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Term Definition

Academic Advising

Academic advising is an intentional exchange of information between the advisor and the student for the purpose of deepening a student’s understanding of curriculum and graduation requirements, reviewing academic policies and procedures, clarifying academic and career goals, guiding appropriate course selections and referring students to other campus resources as needed. Learn More

Academic Probation

Academic probation is an indication of serious academic difficulty and applies whenever a student’s cumulative grade point average falls below 2.0. Students who are placed on academic probation will be restricted to a course load of no more than 12 credit hours each semester until the student's cumulative grade point average has improved sufficiently enough to be in academic probation. (See also Academic StandingLearn More

Academic Standing

Continued enrollment at JMU depends upon an undergraduate student’s ability to maintain satisfactory academic progress toward attaining a degree. A student’s academic standing will fall into one of three categories:

Learn more about academic standing.

Academic Standing, Good

Undergraduate students who maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 are considered to be in academic good standing and are eligible for continued enrollment at JMU.(See also Academic StandingLearn More

Academic Suspension

A student will be placed on academic suspension if that student’s cumulative grade point average is below the minimum required for continued enrollment. These requirements are set forth in the undergraduate catalog. (See also Academic Standing) Learn More

Admission and Progression Standards

Some majors, minors, concentrations and pre-professional programs at JMU have Admission and Progression Standards that reflect the level of talent and performance necessary for success in the program. In some programs, admission and performance standards grow out of external accrediting and licensure requirements. 

These standards may fall into one of three categories:

  • Talent-based fine arts programs that require an audition or portfolio review as part of the process for admission to the major
  • Programs with absolute size limits where the number of majors accepted each year is limited by such factors as labs and clinical sites
  • Programs with progression standards such as course pre-requisites and GPA requirements where a student’s ability to master subject content in lower division courses is essential for success in upper division classes.

There are programs that are open to any student in good academic standing.

Advising, Career

Career advising is the process through which students receive assistance with exploring career options, assessing strengths, developing career goals and gathering information about skills and experience necessary for a desired career path. Learn More

Advising, Peer

Peer advising refers to a process by which students are carefully selected, trained and supervised to assist their peers with academic and/or career advising services. Learn More

Advising, Pre-Professional

Pre-professional advising serves undergraduate students as they prepare for professional school (e.g. law school, medical school, or seminary) and submit competitive applications. Pre-professional advisors serve students in diverse academic programs as they consider career options that require post-baccalaureate, graduate-level education. Advisors help students make thoughtful choices for themselves and understand the implications of those choices including decisions about academic programs and performance, career exploration, career-related experience, standardized tests, school selection, and interview preparation. Learn More

Class Section

An individual meeting of a course in a specific place and time with a specific instructor. All classes or sections of a course, other than special topic courses, meet the same student learning outcomes. 


A course is a fully developed, numbered offering approved by Curriculum and Instruction processes. A class or section is an individual offering of a course. A specific subject studied over the duration of an academic term. Courses may be structured as lecture, discussion, laboratory, studio, independent study, internship or other formats, Courses are usually identified using a subject (2, 3, or 4 letters), course number (three digits and possibly a letter), and course title (one or more words) such as: ENG 239. Studies in World Literature.

Credit Hour

Represents one 50-minute class period (or its equivalent in other forms of instruction) each week in the semester for lectures, or at least two 50-minutes class periods for each week in the semester for laboratory or fieldwork.  (A minimum of 750 minutes of instruction or equivalent is required for each credit hour.)

Credit Hours Earned or Attempted

Total Credit Hours Earned 
Cumulative credit hours a student has earned. Includes credit hours transferred to JMU, credit hours earned by departmental exam, AP and IB credit hours and credit hours for courses taken on a credit/no credit basis.

Total Credit Hours Attempted 
Cumulative hours a student has attempted while enrolled at JMU. Does NOT include credit hours transferred to JMU, credit hours earned by departmental exam, AP, IB credit, or credit hours for courses taken on a credit/no credit basis.


A date or time by or before which something must be done. There are many advising-related deadlines including adding/dropping classes, withdrawing from classes or the university, declaring majors, applying for graduation, etc.  See the Academic Calendar for the most up-to-date academic deadlines. 

Declaring a Major

The multi-step process by which students formally select a program of study (including majors, minors and pre-professional programs) that becomes part of the student's official academic record.  This is often in consultation with an advisor or department representative.  

Current students who wish to change their major and/or declare a second major, minor or pre-professional program complete a Change or Declaration of Major Form that must be signed by the appropriate academic unit head, minor coordinator and/or pre-professional program coordinator. Some academic units require additional steps for declaring a major.  

New students declare a major during the Orientation process. Declared students may have access to academic advising, courses, scholarships, and other opportunities in the program.  Declaration of a major, minor or pre-professional program does not guarantee full admission into the program.


A degree is a title conferred on students who complete a unified program of study. Available degrees vary according to major.  JMU currently offers these undergraduate bachelors degree programs: 

  • Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
  • Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.)
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.)
  • Bachelor of Individualized Study (B.I.S.)
  • Bachelor of Music (B.M.)
  • Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)
  • Bachelor of Science in Social Work (B.S.W.)

Learn about degree requirements.


To remove a class from a schedule. A dropped class is not permanently recorded on the student record and does not generate tuition charges. 


University Elective
A course for which academic credit is earned on the transcript but is not specified in the requirements of a program.

Major Elective
A course chosen from a list of specified courses for which academic credit is earned on the transcript. 


"Enrollment" can mean any of these: 

  • The process of adding courses to a student’s schedule (as in, "Enrollment for spring classes begins on Monday.") 
  • The period of time during which students may add courses to their schedules (as in, "The Open Enrollment period for the fall semester begins soon.")
  • The state of being an active student at the university (as in, "The Office of the Registrar handles enrollment verification.")
  • The number of students in a class, program, or university (as in, "Section 4 has a maximum enrollment of 22 students.")

