Glossary of Terms

Higher Ed. Lingo

The following list has been adapted from US News and includes definitions of common terms as well as information specific to Stonehill. The linked information will take you directly to Stonehill's website. For more information about Stonehill's academic policies and definitions, visit here.

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z


Academic Advisor
A member of a school's faculty who provides advice and guidance to students on academic matters, particularly course selection.

A timeframe, typically during the first two weeks of classes, in which a student can drop out of or add a course without impacting tuition cost or GPA. Check Stonehill's academic calendar for more information and specific dates.

[ Back to Top ]


An undergraduate degree awarded by a college or university upon successful completion of a program of study, typically requiring at least four years (or the equivalent) of full-time study. Common degree types include bachelor of arts (B.A. or A.B.), which refers to the liberal arts, and bachelor of science (B.S.). A bachelor's is required before starting graduate studies.

Bias Incident
An act motivated by the offender's bias against the actual – or perceived – age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religion, religious practices, or sexual orientation of the targeted person or group, but does not rise to the level of a criminal offense. Examples many include telling jokes based on stereotypes; posting on social media about someone based on identity; using offensive language that may pertain to identity; and taking down or tampering with bulletin boards or displays. A bias incident can occur whether the act is intentional or unintentional. Stonehill has an established protocol for reporting bias incidents.

The office that manages the financial affairs of a college or university. The bursar's office is located in Duffy Academic Center, suite 103.

[ Back to Top ]


More than one sex; Commonly used by residence life to describe residence halls where students of different genders live.

A postsecondary institution that typically provides only an undergraduate education, but in some cases, also graduate degrees. "College" is often used interchangeably with "university" and "school." Separately, "college" can refer to an academic division of a university, such as College of Business.

Core requirements
See "General Education Requirements"

A regularly scheduled class on a particular subject. Each college or university offers degree programs that consist of a specific number of required and elective courses. Each course is worth a certain number of credits and students are billed based on credit hours.

Units that a school uses to indicate that a student has completed and passed courses that are required for a degree. Each school defines the total number and types of credits necessary for degree completion, with every course being assigned a value in terms of "credits," "credit hours," or "units."

A program of study made up of a set of courses offered by a school.

[ Back to Top ]


The head of a division of a college or university. (i.e. Dean of Student Life, Dean of School of Graduate Studies)

A diploma or title awarded to students by a college or university after successful completion of a program of study.

A division of a school, made up of faculty and support staff that gives instructions in a particular field of study.

An area of academic study.

To withdraw from a course. A college or university typically has a period of time at the beginning of a term during which students can add or drop courses, without incurring any tuition or fees expense or impacting their GPA.

[ Back to Top ]


Early action
A program offered by some colleges and universities that allows students to submit their applications early, typically in November or December, and receive decisions early, usually in mid- or late December. Students are not required to accept the admissions offer and have until May 1 to decide. Stonehill's application deadlines and notification dates for early action admissions can be found here.

Early decision
A program offered by some colleges and universities that allows students to submit an application to their top-choice school early, typically in November or December, and receive the decision early, usually in mid- or late December. If accepted, students are required to enroll at that school and withdraw all applications to other schools. Stonehill's application deadlines and notification dates for early decision admissions can be found here.

Courses that students can choose to take for credit toward a degree, but are not required.

To register or enter a school or course as a participant.

Not required to do something that other students may be required to do. For example, a school may require all students to take a freshman English course, but some students may be exempt based on their high scores on a college entrance exam or their previous coursework.  

[ Back to Top ]


A school's teaching and administrative staff who is responsible for designing programs of study.

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
Application used by U.S. citizens and permanent residents to apply for financial aid from U.S. federal and state governments. International students are not eligible for U.S. government aid, but schools may ask international students to submit a FAFSA to determine financial need. (Note: A social security number is required to complete the FAFSA.)

An amount of money charged by colleges and universities, in addition to their tuition, to cover costs of services such as libraries and computer technology.

Financial aid
All types of money offered to a student to help pay tuition, fees, and other educational expenses. This can include loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study jobs.

Full-time student
A student who is enrolled at a college or university and is taking at least the minimum number of credits required by the school for a full course load. 

[ Back to Top ]


Grade point average (GPA)
A student's overall academic performance, which is calculated as a numerical average of grades earned in all courses. The GPA is determined after each term, typically on a 4.0 scale, and upon graduation, students receive an overall GPA for their studies.

