Glossary of Terms

Academic Probation

The failure of a student to meet the standards required for good standing. Undergraduate students will be placed on academic probation for one semester and must maintain a 2.00 GPA or higher to avoid academic suspension.

Academic Renewal

Following an absence from the college of at least five years, an undergraduate student may apply for “academic renewal.” If approved, none of the course credits and grades earned at Colorado Mesa University prior to the five-year minimum absence will be used for meeting graduation requirements or in determining the student's grade point average. However, the prior courses and their grades will remain on the student's transcript even though they will not be used in meeting graduation requirements and in calculating the student's grade point average.

Academic Residency

A specified minimum number of credit hours that must be earned at Colorado Mesa University to receive a degree.

Academic Suspension

Denial of all registration privileges for a specified period of time (minimum one full semester) because of failure to meet minimum academic standards. Suspended students must be readmitted to the college before continuing enrollment.

Academic Term

A period of instruction. During the fall and spring, the term is a standard 15-week semester. During the summer, various length periods of instruction are offered. The term regular semester refers to fall or spring semester.

Academic Year

The traditional cycle of academic terms: fall and spring.


Certification that the university or program has met established standards and is recognized by appropriate accrediting agencies.


A period of time when students can alter class schedules by adding or dropping classes or changing sections of a course. Add/drop deadlines are published on the Registrar's Office Important Dates website. 


Status of students who have applied and have been accepted to the university.

Associate's Degree

Degree awarded upon satisfactory completion of a prescribed, planned program of approximately 60 credit hours. This can be completed in two years of study with an average of 15 semester hours per semester in the fall and spring terms.


A registration status which allows a student to attend and to participate in a class without benefit of a grade or academic credit. The “audit” status must be recorded in the Registrar’s Office before the withdraw deadline for the class.

Baccalaureate Degree

Bachelor's degree: the traditional undergraduate degree. Awarded for completion of an undergraduate program of study, usually of 120 semester hours. This can be completed in four years of study with an average of 15 semester hours per semester in the fall and spring terms. Bachelor’s degrees are comprised of essential learning courses, a major, and elective courses.


A course, project, paper, presentation, event, or exhibit that must be completed, usually in the senior year, before graduation. A capstone demonstrates in an integrated way everything that has been learned while pursuing a particular major.

College Opportunity Fund (COF)

The method of funding state tax dollar support for students enrolled in Colorado public higher education via a voucher. Implemented in fall 2005, qualifying students create an account at the College Access Network into which the voucher is deposited and, upon registration by the student at a participating institution, then is transferred to the college.


An area of interest within a major that is defined by a group of courses. Number of hours will vary by major. Concentrations are generally associated with 4 year programs (BA, BBA, BS, etc).

Concurrent Student

A high school student who is registered for one or more university classes.

Contact Hours

The number of weekly hours student meets in a class, lab, studio, clinical, or class/lab.


Course(s) that must be taken concurrently with one or more additional courses. Subject matter often is similar or complementary.

Course Levels

The numbering system of courses:

Category Numbering System
Developmental/Preparatory 099 and lower
Lower Division 100 - 199 Freshman
200 - 299 Sophomore
Upper Division 300 - 399 Junior
400 - 499 Senior
Graduate 500 and above

Course Load

The total number of semester hours registered for in a given academic term.

Cumulative Grade Point Average

An average GPA calculated by dividing the total number of quality points/grade points obtained (credit hours X grade points) by the number of credit hours attempted during all academic sessions at Colorado Mesa University. Grades from other institutions are not included in the calculation.

Dean's List

Recognition of undergraduate students who achieve a grade point average of between 3.50 and 3.99 while enrolled for a minimum of 12 semester hours in a fall or spring semester.


A title which the university confers on a student who has satisfactorily completed a required course of study. Degree requirements are established by the university and departments, and are approved by the university’s faculty, administration, and authorized by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. The university offers degrees at three levels: associate, baccalaureate, and graduate.

Degree Category

One of three undergraduate degree categories offered at Colorado Mesa University that may differ in lower division requirements beyond essential learning . These categories include the Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS) and Professional, Technical or Other Programs (PTO).