The term "registration" is sometimes used interchangeably. 

Four-Year Academic Plan of Study

Typically a four-year plan of study will list, semester-by-semester, all courses a student has taken and plans to take to fulfill major, minor, pre-professional program and graduation requirements. Planned co-curricular activities such as study abroad, practicums, clinicals, internships and externships should also be included.

Four years is the typical length of time it takes a majority of students to complete a bachelors degree.  Students may take more or less time to complete their requirements depending on various factors. 

General Education

General Education, or The Human Community, is the core academic program of James Madison University. It is required of all students regardless of their major or professional program. The philosophy of the program promotes the cultivation of habits of the mind and heart that are essential to informed citizens in a democracy and world community.  Also known as "Gen Eds." 


A coherent set of required and elective courses that, when completed by a student, signifies a degree of preparation in a field or fields of study. The credit hour requirements for the major are set by the respective colleges and academic units and may not consist of fewer than 30 hours. A student must formally declare a major. Each major is offered by an academic unit. Majors are approved by the Board of Visitors and meet state criteria. 


A cohesive set of required and elective courses that, when completed by a student, connotes knowledge and skills in a discipline, region or topic area, but not at the depth of a major. The minor is designed for students who are not majoring in the same area and requires between 18-24 credit hours, as set by the respective academic unit. A student must formally declare the minor for it to appear on the transcript. 


An override, also called "permission to enroll," is special permission given to a student to join a class that requires instructor or departmental approval to enroll, has reached its maximum capacity, or for which a requisite has not been met.  Academic units use different override procedures.

Overrides are given at the discretion of the academic unit offering the course.  Students are not automatically entitled to an override simply because they request one.  

NOTE: The override only gives you permission to enroll in the class; it does NOT enroll you in the class. Students must log in to MyMadison to complete enrollment.  

Learn more about overrides.

Progress in an Academic Program

Academic programs at JMU have requirements students must meet to make progress through the program. Requirements may include course prerequisites, GPA requirements, minimum grades in specific courses and/or non-course requirements such as professional dispositions and behaviors.  Overall, progress is movement forward toward completion of a program and graduation.


See Enrollment.

Repeat Credit

Students may repeat any graded course that they take during their undergraduate career at JMU. When using the repeat credit option all grades will be included on the transcript and will be used when calculating the student's GPA. The student will only earn credit for the course one time. All courses that are taught on a topic basis are repeatable; however, these courses may only be designated as repeat credit if both attempts have the same topic.


Students may elect to repeat up to two courses during their undergraduate career at JMU on a "repeat forgiveness" basis. As a result of the repeat-forgive option, the university will exclude the previous grade and credit hours earned for the repeated course when it calculates the student's cumulative GPA and earned credit hours total, regardless of whether the previous grade was higher or lower than the repeat attempt. Both grades will appear on the transcript, and the recalculation of cumulative GPA will occur after the repeat-forgive attempt. All courses that are taught on a topic basis are repeatable; however, these courses may only be designated as repeat forgive if both attempts have the same topic.


Requirements are the elements necessary to progress or qualify which may include specific classes, experiences, grades in classes, and numbers of credits. Admission, registration and graduation are examples of academic processes that have requirements. Learn More

Requisite (pre-,co-,anti-)

Requisites - prerequisite, corequisite, or antirequisite requirements placed in the MyMadison system that allow or prevent enrollment in courses by students.

Prerequisite - A condition that should be met prior to enrolling into a course. Conditions could include the successful completion of courses, declaration of majors or minors, class standing, or earning required test scores.

Corequisite - Two or more courses that a must enroll in during the same semester. Examples include lecture/laboratory enrollment and cohort enrollment. Students must enroll into all co-requisite courses together and if they later wish to drop one course while remaining enrolled into the other course(s) they must obtain permission to do so.

Antirequisite - A condition that prevents enrollment into the course. Conditions can include course enrollment, majors, minors or test scores. This is most commonly used to prevent students from repeating a course, or its equivalent course, for which they already have credit.

Research, Undergraduate

Under a faculty member’s supervision, students can complete a research project or creative experience. In some academic units, students can sign up for course credit when completing a project.


See Credit Hour.


Waitlist is a feature of MyMadison that allows students to add their name to a list of people who are waiting for a seat to open in a class.  If you are on the waitlist and a seat becomes available AND you meet the requisites for the course AND the time of the class fits into your schedule, then you may enroll in the course. Being on the waitlist does NOT guarantee you a seat in the class. A fully enrolled student must drop the class in order for a seat to open up for a student to move off the waitlist and become fully enrolled.  Waitlist is also used as two words: wait list.


Withdrawal from a course - A student may withdraw from a course after the drop deadline but before the end of the course adjustment period. A student who withdraws from a course after the drop deadline will receive a grade of "W" for the course, and this grade will be recorded permanently on the student's transcript regardless of the status of the student in the course at the time of the withdrawal. Withdrawing from a course will not result in a tuition reduction. Failure to attend class will not result in a "W," "WP" or "WF" grade unless the student has formally withdrawn or negotiated a "WP" or "WF" grade with the course instructor. After the end of the course adjustment period, a grade other than "W" must be issued for all enrolled courses. 

Withdrawal from the university - A student may withdraw from the university by completing the "Non-Returning/Leave of Absence Notice" with the Office of the Registrar or by contacting the Office of the Dean of Students to declare their intent to withdraw.  Students should be aware that there are financial implications based on the timing of withdrawal.  For more information, see University Withdrawal

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