Thomas Edison State University By Thomas Edison State University • November 11, 2020

The Ultimate TESU Glossary: 95 Common Terms Explained for Students

Have you ever been confused by a term used at the University? Whether you are finishing your degree or coming to college for the first time, it may feel overwhelming when you don’t understand what is being communicated. After all, terms that may mean one thing at your first college may mean something different at TESU. 

So, what did you get yourself into?

New programs and services are introduced frequently - that’s why we created this ultimate glossary of University terms.

So read on, bookmark this page and share it with your fellow students, because the more you know, the more likely you’ll be able to take full advantage of the courses, services and programs available to you as a student at TESU.


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95 Thomas Edison State University Terms Defined


1. ABET – A specialized accrediting agency that recognizes college and university programs in applied science, engineering and engineering technology at the associate, bachelor and master degree levels for meeting quality standards.

2. Academic Advising – A team of professional academic advisors that assist in degree planning with regard to credits needed to complete a degree.

3. Academic Advisor - An advising professional who provides assistance with academic concerns through the toll free phone center, by mail, by fax, by videoconference, by email or by in-person appointment. Academic advisors also help students review academic evaluations, select courses and programs of study, interpret University policies and prepare for graduation.

4. Academic Calendar – A calendar published on an institution’s website or in official publications. It lists the dates for course registration, terms of course offerings, testing, graduation, tuition refund periods for course withdrawals and other important academic events.

5. Academic Evaluation - A working document that reflects how credits have been applied to degree requirements and what is still needed to complete a degree. It serves as a planning tool for students, and may also be referred to as a degree plan, degree map, program plan or, simply, ‘evaluation.’

6. Advisement Program Planning Handbook - An online guide to the University’s policies and requirements for degree programs.

7. Advising Expressline – Toll free access to academic program advisors who can answer a wide variety of questions related to course selection and degree completion.

8. Advisory - A course, experience or knowledge that students should have prior to taking the particular course in question.

9. American Council on Education College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT) - Nationally recognized coordinating body for post-secondary education which reviews training, CLEP®, military training, licenses and certifications for college equivalency and makes national credit recommendations.

10. Applicant - Someone who applies for admission at an institution.

11. Application - The document used to apply for admission to an institution.

12. Application Date - The day an application is submitted to an institution.

13. Apply – The completion and submission of the online admissions application.

14. Area of Study (AOS)The field of study typically offered in a specific degree program that requires in-depth work in a specific discipline. Also known as major area, concentration, career track, specialization or option.

15. Associate Degree – An undergraduate degree awarded upon completion of 60 semester hours of credit toward a course of study, with the exception of specialized or accredited programs. 


16. Bachelor’s Degree Program – An undergraduate degree awarded upon completion of 120 semester hours of credit toward a course of study, with the exception of specialized or accredited programs. 

17. Brainfuse - A program with free access to live, on-demand tutoring in a wide array of subject areas in your courses. Additionally, the service features a Writing Lab for comprehensive writing assistance and a study center with various academic tools. You can access free online tutoring services directly in your courses or by going to the General Information site.


18. Capstone Course - A final course that culminates in a final paper or project that demonstrates the comprehensive knowledge gained in a degree program.

19. Career Track – An area of study required by the Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree.

20. CLEP® (College-Level Examination Program) - A credit-by-exam program developed by the College Board and evaluated by the American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE Credit) that includes both liberal arts and professional areas.

21. College-Level KnowledgeKnowledge considered to be equivalent to the content of college or university courses that are required to earn a degree.

22. Community College Credit – Credit that has been transferred from a regionally accredited community college or two-year institution. The University accepts up to 90 credits.

23. Concentration - A specialization within a field of study that includes a minimum of 12 semester hours and a maximum of 21 semester hours of specialized course work with no less than 50 percent of the concentration credits in upper-level credits.

24. Continuing Education Unit (CEU) - A measure of time spent in an organized continuing education experience. One unit signifies that a student has had 10 contact hours of participation or its equivalent in a learning experience. Continuing education units are not equivalent to college credit.

25. Core – A group of credit requirements considered basic to a degree specialization.

26. Corequisite - A course in which students must enroll concurrently when taking other courses.

27. Course Extension - A request made by a student who requires additional time to complete a course and pays the extension fee. Students can request an extension of time equal to eight (8) weeks from the end of the original term, as long as satisfactory progress has been made and the mentor certifies that 50 percent of the course work has been completed.

28. Course Unit – A measure of credit equivalent to approximately three semester hours.

29. Credit - The unit most commonly used to indicate the attainment of college-level knowledge. At Thomas Edison State University, it is expressed in terms of semester hours.

30. Credit-by-Exam Program - An examination that tests knowledge in a specific subject that is the equivalent of having taken a college course. Awards college credit for passing scores.

31. Credit Hours - The unit by which course work is measured. For each course credit hour, students in a 12-week course are expected to spend approximately four hours per week of concentrated, dedicated attention to course-related work.

32. Credit Hour Residency Requirement – Courses that must be completed at Thomas Edison State University. Residency requirements do not mean that students must physically come to the University or attend courses at any physical location.


