Glossary of Academic Terms

Don't know the difference between a Lecture Class and a Recitation? A Competitive Major from a Concentration? For your benefit, here is a glossary of terms containing many of the words you will hear as you begin your academic career at Colorado State University.

Click the terms below for an explanation

Academic Probation

Failure to maintain a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or higher. Students have two semesters to regain a 2.0 cumulative GPA or face academic dismissal.

Advising Code

This is a 6 digit number that is required to register for a particular semester. Your advisor may place an advising code on your registration. You will obtain your advising code when you meet with your advisor to discuss your registration for the upcoming semester.

All University Core Curriculum (AUCC)

The AUCC emphasizes lifelong learning and learner outcomes. It is designed to expand each student's knowledge in several broad areas and to build upon intellectual foundations and perspectives. Students must earn a 2.0 cumulative GPA in their AUCC courses to graduate. See the General Catalog.

Check Sheet

A list of courses required in a specified major needed for graduation. You should check off courses as they are completed and use it in planning future course schedules.

Class Level

Class level is based on the number of credits earned fewer than 30 = Freshman; 30-59 = Sophomore; 60-89 = Junior; 90+ = Senior.


Colorado State University has eight colleges. Each represents a general area of study from which a major can be chosen. They are Agricultural Sciences, Applied Human Sciences, Business, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Warner College of Natural Resources, Natural Sciences, and Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Competitive Majors

Students must meet additional admission requirements before being accepted into the major. Requirements may stipulate that a student obtain a minimum number of credits, take specific course prerequisites, earn a minimum GPA, or some combination of these. Please see Majors with Entrance Requirements for More information.


At least 12 credits of course work that give you an opportunity to extend general learning into a more specific area. Concentrations are listed under their respective major in the Admissions Packet and those pages of the General Catalog dedicated to each of the University's colleges.

Course Restrictions

Students must meet certain conditions to register for some classes. These conditions may be based on class standing (e.g., sophomore, junior, etc.), major, minor, or a combination of these.


The number of credits a course is worth generally corresponds to the amount of time the class meets each week. For example, a 3-credit lecture class will meet for approximately 2½ hours each week, either in three 50-minute sessions or two 75-minute sessions per week.

Dean's List

Students who earn grades in the top tier of students in each college.

Degree Audit Report (DARS)

DARS is the degree audit tool used for verifying that students have met their University core curriculum, program, minor, and interdisciplinary study requirements. The audit enhances degree and program planning with a dynamic report showing tbe courses required for all declared majors, minors and interdisciplinary study programs as well as how all transfer and CSU courses count towards a specific degree. For more information, please see the DARS page of the Registrar's Office Web site.


Courses that students choose to explore areas of interest. Can also be used to complement your major, to build valuable skills, and to add variety to your schedule.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

An average of your course grade and the number of the credits that the course was worth. Please visit the Registrar's Office Web site for more information on GPA Calculation. There are three ways to view your GPA

Cumulative GPA: Grade point average for ALL attempted coursework at Colorado State University.

Term GPA: Grade point average for a particular semester at Colorado State University. All term GPAs are calculated into the cumulative GPA

Major GPA: Grade point average calculated using only coursework completed in a student's major department

Using RAMWeb you may view your GPA by clicking on the "Transcript (Unofficial)" link under the Student Records Section. You may also calculate your GPA—including those courses in which you are currently registered—and how many "A" or "B" credits you need in order to reach your target cumulative GPA by clicking on the "GPA" predictor" and the "Target GPA" links in the Tools Section.


Audit Grading: Students may audit courses but doing so does not earn traditional grades or credit hours. Completed coursework is reflected in the academic record with a grade of "AU." Please see the Registrar's Office Web site for more information about Auditing a Course.

Instructor Option: The instructor chooses either traditional grading (A-F) or pass/fail grading (S/U)

Pass/Fail (Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory): With advisor approval, students may select the Pass/Fail grading option for some elective courses outside of their major and AUCC requirements. Rather than a traditional (A-F) letter grade, students receive a satisfactory (S) or unsatisfactory (U) based on whether they did passing or failing work. An (S) grade counts toward graduation credits, but does not count toward the term or cumulative grade point average (GPA). Please see the Registrar's Office Web site for more information about Pass/Fail Grading.

Plus/Minus: Faculty have the option of using +/- grades (A+, A-, B+, B-; C and below do not use the +/- grading) however, they are not required to do so. The course syllabus should indicate the instructor's choice

Student Option: The student chooses either traditional (A-F) or Pass/Fail (S/U) grading. Grades are traditional unless the student completes a form to select Pass/Fail (S/U) grading

Traditional: Performance will be graded on the familiar A, B, C, D, F scale. Each professor may determine the corresponding numerical scale. Most professors use 90-100 = A, but some may use another scale such as 94-100 = A. Students are usually informed during the first day of class which scale will be used.

