Glossary of academic terms
Academic Probation, which may be assigned to students whose Grade Point Average (GPA) is at least 3.0 but less than 3.5, will allow a student to continue at the University for one reviewing period.
Academic Standing is the statement of the academic performance of a student at the end of Winter or Spring/Summer terms. Good Standing, On Program Probation, May Not Continue in Program, May Not Continue in Faculty, On Academic Probation, and Required to Withdraw from University are examples of academic standings.
Advanced Standing/Credit may be granted to an applicant who has completed work at another university or college or who has completed a Certificate/Diploma program at McMaster University, subject to the applicant having met the minimum requirements prescribed by the University.
Anti-requisite is a course which cannot be taken for credit before, after, or at the same time as the course with which it is listed.
Bursaries are granted based upon demonstrated financial need, a minimum expectation of academic accomplishment and, in some cases, other forms of earned merit. They may vary in monetary value, based upon the level of financial need demonstrated.
Continuing Student is a university graduate who is not proceeding to an advanced degree, but wishes to take one or more undergraduate courses after graduation.
Co-requisite is a course which must be taken together with another course in the same term.
Course Numbers (e.g. 1A03) can be interpreted as follows: the initial digit indicates the Level of the course; the letter(s) in the middle identifies the specific courses within the Level; and the final digit(s) defines the number of units of credit associated with the course.
Cross-listed Course is a course which is listed under two or more subjects.
Cumulative Average (CA) was renamed Grade Point Average (GPA) effective May 2015.
Degree is conferred when a student completes a program of study (e.g. Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Kinesiology, Master of Science, Doctor of Philosophy).
Department is a subdivision of a Faculty, responsible for a particular subject or group of subjects (e.g. Department of Chemistry, Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics).
Elective Courses are those courses taken by a student which are not specifically designated in a student’s program, but which form part of the total number of units required to complete the program.
Extra Courses are those courses designated at the time of registration as “Extra”, which are not included as units toward completion of a student’s program. The grades obtained in such courses will not be included in the computation of the GPA. However, they will be included in the computation of the Fall-Winter Average and the Full-Load Average.
Faculty is a major administrative and teaching unit of the University responsible for programs and courses relating to common fields of study or academic disciplines (e.g. Faculty of Humanities, Faculty of Engineering).
Full Load is the number of units specified in the Calendar for an individual level of a program (e.g. Commerce, Level II: 30 units). If the Calendar does not specify the program requirements by individual levels, divide the total units for all levels by the number of levels, discarding the remainder.
Full-load Average (FA) is based on the successful completion of a full load of course units (see Full Loaddefinition), and includes only courses taken in the Fall/Winter session. Overload units (those above Full Load) and Extra Courses taken during the Fall/Winter session are included in the FA.
Full-time Student for academic purposes is an undergraduate student who is registered in at least 9 units in a term, including Extra Courses. Full-time status for students in the Faculty of Science and Engineering Co-op programs is granted to those students registered in at least 9 units in a term.
Fall-Winter Average is a weighted average based on the grades attained in the Fall and Winter Terms. Overload courses and extra courses are included in the Fall-Winter Average.
Grade Point Average (GPA) is the weighted average based on the grades obtained in all courses taken.
Letter of Permission is a formal document which allows a McMaster student to take one or more courses at another university for credit towards a McMaster degree.
Level is used to describe a student’s progression through a program.
Loans are monetary advances granted to students currently registered, based upon a demonstrated means and promise of repayment.
Mature Student has not attended secondary school or college on a full-time basis for at least two years; and has not previously attended university.
Minor is an option available to students enrolled in four- or five-level programs. A Minor consists of at least 24 units of which normally no more than six units may be from Level I that meet the requirements set out in the program description of that Minor.
Multi-Term Course is a course taught over the Fall and Winter terms. Students enroll in both the ‘A’ and the ‘B’ parts of the same course. Part ‘A’ is taken in the Fall term. Part ‘B’ is taken in the Winter term. Academic Load and Billing units are assigned to both parts. Units for GPA calculation are assigned to part ‘B’ of the course only.
Multi-Session Course is a course taught over the Spring and Summer sessions of the Spring/Summer Term. Students enroll in both the ‘A’ and the ‘B’ parts of the same course. Part ‘A’ is taken in the Spring session. Part ‘B’ is taken in the Summer session. Academic Load and Billing units are assigned to both parts. Units for GPA calculation are assigned to part ‘B’ of the course only.
Part-time Student (for academic purposes), is an undergraduate student who is registered in fewer than 9 units in a term, including Extra Courses.
Post-Degree Student is a university graduate or a person with professional qualifications who is not proceeding to an advanced degree, but wishes to take one or more graduate courses.
Prerequisite is a requirement to be fulfilled before registration in a course is permitted. This is usually the successful completion of another course.
Program is a specific combination of courses that fulfils the requirements for a degree.
Program Probation which may be assigned to students whose GPA falls within the probationary band below the minimum GPA required to remain in the program in good standing, will allow a student to continue in his/her program for at least one reviewing period. (See the General Academic Regulations section in this Calendar.)
Readmission See Readmission in the Admission Requirements section General Academic Regulations in this Calendar.
Required Courses are those courses which are specifically designated for inclusion in a program.
Requisite is an academic requirement that must be met to register in a course. A course requisite may comprise Prerequisites, Corequisites and/or Antirequisites.
Result of Session was renamed Academic Standing effective May 2015.
Review is an assessment of a student’s performance to determine eligibility to continue in a program or to graduate.
Reviewing Period is the time between two reviews for a student. Reviews will take place in May and August, provided the student has attempted 18 units of work since the last review or is a potential graduand.
Session A period of study within a Term. Each term may have multiple sessions. For example, the Summer session runs from June to August within the Spring/Summer term.
Sessional Average (SA) was renamed Fall-Winter Average, effective May 2015.
Term A period within the Academic Year. The Academic Year will have three Terms that may have multiple Sessions within them. For example: Fall Term (September-December), Winter Term (January-April), and Spring/Summer Term (May-August).
Transcript is an official document summarizing the entire academic record of a student at a particular educational institution.
Tuition is fees paid in consideration for enrolment in a program of study and selected courses.
Undergraduate Student is a student enrolled in a program of study leading to a bachelor’s degree or to the degree Doctor of Medicine.
Units define the number of credits associated with a course. A unit is roughly equivalent to one lecture-hour per week for one term or two hours of laboratories or seminars per week for one term. Three-unit courses are usually one term in length. Six-unit courses are usually two terms in length.
Weighted Average is calculated by multiplying the grade points achieved in each course by the number of units in each course, totaling these results, and then dividing this result by the total number of course units. (See example under Grading System in the General Academic Regulations section in this Calendar.)
Withdrawal With Academic Penalty is the formal process of discontinuing studies in a particular course or program after the Last Day for Course Withdrawal Without Academic Penalty in the term (see the Sessional Dates section in this calendar).
Withdrawal Without Academic Penalty is the formal process of discontinuing studies in a particular course or program before the Last Day for Course Withdrawal Without Academic Penalty in the term (see the Sessional Dates section in this calendar).
Important Dates & Deadlines
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