Academic Terms

Academic Calendar - The JMU academic calendar is based on the semester system. The unit of credit is the credit hour. A credit hour represents one 50-minute class period each week in the semester for lectures or two 50-minute class periods for each week in the semester for laboratory or fieldwork.

Academic Career - A grouping of academic work undertaken by a student.

Academic Probation - Academic probation is an indication of serious academic difficulty and applies when a student's cumulative grade point average falls below 2.0. A student who is placed on academic probation at the end of a semester/term may enroll for the following semester/term; however, a student on academic probation will be restricted to a course load of no more than 13 credit hours each semester until their cumulative grade point average is a 2.0 or above,

Academic Program - An instructional curriculum which leads to an undergraduate or graduate degree, or results in credits that can be applied to one of these degrees.

Academic Standing - Determined by a student’s cumulative grade point average and total hours for standing.

Academic Unit - Academic department or its functional equivalent, as identified by the Provost. Includes academic departments and schools, as well as programs that function independently from another academic unit, i.e., IDLS. Should be used when referring collectively to academic departments/schools/administrative programs.

Academic Unit Head - A department head, school director, administrative program head or equivalent.

Academic Year - The period of time generally extending from August to May, based on the first meeting date of fall semester classes and graduation. Usually equated to the two full fall and spring semesters.

Accrediting Agencies - An external organization that provides quality assurance to educational programs by establishing standards and evaluating academic programs. 

Add-on - An individual who holds a teaching license may add an endorsement in specific areas to his/her license.

Admission Standards - Some majors at JMU have admission or progression standards that are required to be fully admitted to the major. 

Advanced Placement (AP) - A program administered by the College Board through which a student can earn college-level credit for examinations taken in high school. 

Audit/Auditing (a class) - Term used when a student elects to take a course but does not wish to receive credit for the course toward a degree or other formal award.

Bachelor of Arts - The B.A. is distinguished by its humanistic emphasis. Students who complete a B.A. may satisfy the B.A. degree requirements by taking courses that advance their understanding of human culture through analysis of ideas; perception of differences; appreciation of art and creative products through understanding art forms, beauty, and symmetry; knowledge of theories and principles of form, substance, argument and philosophy; understanding of the interaction between language and culture; achievement of linguistic competency in a second language.

Bachelor of Science - The B.S. is distinguished by its scientific emphasis. Students who complete a B.S. may satisfy the B.S. degree requirements by taking courses that advance their understanding of the use of scientific analysis, experimentation and the application of scientific principles and facts in solving problems; understanding of the crucial role of mathematical reasoning; analysis and techniques in comprehending problems in the natural or social sciences.

Bachelor's degree - An award (baccalaureate or equivalent degree, as determined by the U.S. Department of Education) that normally requires at least four years of full-time equivalent college-level work.

Capstone - Capstone experiences for graduating seniors are designed to demonstrate comprehensive learning in the major (or minor) through some type of product or experience. 

Certificate - A prescribed set or sequence of graduate courses that results in a student receiving a certificate issued by the university when the identified courses and experiences are completed satisfactorily and when all other conditions have been met in accordance with the definitions and policies governing certificates.

Class Size - Maximum number of students anticipated for a course. Each college determines the maximum number of students for their classrooms/labs.

Cluster - Within General Education, a thematic group of courses or learning areas. Each cluster has established learning objectives.

Cognate - A set of courses associated with a major that is designed to complement other components of the student's course of study and to support selected professional goals. (not required)

College - An administrative organizational unit within the Academic Affairs Division of the university, as identified by the Provost.

Concentration - A prescribed set of courses associated with a major that is designed to focus a student’s course of study according to interest and/or career goals. (not required)

Contact Hour - 50 minutes, with 15 as the minimum number of weeks in a term, which gives a total of 750 minutes per credit hours per term. The lab experience is two contact hours per credit hour. Based on SCHEV regulation VAC 40-31-10.

Core - A defined group of courses within a particular major or minor that is required of all students completing that major or minor.

Corequisite - A requirement, typically a course, that must be taken at the same time as another requirement/course.

Course Description - Description of a specific course.

Course Number - Courses are assigned a three-digit course number. Undergraduate courses are numbered 100-499; master's level courses are numbered 500-799; doctoral courses are numbered 800-999.

Course Title (Long) - The name of a course, which appears in MyMadison and the undergraduate or graduate catalog. The long course title does not appear on the transcript.

Course vs. Class - A course is fully developed, numbered offering, such as ACTG 102. A class is each individual offering of a course, such as ACTG 102, section 0001.

Credential - Defined as a specific aggregate of courses, completion of which is sufficient for licensing by the state to teach (or perform specific professional tasks) in the public school systems. 

Credit Hour The JMU academic calendar is based on the semester system. The unit of credit is the credit hour. Each credit hour represents the combination of in-class and out-of-class work.

