Glossary of Terms



Here are definitions of terms that help explain the academic organization and operations at Alabama State University.


ACCREDITATION – Recognition granted schools and colleges upon examination by groups of visiting professionals based on objective standards developed by interested professional agencies. An accredited school or college has measured up to the standards of quality imposed by professional groups and accrediting agencies.


AUDITOR – One who enrolls in a course with the intention of not obtaining credit or a grade? A student must indicate that he or she is an auditor at the time of registration. Audit status may be denied if space is not available.


COLLEGE – A wide area of specialized and organized higher learning within the framework of the university itself.


COURSE OF INSTRUCTION – The most minutely specialized part within each department; the actual point of academic contact between faculty and student.


CREDIT HOURS*– The number of hours a course meets each week determines its worth in credit hours. *please see page 340a for more information


CROSS ENROLLMENT – An agreement between institutions that allows enrollment in designated courses as well as other courses. Courses are treated as “home” courses.


CURRICULUM – The total program of courses required for a degree in a particular subject.


DEPARTMENT OF INSTRUCTION – A closely defined area of specialization within a division.


DIVISION OF INSTRUCTION – A generic grouping within a college.


ELECTIVE – A course that is accepted toward fulfillment of credit for a degree, but is not required  for that degree; so termed because a student “elects’’ or chooses to take the course.


ENROLLMENT CANCELLATION/WITHDRAWAL –   Students   withdrawing officially during a term at their request or whose enrollment is canceled at the request of the university because of a failure to comply with a condition upon which enrollment/validation was approved.


EVALUATION – Any credit for academic work completed at another institution and transferred to ASU must be evaluated in terms of the requirements of ASU. Such evaluation is done by the Office of Admissions and Recruitment.


FULL-TIME STUDENT – A student who registers for 12 or more semester hours each semester.


GRADE POINT AVERAGE – Numerical computation reached by dividing the number of quality points by the number of quality hours of course work in which a student is enrolled during any given period.

 GRADUATE STUDENT – One who holds a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution, has been admitted to the Graduate School and is eligible to enroll in graduate-level credit courses.


MAJOR – The academic area in which a student specializes. A new student may choose a major at once or be classified as “undecided’’ until he or she is able to decide on the desired major.


MINOR – The academic area in which a student places special emphasis as a secondary specialization.


NON-RESIDENT STUDENT – A student who is not a resident of the state of



PART-TIME STUDENT – A student who registers for fewer than 12 credit hours a semester.


POST-BACCALAUREATE STUDENT – One who holds a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution, who is eligible to enroll in credit courses on the undergraduate level and who has not been admitted to graduate studies? Post- baccalaureate students apply for admission to the undergraduate college in which they wish to earn undergraduate credit.


PREREQUISITE – Certain courses must be completed before others may be attempted. Such first courses are prerequisites for following courses in the same or similar areas. It is the student’s responsibility to check for prerequisites in the current bulletin.


REGISTRATION – Enrollment at the university or in a particular college or school, certified by the registrar, with tuition and fee payment certified by the comptroller.


SEMESTER HOUR OF CREDIT – The semester hour is a unit of academic credit. The number of hours earned in a given semester is the measure of a student’s academic load. A normal load ranges from 15 to 18 semester hours of work. The hours of credit for various courses are indicated in the catalog.


SPECIAL STUDENT – One who does not meet the admissions requirements but is admitted by petitioning the dean concerned for permission to take courses for which the student is qualified by certain abilities or maturity. A special student may take no more than 15 credits unless granted official transfer to the status of a regular student.


STUDENT – The individual recipient of all academically imparted information; the focal point of university instruction. The university’s subdivisions of colleges, divisions and departments are basically designed so that students of similar interests and ambitions may study together and spend their college years most advantageously.


TRANSIENT STUDENT – One who is regularly enrolled at another institution and is authorized by his or her dean to pursue certain courses at ASU.


TRANSCRIPT OF CREDIT – A certified copy of credits that a student has earned in high school or in other colleges attended. The submission of a transcript is one of the most important prerequisites for admission to ASU.



Federal Requirement 4.9: Definition of Credit Hour

Alabama State University has credit hours definitions, policies and procedures that conform to commonly accepted practices in higher education.  The institution’s credit hour system complies with requirements of the U.S. Department of Education, Southern Association on Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE).  The institutional credit hour system is applicable to all modes of instructional deliver, including distance education


Credit Hour Definition

A credit hour an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement.  The Alabama State University definition of one credit hours is based on the standard Carnegie unit of 50 minutes of classroom or direct faculty instruction delivered over one (1) clock hour of contact, defined as on clock/contact hour, and is based on a 16-week academic semester.  However, the clock/contact hour representing one semester credit hour may be prorated based on the length of the academic term in weeks (e.g., summer terms, mini terms, other)(see Intuitional Credit Hour Policy section below).


