Below are definitions of academic terms used throughout the University catalog. Additional terms used at MU can be found in the Mizzou Glossary.


Academic Action: Students who do not meet requirements for University academic standing requirements are subject to academic action, such as being placed on probation or being declared ineligible to enroll, which is often called dismissal. NOTE: Academic units may have more restrictive standards. (Also refer to Academic Standing and Satisfactory Progress for additional policy information.)

Academic Plan: A primary field of specialized study also referred to as a degree program or major.

Academic Program: The academic organization to which a student applies, is admitted, and ultimately graduates. These will, in most cases, correspond to schools and colleges.

Academic Progress for Financial Aid: Federal regulations require the University of Missouri to establish, publish, and apply standards of satisfactory academic progress (SAP) for financial aid eligibility.  For detailed criteria, please visit Student Financial Aid's website.

Academic Standing: For further information see, Academic Policies: Academic Standing.

Academic Sub-plan: An emphasis area or concentration within a specific academic plan.

Academic Unit: Colleges and schools are approved to offer degree programs or oversee degree or non-degree programs approved by the state Coordinating Board of Higher Education. Because the organization of these units varies across the campus, these entities are referred to as academic units, or AUs for short.

Accelerated Options: Accelerated Options allow exceptional students at Mizzou the opportunity to complete requirements for a degree or set of degrees at an accelerated pace.  While most accelerated options involve a bachelor’s and a graduate or professional degree, there may be an accelerated option within a bachelor’s degree.  For general information on how accelerated options work, and for guidelines on participation, refer to Accelerated Options.

Applied Course: A course that is focused on the personal practice of the subject matter. Applied courses are typically found in music, art, and courses preparing for certain vocations.

Audit: A method of taking a course in which a student receives no grade or credit. Sometimes referred to as Hearer. See Academic Policies: Auditing a Course (Hearer).

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Basic Skills Courses: Basic skills courses are considered remedial or preparatory for college level course work that follows. Credit hours for basic skills courses do apply toward minimums required for financial aid and grades earned in these courses show on the transcript and are averaged into the cumulative grade point average. However, credit hours earned in basic skills courses do NOT apply to the minimum number of hours required for a degree.

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Capstone Experience: An academic activity that integrates general knowledge with the specialized knowledge each student has developed in the major area and, when appropriate, the related field.

Certificate: A program of study that requires completion of a minimum of 12 credits. It can be part of a degree program, may be completed in addition to a degree program, or may stand-alone. Officially approved Certificates are listed on transcripts.

Commencement: A ceremony in which students are recognized for degree completion. In May and December, each MU school and college holds commencement ceremonies for graduates, during which students walk across the stage and are recognized individually. Ceremonies are not held for summer session graduates; however, these students are invited to participate in May or December commencements.

Consent Required: Courses that require the permission of the instructor, department or division. Also referred to as permission required.

Corequisite: A course or requirement that must be met prior to or concurrent with enrolling in a course. Exceptions may be made with permissions.

Core Requirements: The basic, required courses or standards that students must meet for a given major, degree, minor, emphasis or concentration.

Course Components: A portion or part, (i.e. subset) of a course.

  • Lecture/Standard (LST): Faculty delivered instruction to multiple students often in, but not always, a classroom setting. A lecture or standard class is the primary portion of the course that is often delivered face to face, but does not have to be. It may be presented on-line or via other delivery methods. While it is usually presented in a small or large group setting led by a faculty member the course might also be very interactive and include group activities. It may be offered in a traditional lecture format, a seminar format, sections with group interaction, etc.
  • Discussion (DIS): A small group that meets to discuss topics introduced in a related lecture to supplement the instruction and allow for discussion.
  • Lab (LAB): A class or the “practice” portion of a course in which experimentation, class projects or other exercises or skills conjunction with material presented, are performed.
  • Individual Study (IST): One-on-one instruction allowing for greater individualized learning and self direction. Individual study may be directed studies that are based upon an agreed upon topic between instructor and student. Titles may include but are not limited to research, problems and readings.
  • Lesson (LES): Typically a musical or other performance art instruction delivered one-on-one or in a small group.
  • Studio (STU): Hands-on, interactive, project-oriented instruction that is delivered one-on-one or in a small group. May apply to art, architectural studies, textile and apparel management, broadcast media, film creation, and communication instruction.
  • Exam-only (EXM): Graduate student enrollment required to complete the final, comprehensive examination.
  • Internship/Externship (IXT): Provides opportunity for students to gain experience in their field outside the classroom. Instruction is hands-on, experimental learning that may require additional research and written assignments. Titles may include, but are not limited to, preceptorships, clinical, practicums.
  • Field Study (FLD): Off-campus, hands-on instruction directed by a faculty member with one or more students. Typically part of science and social science, as well as some humanities instruction.

