Glossary of Terms

Academic Renewal

A process by which a student petitions to have college grades of a D or F excluded from GPA calculation; however, the courses and grades will still appear on a student’s transcript. The process for academic renewal varies school by school and there is no guarantee transfer institutions will accept academic renewal. It is best to meet with a counselor before petitioning for academic renewal.

Academic Year

A period of time from the start of the fall term, often in August or September, through the completion of the spring term, usually in May or June


A college or program that has been certified as fulfilling certain standards by a national and/or regional professional association.


When a decision is rendered on an application or petition, not in the favor of a student, the student provides additional documentation to the deciding party to receive a review for a favorable decision.


The process of evaluating courses to determine whether coursework completed at one college will meet the requirements for admission, transfer credit, general education, or major preparation at another college.

Articulation Agreement

Agreements between community colleges and four-year colleges that details accepted transferable courses to meet degree and general education requirements.  

Associate Degree (AA/AS)

A degree granted by the community college to students who completed a specific program of study, usually totaling 60 units. Associate degrees are awarded in arts and science and are sometimes called “two-year degrees”; in contrast, the “four-year” or “bachelor’s” degree is awarded by a university.

Bachelor’s (Baccalaureate) Degree

A level of education marked by the completion of four or more years of fulltime education (at least 124 semester or 180 quarter units).  Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees are offered by the California State Universities, University of California, other state systems, and most private universities.


A publication by a college or university that provides all information important to a student including: courses, degrees, contact information, important dates and deadlines, policies and procedures, financial aid, student services, student affairs, and more.

Catalog Rights

The privilige of retaining course and program requirements needed for graduation as listed in the catalog at the time of initial enrollment in college. A lapse in enrollment may result in the loss of catalog rights; check your school’s catalog for more details regarding how to retain catalog rights.


An award granted upon completion of a prescribed series of courses preparing students for employment in a selected occupation, which required training beyond high school. A certificate may be earned while preparing for an associates degree. Some four-year colleges also offer certificate programs

Competitive Admissions

When a university of major is impacted (meaning there are more applications received than spots available) they will increase the requirements for admission (impaction criteria). For example, the minimum GPA may be increased for impacted majors.

Continuing Student

A student who enrolls in classes without missing a semester, regardless of the number of units.


California State University, one of the three systems of California public higher education. It consists of 23 campuses all over California and emphasizes discipline/ major knowledge and practical application.


A specific unit that usually focuses on one specific field of academics, e.g. psychology or history

Dropping a Class

Fomrally unenrolling from a class. Students may drop a class through their myCOM student portal. Nonattendance does not constitute an automatic drop. For classes dropped after 30% of the term has passed, a “W” will show up on their permanent record. Classes may not be dropped after 75% of the semester is complete.


Courses that are not required to meet a specific major, general education, or graduation requirements, but can be used to complete the total units required for a degree.


Free Application for Federal Student Aid. FAFSA provides grants, work-study, and loans to eligible students. FAFSA is the main resource to help students pay for their education.

General Education

A program of courses in the arts and sciences that provides students with a broad educational experience. Courses typically are introductory in nature and provide students with the fundamental skills and knowledge in math, English, arts, humanities, and physical, biological and social sciences. Transfer students often take these classes while attending a community college. General education is a requirement for completion of a baccalaureate degree; however, the specific courses and number of units of general education will vary depending on a student’s major. It is recommended that students seek guidance from counselors, the Transfer and Career Center, and university representatives to know what type of general education is appropriate for them.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

The average of all grades received. For transfer students, grade point average refers to the average grades received in transferable units. This may also be called “cumulative grade point average”.

Graduate Education

Courses offered beyond the bachelor’s degree level. These courses are usually geared towards a Masters or Doctorate program, but can also be for professional certificate programs.


Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum. With IGETC, community college students can satisfy lower-division general education requirements for most CSU or UC campuses as well as some private and out of state schools. However, this pattern is not recommended for all students. Check with your counselor for specific university requirements.

IGETC Certification

All areas of IGETC must be completed in order to get certification.  Some universities and colleges may request an IGETC certification along with official transcripts prior to the student transferring. To request an IGETC certification contact Admissions and Records.

Impacted Major

When more applications to a specific major program are received from eligible applicants than can be accommodated by the campus, the major is referred to as impacted. Admission to these programs tends to be competitive and each campus may have specific screening criteria for applicants.

Interdisciplinary Major

A course of study with a central theme that requires coursework from at least two different academic disciplines to complete.