The credit hours is an institutionally established equivalency that approximates not less than: 1


  1. A unit of measure representing the time and activity required for one hour of credit, and
  2. At least an equivalent amount of work required and outlined in item 1 above for other academic activities as established by the institution including laboratory work, internships, pratica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.


Alabama State University operates on an academic calendar year divided into two equal 16-week semesters.  Summer terms are operated on a ½ semester calendar (8 weeks), and mini terms are operated on ¼ semester calendar (4 weeks during summer terms; 8 weeks during fall and spring semesters).  Credit hours are formulated based on the semester term system; calculated of clock/contact hours for summer and mini terms is thus a pro rata calculation of the 16-week semester term timeframe.


Institutional Credit Hour Policy

Each continuing and new course developed for instruction must comply with the following credit hour policy:


  1. Alabama State University uses semester credit hours as the measure to represent evidence of satisfactory completion of student work in a course.
  2. Alabama State University uses the Carnegie unit to represent the credit hour as a unit of direct faculty instruction [50 minutes of direct classroom delivered over 1 clock hour of contact, or one clock/contact hour].  The Carnegie unit thus represents 1 contract/clock hour.
  3. Alabama State University uses the 16-week semester as the basis for formulating semester credit hours for any term of instruction.  Credit hour formulation for alternative instructional term formats (summer, mini terms, other) is a pro rata calculation of the 16-week semester (e.g., 8-week summer terms; 4- or 8-week mini terms, other).
  4. A minimum of 800 scheduled minutes of direct instruction is the basis for each credit hour awarded during any academic term.  Including summer and mini-terms (50 minutes of classroom or direct faculty instruction x 16 weeks unless prorated over alternative time frame).
  5. The standard expectation and common practice is that students will spend a minimum of 2 hours of preparation outside of the classroom in reading, study, research etc. for each Carnegie-based credit hour.
  6. Each course is mandated to have a syllabus documenting the amount of in-class and out-of-class work required to earn the credit hours of approved for the course.



Institutional Procedures for Determining Credit Hour

Using the U.S. Department of Education’s definition of the credit hour as a foundation, Alabama State University calculates the actual amount of academic work that goes into a single semester credit hour based on the type of course as follows:


  • Lectures and Seminars:  One lecture (taught) or seminar (discussion) credit hour represent 1 clock/contact hour and 2  hours of student preparation time over the course of a 16 week semester unless prorated over alternative term lengths (4-week summer mini terms; 8-week semester mini terms). 
  • Laboratory Courses:  One laboratory credit hour represents 1 clock/contact hour per week of lecture or discussion time, 1-3 clock/contact hours per week of scheduled supervised or independent laboratory work, and 2 hours of student preparation time per week.  Thus, for each laboratory credit hour, this calculation represents at least 16 clock/contact hours of lecture or discussion time, 16 – 48 clock/contact hours of laboratory time, and 32 hours of student preparation per academic term unless prorated over alternative term lengths.  Laboratory courses are constructed on this credit hour formula to award up to 4 semester credit hours.  There is a small population of exceptions [e.g., STEM foundations laboratory courses, Collage of Health Sciences (COHS) laboratories] for which 1 credit hour represents 32 clock/contact hours of laboratory time and 32 hours of student preparation per week.
  • Practica:  One practice credit hour (supervised clinical rounds, internships, visual or performing art studio, supervised student teaching, field work, etc.) usually represents 3-4 clock/contact hours of supervised and/or independent practice per week.  Thus one practice credit hour represents between 48 and 64 clock/contact hours of work per 16-week semester unless prorated over alternative term length.  Most studio or practice courses are assigned 3 semester credit hours, thus representing blocks of 3 practice credit hours.
  • Directed Independent Study:  One directed independent study 9 thesis or dissertation research) credit hours is calculated similarly to practice credit hours.
  • Alternate Calculation of credit Hours:  For degree programs accredited by various agencies, the core faculty of the various programs determine the amount of academic credit to be awarded for fieldwork, clinical, internship, and other experiential courses in accord with agency requirements and based on commonly acted practices in higher education.  In some health professions programs, the minimum amount of clinical time, rather than credits, is determined by the specialized accrediting agency.  All pre-clinical course work follows the policy as previously described.  In studio courses representing the arts, design, and theatre, one credit hour is equivalent to 1.5 hours of guided instruction and three hours for studio class preparation each week for 15 weeks as defined by the National Association of Schools of Art and National Association of Schools of Music.


  • The institutional credit hour system is applicable to all modes of instructional delivery, including online and distance education.





1Guidance to Institutions and Accrediting Agencies Regarding a Credit Hour as Defined in the Final Regulations Published on October 29, 2010, U.S. Department of Education.