U.S. Academic Definitions
Associate Degree--Two-year majors that, with a few exceptions,
provide concentrated instruction to prepare graduates for
specialized occupational assignments.
Baccalaureate Degree--An award signifying a rank or level of
educational attainment. Particular types of baccalaureate degrees
identify educational programs having common objectives and
requirements. Degree programs may provide academic,
preprofessional, or professional experiences and preparation.
Majors lead to a baccalaureate degree. Each student must select a
major within a baccalaureate degree type. If options are offered
within a major, a student selects one. The student may also elect to
enroll in a minor to supplement the major. Alternatively, the student
may seek to enroll in multiple majors within the same type of
baccalaureate degree or to enroll in a simultaneous degree
program. A baccalaureate program of study shall consist of no less
than 120 credits. Students may elect to take courses beyond the
minimum requirements of a degree program.
Major--A plan of study in a field of concentration within a type of
baccalaureate degree. Colleges and other degree-granting units
may have common requirements for all of their majors. Each major
may have requirements identified in Prescribed, Additional, and
Supporting categories of courses.
Option--A specialization within a major that should involve at least
one-third of the course work credits required for the major, but need
not be more than 18 credits. All options within a major must have in
common at least one-fourth of the required course work credits in
the major. A student can only be enrolled in an option within his/her
Minor--A specialization of at least 18 credits that supplements a
major. A minor may consist of course work in a single area or from
several discipline areas, with at least 6 credits at the 400 level.
Departmental grade requirements for the minor shall conform at
least with the minimum requirements for the major. In the case of
minors where there is no corresponding major, minimum
requirements for the minor must be established following the normal
procedures for curriculum approval.
Multiple Majors--A plan of study meeting the requirements of two or
more majors that combine two or more distinct fields of study
leading to the same baccalaureate degree.
Concurrent Majors--A plan of study meeting the requirements of
two majors that combine two distinct fields where an unusual
combination of background and breadth is desired by the student.
Certificate—Certificate might take anything from a few weeks to a
year of full-time study to complete, longer if it is done part-time, of
Diploma--Is the lowest level of 'higher education' (or university-level
study). An advanced diploma is a half a step up from a diploma and
on par with an associate degree, but one step down from a bachelor
degree. Most diplomas take between one and two years full-time to
complete, double that or more part-time.
Degree--A bachelor degree, or 'first degree', or 'undergraduate
degree' usually takes three or four years' (full-time study) to
complete. It's awarded when you successfully complete a course,
which means that you get a special certificate (a 'parchment'), and
can put letters after your name to show which 'degree' you have. A
BEc, for example, is a bachelor degree in economics, a BEng in
engineering, and so on.
Double Degree--Is a way of getting two degrees for the price of
about one and a half. A 'double degree' in arts / law for example will
give you a BA and an LLB in five years of full-time study (if you do
them separately and it would take six or seven years).
Grade--Has two meanings. It describes a year of education.
Americans call the first year of school "first grade." The word
"grade"also means a mark or rank, such as a "grade"of B, or a good
"grade" on an exam. Thus an American could say, "In the ninth
grade, my grades were average."
Course--Usually means "subject." For example, a student would
take a course in accounting for one term or semester. A "course of
study" is a full program consisting of several courses. Business
Administration is a course of study, and accounting would be one of
the courses in that program.