Cross Disciplinary - Academic offerings or units that extend over multiple academic units, typically across colleges.

Cross-listed Course - A course offered jointly by two or more academic programs that is assigned multiple subject identifiers, such as MATH/PHYS 105.

Curriculum - Preparation and implementation of academic programs and courses. Primarily used to refer to those courses required by the university for completion of a program of study.

Declared - Students must specify the major which they plan to pursue by completing a Change or Declaration of Major in My Madison. Some majors have additional requirements that must be completed before a student is fully admitted.

Degree - A title conferred on students by the university on completion of a program of study.

Degree Requirements - A formalized program of study specified by the university, the completion of which leads to a degree. JMU grants undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Degree vs Major - Students receive a degree, such as a bachelor's degree, from the university. At the undergraduate level, as part of the degree, students must complete all requirements for the major, such as History.

Department - An administrative organization within the university.

Distance Learning - An option for earning course credit at off-campus locations via cable television, internet, satellite classes, videotapes, correspondence courses or other means.

Dual Credit - A program through which high school students are enrolled in courses, taught at their high school, that fulfill high school graduation requirements and may earn the student college credits.

Dual-Level Course - A course that is offered concurrently as the undergraduate and graduate levels, such as BIO 450/550. 

Early Action - An admission plan that allows students to apply and be notified of an admission decision well in advance of the regular notification dates. If admitted, the candidate must submit a room or tuition deposit by May 1.

Elective - A university course for which academic credit is earned toward the degree but is not specified in the requirements of a program.

Exploratory/Undeclared Major - Students who are undecided about a major are considered exploratory and have until the first semester of their sophomore year to declare a major. 

Experimental Courses - Courses that are offered on a temporary basis to assess student interest and refine course content.

Faculty - The Commonwealth of Virginia defines a faculty member as a nonclassified employee of an institution of higher education.

FAFSA - Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Filed annually to determine eligibility for financial aid. 

FERPA - Family Educational Rights Privacy Act. Federal law that protects the privacy of student educational records. 

Focus - A collection of courses or academic experiences grouped by an academic program to provide increased attention to a subject area. A focus may reside within a concentration, cognate or track. 

Foundation - Courses or academic knowledge deemed necessary by an academic program for beginning study of a discipline.

General Education - A sequence of courses offered in five areas (Clusters) required by all undergraduate degrees at JMU.

Grade Point Average (GPA) - A numerical indication of the final letter grades earned by a student. Computed for any period (semester, year, etc.) by dividing the number of quality points earned during that period by the number of credit hours attempted in that time period. 

Grading Option - Specification of the type of grade that can be assigned to a course, which is determined at the catalog level.

Grading System - The official record of a student's progress toward a university degree, available for student access through MyMadison, the online student information system.

Graduate Student - A student who holds a bachelor's or first-professional degree or equivalent and is taking courses at the post-baccalaureate level. A student enrolled in a master's, educational specialist or doctoral program, not including candidates for first-professional degrees.

Grants - Funds awarded to qualified students that do not have to be repaid. 

Instructor of Record - The instructor with authority to enter final grades for a course.

Lab Hours - Two contact hours per credit hour. Based on SCHEV regulation VAC 40-31-10.

Licensure Program - A set or sequence of courses and experiences required for a student to be eligible to obtain a license issued by an agency, group or professional organization (see Pre-Professional Licensure Programs).

Major - A coherent set of required and elective courses approved by the Board of Visitors and meeting state criteria that, when completed by a student, signifies a degree of preparation in a field or fields of study.

Master's Degree - An award that requires the successful completion of an established master's-level program of study beyond the bachelor's degree.

Matriculate - To be enrolled at a college or university. 

Minor - 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 undergraduate students who are not majoring in the same area and requires between 18-24 credit hours, as set by the respective academic unit and college. (not required)

Non-Credit Course - A course or activity having no credit applicable toward a university degree. These programs are available for supplementing and updating knowledge, skills and abilities. JMU coordinates all non-credit instructional programs through School of Professional & Continuing Education.

Off Campus Programs - Academic programs that require instruction delivered off of JMU's main campus by any means.

On Campus Programs - Academic programs that require instruction delivered on JMU's main campus.

Plan - In MyMadison, an area of study, such as a major, minor or concentration, that is within an academic program or within an academic career.

Pre-Professional Programs - A defined set of courses or course options and requirements that serve as prerequisites to upper or graduate-level professional program components or courses. 

Preparatory Courses - Courses that provide a base-level of academic knowledge required by a course or program that should be satisfied before full enrollment.

Prerequisite - A requirement, typically a course, that must be taken before enrollment in another course. Prerequisites (if any) for a course are listed in the course catalog and MyMadison

Professional Programs - A defined group of courses or course options designed to prepare a student for a specific professional career, certificate or license. 