Credit by Exam: Credit earned by passing advanced-standing examinations in a subject-matter field. Examinations can include: departmental exams, CLEP subject-matter exams and International Baccalaureate and Advance Placement exams given by the College Entrance Examination Board of Princeton, N.J.  See Academic Policies: Advanced Standing - Credit By Exam.

Credit: The following applies to MU courses, regardless of mode of delivery.  One credit represents approximately three hours of a student’s time each week for one semester. This may mean one hour in lecture or standard classroom instruction, in addition to two hours spent in preparation. According to State of Missouri policy, a credit hour is a permanently transcripted instructional activity in which one semester credit hour shall consist of a minimum of 750 minutes (for example, 15 weeks x 50 minutes per week) of classroom experiences, such as lecture, discussion, or similar instructional approaches, or a minimum of 1,500 minutes of such experiences as laboratory, studio or equivalent experiences. Both of the above are exclusive of registration and final examination time. Greater amounts of supervised practicum or internship instruction are normally required to be the equivalent of one credit. (Also referred to as Units.)

Cross-level Course: A cross-level course is a course offered at both the undergraduate and the graduate level. Undergraduate students enroll in a course numbered in the 4000 range and graduate students enroll in a course numbered in the 7000 range. Lectures and discussions may be held jointly, but different graduate level work will be required of students in the 7000-level courses. (They are also referred to as combined sections.)

Cross-listed Course: A course that is considered the same as, and often may meet with a section of, another course with a different curricular abbreviation and possibly a different course number. (They are also referred to as combined sections.)

Curriculum: An organized program of study arranged to provide integrated cultural or professional education.

Curriculum Designator (Subject Area): A specific area of instruction within an academic organization. These are the subject matter headings that appear in the Course Catalog and the Schedule of Classes.

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Dean’s Signature: The dean’s signature is the mark of approval for certain academic actions, such as approvals to withdraw at certain points in the term. Usually a “dean’s signature” refers to a stamped signature from the academic advising office within the academic unit. A dean’s signature may also be the signature of the dean or associate dean of the college or school. When instructions indicate that a student should obtain a dean’s signature for approval of a process, students should first inquire in the academic advising office for their degree program.

Degree: A formal award or title conferred upon an individual for the completion of a program or courses of study.

Degree Audit Report: MU uses a degree audit system called DARS for short, which tracks degree programs. Many academic units and departments use these reports to assist in advising students. Students may look at their own DARS reports using myZou.

Degree Program: A primary field of specialized study also referred to as a major or academic plan.

Discipline: A branch of learning or field of study (e.g., mathematics, history or psychology).

Dual Degree (undergraduate): A student may be granted two baccalaureate degrees if all requirements for both degrees have been met and the student has completed at least 12 semester hours of course work beyond that required for the first degree. See Faculty Handbook

Dual Degree (graduate): A student may be granted two master's degrees if all requirements for both degrees have been met including a minimum of 18 hours of graduate courses with a minimum of three hours of 8000-level courses, and the student has completed a minimum of 12 hours of shared 8000-level graduate credit.  18 + 18 + 12 = 48 hours of graduate credit, which is the minimum total hours for a dual master's degree program.

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Emphasis Area: A sub-area of specialized study within a major that has been formally approved. Emphasis areas are printed on students’ transcripts.

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General Education (University): The MU Faculty has developed a comprehensive program of University general education course work that equips students with the skills, knowledge and foundations in the disciplines required of all informed citizens. All MU students must satisfy University general education requirements as a part of their undergraduate degrees. See General Education Requirements.

GPA of Record: The GPA stands for grade point average. A GPA of record is the official GPA.  See Academic Policies: Grades.

Graded Course: A course in which credit is awarded if successfully completed. A course in which a student has enrolled as a “Hearer/Auditor” is not regarded as a graded course for that student.

Grading Basis: The grading system used to assign a grade. See Academic Policies: Grades.

Graduation: Graduation is the completion of all degree requirements, as recorded on the official transcript, and the conferring of a diploma.

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Honors Course-Departmental: See Academics at MU: Course Numbering section. Catalog number is not followed by an “H”.

Honors Course-General: A course limited to honors-eligible students. Course has been approved by Honors college for use towards Honors Certificate or University Honors. Catalog number is followed by an “H”.

Honors Eligibility: See Honors College for more information.

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Instructional Mode: The dominant delivery method of instruction of the class content.

