Every institution has its own terminology and the university is no different though there may be little difference in usage. I mean, some terms been used in United States universities may have some slight variation with how it is been used in Nigeria universities.

As a freshman, you will hear some terms within the school premises; terms you will later use in your everyday conversation. I have deemed it fit you list out these university terms and definition so you won’t be so naive to the extent of been deceived because you’re a freshman/newly matriculated student.

Glossary Definition of University Terms

  • Academic Calendar: The Academic Calendar represents important semester-specific dates and deadlines for students officially registered for courses listed, as well as for all degree-seeking students, academic and administrative departments, and instructors. The Academic Calendar for each semester is approved by the Senate


  • Alum (or Alumnus): Any student who has been certified as meeting all degree requirements at a University and has been awarded the university degree

  • Baccalaureate Degree: The baccalaureate degree is awarded after completing an undergraduate program of study; typically completed after four-five years


  • Certificate: A formal document that recognizes academic achievement in a specific discipline—only as an adjunct to an undergraduate degree program and either as an adjunct to or separate from a graduate degree program, and only for students in an admitted status.


  • Carry Over repeating Failed Course Unit(s): Subject to the conditions for withdrawal and probation, student may be allowed to repeat the failed course unit(s) at the next available opportunity, provided that the total number of credit units carried during that semester does not exceed 24, and the Grade Points earned at all attempts shall count towards the CGPA.


  • Core/Compulsory Course: A course which must be registered for and passed by a student to obtain the degree in for example Biochemistry.


  • Credit Load per Semester: The Minimum and Maximum credit load per semester


  • Course.: A subject, or an instructional subdivision of a subject, offered through part of a term, a whole term, or over several terms. Each course is assigned a course level. Courses numbered 100–499 are undergraduate courses; 100–299 are lower division, and 300–499 are upper division. Courses numbered 500 and above are graduate or professional.


  • Course Coding: A course is coded by a combination of three letters and three digits. The three letters code stands for the Department offering the course. Library and Information Science courses for example are coded as LIS for example. For the three digits numbers, the first digits indicate the year of study, the second indicates the subject stress area while the third digit shows the semester. The first semester is represented with odd numbers while second semesters are represented with even numbers.


  • Course Credit Unit System: This should be understood to mean a ‘quantitative system of organization of the curriculum in which subject areas are broken down into unit courses which are examinable and for which students earn credit(s) if passed’. The courses are arranged in progressive order of difficulty or in levels of academic progress, e.g. Level or year 1 courses are 111, 112 etc. and Level II or Year II courses are 211, 212 etc. The second aspect of the system is that courses are assigned weights allied Credit Units.
  • Course Unit: A series of approximately 15 one-hour lectures, or tutorials or 15 x 3-hour laboratory or field practical classes, or an equivalent amount of assigned study, or any combination of the above.


  • Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA): This is the up-to-date mean of the Grade Points earned by the student in a programme of study. It is an indication of the student’s overall performance at any point in the training programme. To compute the Cumulative Grade Point Average, the total of Grade Points multiplied by the respective Credit Units for all the semesters are added and then divided by the total number of Credit Units for all courses registered by the student


  • Department Coordinator: A student within a department level assigned by the department course advisor or by students vote to oversee the affair of students within a department level


  • Doctoral Degree: A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree is awarded to students after the successful completion of graduate study, which includes an original investigation that is formalized in an approved thesis.


  • Discipline: A branch of learning or field of study (e.g., Mathematics, History, Psychology).


  • Dissertation or Thesis: A written document resulting from study or research and submitted as a major requirement for a degree.


  • Elective Course: A course that students take within or outside the faculty. Students shall choose an elective course from among three others in order to make up the required additional units for the award of the degree. Students may graduate without passing the course provided the minimum credit unit for the course had been attained.
  • General Studies (GST): The goal of GST courses is to produce a well-rounded, morally and intellectually capable graduate with vision and entrepreneurial skills in an environment of peace and social cohesiveness.


  • General Study Courses: A course which every student in the University must compulsorily take and pass at foundation level. They are not directly related to any programme but are necessary for the holistic formation of students before graduation.


  • Grade Point Average (GPA): Performance in any semester is reported in Grade Point Average. This is the average of weighted grade points earned in the courses taken during the semester. The Grade Point Average is obtained by multiplying the Grade Point average in each course by the number of Credit Units assigned to that course, and then summing these up and dividing by the total number of Credit Units taken for the semester


  • Internship: Unpaid professional practice in an organization that integrates concepts studied at the university with career-related work experience.


  • Practicum: A series of clinical experiences under academic supervision designed to integrate theory and principles with practice.


  • Program Adviser/Course Advisor: A faculty member assigned to advise and guide a student who has been admitted into a master’s or doctoral program. The academic department in which a student has been admitted will assign each student a program adviser.
  • Postgraduate: Postgraduate students are students that have completed an undergraduate qualification such as a bachelor degree and are continuing their studies by completing an award such as a graduate certificate, graduate diploma, master or doctorate.


  • Pre-requisite Course: A course which student must take before the course for which it is a prerequisite can be taken. Courses can only be designated prerequisite to other courses at a higher level. A prerequisite may be waived for a suitably qualified candidate by the Department.


  • Probation: Probation is a status granted to a student whose academic performance falls below an acceptable standard. A student whose Cumulative Grade Point Average is below 1.50 at the end of a particular year of study, earns a period of probation for one academic session.


  • Required ancillary Course: A course that a student takes at a level of study and must be passed before graduation.

  • Syllabus: A document usually given by the instructor to the students on the first day of class. It contains such information as the instructor’s contact information and office hours, the required textbooks/readings for the course, the course’s objectives, the grading and attendance policies, and a schedule of assignments and exams, among other things.


  • Undergraduate: A student working on a bachelor’s degree or taking undergraduate courses. Courses numbered 100 through 499 are undergraduate courses. Students working on master’s or doctoral degrees are graduate students.


  • Transcript: A student’s academic record. The academic transcript represents the official university record of a  student’s academic history of coursework completed and the grades and associated Grade Point Average received. Also listed on the transcript are declared academic credentials, awarded academic credentials for students who have completed their degree, and university honours awarded by the institution upon the conferral of the degree.


  • Waive: To set aside without credit certain requirements for a degree or major.


  • Withdrawals: A candidate whose performance in the Faculty is very poor at the end of a particular period of probation should be required to withdraw from the University. However, in order to minimize the waste of human resources, consideration is given to withdrawal from the programme of study and possible transfer to other programmes within the University.


  • Workshop: An intensive experience, limited in scope and time, in which a group of students focus on skills development rather than content mastery.

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