Program of Study/Academic Program - A course of study referring to any set of courses and experiences identified by the university as satisfying the requirements of a program or program component for a student or students.

Progression Standards - Some majors at JMU have admission or progression standards. Students must meet these standards to be fully admitted to the major.

School of Professional & Continuing Education - offers credit and noncredit programs and targeted one-time courses, certificate programs, and complete degree programs at a distance.

Short Course Title - The abbreviated name of a course, limited to 30 characters, which appears on the transcript.

Study Abroad - Arrangement by which a student completes part of the college program studying in another country. Can be at a campus abroad or through a cooperative agreement with some other U.S. college or an institution of another country.

Subject Identifier - A three to four character course designator, such as ENG (for English) or JUST (for justice studies).

Syllabus - A grouping of requirements specifying the information students receive from their instructors regarding a course.

Teacher Certification Program - A program designed to prepare students to meet the requirements for certification as teachers in elementary, middle/junior high and secondary schools.

Track - A prescribed set of courses within a concentration. A track is not a required component of a concentration. A student does not have to formally declare a track and it will not appear on the transcript of record.

Transcript -  Official academic student record showing courses taken and grades received.

Transfer of Credit - The policies and procedures used to determine the extent to which educational experiences or courses undertaken by a student while attending another institution may be counted for credit at the current institution.

Undeclared Major - Students who are undecided about a major are considered exploratory and have until the first semester of their sophomore year to declare a major. 

Undergraduate - A student enrolled in a four- or five-year bachelor's degree program, an associate's degree program, or a vocational or technical program below the baccalaureate.

Unit of Credit - The unit of credit used by JMU is the credit hour.

Work Study -  The Federal Work Study Program (FWS) is a government-subsidized student employment program designed to assist students in financing their post-secondary education. To be eligible for FWS funds, you must demonstrate financial need every year by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Campus Terms

Breeze, The JMU’s student-run newspaper, published each Thursday 

Chips is a full-service convenience store located near the Bookstore

CMSS Center for Multicultural Student Services

CEVC Community Engagment & Volunteer Center, an office connecting your student to serve

D-Hall the newest all-you-care-to-eat dining facility, located near the Quad 

Dining Dollars money added to the JACard students use at any dining venue on campus 

Duke Dog Alley Tunnel under I-81 for foot traffic crossing campus 

E-Hall The all-you-care-to-eat dining facility on the east side of campus 

Festival a meeting and conference center on the East Campus that offers dining facilities 

FLEX a declining-balance account to which you or your student may add money 

GenEd student shorthand for General Education courses (see planner)

ICS Inner Campus Shuttles

JACard all purpose ID card for student commerce on campus and at various locations in town 

LSI Learning Strategies Instruction, an individualized academic coaching program available to all Dukes

MOAT Madison Orientation Adventure Trips

MRD the Marching Royal Dukes, the best band in the land 

MyMadison is the student portal to access application, course, financial, meal plan, etc. information

ODS Office of Disability Services

Punch Used for record keeping in the dining facilities, punches equate to food 

Quad, the the lawn in front of Wilson Hall on the original bluestone campus 

SGA Student Government Association 

SLI Student Learning Initiatives Resource Center, students can get help with writing projects and academic support

SMAD School of Media Arts and Design 

SMO Students for Minority Outreach

SOGIE Sexual Orientation Gender Identiiy and Expression

SSC Student Success Center, a hub of student programs and services 

TDU is Taylor Down Under, a great place to hang out, play a board game with friends or study

UPB University Program Board 

UHC University Health Center where students may receive general medical services 

UREC University Recreation Center,  JMU’s state-of-the art health and wellness complex


Academic Advisor – A university employee who is committed to helping students meet their educational goals and to make informed and responsible decisions.

Board of Visitors – Governing body for JMU appointed by the governor.

Dean – Highest administrative officer of a college who holds budget and personnel authority for areas within the college.

Academic Unit/Department Head – Administrative officer holding faculty rank; responsible for a primary unit within an academic organization.

Duke Dog - JMU’s loveable mascot.

FROGs First yeaR Orientation Guides who guide your students through their first year at JMU. 

GA/TA - Graduate assistants/Teaching assistants are assigned to an academic department or administrative office to assist faculty members in preparing for instruction, grading papers, conducting research, preparing laboratories, performing departmental administrative tasks, or other assignments as required by the assistantship department. 

HD is the Hall Director who manages a residence hall.

OPAs, Orientation Peer Advisers, will guide you through Summer Orientation and help run Weeks of Welcome.

Provost – The senior academic administrator at a college or university. This person provides supervision and oversight to the university’s curricular, instructional, and research activities.

RA – Resident adviser. RAs are trained undergraduate student leaders who help foster community between members of a residence hall’s floor or wing; they also keep residents safe by enforcing university policies.

Registrar – A university officer who is in charge of registering students and keeping academic records.

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