Student Life


Educational Glossary for International Students

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academic advisor
an on-campus resource person who helps students select courses or programs in terms of their interests, career plans and academic qualifications.

academic year
the period, which normally begins in September and ends in April, when classes are scheduled at post-secondary institutions. In fact, most institutions offer spring and summer classes as well - these may be called "intersession" classes.

a voluntary process by which a registered institution or program seeks recognition of its standards of integrity and educational competence.

admission requirements
also known as entrance requirements - the academic qualifications necessary to taking courses or enter a program of study.

adult education
a process by which adults improve their technical or professional qualifications, further develop their abilities, enrich their knowledge, acquire skills in a new field or refresh their expertise in a particular field.

advanced standing
educational credits already obtained and applied as credit toward another or more advanced program of study.

affiliated institution
a university or college associated with a larger university that is responsible for its own administration but does not have the power to grant degrees.

term used to describe an academic award that often covers travel, living expenses, medical insurance, books, research allowance and tuition.

alma mater
or Alma Mater (from the Latin "bounteous mother") is a term that refers to a school, college or university that a person attends or has attended.

a graduate or former student of a school, college or university (alumni, plural; alumna and alumnae, singular and plural forms for female graduate)

hands-on training, usually in the workforce, which is focused on "learning by doing," for people who want to work in a skilled trade. Example: electricians and plumbers serve apprenticeships.

aptitude test
an examination designed to measure a person's ability to learn and the likelihood of that person's success in an academic setting or in a specific career.

attend a course without working for or expecting to receive formal credits, though formal registration and regular tuition fees apply.


bachelor's degree
first degree awarded by a university or a degree-granting college after three or four years of full-time study or completion of a specified number of credits by part-time study.

a cash award to help students pay for their education presented on the basis of financial need and/or academic achievement.


a publication that lists a post-secondary institution's courses, timelines during the academic year as well as academic rules and regulations.

see Certificat d'acceptation.

Collège d'Enseignement Général et Professionnel (General and Vocational College) is a post-Grade 11 educational institution unique to Québec that offers two-year diploma as well as career and vocational programs and, for Québec students, is the usual requirement for admission to Québec universities.

the grounds and buildings of a school, college or university.

career college
a private post-secondary institution that offers courses similar to community colleges but runs them over a more concentrated period of time to enable graduates to enter the workforce faster.

Computer-Based Training, an interactive instructional experience in which an individual learns by computer-delivered means, such as CD-ROM or the World Wide Web.

a qualification awarded upon successful completion of a short university or college program, normally one year in length.

may be a degree-granting, university-level institution, or be part of a university as a residence. Also the common short form for "community college."

a day in which a school, college or university hands out diplomas, certificates or degrees to students who have successfully completed their course of study. Also called "convocation" or "graduation ceremony."

community college
a non-degree granting institution that offers technical or vocational post-secondary courses leading to a diploma or certificate, or to credits that can be transferred to a university.

a series of examinations a graduate student is required to take and pass prior to receiving a Ph.D.

compulsory course
a course that is required in order to successfully complete a program of study; the opposite of an optional or elective course that a student takes more for personal interest.

concurrent programs
two programs being studied at the same time and resulting in two credentials, such as bachelor's degree in arts and education.

continuing education
formal courses of study for part-time adult students. May be credit or non-credit courses.

an assembly of university faculty and students during which a ceremony is held to confer degrees on graduates. Also called "commencement" and "graduation ceremony."

co-operative (co-op) program
enables students to combine academic study with work experience by spending some period of time during the program working full-time at a job related to their field of study.

core course
also known as a compulsory, mandatory or required course that is essential for all students to take in a program.

an organized unit of study, instruction or learning that usually extends over a minimum of one semester, and may generate academic credits or be taken on a non-credit basis. Also called "program."

stuff with knowledge or information, facts or figures, as a student might do prior to writing a test or exam.

certification that a student has passed a specific course. Students can obtain one or more credits for a course and are required to obtain a certain number and type of credits to qualify for a degree. Also called "diploma" or "certificate."

credit course
a course that is considered as part of completing a particular program and may result in the granting of one or more credits.

contents of a course or program.

curriculum vitae
a summary of one's life listing academic qualifications, employment history, and prizes or other distinctions gained, sometimes known as a résumé (though a résumé, as its name implies, is shorter).


Doctor of Dental Surgery

the head of a school or a university or college faculty; may also be used to identify the head of student services.