33. Degree Plan – A long-range plan including a potential list of courses/credits still required toward the completion of a degree.

34. Demonstration of Currency (DOC) - Validation of current knowledge completed through an oral conference with a mentor, or may be documented through recent employment in the field, on-the-job training, certification, etc. Applies only to students enrolled in business and technical degree programs.

35. Demonstration of Currency conference (DOC conference) - An oral conference between a mentor and student to cover contemporary topics and issues common to the credits in question.

36. DSST® (Formerly DANTES Subject Standardized Test) – A credit-by-exam program evaluated by the American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT).


37. Edison Live! – A web-conferencing tool available in courses for real-time collaboration for presentations, group study sessions, student-mentor meetings and more.

38. Educational Benefit - Financial aid for educational purposes that is offered by businesses, employers, labor unions, the military, etc.

39. Electives – Credits used to complete unspecified requirements that offer a flexible component to meet personal and intellectual interests complementary to, but distinct from, general education or the selected field of study.

40. Enroll –The process by which a student has chosen and paid one of the tuition plans offered at the University.

41. e-Pack® courses - A course method where students use online diagnostic quizzes and learning activities to study an assigned textbook. Quizzes and activities can be taken as often as needed and are designed to measure students’ levels of mastery of concepts at intervals throughout the semester. All e-Pack® courses culminate with a comprehensive final examination.

42. Exam Study Guide - A list of key concepts that students may encounter on an exam as well as a brief description of the structure of the exam. This will include if the exam is multiple choice, essay or both as well as the level of complexity, involving the explanation of concepts or compare/contrast.

43. Excess Credit - A credit that cannot be used, or is not needed, to satisfy the requirement of a degree. Also referred to as ‘other courses.’


44. FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) – A federal form prepared annually by prospective and current college students, both undergraduate and graduate, to determine eligibility for student financial aid, including grants, work-study funds and loans.

45. Financial Aid Shopping SheetA cost calculator designed to help students estimate the cost of attending Thomas Edison State University during the current academic year and to identify potential sources of financial aid.

46. Foreign Credit – A course-by-course credit recommendation reviewed by certain foreign credential review agencies. Up to 90 semester hours of foreign credit can be applied toward the requirements of a bachelor’s degree, and up to 45 semester hours can be applied toward the requirements of an associate degree. The University does not evaluate transcripts from other countries.

47. Full-Time Flat-Rate Tuition – A tuition plan allowing students to register for 9 or more credits per term.


48. General Education Requirement – Courses that provide an integrated foundation based on the liberal arts with a focus on core skills and competencies.

49. Grade Point Average (GPA) – A student’s average grade computed by dividing grade points earned by the number of credits attempted.

50. Grade Report – The official notification of grade and credit acquired through the Thomas Edison Credit-by-Examination Program (TECEP®), portfolio assessment and Thomas Edison State University courses.

51. Guided Study – A mentored, independent course consisting of a study guide, audio and video programs, written assignments, test(s), a basic text and supplementary readings.


52. HelpDesk Ticket – A feature within myEdison® that allows students to submit questions to the appropriate staff via email.


53. Inactive Student – A status that indicates a student is not a currently enrolled student, but has not officially withdrawn from the University. Students may become inactive by not taking a course within 12 months.

54. Individual Learning Account - A way for nonmatriculated students to consolidate previously earned credit from other regionally accredited colleges and other credit, such as credit-by-exam programs and academic program reviews, onto a Thomas Edison State University transcript. Formerly referred to as ‘Credit Banking.’

55. Interdisciplinary Specialization - A liberal arts emphasis that includes credit from more than one liberal arts subject and area. 


56. Learning Outcomes - Statements written in observable and measurable terms that identify what a student should be able to demonstrate by the end of a course, program or degree. Institutional outcomes address skills and abilities that every student in every degree program should possess at graduation.

57. Liberal Arts - Broad areas of study in disciplines within the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and mathematics.

58. Lower-Level Credit - Credit for courses considered to be the foundation for further study in a discipline. Typically considered as the first two years of study, specifically the 100- and 200-level. Also known as lower-division credit.



59. Matriculated Student – A student enrolled in the University and pursuing an academic degree program.

60. Mentor - Highly qualified, content experts who conduct assessments of portfolios; develop and grade examinations; conduct Practicums and Demonstration of Currency conferences; and direct Guided Study and online courses at Thomas Edison State University. Mentors hold a terminal degree and have extensive professional experience at other colleges/universities or hold positions in the nonprofit or corporate world.

61. myEdison® - The University’s online student portal that contains the course management system that uses Moodle, the University’s learning management system, course access and Online Student Services.

62. Moodle –The University’s learning management system. It’s where you’ll go for all things related to your course, including course syllabus, assignments, and connecting with your course mentor and fellow students.


63. National College Credit Review Service (NCCRS) – Nationally recognized coordinating body that evaluates educational programs and training offered outside the classroom setting and recommends those programs to be accepted as college credit equivalencies.