A recognized subject area or field of study within which courses are structured.

Distance Learning

Courses offered for credit by an alternative means of delivery other than in-person (e.g.  videoconference or online).

Double Major

Completing the requirements of more than one major within the same degree designation (e.g., a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Business Administration). A student could earn one baccalaureate degree with multiple majors (e.g., Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Psychology and Sociology). Students must meet all the requirements for the degree and for each major.

Dual/Double Baccalaureate Degree

Completing the requirements of more than one major with different degree designations (e.g., a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Business Administration). A student earning two baccalaureate degrees (e.g., Bachelor of Arts in History and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics) must meet all the requirements for each degree, each major, and additional requirements found in the Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees under the "Second Baccalaureate Degree".

Earned Hours

Credit hours earned for college-level courses (numbered 100 and above) with a passing grade.


Courses selected at a student's discretion. Electives may be partially restricted, such as a selection from a specified group of courses identified to fulfill a particular requirement or they may be “free” electives which may be selected from any course for which the student has proper prerequisites. Electives provide opportunities for students to pursue personal interest and to gain general knowledge.


An area of interest within a major that is defined by a group of courses. Number of hours will vary by major. Emphases are generally associated with 2-year programs (AA, AS, etc.).


Registration for course work and payment of fees constitutes official enrollment. For financial aid purposes, a undergraduate student must enroll for 12 credit hours to be classified full-time; for other purposes, the minimum may be higher. For graduate students, a six-hour load is typical for full-time classification.

Essential Learning

A university-wide requirement of basic courses that form the foundation of all undergraduate degree programs. CMU’s Essential Learning requirement was formerly named General Education.

Essential Learning Capstone

The baccalaureate 4 semester credit hour graduation requirement consisting of corequisite courses Maverick Milestone (3 hours) and Essential Speech (1 hour). This interdisciplinary requirement is designed to allow students to transition between the lower division Essential Learning Core courses and their upper-division major courses. Must be completed in the time frame of 45 and 75 earned credit hours.

Essential Learning Core

Basic courses providing undergraduate students with a foundation in the arts and sciences. The Essential Learning Core consists of 31 semester credit hours across the following disciplines: English (6 hours), Mathematics (3 hours), History (3 hours), Humanities (3 hours), Social and Behavioral Sciences (6 hours), Fine Arts (3 hours), and Natural Sciences (7 hours).

Essential Speech

A 200-level, 1 semester credit hour course which provides students with the tools for verbally presenting ideas and information learned in the corequisite Maverick Milestone course. The Maverick Milestone and Essential Speech corequisite courses comprise the Essential Learning Capstone requirement for baccalaureate students. See Essential Learning.

General Education

Former designation of CMU’s Essential Learning curriculum.

General Educational Development (GED) Diploma

Award granted upon passing tests that measure student learning normally acquired by completing a typical high school program of study.

Good Standing

A sliding scale of academic status achieved by students for semester hours attempted. Determines eligibility of students to continue to register for university course work.

Grade Improvement

Repeat of any course more than once for academic credit at Colorado Mesa University done so only for “grade improvement.” Academic credit is awarded only once and the best grade received is the one used to compute the student's cumulative grade point average and to fulfill requirements for the degree. Some exceptions to this policy apply.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

A measure of a student's academic performance which is computed by dividing credit hours attempted into grade points earned to determine the mean average grade of all courses taken for credit. Does not include courses taken as pass/fail.

Graduate Certificates

Contain graduate level (5xx-7xx) courses. A student must be admitted as a graduate student to attempt a graduate certificate.

Graduate Student

A student who has earned a baccalaureate degree and who is pursuing a graduate certificate, master's, or doctoral degree program.

Graduation Honors

Recognition of graduating undergraduate students who meet the following academic criteria:

  • With Distinction - Technical/Professional certificate graduates and Associate degree graduates with cumulative grade point averages of 3.50 to 3.74.
  • With High Distinction - Technical/Professional certificate graduates and Associate degree graduates with cumulative grade point averages of 3.75 to 4.00.
  • Cum Laude - Baccalaureate degree graduates with cumulative grade point averages of 3.50 to 3.74.
  • Magna Cum Laude - Baccalaureate degree graduates with cumulative grade point averages of 3.75 to 3.89.
  • Summa Cum Laude - Baccalaureate degree graduates with cumulative grade point averages of 3.90 to 4.00.

