Home » Glossary

Glossary

  • Academic Year – The period of time when classes are taught
  • Semester –  An academic year is typically divided into 2-3 semesters, each lasting up to 15 weeks
  • Alumni – People who have graduated from a particular university, college or school. The singular form is alumnus. For example, John is an alumnus of MIT
  • Advanced Standing –  Approval to register into a higher level of coursework, usually in recognition of prior learning ( eg polytechnic diploma or associate degree)
  • Adjunct Professor – A part-time professor hired on a contract basis. An adjunct professor usually has a full-time job outside the university and he teaches occasionally
  • Associate Degree – A sub-degree award conferred upon completion of a 2-year degree-level program. In USA, community colleges award associate degrees. The associate degree is recognized for advanced standing to a bachelor’s degree program
  • Bursary– Money awarded to a student based on financial need and academic performance
  • Convocation/ Commencement – A formal ceremony where degree / diploma are awarded to graduating students
  • Credit – Every course in a university is accorded a credit value, anywhere from 1 to 5 credits. You will earn your degree once you have the pre-requisite credits and fulfill all other academic and administrative requirements as well
  • Elective – An optional course that is not individually specific to your program
  • Dean – The head of a school or college within a large university
  • Dean’s List – An academic award for students who attain a specified Grade Point Average (GPA), usually 3.5 or higher
  • Provost – A high ranking university administrator (usually No 2 to the President) who is responsible for overall academic integrity. He typically co-ordinates institutional level academic, financial and facilities planning.
  • Honors Program – A special program for high achieving students in USA
  • Freshman – A first year undergraduate student (USA)
  • Sophomore – A second year undergraduate student (USA)
  • Junior – A third year undergraduate student (USA)
  • Senior – A fourth year undergraduate student (USA)
  • Major – The main academic area a student specializes in
  • Minor – A secondary academic area of study a student specializes in
  • Transcript – A record of all the courses a student takes and the grades attained
  • Transfer Credit –  Academic credit awarded for courses taken at another university/college
  • SAT – The most widely taken standardised test for university admission in USA. As university applicants come from different countries and different high schools with varying academic and exam standards, the SAT tests serve as an equalizer for all by using a common exam benchmark.
  • PSAT – a preliminary SAT, a short version of the SAT that is taken in autumn by high school juniors in USA as a practice for the SAT. It is also a qualifying test for National Merit Scholarship Program.
  • GRE – GRE or the Graduate Record Examination is a pre-requisite for admission to most graduate schools in USA. If you wish to study for a Master’s degree, you have to take this test (MBA applicants will take the GMAT)
  • GMAT– Like the GRE, the Graduate Management Admission Test is a pre-requisite test for students wishing to apply to MBA programs in USA. Similarly, the top business schools around the world also require applicants to have good GMAT scores. For example, the average GMAT score of Harvard MBA students is around 720.
  • TOEFL– The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is an English proficiency test for non-English speaking students. It is required by most universities in USA and the English-speaking world.
  • Phi Beta Kappa – In USA, an academic honor society for the most outstanding students of arts and social sciences at America’s top universities. Only top 10% American universities have Phi Beta Kappa chapters.
  • Phi Kappa Phi – America ’s largest and most selective honor society for all academic disciplines
  • Pell Grant – US federal grant for low-income families
  • AP Exams – These are rigorous national level exams administered at high schools in USA. High school students can earn college credits or college placement if they achieve high AP exam grades. High AP exam grades also help a high school student stand out in the competitive university admission process. AP stands for Advanced Placement.
  • Collections – Weekend exams held at the beginning of the term in Oxford University. An in-college exam.
  • Moderations – First year exam at Oxford University
  • Gown – The black flappy attire that Oxford students wear to exams and formal dinners. Like Harry Potter.
  • Liberal Arts – An academic program that includes the sciences, social sciences, languages, arts and mathematics, as opposed to specialised or professional degree programs like engineering, business, medical and law. In USA, there are liberal arts colleges like the prestigious Williams College which provides a well-rounded curriculum to develop a student’s intellectual capacity.
  • College Education – The terms “university” and “college” are used interchangeably in USA. For example, Dartmouth College of the Ivy League is a university. In USA, going to college means going to university.
  • Common Application – A standardised application form accepted by over 350 universities and colleges in USA
  • Michaelmas Term – first term of 8 weeks in Oxford University
  • Hilary Term – second term of 8 weeks in Oxford University
  • Trinity Term – third term of 8 weeks in Oxford University
  • Michaelmas Term – October to December term at Cambridge University
  • Lent Term – January to March term at Cambridge University
  • Easter Term – April to June term at Cambridge University
  • Supervisions – Personal tuition for small groups at college level in Cambridge University
  • Tutorials – Personal tuition for small groups at college level in Oxford University
  • Rustication – in Oxford University,  a term to mean ” expelled temporarily” – former China’s top politician Bo Xilai’s son Bo Guagua was rusticated for poor performance and he stayed at the 5-star MacDonald Randolph Hotel for one year until his expulsion ended.
  • Bullington Club – an elite drinking club for rich and privileged white students of Oxford University. Most members are from the ultra-rich all-boys Eton College. Members of the club throw exclusive rambunctious parties with lots of alcohol, drug and sex. As part of the fun, they typically smash the bars that they patronise and then pay compensation to the owner. Britain’s former Prime Minister David Cameron and former London’s mayor Boris Johnson were members of the club.