Dean's List
an annual roster of students who have achieved high standing in courses taken as part of a degree program in the preceding year.

failure to repay a loan in accordance with the terms of the promissory note.

deferral or deferment
an approved temporary suspension of loan payments based on specific criteria.

a qualification awarded to a student by a university or degree-granting college following the successful completion of a period of study.

denominational institution
one that was established and is operated by a religious organization.

a division of a faculty concerned with a specific branch of study, such as the English Literature Department within the Arts Faculty.

an individual field of study, such as history, biology or psychology.

a written report of an original scholarly investigation, usually submitted as part of the requirements for completing a master's or doctoral degree. Also called a "thesis."

distance education
a method of learning in which the student communicates with the instructor via mail, audiotape, e-mail, the Web, cable-television broadcasts or satellite hookups.

doctoral studies
a period, on average between four to five years, normally involving coursework, research on a unique area of study, along with writing, presenting and defending a thesis.

a degree, most commonly the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), which is awarded to a graduate student after the successful completion of a doctoral program beyond the master's level.

a campus building that serves as a residence for many students providing them with sleeping and living accommodation. Dormitories or residences may be for women only, men only or for both ("co-ed").

double major
two specialized areas of study from which the majority of courses are derived in a degree program.

a person who leaves school or a training program before completing the coursework required to obtain a qualification (e.g. certificate, degree).


a course that is not required for a program but still recognized for credit, which can be chosen from within a specified group of courses.

elementary schools
educational institutions, also known as grade schools, primary schools and grammar schools, for young children in their first six to eight grades of school. Many offer kindergarten (both junior for 4-year olds and senior for five-year olds).

a level of achievement on par with completing an educational or training program.

exchange program
a system by which students or instructors are sent to another educational institution to learn or teach for a period of time. Most student exchanges are either one or two semesters.

the removal of a student from a school, college or university for violating a rule or regulation, academic or otherwise.

activity outside the regular course of study, such as the football team or debating club at a school, college or university.


the term to either denote a university's teaching staff or an academic subdivision normally larger than a university department, such as the faculty of science that includes the departments of physics, chemistry and biology.

a financial award given to a graduate student to assist with the costs of study.

financial institution
an institution that collects public funds and places them in such financial assets as deposits, loans and bonds.

full-time student
a student who takes at least 60 percent of a full course load.


Graduate Management Admissions Test usually required for admission to a university business school.

Grade Point Average, a number calculated by dividing the number of grade points achieved in successfully completed academic courses by the total credit value of those courses.

Graduate Record Exam, sometimes required to qualify for admission into a graduate program.

graduate programs
sometimes called postgraduate programs that lead to advanced degrees, diplomas or certificates and that come with a first-degree prerequisite.


higher education
a level of education that follows secondary school and normally means college or university studies.

homestay program
a period of study abroad in which a student stays with a family while attending school in the host country.

honorary degree
a distinction, usually conferred as a doctorate, which recognizes an individual's outstanding accomplishments in their field or profession but without the usual academic requirements associated with receiving a degree at that level.

honours degree
awarded to a student following the successful completion of a specialized program of study at the bachelor's level, which is usually a year longer than a general program and which requires a higher academic standing for admission.


incidental fees
compulsory fees, in addition to tuition, charged by an institution for such things as athletics, health insurance and student government.

income tax
a tax levied by the federal and state governments on all forms of personal and corporate income.

a type of income earned from investing money, known as the principal, into a form such as a bank account where the financial institution pays a specified percentage of interest in exchange for the use of the depositor's money.

international baccalaureate
certificate awarded to students upon graduation from an international secondary school used to apply for admission to a post-secondary institution.

international student adviser
an individual or office at a post-secondary institution that is responsible for an international student's life on campus in such ways as providing counselling services as well as advice on financial and legal matters.

supervised practical training period for students or recent graduates to receive professional experience and expertise in their academic field.

Intelligence Quotient - a person's purported mental capacity and intellectual strengths as determined by test results.




teaching method in which the professor or instructor presents information orally to students who take notes and can ask questions.

lifelong learning
a concept that stresses the importance of study throughout one's life that is promoted through adult educational courses and programs.

the ability to read and write.

Bachelor of Laws degree or baccalauréat en droit; LL.M. is a Master of Laws; LL.D., a Doctor of Laws.

Law School Admission Test required for admission to law school.


specialization in a degree program that designates a student's principal area of study in which the majority of courses are drawn from one discipline.

master's degree
a degree that follows a bachelor's where a student successfully completes coursework and examinations and sometimes involved conducting research as part of a thesis.

Master of Business Administration

Medical College Admission Test required for admission to medical school.

Doctor of Medicine.

a federal government-sponsored scheme of health insurance covering hospital costs, doctors' fees and often other medical expenses.

