Jul 13, 2024  
2017-2018 Catalog 
2017-2018 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Glossary of Academic Terms

This glossary, or small dictionary, is a list of some common academic words and their definitions. You will come across these words as you consult this catalog and Credit Course schedule for each semester. In the definition of most terms there are some words written in italics. These terms are defined elsewhere in this glossary.

Academic Credits and Institutional Credits

At QVCC, credits can be academic or institutional. Institutional credits are granted for developmental courses. Academic credits are granted for all other courses. These credits count toward your degree or certificate.


You can change the courses you are registered for by adding or dropping one or more courses. This is done through a formal procedure in which you fill out and sign an ADD/DROP form.

According to federal regulations, students receiving financial aid are warned that they must complete (pass) at least 66% of the credits for which they originally register. Therefore, if you register for courses totaling 9 credits and you drop one 3-credit course, you must pass the other 6-credits in order to continue receiving financial aid.

Application for Admission/Application for Enrollment

You apply to become a student at QVCC by filling out an application form and paying the application fee. (You don’t have to pay the application fee if you have ever applied to another community college in Connecticut.) The application form is important to the College because it provides four kinds of information about you: (1) basic contact information, (2) statistical information, for example, your age and gender, (3) background information about your previous education, (4) information about your educational plans at QVCC and beyond.

When you are accepted for admission to QVCC, this does not mean that you are registered.

Associate’s Degree

An associate’s degree is a diploma granted by a community college, usually after a student earns at least 60 academic credits. Most students who earn associate’s degrees need at least two academic years to earn all the academic credits they need for their degree. For this reason, an associate’s degree is also referred to as a “two-year degree,” and a community college is sometimes referred to as a two-year college.

Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree is a degree granted by a college or a university after the equivalent of 4 years of full-time study. For this reason, colleges and universities are sometimes referred to as “four-year schools,” or “four-year institutions.” A bachelor’s degree is usually at least 120 academic credits, while an associate’s degree is usually 60 credits. If you want to earn a bachelor’s degree, you can transfer the credits from your associate’s degree to a college or university that grants bachelor’s degrees, for example, Eastern Connecticut State University or the University of Connecticut.


A certificate is a diploma granted by the community college for fewer credits than a degree. A certificate program is the collective term for all the courses and other requirements you fulfill in order to earn a certificate in an academic or technical area. Your certificate program is the area in which you earn your certificate, for example Criminal Justice. At QVCC, certificate programs are from 16 to 31 credits.


A course is a series of classes, research, assignments and related activities, usually lasting one semester. A course is worth a certain number of credits. In a course you study a specific topic with a broader academic area (a degree program or a certificate program). A degree program consists of a certain number of courses. For example, “The Human Services Worker” is a course in the Human Services degree program. Students usually take 1 to 5 courses each semester.

The courses offered by QVCC each semester are listed in the Credit Course Schedule in the fall and in the spring. Not all of QVCC’s courses are offered each semester, but the College Catalog lists all the College’s courses. See also: Prerequisite.

Credit (or Semester Hour)

A credit is a unit used in the calculation of the accumulated value of the courses you take. Each course is worth a certain number of credits, usually 1 to 4. A student accumulates credits by passing courses. A certain number of academic credits are required for a degree program or a certificate program. Usually the number of hours spent in class each week is equal to the number of credits for that course.


A dean is a director of an entire academic or administrative division of a college or a university. He/she is a high-level administrative official.


A degree is a diploma granted by a community college, a college, or a university. A degree represents a certain level of education and expertise in an academic or technical area. At a community college, you study an academic or technical area in order to get a degree in that area. For example, you can get a degree in Medical Assisting, Human Services, and many other areas. A degree program is the collective term for all the courses and other requirements you fulfill in order to earn a degree in an academic or technical area. Your degree program is the area in which you will earn your degree. Degree programs at QVCC are from 60 to 68 credits. Also see Associate Degree.

Developmental Courses

Courses that provide students with the fundamentals in a certain academic area in order to prepare them for college-level courses are developmental courses. For example, “Writing: Introduction to the Essay” provides students with the fundamental writing skills they need in order to prepare them for the demands of college-level English courses.

