Skip to main content
Sign In

Glossary of Terms

​Navigating the university environment involves learning and understanding key terms. It’s important to learn these terms as you will hear and use them throughout your academic career at CU Denver.​

Important Academic Terms Defined


A university representative that can help guide you through decision-making and answer questions. There are many types of advisors including: academic, faculty, career, financial aid, international, and study abroad advisors. 


 Credit or Semester Hour

The unit of measurement for college credit. For each credit hour earned, you will spend approximately 50 minutes per week in class. Most core classes are three credit hours. Most degrees require 120 credit hours to graduate, however, some require more. You will also hear credit hours referred to as “hours” or “credits.” 


 Class Level

Your classification as a student is based on completed credit hours. Class level is determined by the following credit-hour breakdown:

  • ​First-Year         0-29 completed semester hours
  • Sophomore      30-59 completed semester hours
  • Junior               60-89 completed semester hours
  • Senior              90-120 completed semester hours


 College or School

An individual degree-granting unit within the university. At CU Denver, we have seven undergraduate school and colleges: Architecture and Planning, Arts and Media, Business, Education and Human Development, Engineering and Applied Science, Liberal Arts & Sciences, and Public Affairs. All are part of the University of Colorado Denver, and regardless of what school or college you have been admitted to, you are a CU Denver student. 



A course that must be completed concurrently, in the same semester, with another course. Some schools and colleges may allow you to complete corequisites before enrolling in a concurrent course.


 Course Withdrawal

Dropping one or more course(s) – but not all – within a specific term. When you withdraw from a course, you earn a grade of “W,” reflected on your transcript, which does not affect your GPA.


 CU Denver Core Curriculum (Core)

The set of general education requirements all students must complete. These classes help make you a well-rounded student and citizen. The Core includes classes in: English, Math, Arts, Humanities, Behavioral Science, Social Science, Biological and Physical Sciences, Cultural Diversity, and International Perspectives. 


 General Electives

Classes you choose to take in addition to CORE, school or college, and major requirements.


 Full Time/Part Time Enrollment

To be a full time undergraduate student, you must be registered for at least 12 credits. Part time enrollment is anything below 12 credits. Full time/part time status does not relate to how many days per week you come to campus for classes. Full time/part time status is defined differently for graduate students.


 Grade Point Average (GPA)

An average on a 4.0 scale calculated based on your grades and the number of credits you have attempted. Different types of GPA include cumulative (total), semester/term, and major.



An alert placed on your student account that requires action. Typically, holds prevent you from completing specific functions in the student portal (e.g., registration).


 Incomplete Grade

Based on extenuating circumstances, you can choose to request an incomplete grade for a course and make arrangements with the course instructor to complete any remaining assignments or exams. A grade of “I” is reflected on your transcript until you complete the course. There are guidelines to be eligible for an incomplete grade, as well as consequences for not completing a course, so be sure to see your advisor.


 Independent Study

An academic experience created collaboratively with a faculty member. You and a faculty member would decide the work to be produced, the hours you’ll dedicate to the study, the outcomes for the experience, and the credits you’ll earn for the study.


 Laboratory (Lab)

A class component, in addition to lecture and mostly for biological and physical science courses, which involves direct application of concepts and information through activities, experiments, and observations.



A class component during which an instructor presents course content.


 Lower Division Courses (1000 & 2000 level)

Introductory level survey courses designed for freshmen and sophomores.



As a component of a degree, the area of study chosen by a student to be hir, her, or his main focus in college. The number of classes required for a major varies. 


 Major Electives

Classes you choose to take within your major that may be required to fulfill your major requirements. Some departments within schools and colleges have approved lists of major electives from which you choose.



An optional course of study that allows you to take several classes as an introduction to a specific subject or discipline area. Minors require significantly fewer credits than majors and are not required at CU Denver.



A course that must be completed before, in a semester prior to, enrolling in a subsequent course.



A class component, in addition to lecture, which involves supplemental discussion of course content.



A class you may have re-enrolled in after completing the same course with a D- or higher. If you have earned credit for a course already and you choose to re-enroll in the same course, you will not earn additional credit.


 Term Withdrawal

Dropping all courses within a specific term. When you withdraw from all courses, you earn a grade of “W” for each course, reflected on your transcript, which does not affect your GPA. A term withdrawal note is reflected separately on your transcript.


 Upper Division Courses (3000 & 4000 level)

Advanced academic courses designed for juniors and seniors. 


© The Regents of the University of Colorado, a body corporate. All rights reserved.

Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. All trademarks are registered property of the University. Used by permission only.