credits of work that typically includes General Education Requirements, major program of study requirements, and electives. Four-year public, private, and proprietary colleges and universities generally award the bachelor degree.

Core courses

A group of courses which provides a broad cultural background that college and university students are required to complete as part of their graduation requirements. Gen ED courses frequently come from the social sciences, humanities, communications, mathematics, sciences, and fine arts areas. See also: General Education Requirements.

Course credits

Units earned when a college or university course is successfully completed. Most courses equate to 3 or 4 credits or semester hours. Typically, students at a community college must complete specified courses that total 60 to 65 credits or semester hours in order to earn an associate degree. Students earning a minimum of 120 hours or more will be close to meeting the requirements of a bachelor degree.

Course equivalency

A course at a community college/university that equates to a course offered at another community college/university. For example, Biology 100 (Fundamentals of Biology), offered at a community college, may be equivalent to Biology 1001 (Introduction to Biology), offered at a four-year college or university.

Course evaluation

When one institution looks at the content and description of a course from another institution to make a final determination as to which course at their institution is similar or could be considered equivalent to the course in question. Some course evaluation are pre-determined and are set using course equivalency lists/charts. As a result institutions can often provide a list of courses from one institution of higher education and their corresponding or equivalent courses at another institution of higher education.

Electives

Courses that a student can choose from to meet certain degree requirements. Sometimes these can be "free" electives, which are courses taken in addition to required courses. In the case of free electives, the student can usually pick any freshman to sophomore level courses to count as free electives. The major requirements usually limit/prescribe the number or electives and free electives.

Fine arts courses

Courses offered in the area of dance, music, theater, and/or visual arts.

Full-time student

A student who is enrolled for the number of hours or courses that an institution considers full time attendance. At most institutions, to be considered full-time, a student must take a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester.

General education requirements

A group of courses which provides a broad cultural background that college and university students are required to complete as part of their graduation requirements. Gen ED courses frequently come from the social sciences, humanities, communications, mathematics, sciences, and fine arts areas.

Grade point average (GPA)

An assessment of a student's semester or cumulative academic performance that translates letter grades onto a numerical scale that typically ranges from 0.0 to 4.0. For example, a 4.0 GPA would be considered an "A" average on all coursework attempted.

Humanities courses

Courses in the classics, foreign languages, linguistics, literature, philosophy, public speaking, and religion.

Lower division courses

Courses that introduce students to an academic discipline. They are taken during the first two year of study at either a community college or a four-year college or university (freshman and sophomore level).

Lower-division elective

A freshman- or sophomore-level course that provides credit toward graduation but does not satisfy a General Education Requirement or major requirement. Frequently, courses that do not meet an area or course requirement are assigned to this category. See also: Electives.

Major

A student’s academic area of emphasis and specialization. Frequently, students will be required to take 20% to 30% of their coursework in their major.

Major elective credit

Credit that is usually required in the junior/senior years that meets some major course requirement. Usually students are given a list of possible courses to choose from and then are told how many courses or hours they must select and pass from that listing.

Matriculated student

A full- or part-time student accepted to pursue study towards a degree by a college or university.

Minor

A secondary specialization beyond a college major, but often related. Usually, students are required to "declare" a major, but not all colleges require a student to choose a minor.

Sciences courses

Usually includes courses in biology, chemistry, geology, and physics.

Semester

The period of time that students are enrolled in a specific group of classes. Most colleges and universities schedule two semesters of 14 to 16 weeks between August and June. Many offer terms in the summer months (summer term or mini-terms). See also: Academic term.

Social sciences courses

Usually courses in anthropology, geography, history, political science, psychology, and sociology.

Transcript

The cumulative official record containing the courses, semester hours, and grades earned by a student at a college or university. The transcript can be "official" or "unofficial." The official transcript is sent by the sending institution to the receiving institution and has not been touched by the student. The unofficial transcript is one that is in the possession of the student (usually obtained by mail, in person in a records office, or online).

Transfer student

A student who is attending or has attended an institution of post secondary education and has earned credit, including non-traditional credit (i.e., by examination, ACE, dual credit, etc.). The receiving institution has the responsibility for deciding applicability of credit in the student's program.

Upper division

The last two years (junior and senior) of college study, which are usually completed at a four-year college or university.