Academic Definitions

Definitions of Academic Terms


  • Academic Advisor:This is generally a professor in your major who will serve you in numerous ways. They will inform you about the multitude of campus resources, act as a guide in helping you choose courses, and aid in the registration process. Above all, they are here to help you succeed.
  • Academic Success Mentor:A successful American student who meets weekly with new international students one-on-one to help him/her adjust academically to the rigors of an American university.
  • Area of Concentration:A program within a major in which a student decides what aspect of the major to study and specialize in. Some majors, but not all, require the student to pick an area of concentration. The area of concentration would determine courses a student will take within the major.
  • Course Load:Refers to the total number of credit hours a student is enrolled in per semester. An undergraduate course load is usually 14 to 15 credits. The maximum is 17 credits and the minimum for international students is 12 credits. USCIS Law requires full-time enrollment in both the fall and spring semesters. Full-time enrollment is at least 12 credit hours per semester.
  • Credit Hour: A unit of academic credit. One credit hour is given for each 50 minutes of the class per week. Most classes meet three times per week for 50 minutes each and are equal to 3 credit hours. Some classes meet two times per week for 80 minutes and are equal to 3 credit hours.
  • Cultural Integration Leader:An American student living in the dorms responsible for helping international students adjust culturally and socially to life at an American college.
  • Curriculum:The courses required for a particular major or field of study.
  • Electives:Classes that may or may not relate to the major field of study or the core requirements. These classes are optional.
  • Extra-Curricular:This is a club, sport, activity, etc., that one is not required to participate in, but does so for fun or for personal enrichment.
  • GPA:Grade point average. Here at Truman State University, each grade has a specific honor point (ex: A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0), which is multiplied by the number of credit hours that received that grade. Your GPA is then the total number of honor points divided by the total number of credit hours attempted.
  • Grades:Grades are given to indicate the quality of work in a course. Grades are generally reported as A (Excellent), B (Good), C (Satisfactory), D (Poor), and F (Failure). Students must maintain a C average or above to remain enrolled at Truman State University, and to be considered by the USCIS to be progressing normally toward their degree.
  • Major:A field chosen as an academic specialty.
  • Minor:A secondary area of specialized academic study. This requires less courses and credits than a major.
  • Orientation:A process used to acquaint you with Truman State University, Kirksville, and the American educational system. This generally occurs before the first week of classes and is REQUIRED for all incoming international students.
  • Prerequisites:These are classes that must be taken before more advanced classes in the same academic field.
  • Schedule:A student’s plan of classes for each semester. The schedule consists of the courses being taken and the times at which they meet every week.
  • Semester:Refers to a segment of the school year that is approximately 16 weeks in duration. The fall semester begins in late August and ends in mid December; the spring semester begins in January and ends in mid May. Each semester is a complete unit of study requiring examinations and completion of course work. Grades are recorded on the student’s permanent record, called a transcript, at the end of every semester.
Testimonial_Anh-Duc-Mai_240x312

The atmosphere at Truman is warm. People here are friendly and are willing to help you whenever you need it. Also, there are plenty of organizations available to help international students to make new friends, understand new cultures, and enjoy life in America.

Anh Duc M., Mathematics & Economics, Vietnam