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Academic Terminology



The source of all degree requirements, academic regulations, course descriptions, and services offered by the University. A new catalog is published each year and is effective starting in the fall semester. Some important terms to be familiar with when reviewing a course description is the undergraduate catalog:

  • Semester or Credit Hour is the amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement
    • One credit hour is typically 50 minutes of faculty lead instruction each week for 15 weeks in a given semester or the equivalent in a shorter period of time
    • Academic work represented by a credit or contact hour may vary based on degree level, academic discipline, delivery modes, and types of academic activities involved
  • Pre-Requisites are either test scores or course(s) that must be completed before registering for a designated course. Pre-requisites are set by departments to ensure that students are sufficiently prepared for the rigor of a specific course
  • Co-Requisites are course(s) that are required to be taken in the same semester as a specific course. Most co-requisite courses are courses that require a lab in conjunction with a lecture
  • Term offered abbreviations designate the anticipated course rotation in the class schedule:
    • F = Fall Semester, every year
    • S = Spring Semester, every year
    • Se = Sequential, a series of courses is presented until all have been taught
    • Su = Summer Semester, every year
    • R1 = Course is rotated every year, either Fall or Spring
    • R2 = Course is rotated every two years, either Fall or Spring
    • R3 = Course is rotated every three years, either Fall or Spring
  • General Education Requirement
  • Equivalent course designates a course that can be considered to meet the same requirements as another specific course in the undergraduate catalog
  • Lab that may be offered or required in conjunction with a specific course

A complete list of abbreviations is published in the university catalog under the Courses tab with the label of "How to Read Course Descriptions".


A university academic administrative unit with specific departments offering academic programs. Each college is headed by a dean to which department chairs, faculty and administrative staff report.

Class Schedule

The list of courses to be taught each semester and has its own special language. Students should search the class schedule to find classes and register as soon as allowed based on their class level (e.g. Freshmen, Sophomore, Junior, Senior).

Cumulative GPA

Calculated after final grade values are added and divided by the total number of credits earned during all semesters. This occurs at the end of the current term. The cumulative GPA is used to determine academic standing.

  • An undergraduate student with fewer than 26 passed credits must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 1.75 to be in good academic standing
  • An undergraduate student with 26 or more passed credits must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 to be in good academic standing
  • Students not meeting the minimum cumulative GPA standards will be subject to academic probation and risk dismissal from the university. Students on financial aid or scholarships risk losing their benefit

Also see Grade Point Average (GPA).



The teaching professionals at an institution of higher education.

Full-Time Enrollment

Full-time Enrollment for undergraduate students for financial aid, scholarship, and immigration requirements is 12 credits minimum per semester excluding the summer term.


Grade Point Average (GPA)

Also known as weighted GPA. Used in the United States institutions of higher education to determine satisfactory academic progress. In this system each grade is assigned a point value and the point value is multiplied by the number of credits for each course resulting in a final grade value for a course.

  • Semester GPA is calculated after final grade values are added and divided by the number of credits taken during the semester. This occurs at the end of the term.

Grading System

A letter grade A through F with plus and minus levels. Details are found in the undergraduate catalog.


ISU Email

A free email account that students receive once they have been admitted. Students access ISU email with their MyISU username and password.

  • Activate ISU email at webmail.isu.edu using the MyISU username and password.
  • Students should check ISU email daily.
  • ISU faculty and administrative departments communicate important information to students only through ISU email.



An online learning platform accessible through MyISU. Instructors may use Moodle to post syllabi, lecture, study notes, assignments, test dates, quizzes, exams, and even facilitate topic chat sessions among students.


Placement Testing

Important for students who do not have ACT or SAT scores or a pre-requisite college course in math or English which allow them to be placed in an appropriate course for their abilities. Without a placement score or appropriate prior college course, students can only register for the lowest English (i.e. ENGL 1101P) or lowest Math (MATH 0015) courses. It is vital that students take Math and English courses during their first semester to ensure adequate progress towards their selected degree. This is especially critical for engineering, science, health profession, or business majors.



The non-teaching personnel at an institution of higher education.


The term used for the course guide. It is a contract between an instructor and students for each course and is usually reviewed the first day of classes. It provides information about class room policies, grading procedures, and a time table of lectures, homework assignments, test dates and contact information for the instructor. Students should read and understand the syllabus for each of their classes. All courses have a syllabus.


Weighted GPA

See Grade Point Average (GPA).


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