Graduate student / graduate studies
A student who already holds an undergraduate degree and is pursuing advanced studies at a graduate school, leading to a master's, doctorate, or graduate certificate. A "graduate" can also refer to any student who has successfully completed a program of study and earned a degree.

A type of financial aid that consists of an amount of free money given to a student, often by the federal or a state government, a company, a school, or a charity. A grant does not have to be repaid. "Grant" is often used interchangeably with "scholarship."

[ Back to Top ]


Academic courses focused on human life and ideas, including history, philosophy, foreign languages, religion, art, music, and literature. 

[ Back to Top ]


Independent study
An academic course that allows students to earn credit for work done outside of the normal classroom setting. The reading or research assignment is usually designed by the students themselves or with the help of a faculty member, who monitors the progress.

An organization created for a specific purpose, usually for research, that may be located on a college or university's campus.

Another term for a college or university. For instance, Stonehill College is an institution of higher education.

An experience that allows students to work in a professional environment to gain training and skills. Internships may be paid or unpaid and can be of varying lengths during or after the academic year.

[ Back to Top ]


[ Back to Top ]


[ Back to Top ]


Letter of recommendation
A letter written by a student's teacher, counselor, coach, or mentor that assesses his or her qualifications and skills.

Liberal arts
Academic studies of subjects in the humanities, social sciences, and the sciences, with a focus on general knowledge, in contrast to a professional or technical emphasis. "Liberal arts" is often used interchangeably with "liberal arts and sciences" or "arts and sciences."

Liberal arts college
A postsecondary institution that emphasizes an undergraduate education in liberal arts. The majority of liberal arts colleges have small student bodies, do not offer graduate studies, and focus on faculty teaching rather than research.

A type of financial aid that consists of an amount of money that is given to someone for a period of time, with an agreement that it will be repaid later. International students are generally not eligible for U.S. federal government loans and will typically require an American cosigner to apply for a private bank loan.

[ Back to Top ]


The academic subject area that a student chooses to focus on during their undergraduate studies. Students typically must officially choose their major by the end of their sophomore (2nd) year, allowing them to take a number of courses in the chosen area during their junior (3rd) and senior (4th) years. Information about Stonehill's minors can be found here.

A graduate degree awarded by a college or university upon successful completion of an advanced program of study, typically requiring one or two years of full-time study beyond the bachelor's degree. Common degree types include master of arts (M.A.), which refers to the liberal arts; master of science (M.S.); and master of business administration (M.B.A.).

To enroll in a program of study at a college or university, with the intention of earning a degree.

Merit aid / merit scholarships
A type of financial aid awarded by a college or university to students who have demonstrated special academic ability or talents, regardless of their financial need. Most merit aid has specific requirements if students want to continue to receive it, such as maintaining a certain GPA. Information about Stonehill's merit-based aid can be found here.

An academic subject area that a student chooses to have a secondary focus on during their undergraduate studies. Unlike a major, a minor is typically not required, but it allows a student to take a few additional courses in a subject different from his or her major. Information about Stonehill's minors can be found here.

[ Back to Top ]


Need-based financial aid
Financial aid that is awarded to students due to their financial inability to pay the full cost of attending a specific college or university, rather than specifically because of their grades or other merit. Information about Stonehill's need-based aid can be found here.

Net price calculator
An online tool that allows students and families to calculate a personalized estimate of the cost of a specific college or university, after taking into account any scholarships or need-based financial aid that an applicant would receive. Stonehill's net price calculator can be found here.

Enrolled in a college or university's courses, but not in a program of study leading to a degree.

A student who does not meet a state's residence requirements. A college or university may have different tuition costs and admissions policies for residents versus nonresidents. In most cases, international students are considered nonresidents. A "nonresident alien" is a person who is not a U.S. citizen and is in the country on a temporary basis.

[ Back to Top ]


A college or university's official process of welcoming new, accepted students to campus and providing them with information and policies before classes begin, usually in a half-day or full-day event. Additional information about Stonehill's orientation program can be found in the "Stonehill 101" guidebook as well as online.

[ Back to Top ]


The use of another person's words or ideas as your own, without acknowledging that person. Schools have different policies and punishments for students caught plagiarizing, which tends to occur with research papers and other written assignments. Stonehill's Academic Integrity policy can be found here.

