Many international students find that the U.S. academic system is significantly different from the system in their home country. These pages attempt to explain the important pieces of our system, beginning with definitions of important terms.

  • Academic Adviser: A faculty member who will help you schedule classes and keep track of graduation requirements,
  • Academic/Semester Credit Hours: Each course is assigned a certain number of credit hours, depending upon individual course requirements and class time expectations. Every undergraduate student is required to have a minimum of 128 credit hours to graduate. The graduate programs each have separate credit hour requirements for graduation- you may check with your academic adviser for this information.
  • Curriculum Design: Each major has a list of the recommended sequence for taking courses to complete the requirements for that major.
  • Schedule of Course Offerings: A booklet from the Registrars Office which lists each course offered in the academic year, grouped by academic department. The first digit of the course number tells the level of the course (1=first-year; 2=second year, etc.); the last digit indicates whether the course is offered 1st or 2nd semester (1 = 1st semester and 2 = 2nd semester.) A separate summer course schedule is printer each Spring.
  • Registration Card: A form which you will use to transfer the course information for each class from the schedule of Course Offerings, indicating which courses you will take the following semester. Your adviser must sign your registration card before it can be accepted for computer entry at the Registrars Office.
  • The Student Schedule: Prior to each semester you will receive a computer-generated student schedule, showing your official semester registration. Be sure that this schedule matches exactly the courses you intend to take in the following semester.
  • The Schedule Blank: A form you may use to make copies of your schedule for yourself or for other persons who need one, such as your on-campus employer.
  • The Rating Sheet: The official record of your progress toward meeting requirements for your particular major or minor. If a number, a hyphen or the word “satisfied” is filled in on a blank line following the name of a course, that indicates the requirements have been met. The blank lines remaining show you which requirements are still to be taken.
  • Grade Point Average (GPA): Grade Points are the numerical value assigned to each letter grade. GPA is the average grade point received by the student.
  • Grade Report: A report issued after each semester, indicating the courses which you have completed, the grades you received in each course, and your current semester and cumulative GPA.