Higher Education Admission Requirements (HEAR)

(also referred to as the pre-collegiate curriculum)

Requirements established by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education for students graduating from high school in spring 2008 or later and seeking admission to a Colorado public four-year college or university.

Independent Study

An upper-division course designated by a special number within a discipline. Allows a student to pursue an individual project independently, for credit, under the supervision of an instructor. Requires consent of the instructor.

Leveling Courses

A set of equivalent courses for graduate students who have not completed specific undergraduate courses prior to beginning graduate study.

Lower Division Course

A course that carries a 100 - 199 or 200 - 299 number.


A set of required courses from one or more departments in a subject chosen as the undergraduate student's principal field of study. Designed to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary to pursue a specific career and/or advanced study.

Master's Degree

A post-baccalaureate degree. All master's degree candidates must maintain a 3.00 GPA to remain in good academic standing.


Enrollment as an admitted, degree-seeking student.

Maverick Milestone

A 200-level interdisciplinary, topics-oriented, writing-intensive course designed to help students develop the ability to approach problems and evaluate ideas using more than one set of intellectual tools. This 3 semester credit hour course and its 1 semester credit hour corequisite Essential Speech comprise the Essential Learning Capstone requirement for baccalaureate students. See Essential Learning.


An officially-recognized secondary field of study requiring fewer units than the major. A minor must be in an approved subject area and is less comprehensive than the major.

Multiple Concentrations

Completing the requirements of more than one concentration within the same major (e.g., Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with a double concentration in Applied Mathematics and Statistics). Students must meet all the requirements for the degree, major, and each concentration.


Requirement(s) that must be taken and passed before a higher level course may be taken. Sometimes, permission of the instructor or another requirement (such as graduate status) may be a prerequisite for a course. Prerequisites may include: (1) Course or courses that must be completed before a higher-level course may be taken, sometimes allowed by the instructor to be taken concurrently; (2) Courses outside the major department that must be completed before admission to the major; (3) Successful completion of high school courses (as in languages); (4) Minimum SAT or ACT scores or sub-scores; (5) Minimum placement test scores; or (6) Acceptance into a certain program.

President's List

Recognition of undergraduate students who achieve a grade point average of 4.00 while enrolled for a minimum of 12 semester hours in a fall or spring semester.

Priority Registration

Designated period of early registration for currently enrolled students.

Professional Certificate

A Professional Certificate contains primarily upper division (3xx-4xx) courses. For a student to attempt a Professional Certificate after the student has earned a baccalaureate degree, the student must be admitted to study as a post-baccalaureate student or as a graduate student.

Program Requirements

The list of requirements a student must satisfy in order to graduate with a specified degree or certificate program. Program requirements for each program can be located via the Programs A-Z page.

Quality Points

The number points attributed to a grade (A=4, B=3, C=2, etc.) times the number of credit hours in the course.


Office responsible for course registration, transfer credit evaluation, maintaining academic records, and certifying degree requirements for graduation.

Student Classification

Student level based on the number of semester hours successfully completed as follows:

Semester Hours Completed Student Status
0 - 30 Freshman
31 - 60 Sophomore
61 - 90 Junior
91 - above Senior

Technical Certificate

Award for the completion of technical coursework designed to train students for specific skills required for employment in various vocational occupations.

Topics Courses

Courses offered from time to time that contain material of special interest within a specific discipline not considered elsewhere in the curriculum. Prerequisites vary with course material and may require consent of the instructor.


An official document issued by the Registrar that lists the entire academic record of a student at the university.

Transfer Credit

Course work completed at another institution that is accepted for credit toward a degree at the university. Grades from these courses are not included in calculation of a student's cumulative GPA.


A student working toward a technical certificate, professional certificate, associate degree, or baccalaureate degree.

Upper Level Course

A course that carries a 300 - 399 or 400 - 499 number.