MSU Billings Catalog

Glossary of Terms

The following is a collection of explanations and interpretations of terms commonly used in the City College at Montana State University Billings Catalog.

Academic Probation - Denotes that a student’s academic performance is below standard as defined by the institution; the student is warned of possible suspension.

Academic Record - The unabridged and complete historical record of a student’s academic coursework.

Academic Year - That period of time from the opening of Fall Semester to the closing of the next Spring Semester is the “academic year.”  Summer Session is specifically excluded.

Accredited Institution - A college or university accredited by, or a candidate for accreditation from, one of the recognized regional accrediting commissions.  Montana State University Billings is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Admission - The process of accepting a candidate for enrollment into college.

Advising - A service provided by a faculty member or designated person (advisor).  An advisor guides students through academic questions, problems, and/or coursework to plan and complete a degree program.

Adjunct Faculty - A part-time faculty member.

Academic Advisor - A faculty member or designated person who guides students through academic questions, problems, and/or coursework to plan and complete a degree program.

Associate Degree - A degree which generally requires two years to complete. MSU Billings offers Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees as well as the Associate of Applied Science degree.

Auditor - One who enrolls in a class for informational instruction only.  No academic credit is granted for auditing a class.

Bachelor’s Degree - A first-level degree granted upon completion of a course of study in a given field and based on at least four years of college work, or the equivalent thereof.

Candidate for a Degree or Certificate - A status students assume when they have completed all requirements for a degree and apply for graduation.  To apply for graduation a student completes an application for graduation at the Admissions and Records Office, pays a fee, and returns the application to the Admissions and Records Office.

Certificate - Official recognition denoting successful completion of a technical body of knowledge.

Class Schedule - The list of courses and sections offered in a given semester, including days, hours, places of meeting and names of instructors.

College - One of five major divisions of academic areas at MSU Billings.  They are the College of Allied Health Professions, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business, the College of Education, and City College.  Each college is headed by a dean who reports to the Provost and Academic Vice Chancellor.

Core Courses - Courses required by the University, the college, or the department by all students in a degree program regardless of the option or concentration in which they may choose to major.

Course - A unit of academic work in a particular subject, normally one semester long, for which credit toward graduation is usually given.

Course Load - The number of semester credit hours associated with the academic work in which a student is enrolled in any given term.

Credit Hours - Normally one semester credit hour represents 60 minutes of classroom instruction each week for one semester.  (Credit in a laboratory or studio class may require a longer period of time).  A three credit class will meet for three 60-minute or two 90-minute sessions each week for the entire semester.

Degree - An academic title MSU Billings is authorized to confer as official recognition to those who complete an academic program.  An example is a Bachelor of Science Degree.

Degree or Certificate Program - A prescribed course of study which leads to a degree or certificate.

Electives - Courses which are not a required part of a degree program are electives.  Some departments may insist that their majors choose between certain electives (referred to as Restricted Electives).

Extension Class - A special class offered through MSU Billings Extended Campus.  A special fee is required and the course may be offered for regular college credit or it may be a non-credit course.

Faculty Advisor - A faculty member who helps a student plan and complete a degree program.

Fall Start Program - Programs which start their class rotations only in the Fall semester. Please note that some students may need a prerequisite semester of training.

Full-time Student - An undergraduate student registered for 12 or more semester credits, or any graduate student registered for nine or more semester credits is considered a full-time student.

General Education/Related Instruction - A common body of knowledge which supports every program of study for which a specialized associate degree or certificate is granted.

Good Standing - Status which denotes that a student is eligible to continue at or return to an institution.

Grade Point Average (GPA) - The grade average a student earns for each semester.  It is calculated by multiplying the number of credits given for a course times the value of the grade received for the course (A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0), adding the value calculated for each class and dividing by the total number of credits.  Thus, if a student has an “A” in a 4 credit course; a “B” in a 3 credit course; a “C” in a 2 credit course, and a “D” in a 2 credit course the GPA calculation would be as follows:

Letter Grade Description
A 4 times 4 credits = 16 grade points
B 3 times 3 credits = 9 grade points
C 2 times 2 credits = 4 grade points
D 1 times 2 credits = 2 grade points

Total = 31 grade points divided by 11 total credits = 2.82 GPA.

Grade Report - A report of the student’s grades earned at the end of each semester.

Graduation Check - The determination of whether a student has met the specified minimum educational requirements necessary for the granting of a degree.

Headcount - The number of students enrolled in an educational institution, program, course, etc., without regard to the number of credit hours being taken by individual students.

Hours - Sometimes referred to as semester credit hours unless specifically stated otherwise.

Human Services - A broad field of human endeavor in which individuals act as agents to assist individuals, families, and communities to better cope with crisis, change, and stress; to prevent or alleviate stress; and to function effectively in all areas of life and living.

Intersession - An enrollment period that is held between the end of Fall term and the beginning of Spring term.

Laboratory - A course involving supervised experimentation or practice related to an academic area.  It generally requires hands-on use of equipment and materials.

Major - The area in which a student concentrates.  An academic major is required for graduation.  

Moratorium - The academic program remains in the catalog, but the University has temporarily suspended admission to the program.

Part-time Student - A student enrolled with 11 or fewer credits.

Pre-registration - The process by which students select courses for a succeeding term in advance of the official opening date of the semester.

Prerequisite - A course to be completed successfully or a condition to be met before a student may enroll in a specific course.

Probation - Academic probation is the result of unsatisfactory scholarship.  It is not a penalty but a warning and an opportunity to improve.

Registration - The process by which students officially enroll in classes and pay fees.  Students must be formally admitted to MSU Billings before they may register.

Restricted Electives - Courses where students choose between several particular classes to meet requirements of the University, college or department.

Section - A division of a course, as between one or more instructors, but having the same course title and the same subject matter.

Semester - An enrollment period of about sixteen to eighteen weeks.

Semester Credit Hours - Units of credit awarded for successful completion of academic work. Students’ progress toward fulfilling curricular, degree and certificate requirements is measured in terms of semester credit hours.

Spring Start Program – Programs which start their class rotations only in the Spring semester. Please note that some students may need a prerequisite semester of training.

Summer Session - An enrollment period that begins after the Spring Semester ends.

Suspension - Academic suspension is an involuntary separation of the student from the University for unsatisfactory scholarship. Financial Aid also has suspension policies. (See Minimal Academic Progress or the Financial Aid section for details.)

Transcript - An Official Transcript is an unabridged and certified copy of a student’s permanent academic record.  A small fee is charged for each copy.  (An uncertified working copy of the student’s academic record is available at no charge).

U-card - Usually this refers to your ID card used to make purchases at the food services on campus.

Undergraduate Student - A student who has not yet earned a bachelor’s degree or who has earned a bachelor’s degree, but is a candidate for an additional bachelor’s degree, or is pursuing additional undergraduate coursework.