Michigan English Language Assessment Battery, a test to determine English-language proficiency.

usually a faculty member assigned to work with a graduate student who has expertise relevant to the student's area of study and who can provide guidance to the student's research activities.

an academic program with a lesser degree of specialization than a major with only a few courses drawn from one discipline.


courses that do not comprise part of a program of study leading to a credential awarded by an institution.


off-campus housing
student living accommodations not based at a university or college and which may include apartments, or room and board in a private home.

optional courses
the opposite of compulsory courses.

a program an educational institution normally offers at the beginning of the academic year to new students to familiarize them with the campus.


part-time student
an individual who takes between 20 and 59 per cent of a full course load.

courses necessary to successfully complete before taking a specific higher-level course.

the administrative head of a university's operations and faculty, sometimes known as rector or principal.

the head of a school or a college.

private schools
learning institutions, from kindergarten to Grade 12, which are privately funded and not controlled by publicly elected or appointed officials.

title given to a university teacher ranked by seniority, with full professor at the highest level followed by associate professor, assistant professor and lecturer.

a combination and sequence of courses in a variety of subjects over three or more years that often leads to a degree.


limits some post-secondary institutions set on the number of students that may be admitted to certain faculties or to the institution itself.


the head or principal of a school, college or university.

re-entry orientation
program offered by the international students office to help an international student prepare to return to his or her country.

refresher course
studies undertaken to help renew knowledge or abilities, or to bring a professional, such as a doctor or lawyer, required new knowledge in a specialized area.

the office of the registrar is responsible for student admissions, records and the university timetable and sometimes provides student counselling services.

having one's name written in a list, as in signing up to take a course or enrol in a program.

a course or year of studies that a student failed and is required to take again before graduating.

often known as a dormitory, where students live on a college or a university campus; some residences accommodate married couples, others are co-ed (male and female), while others are men-only or women-only.

Registered Education Savings Plan, a Canadian government-approved tax shelter parents use to finance the future post-secondary education of their children.


sabbatical leave
a leave of absence, normally lasting one year, which is given to university professors once every seven years for study and travel.

a financial award given to students, on the basis of outstanding academic achievement, to assist them with the costs of their education.

school boards
organizations of elected officials that oversee decisions regarding schools based on a set of by-laws that govern education within their respective jurisdictions.

secondary schools
intermediate institutions (usually between grades 9 to 12) that follow elementary school and precede college or university, which offer general, technical or vocational courses.

a period covering half the academic year that usually lasts between 15 and 18 weeks.

a small discussion group, composed of students and a tutor, that meets regularly and holds discussions on an assigned topic.

Social Insurance Number
a unique nine-digit number assigned to Canadian citizens and residents by the federal government for identification purposes.

a student in the second year of high school, college or university.

special education
unique instruction for students with educational or physical disabilities designed to meet their individual needs and learning style.

special student
student accepted provisionally by a university often as a way to recognize that individual's academic qualifications from another country.

student association
a group of students elected by their peers on campus that serves as a liaison to an institution's administration and organizes social, recreational and athletic events for their entire student body.

study permit
a document that gives an international student permission to reside in Canada for the purpose of pursuing a course of study at the educational institution indicated therein.

student loan
money borrowed from a bank or lending institution that the federal or a provincial government guarantees on the student's behalf.

a detailed outline of a course prepared by an instructor that usually includes the course requirements and a weekly schedule of classes, readings and assignments.


teaching assistant
often known as a TA and usually a graduate student who helps a university professor teach courses, grade papers and exams, or lead seminars.

technical institute
an institution that specializes in instruction and training in the mechanical or industrial arts, or in the applied sciences.

an essay, based on original research, presented by a graduate student as part of the requirements for a master's or doctoral degree.

Test of English as a Foreign Language - the most widely used test of English proficiency.

official student record from a school, college or university indicating the courses taken and grades achieved.

transfer credit
recognition given by an educational institution prior to admission or during studies for academic work completed at another school.

a system run by a few Canadian universities in which the academic year is divided into three terms of equal length.

fees paid toward the cost of courses taken at an educational institution.

a course component in which a small number of students regularly meet to discuss a topic included in the curriculum.


term used to describe programs of study leading to a bachelor's or first professional degree, diplomas and certificates below degree level, or to students enrolled in such programs.

an educational institution attended after secondary school for studies leading to a degree.


visitor extension
an application for persons legally in Canada as visitors, students, temporary workers or holders of minister's permits who wish to extend their stay or change the conditions of their stay.

visitor visa
a document nationals of more than 130 countries require in order to enter Canada and which must be obtained at a Canadian mission abroad prior to arriving in Canada.

trades and skills, such as carpentry, welding, printing, stenography and hairdressing, which are taught in vocational schools.


cancellation of registration in a course within the period indicated on the student timetable to avoid academic penalty.

work-study program
program where a student earns money working on or off campus to help pay for education costs.

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