Students take a Basic Skills Assessment shortly after being admitted to the College in order to determine whether they need to take developmental courses. If they score below a certain level on the assessment, they must take developmental courses.

There is institutional credit, not academic credit, for developmental courses. QVCC offers developmental courses in English and math.


An elective is a course that you choose, rather than one that is named among the requirements for your degree program.


The faculty is the group of people who teach the courses at a college or university. The faculty consists of lecturers, instructors, assistant professors, associate professors, and professors.

Financial Aid

Students who need financial assistance to attend QVCC can apply for financial aid. This is a scholarship which pays some or all of your expenses, such as tuition, fees, and books. A scholarship is money that is paid to the school on your behalf, so that you do not pay it. A scholarship is also known as a “grant.” Scholarships and grants are not student loans, because you do not have to pay them back. You must pay back student loans.

Full-time Student

You are a full-time student if you are enrolled in courses which total 12 credits or more. See also: Part-time student

General Education Core

This is a group of courses in certain areas (for example, math, social sciences, humanities and communication) that provides you with basic knowledge related to all of the degree programs at QVCC. A highly similar General Education core is also required by universities and colleges for their bachelor’s degree programs.


Generally, the fields of art, communication, languages, literature, philosophy and religion are grouped into the broader academic area referred to as the humanities. At QVCC, the humanities requirements for degree programs and certificates can be satisfied with courses in the areas of art, communication, English, foreign Languages, humanities, music, philosophy, sign language, and theater.

Liberal Arts

The academic areas of social sciences, natural sciences, fine arts, literature, and the humanities are combined under the broad collective term “liberal arts.”


Your major is the area of studies in which you receive your degree. “Major” also means to concentrate on an academic area by taking courses required for a degree in that area. For example, at QVCC you can major in one of several areas: Arts and Sciences, Accounting, Computer Services, Fine Arts, Human Services, Medical Assisting, Plastics Engineering, among others.

Part-time Student

You are a part-time student if you are enrolled in courses totaling fewer than 12 credits in a semester.


A prerequisite is a course that you are required to take before taking a more advanced course. Think of a prerequisite as one course that qualifies you for another course. A prerequisite prepares you for a course at a higher level.


Your program is the area of study in which you will receive your degree. See also Degree Program.


(Quality Point Average or Grade Point Average)
The QPA or GPA is the average of your grades in all the courses you have taken at a school, as interpreted on a scale from 1 to 4, with 4 being the highest equivalent to a grade of “A”.


When you select, schedule, enroll in courses for the next semester, you register. In order to register you refer to the schedule for the semester and you consult an advisor. After determining which courses to take, you present proof of payment and have your name and courses entered into the statewide community college computer system. By registering, you make an official commitment to take the courses you have selected.


A requirement is whatever you must fulfill in order to progress to the next level in the completion of something broader. For example, requirements can be courses you must pass, exams you must pass, or research papers you must write in order to complete a course, a degree program, or a certificate program.


A semester is a way of dividing the school year into two equal sessions, each session lasting 14 or 15 weeks. At QVCC, fall semester is from the end of August or the beginning of September to the middle of December, and spring semester is usually from the end of January to the middle of May.

Social Sciences

Generally, the fields of sociology, anthropology, economics, psychology, political science, education, and history are grouped into the broader academic area referred to as “social sciences.” At QVCC, the social sciences requirements for degree programs and certificate programs can be satisfied with courses in these fields.


A written description of the contents and requirements of a course is a syllabus. The syllabus contains the dates of the classes, the assignments, quizzes, exams, research, projects, and other work scheduled for a course in one semester. The instructor for the course gives the students a syllabus at the beginning of the course.


A transcript is an official list of courses taken and grades earned for those courses at a specific school. Transcripts are issued by high schools, colleges, and universities. A transcript is official if it has the original stamp or seal of the school that issues it.


You withdraw from the College by dropping all of your courses before the end of the semester and before the deadline for dropping courses. Withdrawal must be done by the student according to procedures established by the QVCC Division of Student Services.