64. Nonmatriculated Student – Students who are taking classes at the University but are not seeking a degree. Also referred to as a visiting student.


65. Online Course - A type of course method that guides students through assignments, class discussions and exams with classmates and mentors. Students access classes through the University’s course management system, without coming to a campus.

66. Official Withdrawal - The process by which a student states, in writing, to the Office of the Registrar that he/she will not be working toward a degree at Thomas Edison State University at the present time.

67. Online Student Services (OSS) – An online system that allows students to conduct transactions. This includes registering for courses, reviewing evaluations, paying bills and accepting financial aid in real time.

68. Option - The major area or field of study in an associate degree.


69. Per Credit Tuition Plan – An enrollment tuition plan that enables students to register and pay for course tuition on a per credit basis directly after they apply and are accepted into a degree program.

70. Permanent Student Record – A complete, chronological academic history, which is maintained in the Office of the Registrar. Also known as a Thomas Edison State University transcript.

71. Petition - An approval that needs to be entered into a student’s degree plan by an academic advisor before a student can register to take particular courses.

72. PLA Course Description Database – A comprehensive database that has more than 4,000 course titles and descriptions used to find the best match reflecting prior learning. This database provides the learning outcomes a student needs to address in his/her portfolio in order to earn credit for the equivalent course.

73. Portfolio Assessment - A method of earning credit in which students provide evidence of their college-level knowledge through documentation accompanied by a narrative description of the knowledge and how, when, where and why it was acquired. Portfolios are assessed by subject-matter experts to determine whether students have demonstrated knowledge equivalent to what would have learned in the equivalent course. College-level knowledge may have been acquired through work experience, volunteer work, reading, training programs, hobbies, travel, etc.

74. Practicum - A course of study that involves supervised practical application of previously studied theory.

75. Prerequisite - A course or experience that students must have completed prior to taking the particular course in question.

76. Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) - The assessment of learning that has taken place outside the classroom. Students are given the opportunity to demonstrate college-level knowledge acquired through work, military, hobbies or some other area equivalent to what would have been learned in a college course. The results of these evaluations can be used to earn college credit and apply toward a student’s degree program. Methods include credit-by-exam programs, portfolio assessment, or review of training programs, licenses, and certifications by the University or an accrediting body.

77. Proctor - A full-time faculty member or administrator from an accredited college/university or library who administers examinations.

78. ProctorU – The University’s online proctoring site, where students can schedule exams and take online proctored examinations at the location and time of their choice.

79. Professional Learning Review - The process by which the University reviews training programs, licenses and certifications to determine their equivalency to college-level courses. Students who have completed this training or possess one of these certifications can earn college credit toward a degree.

80. Program Advisor – See Academic Advisor. 


81. Regional Accreditation - Refers to the area where the accrediting organization operates. Accreditation is an important assessment of institutional quality assurance and quality improvement. As of July 2019, the U.S. Department of Education refers to all Accreditors as “Institutional” instead of regional or national. TESU accepts transfer credit from institutions who hold accreditation from accreditors formerly called “regional."

82. Regionally Accredited College/University - A college or university recognized by a regional accrediting commission. As of July 2019, the US Department of Education refers to all accreditors as “institutional” instead of regional or national. TESU accepts transfer credit from institutions who hold accreditation from accreditors formerly called “regional."  

83. Registration – The process by which students select courses to take for a specific term.

84. Rubric - An instructional, multipurpose scoring tool used to assess student learning and performance. It is designed to clearly define academic expectations and helps ensure consistency in the evaluation and grading process.


85. Self-Directed Course – A type of online course method that provides students with an opportunity to learn independently at a pace they control. Students are given the tools needed to complete the course without supervision.

86. Specialization - The major area or field of study.

87. Student Success Team - Skilled student success counselors who assist students with a variety of administrative functions associated with degree completion.

88. Study Guides - A brief description of a midterm exam or final exam’s structure and level or complexity as well as a list of key concepts covered by multiple-choice questions and essays alike. 


89. TECEP® (Thomas Edison Credit-by- Examination Program) – The University’s own credit-by-exam program that allows students to earn college credits by taking exams instead of courses.

90. Test Description – A list of exam topics, suggested study materials, format details and sample questions for a TECEP®

91. Transcript - A document that, at a student’s request, is forwarded to individuals, institutions or agencies for use in reviewing his/her academic performance. Also known as a Permanent Academic Record.

92. Transfer Credit - Credit earned at a regionally accredited institution and accepted by the University as part of a student’s degree program.

93. Transfer Equivalency - A course identified by TESU that is determined to be equivalent to an accepted transfer course. This is used to determine where the course fits appropriately into a student’s specific degree plan.


94. University Catalog - Thomas Edison State University’s annual publication that provides a summary of the University’s policies, procedures, programs and services as well as course descriptions, course registration materials and forms, and registration schedules for the academic year.

95. Upper-Level Credit - Credit given for a course that covers material above the foundation or introductory level of a field of study, usually at the 300- and 400-level. Also known as upper-division credits.

Thomas Edison State University

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