Money borrowed from a financial institution that must eventually be paid back.

Lower Division

Courses offered for freshman/sophomore level credit. Also refers to students whose class level is freshman or sophomore. All community college courses are lower division.

Lower Division Major Preparation

Lower division courses that are required as foundation information for upper division coursework in a specfic major.


A program of study which leads to a degree. Major can also be defined as the subject area in which a student chooses to focus their education to gain the greatest depth of knowledge.

Master’s Degree

A degree beyond the bachelor’s, may also be called a “graduate degree.” Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) degrees are most common. However, there are also professional master’s degrees such as the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) and Master of Business Administration (MBA).


A secondary field of study outside of the major field, requiring fewer units to complete than a major. Some degree programs require a minor.

Non-Progress Grade (NPG)

Incomplete, Withdrawals, and No-Credit are all examples of non-progress grades, which will show up on your transcript. 

Priority Filing Dates

Period of time when applications are first accepted for a specific term. The priority filing dates for Fall admission to UCs and CSUs is November 30th.


One type of term within an academic year, marking the beginning and the end of classes. Each quarter is typically 10 weeks in length and there are three quarters (Fall, Winter, Spring) per academic year.

Re-entry Student

An older student returning to school. Tpically defined as undergraduate students who are at least 25 years old and have taken a break from education since graduating from high school. Mnay schools provide programs and support services to assist all aspects of the re-entry student’s experience.


Money given to a student for educational purposes that does not have to be paid back. Scholarship and grants may come from many sources including both government and private financers.


One type of term within an academic year, marking the beginning and the end of classes. Each semester is about 17 weeks in length, and there are two semesters (Fall and Spring) per academic year.
Subject Credit: When completing a course after the maximum units allowable for transfer, a student can earn credit for completion of the specific subject, yet receive no additional units or credits.

Subject Credit

When completing a course after the maximum units allowable for transfer, a student can earn credit for completion of the specific subject, yet receive no additional units or credits.

Supplemental Application

In addition to the application to the university, a student may need to fill out and submit a supplemental application to the major or academic department. This is most common with impacted majors such as nursing. Check the major department’s website to know if a supplemental application will be needed.

Student-Designed Major

A program of study in which the student creates/develops a major that is not formally offered by the college. The major is likely to be nontraditional and interdisciplinary and will need the approval of a college officer or committee.

Teaching Credential

Required to teach at a public K-12 school in the state of California. There are two types of teaching credentials in California: multiple subject (for elementary education wherein a teacher teaches multiple subjects throughout the day) or single subject (for middle and high school teachers who focus on teaching a class on one subject). A student must have a bachelor’s degree in order to apply for a teaching credential program. It usually takes 12 to 24 months to obtain a teaching credential.


A student’s academic record, including all progress and non-progress grades as well as the cumulative grade point average. When applying to a university, a student is required to submit all official transcripts from previous colleges and universities so that progress may be reviewed and transfer credit may be given.

Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG)

A formal, written agreement that outlines the courses that must be completed before transfer, the minimum GPA required, and the specific requirements for six of the UC campuses (Davis, Irvine, Merced, Riverside, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz). The Transfer Admission Guarantee will secure admission to the university as long as the provisions of the agreement are completed. Students with 30 transferable units completed may be eligible for the TAG. Other eligibility criteria vary based on the campus and major. For more information visit UC TAG’s website.

Transferable GPA

This GPA (grade point average) is calculated using only the transferable courses and is the GPA that is needed when applying to most four year institutions. The general formula for calculating transferable GPA is total transferable grade points divided by total transferable units. See a counselor for assistance in calculating your transferable GPA.


University of California has 10 campuses in California: Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz. The UC system emphasizes academic theory, research, and graduate studies.


An enrolled student who has not completed a baccalaureate degree: freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior students.


A measure of credit earned for course completion. A unit is based on the number of hours of instruction per week required in the classroom and/or lab or independent study. A course earning three semester units, for example, will usually meet for three lecture hours per week. One-quarter unit is equal to 2/3 of one semester unit.

Unit Ceiling

A maximum number of units allowed for completion of a bachelor’s degree.

Upper Division

Courses offered for junior/senior year credit. These courses are not offered by community colleges, and they often require the completion of prerequisite courses. Upper division often refers to junior and senior students, also.

Well-rounded Students

Students who, in addition to their major, have completed a broad array of courses in different areas of study, have paid or volunteer work experience, and are involved in extra-curricular activities.