Graduation with Distinction

Requirements to graduate with distinction—cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude—are different for each college. They are described in the General Catalog.

Incomplete (I)

Grade received when a student is unable to complete coursework due to extenuating circumstances. An Incomplete is only given with the consent of the instructor. The course must be completed within one calendar year, or the "I" will become an "F." Please see the Registrar's Office Web site for more information about Incomplete Grades.

Independent Study

Credit received for academic work completed in consultation with an instructor outside of the regular course offerings. Students must meet with an instructor for approval and course requirements.

Interdisciplinary Studies Program (ISP)

A minimum of 20 credits focusing on a particular area and providing perspectives from different disciplines. Although an ISP is not a major, it will be listed on your transcript, showing prospective employers your interest and study in the area. Please see the University Interdisciplinary Programs section of the CSU General Catalog for a complete list of available programs, and their requirements.

Laboratory (Lab)

Applies lecture material in small-group situations such as experiments, assignments, and projects. Labs usually meet for two to three hours per week.


A class in which an instructor presents the main body of course material.

Lower Division

Courses numbered in the 100 or 200 level; covering introductory content.


Sequence of courses in a discipline which, along with appropriate supporting classes, leads to a degree. A major requires a minimum of 27 semester credits within the field of study; a minimum of 120 semester credits, 42 being upper division, is required to graduate. Please see the Advising@CSU Web site on the academic Majors and Programs offered at Colorado State University.


Minor programs of study are optional and consist of a minimum of 21 semester credits in one discipline. More information on the academic minors offered at Colorado State University can be found under Majors and Programs here on the Advising@CSU Web site.

Paced Algebra to Calculus electronically (PACe)

The PACe Program is an online instructional program designed to enhance learning in mathematics. The program currently provides instruction for five, 1-credit, pre-calculus mathematics courses. Students enrolled in PACe mini-courses may access course materials, work on practice problems, and complete required assignments; review exams, view course progress, current grades, and communicate online with their course instructors. They also have access to tutors for one-on-one assistance in our walk-in tutoring center.

Prerequisite (Prereq)

Course requirements that need to be completed before enrolling in another course. Prerequisites for a course can be seen in the Class Schedule by clicking on the section CRN, and then on the "vew catalog entry" link.

Ram Point

Available to all CSU students, faculty and staff, the Ram Point Web site is the University's online access-point to a wide variety of Web services and resources.


Small discussion classes designed to clarify main ideas from lectures and offer more individualized attention to students.

Registration Hold

A hold prohibits a student from registering, or from changing a current semester's registration. Students have a hold placed on their registration when any University obligation has not been met. For example, when an account has not been paid or the math requirement has not been completed within the first 60 credit hours. Please visit the Registrar's Office Web site for more information about Registration Holds.


The repeat/delete option allows students one-time opportunities for retaking courses and replacing their original grade with a higher one. The initial grade remains on the transcript but is not calculated into the student's GPA. Each student is limited to a maximum of 10 credit-hours—no more than 3 courses—under the University's Repeat/Delete rules, and the option must be declared before the course withdrawal date. Please go to the Registrar's Office Web site for more information and to access the online Repeat/Delete Forms.

Satisfactory Progress

Successful completion of 75 percent of courses attempted is required to keep most scholarships and financial aid.

Second Major

A student may work toward the completion of two programs of study at the University at the same time. Student must complete all requirements for both majors.


Courses with multiple offerings of a single lecture, laboratory, or recitation that meet at different times and on different days.


A 16-week period in the fall and spring when a set of courses is completed.

Teaching Assistant (TA)

Usually a graduate student, but occasionally an upper class student, who assists the professor with recitations and labs.

University Honors Program

An enhancing academic experience for academically motivated undergraduates who meet certain requirements.


Allows students to explore academic options available at Colorado State. These students are encouraged to declare their intended majors prior to the completion of 45 credits.

Undeclared with an Academic Interest Area

Students who are undeclared and wish to explore majors with a common academic theme are admitted to an Undeclared Academic Interest Area.

Upper Division

Courses numbered in the 300 to 400 level covering more in-depth content. The University requires at least 42 credits of upper division course work.


There are two types of academic withdrawal

Course Withdrawal: Dropping one or more courses while still being enrolled in at least one course constitutes a course withdrawal. For more information and the procedures to withdraw from a course, please visit the Registration Changes page on the Registrar's Office Web site. The actual withdrawal will be completed using RAMWeb. It is recommended that you contact your academic advisor before completing a course withdrawal.

University Withdrawal: Dropping all courses during a semester constitutes a university withdrawal. There will be an assessment of tuition and fees at all times during the semester. To complete a Univerity Withdrawal you are required to contact the Center for Advising and Student Achievement—491-7095. Please view the FAQs about University Withdrawal here on the Advising@CSU Web site.