A required course that must be completed before a student is allowed to enroll in a more advanced one.

Priority date
The date by which an application must be received in order to be given full consideration. This can apply to admissions, financial aid, and on-campus housing. After the priority date passes, applications may be considered on a case-by-case or first-come-first-served basis.

Private school
A postsecondary institution controlled by a private individual(s) or a nongovernmental agency. A private institution is usually not supported primarily by public funds and its programs are not operated by publicly elected or appointed officials. Stonehill College is a private school.

A status or period of time in which students with very low GPAs, or whose academic work is unsatisfactory according to the school, must improve their performance. If they are unable to do so, they may be dismissed from the school. Students may also face "disciplinary probation" for nonacademic reasons, such as behavioral problems in the residence halls.

The senior academic officer of a college or university who typically oversees all academic policies and curriculum-related matters.

[ Back to Top ]


[ Back to Top ]


The college or university official who is responsible for registering students and keeping their academic records, such as transcripts.

The process in which students choose and enroll in courses to be taken during the academic year or in summer sessions.

Regular decision
An admissions process used by colleges and universities that typically requires applicants to submit their materials by January 1; an admissions decision is generally received by April 1, and if admitted, students usually have until May 1 to respond to the offer. The majority of applicants are evaluated during regular decision, rather than early action and early decision. Stonehill's application deadlines and notification dates for regular decision admissions can be found here.

Resident assistant (RA)
A student leader who works in campus residence halls and supervises issues and activities related to residence life.

Residence Life
The department that handles on-campus living accommodations. This department consists of professional staff, Residence Directors (RD) and Assistant Residence Directors (ARD), and student staff, Resident Assistants (RA). For more information on the housing process, please see the designated section in this guidebook (pp. #) or visit them online.

[ Back to Top ]


A standardized college entrance exam administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) on behalf of the nonprofit College Board, which measures reading, writing, and math skills. Most students take the SAT during their junior or senior year of high school, and most colleges and universities accept scores from either the SAT or ACT. In addition, students may choose to take the SAT Subject Tests in English, history, languages, math, and science to demonstrate their knowledge in specific academic areas.

A type of financial aid that consists of an amount of free money given to a student by a school, individual, organization, company, charity, or federal or state government. "Scholarship" is often used interchangeably with "grant."

Any educational institution, including those that provide elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education. In the latter case, "school" is often used interchangeably with "college" and "university."

Periods of study that divide the academic year into two equal segments of approximately 15 to 18 weeks each. Some schools also offer a shorter summer semester, beyond the traditional academic year.

A course offered to a small group of students who are typically more advanced and who meet with a professor to discuss specialized topics.

[ Back to Top ]


A status offered to high-level faculty members at a college or university that allows them to stay permanently in their positions, after demonstrating a strong record of teaching and published research.

Periods of study, which can include semesters, quarters, trimesters, or summer sessions. Stonehill operates by semesters, but offers summer session courses.

An official record of a student's coursework and grades at a high school, college, or university. A high school transcript is usually one of the required components of the college application process.

Transfer credit
Credit granted toward a degree on the basis of studies completed at another college or university. For instance, students who transfer from a community college to a four-year college may earn some transfer credit.

An amount of money charged by a school per term, per course, or per credit, in exchange for instruction and training. Tuition generally does not include the cost of textbooks, room and board, and other fees. 

[ Back to Top ]


Undergraduate student / undergraduate studies
A student enrolled in a two-year or four-year study program at a college or university after graduation from high school, leading to an associate or bachelor's degree.

A postsecondary institution that typically offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs. "University" is often used interchangeably with "college" and "school." 

[ Back to Top ]


[ Back to Top ]


Wait list
A list of qualified applicants to a school who may be offered admission if there is space available after all admitted students have made their decisions. Being on a wait list does not guarantee eventual admission, so some students may choose not to remain on the list, particularly if the school is not their first choice.

To formally stop participating in a course, or to no longer attend a university.

A financial aid program funded by the U.S. federal government that allows undergraduate or graduate students to work part time on campus or with approved off-campus employers. To participate in work-study, students must complete the FAFSA. In general, international students are not eligible for work-study positions.

[ Back to Top ]


[ Back to Top ]


[ Back to Top ]


[ Back to Top ]