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College Terms to Know

Common College Terms




A relationship designed to assist students in the development of educational plans and the selection of appropriate coursework; should include a review of graduation requirements, and a periodic review of student progress towards goals.

Associate Degree

Two-year degree requiring 60-70 credits to fulfill graduation requirements.


An enrollment option for a credit class. No credit is earned for audited courses. A final grade of "N" (designating "audit") will appear on the transcript. Students must select this option within a specified time period.

Certificate Of Proficiency

Available in selected career programs and requiring specific career courses.  Certificates involve fewer requirements than degree programs.

College-Level Courses

These courses may count toward degree requirements at Howard Community College and may generally be used as transfer credits to other colleges and universities; they are numbered 100 and above.

Developmental/College-Preparatory Courses

These courses teach reading, writing, and/or math skills that prepare students for college-level course work.  They are numbered in the 060s, 070s, 080s, and 090s and are required for students who place into them.  The credits earned for these classes count toward a student's GPA (Grade Point Average) and can be covered by financial aid, but these credits are not transferable and do not count toward degree requirements.

Cooperative Education (Co-op) 

A paid internship in your chosen field of study.  Advantages include getting job experience and making contacts useful after graduation. 

 Continuing Education

Continuing Education, ConEd, offers a wide selection of non-credit courses.  Continuing Education Units, CEUs, can be earned.  Summer programs for children, GED and high school completion classes are also offered. 


A corequisite is a course that must be taken with or before enrolling in another course.  Ex:  FYEX-100 First Year Experience must be taken with or before ENGL 096, Fundamentals of Academic Reading.

Credit Load

A credit load represents the number of credit hours a student has registered for in a given semester.  It is generally recommended that a first-semester student take a maximum of 12-15 credits.   

Credit/Semester Hour

A credit (sometimes called a semester hour) is a unit of measurement applied to college coursework.  One credit equates to approximately one hour of classroom instruction per week.  Most college courses are three credits.  Credits are also used to calculate tuition and are a factor in a student's grade point average (GPA).

Dean’s List 

Recognition of superior academic performance; a student is placed on the Dean’s List for each term in which he or she earns a GPA of at least 3.5, based on a minimum load of 12 term credits.  (Students earning an F, L, or W grade are not eligible for the Dean’s List for the term in which these grades are earned.) 

Department Chair or Divisional Head

An academic administrator with responsibility for a department or division.

Distance Learning

Courses offered on-line, through the internet, telecourses, and inter-active video that allow students flexibility in scheduling classes.


The process during the semester when students need to alter their class schedules after having been registered. Dropped courses do not appear on a student transcript. If you need to reconsider your schedule of classes and want to know the last day to drop with a refund or withdraw, select "My Tuition Refund and Withdrawal Deadlines" in myHCC. (Do not confuse "dropping" a class with "withdrawing" from a class. See "Withdrawal Period.")

Electives Courses

Courses that a student may choose to take as part of his/her learning program and that count toward graduation requirements.


Enrollment = Application + Scheduling + Registration + Payment. Students are not enrolled until they have paid for their courses.

Fast-Track Classes

Similar to the Weekend college, but faster 3 –7 week courses.

Financial Aid

Scholarships, grants, loans, and work assignments, are various types of financial aid awarded to a student to help pay for all or part of college costs.


Enrollment in 12 or more credits in a major term (fall or spring). Students in selected health career programs, including clinical course work, may be considered full time with fewer credits in some cases.

General Education Core

Core courses are those courses required of all students pursuing a college degree.  They include courses in composition, literature, arts, humanities, mathematics, science, history, social sciences, and interdisciplinary and emerging issues.  Students completing the associate of arts degree must complete at least 30 core credits; students completing the associate of applied science degree must complete at least 20 core credits; students completing the A.S.E. degree must complete at least 30 core credits.

GPA-Grade Point Average

Also referred to as Quality Point Average (QPA). The QPA is the ratio of grade points earned to the number of credit hours attempted. Grades of A, B, C, D, and F are part of the GPA calculation. To compute the GPA, add all the grade points earned and divide this sum by the number of semester hours attempted.

Hours v. Credits

Length of an actual class vs. actual amount of credit toward graduation (often these match up, though not always)

On-line Courses

Courses that are taken over the internet.  Students submit assignments via the internet and participate in “chats”.  There may be from 0 – 3 meetings on campus, depending on the class and the instructor.

Open Entry Classes

Allows students to take classes at their own pace, allowing students to complete a course earlier, if they wish.  However, open entry classes must be completed in 14-weeks (shorter term for summer and winter terms.) 


A course required before enrolling in another course. e.g., MATH 181 - Calculus I required prior to enrolling in Calculus II.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

At the end of the fall and winter/spring semesters, students' records of courses, credits, and grades are reviewed based on the MINIMUM standards for satisfactory performance. These are:

  • a minimum semester grade point average (GPA) of 2.0; and
  • successful completion of at least 50% of the credits attempted each semester.

To be eligible to receive federal student financial aid, you must meet and maintain these standards of satisfactory academic progress toward a degree or certificate offered by HCC.


A semester is a term of study.  In addition to two 14-week semesters a year, fall and spring, Howard Community College offers four summer terms (5 - 8 weeks long) and a winter session (4 weeks long).


A summary or outline of specific course objectives, assignments, class policies and the grading formula distributed in each class at the beginning of the semester.


A copy of a student's academic record.  Official copies may be obtained from the Office of Records, Registration & Veterans’ Affairs or from Students may print unofficial copies from HCC Express.

Transfer Credit

Course work completed at another accredited college that is similar in nature, content and level of instruction to courses at HCC and applies to the student’s learning program.   Courses will be evaluated for transfer if an official sealed transcript is submitted to the Office of Admissions and Advising with a completed Transcript Evaluation Request Form and the appropriate fee.

Transfer Programs

Programs of study/ majors designed for transfer to four-year colleges and universities to complete degree programs.  It is important for students who select transfer programs to work closely with academic advisors.  Students planning to transfer to a Maryland public college or university (and some private) should work with the computer program, ARTSYS, while taking courses at Howard Community College to ensure programs will transfer.

Week-End College

Classes offered in a 5-10 weekend format.

Withdrawal Period

Period of time after Drop/Add period, but well into the semester when a student may withdraw from a class.  A grade of W will appear on his/her transcript.  If you need to reconsider your schedule of classes and want to know the last day to drop with a refund or withdraw, select "My Tuition Refund and Withdrawal Deadlines" in myHCC. (Do not confuse withdrawing from a class with dropping.  See Drop/Add.)

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