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Academic Advising Centre

University vocabulary 101

As you are getting familiar with university terminology, you may come across a lot of words that you are not used to. Here is a list of common university terms along with explanations. You may want to bookmark this page to easily look up a term as you do your research.


Common university terms (A-Z)

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



  • A

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  • Academic calendar

    UFV’s academic calendar contains official requirements on university admission requirements, policies and regulations, a full listing of programs offered, entrance requirements, and all course descriptions.

  • C

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  • Certificate

    A certificate is a program that typically requires a minimum of 30 credits.

  • Corequisite

    A corequisite is a course that must be taken either before or at the same time as another course.

  • Course

    A course is a unit of instruction that is offered under a designated subject code, course number, and credit value; for example, ANTH 102 (3 credits).

  • Credit

    A credit is a numeric value assigned to each course, based on both the hours of direct instruction and the coursework done outside of the classroom. Credits indicate the course’s weight relative to other courses. Eg: PSYC 101 = 3 credits (three-hour lecture) and BIO 111 = 5 credits (three-hour lecture and three-hour lab).

  • D

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  • Degree

    A degree is a program that typically requires a minimum of 120 credits (a degree may also be referred to as an undergraduate degree, bachelor’s degree, or four-year program).

  • Department

    A department is a subdivision of a faculty. The Faculty of Arts, for example, is comprised of the Psychology department, the History department, etc. The Faculty of Science, on the other hand, houses the Biology department, the Chemistry department, etc.

  • Diploma

    A diploma is a program that typically requires a minimum of 60 credits.

  • E

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  • Elective

    An elective is an optional course that may be chosen from a number of course options, as specified in the requirements for completing a particular program. For the BA degree, any UFV course numbered 100-level or higher chosen based on interest, that satisfies course prerequisites, and fits with a schedule of courses already chosen would be considered an elective.

  • Extended minor

    An extended minor is a degree option in a particular subject area consisting of a defined set of courses that includes a minimum of 14 upper-level credits. In general, 5-7 courses at the lower level and 4-5 courses at the upper level.

  • F

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  • Faculty

    A faculty is a division within a university comprising one subject area or a number of related subject areas. Each faculty houses a number of different departments. At UFV, we have the Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Science, Faculty of Professional Studies, Faculty of Health Studies, Faculty of Applied and Technical Studies, the Faculty of Access and Continuing Education, etc.

  • Full-time studies

    Enrolment in nine credits per semester (considered 60% of a standard course load).

  • G

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  • Grade Point Average (GPA)

    Academic performance expressed as a numerical average of grades in UFV courses. GPA values are truncated at two decimal places, not rounded. Use a GPA calculator to calculate your Grade Point Average.

  • L

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  • Lower-level course

    Lover-level courses are considered first- or second-year courses and are numbered 100–299. Students generally start with lower-level courses and progress to upper-levels.

  • Upper-level course

    Upper-level courses are considered third- or fourth-year and are numbered from 300–499.

  • M

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  • Major

    A major is a degree option in a particular subject area consisting of a defined set of courses, including a minimum of 30 upper-level credits. In general, 5-7 courses at the lower level and 8-11 courses at the upper level.

  • Minor

    A degree option in a particular subject area consisting of a defined set of courses, including a minimum of 14 upper-level credits. In general, 3-4 courses at the lower level and 4-5 courses at the upper level.

  • MyGRADplan

    MyGRADplan is a web-based tool for students to monitor their academic progress toward degree, diploma or certificate completion. MyGRADplan allows students and their advisors to plan future academic coursework. All students can use the 'What If' feature in myGRADplan to explore program options and create sample program plans. If you are admitted to a degree, diploma, or certificate you can also generate a program audit, which is a review of past, current, and planned coursework to meet graduation requirements.

  • P

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  • Preparatory level course

    Preparatory level courses are considered developmental or preparatory to post-secondary studies. Course numbers will start with a 0 and will not be used to satisfy program requirements. 

  • Prerequisite

    A prerequisite is a requirement such as a previous course, a specified number of course credits, or other academic skills, knowledge, or achievements that must be completed before enrolling in a particular course. The minimum grade required is a C- unless another grade is stated.

    Note: All prerequisites and course descriptions can be found in the UFV academic calendar (on the right-hand side menu use the 'Select Courses' dropdown).

  • Program

    A program consists of a collection of approved courses and requirements that must be met. Certificates, diplomas, and degrees are programs that vary in length.

  • S

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  • Semester

    A semester is a period into which the academic year is divided. UFV operates on a trimester system, which means we have three, four-month semesters per year.

    Fall September December June
    Winter January April November
    Summer* May August March

    * There are additional condensed options to the summer semester including: 'Early Session' (May to June) and 'Late Session' (July to August).

  • T

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  • Timetable

    Lists all courses offered in a specific semester including prerequisites, date/time, campus, course fees, instructor, etc. View the timetables on the registration website.

  • Transcript

    A transcript is an official record of your academic grades.

  • Transfer credit

    Transfer credit is credit assigned for courses successfully completed at the post-secondary level taken at another institution. For instance, if you complete courses at UFV and then transfer to SFU, SFU would evaluate your transcript and award transfer credits for equivalent coursework. Similarly, if you began at UBC and then came to UFV, UFV would evaluate your UBC transcript and award transfer credits for all equivalent coursework. Consult for further information on how courses transfer work.

  • Tuition

    The amount of money for a course based on the number of credits taken in a semester (Per credit cost x Number of credits = Tuition Cost). Tuition increases once a year starting with the summer semester.

  • U

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  • Upgrading courses

    Upgrading courses start with the number '0' (eg. ENGL 099, CHEM 083). UFV offers upgrading courses in English, Math and Sciences. Taking upgrading courses can help you build fundamental skills in a given subject, or meet prerequisites or entrance requirements.

    Note: Course numbers that begin with '0' do not count for credit towards university-level programs.

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