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College Lingo A-Z


Academic Advisor: The academic advisor is usually your faculty advisor of your degree choice. This person will guide and advise you helping you make informed choices. Always find your advisor as it will help you navigate the academic life.

Academic Calendar: The official calendar for the College. It contains due dates for certain functions like when your “petition to graduate” is due. It is available online.

Academic Probation: If your grades fall below a certain level, you may be placed on academic probation. This traditionally means that you need to raise your GPA or face the possibility of being removed from your school for academic reasons. Don’t let this happen!

Academic Suspension: Status assigned to a student who fails to make Satisfactory Academic Progress after having been on probation.

Academic Warning: Status assigned to a student who fails to make Satisfactory Academic Progress. Students may continue to receive Financial Aid for one Payment period.

Add/Drop: This occurs at the beginning of the first week of the semester when you can add and/or drop classes if you are already registered.

Alumni: Graduates of the College.

Associate Degree: This is a degree that is awarded to a student who has completed the course requirements for a two-year program.


BA or BS: BA stands for Bachelor of Arts and a BS stands for Bachelor of Science. Both degrees are considered a four-year degree.

Baccalaureate: This is also another name for a bachelor degree and also a farewell sermon to graduating seniors in conjunction with their commencement ceremonies.

Blackboard: This is the platform that online courses are delivered at Northern.


Certificate: These are formal awards granted upon completion of a vocational training program (e.g., Administrative Office Assistant) or for professional certification (e.g., Alternative Licensure Programs).

Closed Section: A section or a course that has been completely filled and for which you cannot register.

Commencement: Usually another name for graduation.

Core Curriculum: This is our “General Education” requirements of 35 credit hours comprised of Communication, Mathematics, Lab Science, Behavioral and Social Sciences and Humanities and Fine Arts. All students in AA, AS, BA and BS are required to take this curriculum.

Course Catalog: This is the College Catalog and is an important tool for understanding the college’s curriculum, and academic and administrative policies.

Course Numbering: Typically the course number represents the level of the course: 100’s freshman, 200’s sophomore, 300’s junior and 400’s senior. The 100 and 200 level are considered “lower division” and the 300 and 400 level courses are considered “upper division”.

Credit Hour: Courses are measured in credit hours. A credit hour is equivalent to 50 minutes a week. So for example you have a 3 credit hour class that is not a lab you would attend class 150 minutes a week. This can be one 150 minutes (2.5 hours), two 75 minute periods (An hour and fifteen minutes 2 times a week) or three 50 minutes hours. Lab courses, shop and studio courses have extended time in credit hours.

CRN: This is the five digit number in the course schedule that you use to register for a course.

Curriculum: These are the courses prescribed by “general education core” and your prescribed courses for your degree or certificate.


Department Chair: A Chair is someone who is in charge of one section of the college such as Chair of Fine Arts.

Dean: A Dean is someone traditionally in charge of a major area of the college. For example, the Dean of Students and the Dean of the College Arts & Sciences.

Dean’s List: The Dean’s list is published at the end of each semester as the official recognition of outstanding academic accomplishments. Only full-time student who are pursuing a declared major and have earned a semester GPA of at least 3.5 over a minimum of 12 credit hours are eligible for the honor.

Disability Services: If you have any type of disability, you may avail yourself of the educational and personal support provided by the Accessibility Resource Center (505-747-2152)


Faculty: The faculty, or a faculty member, is generally anyone who teaches at the college

Fall Break: Fall break occurs after mid-terms of the fall semester. You are supposed to rest and have fun.


Grade Point Average (GPA): This is sometimes referred to as Cumulative Grade Point Average. The GPA is a calculation of the student’s overall grade average on a 4-point scale with A equals 4.  The overall GPA can be viewed at the end of your academic transcript.


Instructor: An instructor is often someone who is teaching at the college but who does not have a PhD. They often, however, have quite a bit of experience in their fields and are otherwise very qualified. Treat an instructor like a professor, since their roles -- and power -- in the classroom are often the same.


Learning Communities: This is a variety of approaches that link or cluster classes, during a given term often around an interdisciplinary theme, and enroll a common cohort of students. This represents an intentional restructuring of students’ time, credit, and learning experiences to build community and to foster more explicit connections among students and their teachers, and among disciplines.