  • Traditional (TR): No online technology used -- content is delivered in writing or orally. May have a video of the class that is used during the initial delivery and viewed later. Course attributes should indicate this.
  • Web Facilitated (WF): Includes face-to-face instruction. Includes those courses in which zero to 29 percent of the content is delivered online. May have a video of the class that is used during the initial delivery and viewed later. Course attributes should indicate this.
  • Blended class instruction (BL): Defined as having between 30 percent and 80 percent of the course content delivered online. It is sometimes called hybrid.
  • On-line (OL): A course where most or all (80% or greater) of the content is delivered online. Typically these sections have no face-to-face meeting, but there may be some or face-to-face exams, etc.
  • E-Learning (EL): A course where 100% of the content is delivered online. (May have proctored exams)

Interdisciplinary: A course of study that combines two or more academic disciplines.

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Location: An indication of where a student is taking a course for billing and informational purposes.

Lower Division: Undergraduate courses numbered less than 3000.

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Major: A primary field of specialized study also referred to as a degree program or academic plan..

Minor: A secondary field of specialized study that does not lead to a degree. A minor will be noted on the transcript by not on the diploma.

Missouri Online: Missouri Online partners with academic units to develop, market, and deliver programs and courses designed for distance students.

Missouri Online-Self Paced: Students may enroll in self-paced, online courses year-round, (minimum six weeks, maximum six months) and complete coursework at their own pace. Students with 60 or more approved credit hours may complete a bachelor of general studies degree online.

Missouri Online-Semester Based: Semester-based courses have specific start and end dates and follow the University semester calendar. Students participate with other students and instructors in the courses and have assignment due dates and deadlines. Enrollment periods are the same as campus sections.

myZou:  MU's online student information system.

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Option: A track or other portion of a major that may be required or optional. A separate designation is not made on the transcript or diploma for an option or track.

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Prerequisite: A course or requirement that must be met prior to enrolling in a course.  Exceptions may be made with permissions.

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Readmission: See Admissions Office for information on the readmission process and standards.

Recommended course: A course that is beneficial or preferred for the student to have taken before enrolling in a subsequent course. It is a strong suggestion, but not a requirement.

Registration: The act of enrolling in classes for a given semester or term. At the University of Missouri, registration refers to the process in which students select course work for a term and, reserve spaces (enroll) in the courses in the University’s computer system. This may be done through myZou.

Repeat for Credit: Courses that may be taken more than once for credit (e.g., music performance courses.)

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Satisfactory Progress towards degree: The time progression in meeting the requirements of the student’s established educational objective, typically, the completion of a degree program. Satisfactory progress is based on two concepts:

  • Minimum number of credits completed expressed as a percentage of total credits attempted
  • Maximum time to complete the degree as expressed by a total number of credits attempted

The term may also refer to financial aid requirements. See Financial Aid.

Second Undergraduate Degree: Some academic units will admit students who have already earned one undergraduate degree to pursue a different degree program. Ordinarily students who enroll for a second degree are expected to meet requirements in place at the time of beginning work of the second degree instead of requirements in place at the beginning of work on the first degree.  

Sequence of Courses: Two or three closely related courses that must be taken in specified order.

Session: A class scheduling/enrollment control time period within an academic term.

Student Center (myZou): The page in myZou where a student can view a synopsis of all their information. (i.e. schedule, service indicators, enrollment dates, financial information.)

Student Level: Students are assigned to a particular class level based upon the number of credits they have completed. (i.e. freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior.)   See Academic Policies: Student Level.

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Track: An option or other portion of a major that may be required or optional. A separate designation is not made on the transcript or diploma for an option or track.

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Upper Division: Undergraduate courses numbered 3000-4000.

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Variable Credit (Units): For some courses, the student may choose the number of credits.

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Waive: To waive a requirement is to set it aside without credit. In other words, if a requirement is waived for a student that student does not have to meet the requirement, but no credit hours are earned. For example, an international student pursuing a BA degree in the College or Arts and Science has the foreign language requirement waived but will not receive academic credit for his/her native language.  

Writing Intensive Course: All writing intensive courses use writing as a tool for thinking and learning; all require revision as a way of improving critical thinking. WI courses can be identified on the Schedule of Classes in two ways:  they will have a "W" after the catalog number and they will have an attribute of Writing Intensive Section attached to the course.

Writing Intensive Requirement: After completing ENGLSH 1000, select one Writing Intensive (WI) course from anywhere in the University curriculum to meet the WI requirement in general education. After that, select a WI course at a 3000- or 4000-level in your major area of study. In some cases, your department may ask you to take a 3000- or 4000-level WI course in another department but still in an area closely related to your major. To receive credit for taking a writing intensive course, students must earn a grade in the C-range or better.