Major: A subject or career field that is the focus of your degree program.

Mid-Term Exams: During the middle of the semester, instructors and professors may give a mid-term exams that covers material to that point.

Minor: A secondary concentration in a specific subject.


Office Hours: Professors are usually required to hold office hours on a regular basis throughout the semester, which is when students are able to drop in or make an appointment to meet with them. Often, if you can't make it to a professor's office hours, you can work with them to schedule a different time that works for both of you. If you can take advantage of office hours, you should! It can be a great opportunity to get feedback on your papers or other assignments, and a great chance to get to know your professors a little bit better.



Pre-Req: Pre-requisities are courses that students are required to take prior to registering for a particular course.

Professor: You were once in high school where teachers were called…teachers. In college, most of your "teachers" are called professors. This indicates that you are 1) in a college environment, and, more often than not, 2) being taught by someone with a PhD. Drop the "teacher" reference the moment you start attending!

Provost: A Provost is one of the highest-ranking people on campus. The Provost serves as the Chief Academic Officer of the college. He or she is #2 person on campus, a Provost is in charge of many aspects of an institution.


Registrar: College official who registers and is responsible for reviewing transcripts, keeping permanent records and maintaining student’s files.


Syllabus: A course outline of the objectives, topics and assignments to be covered in a course. All courses require a syllabus. This is a “contract” between the student and the instructor.


Tenure: Tenure is something unique to higher education. A traditional path of someone who wants to teach at a college is to get their PhD, and then get a job as a professor on a campus. For the first six years or so that they are teaching, they are usually in a "tenure-track" position. If all goes well the professor is then granted tenure. If you have a tenured professor teaching your class, it means you have someone who has been at the school for a while and been judged, by a committee of their peers and the academic dean, to be an essential member of the faculty and campus community.

Transcript: This is a list of all the courses taken. The official transcript is maintained by the Registrar.


WEB: These are the courses at Northern that are delivered online through Blackboard.

Work Study: this is basically a "job" that you will have as part of your financial aid package. (Note, however, that you still need to go out and find a job yourself; this just provides funding for it.) You are usually not allowed to make more money in your work study job than has been allocated in your financial aid package.



Undergraduate Degrees

Associate of Applied Sciences: at Northern this is generally a degree that specializes in a subject to obtain knowledge for direct employment. It is intended for those who plan to find a job directly after receiving the degree. Generally this degree is about 64 credit hours. With this degree some of the classes will transfer to a four year degree.

Associate of Arts or Science: a degree intended to provide a “stepping stone” for a baccalaureate degree. It is generally 64 credits that can lead to your major in baccalaureate degree.

Baccalaureate Degree: There are two different baccalaureate degrees in the College of Arts and Sciences including Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor Art.  The bachelor’s degree is designed to be completed in four years, although, most students take five or six years. In the BA or BS a student will focus on a major course of studies. The student also may take a minor that will broaden the student’s academic knowledge. For example, a student may major in business with a minor in psychology. You would learn a lot about business, but also have some knowledge of what makes people “tick”.

Graduate Degrees

In general, Associates and Bachelor degrees are considered undergraduate course work, while the Masters (MA or MS) and Doctoral degrees (PhD) are considered graduate course work. Graduate course work – in most cases – is very specific and particular to one field of study. Thus, the graduate study is advanced course work which follows undergraduate course work. This is something to think about for the future.

Northern offers over 50 bachelor's, associate and certificate programs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math); Nursing and Health Sciences; Liberal Arts and Humanities; Arts, Film & Media; Business Administration; Teacher Education and Technical Trades.
Northern New Mexico College is the most affordable 4-year college in the Southwestern US. Choose us for our value, our quality degree and continuing education programs in diverse areas of study, and our experienced faculty. We provide students with unique opportunities for academic, personal, and professional growth, small class sizes, personalized attention, and strong hands-on experiences from day one.
The Northern Foundation remains committed to stimulate leadership, promote equity, and grow resources and philanthropy in the Española Valley and surrounding rural areas. Over the past twenty years, we have granted $1.3 million to support over 1,250 NNMC students.