University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Glossary and Definitions

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Academic Program - A program of study leading to a certificate, associate, bachelor's, masters or doctorate degree.

Academic Year - Consecutive fall, winter, spring and summer semesters. For example: AY 12-13 refers to the interval from Fall 2012 to Summer 2013.

Acceptance Rate - The percent of applicants who were admitted, i.e. number of admitted students / total completed applications.

Accreditation - Accreditation is a voluntary process of higher education oversight that serves to assure the public of the institution’s quality and to promote continuous institutional improvement. In Massachusetts, the organization that oversees the accreditation process is the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). UMass is accredited by NECHE. In addition, many programs are accredited by disciplinary organizations (for example, the Nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)).

Admitted (Accepted)- Applicant who is offered admission to a degree-granting program.

Advanced placement (AP) courses - College-level courses taught in high school. Students may take an examination at the completion of the course; some colleges accept certain scores as college credit or advanced standing.

ALANA - An acronym referring to American Indian/Alaska Natives, Asians, Black/African Americans, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, and Hispanic/Latinos.

American Indian or Alaska Native - A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) who maintains cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community recognition.

Applicant - An individual who has fulfilled the institution’s requirements to be considered for admission (including payment or waiving of the application fee, if any).

Application fee - The amount of money that an institution charges for processing a student’s application. This amount is not creditable toward tuition and required fees, nor is it refundable if the student is not admitted to the institution.

Asian (current definition) - A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian Subcontinent, including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Asian or Pacific Islander (old definition) - A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, or Pacific Islands. This includes people from China, Japan, Korea, the Philippine Islands, American Samoa, India, and Vietnam.

Associate degree - An award that requires at least 60 credits usually completed in two years of full-time equivalent college work. All associate's degree programs are administered through the Stockbridge School of Agriculture.



Bachelor’s degree - An award that requires 120 credits usually completed in at least four years but not more than five years of full-time equivalent college-level work. Also, it includes bachelor’s degrees in which the normal four years of work are completed in three years.

Black/African American, non-Hispanic - A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa (except those of Hispanic origin).

Books and supplies (costs) - Average cost of books and supplies.



Census Date (Freeze Date)- Date on which official admissions and enrollment data are extracted from the student information system. This generally occurs the weekend after the add/drop deadline which is the 14th calendar day of the semester.

Certificate - Recognition of successful completion of a focused collection of courses in a given discipline or set of related disciplines. Certificate programs vary in length and can be completed concurrently with or separately from a degree program.

Class (Student) Level - Academic level of an enrolled undergraduate student based on accumulated credit hours. First-year = 0 to 26 accumulated credit hours, Sophomore = 27 to 56 accumulated credit hours, Junior = 57 to 86 accumulated credit hours, Senior = 87 or more accumulated credit hours.

Class rank - See High School Rank.

Classification of Intructional Program (CIP) Code - A taxonomic coding scheme for secondary and post-secondary instructional programs, developed by the United States Department of Education. It is a six-digit code in the form xx.xxxx that identifies program specialties within educational institutions.

Cohort - A specific group of students established for tracking purposes, such as first-time first-year students or transfer students entering in a specific semester, or doctoral students entering in a specific academic year. For graduation and retention rate reporting, persons may be removed from a cohort if they left the institution for one of the following reasons: death or total and permanent disability; service in the armed forces (including those called to active duty); service with a foreign aid service of the federal government, such as the Peace Corps; or service on official church missions.

Common Data Set (CDS)- A product of the Common Data Set Initiative to provide accurate and timely data to students and their families. It is a detailed report covering university-wide information and data are presented in the same common format for most institutions of higher education to facilitate comparisons among them.

Commuter - A student who lives off campus in housing that is not owned by, operated by, or affiliated with the college.

Continuing and Professional Education (CPE) - A self-supporting (non-state supported) academic unit providing instruction to undergraduate and graduate students. Programs are designed for non-traditional learners and can be on-line, in person or in some combination.

Course Level - Level of a course based on the catalog number. Lower division = courses numbered 000 to 299, Upper division = courses numbered 300 to 499, Graduate = courses numbered 500 and above.

Credit - A unit representing one credit hour (1 credit = 1 credit hour) of successfully completed work. It is applied toward the total number of credits needed for completing the requirements of a degree or certificate.

Credit hour - A unit of measure representing an hour (50 minutes) or equivalent of instruction over a 14-week period in a semester. It is applied toward the total number of hours needed for completing the requirements of a degree or certificate.

Cumulative GPA - The grade point average calculated on all credit-bearing work attempted at the institution.



Degree - An award conferred by a college, university, or other postsecondary education institution as official recognition for the successful completion of a program of studies.

Degree-seeking student - Student enrolled in courses for credit who is recognized by the institution as seeking a degree or formal award.

Distance Education - An option for earning course credit on-line or at off-campus locations.

Doctor’s degree-research/scholarship - A Ph.D. or other doctor's degree (Ed.D.) that requires advanced work beyond the master’s level, including the preparation and defense of a dissertation based on original research, or the planning and execution of an original project demonstrating substantial artistic or scholarly achievement.

Doctor’s degree-professional practice - A doctor’s degree (Au.D., D.N.P.) that is conferred upon completion of a program providing the knowledge and skills for the recognition, credential, or license required for professional practice. The degree is awarded after a period of study such that the total time to the degree, including both pre-professional and professional preparation, equals at least six full-time equivalent academic years.

Double degree - A program in which students may complete two undergraduate degrees simultaneously. Students wishing to earn two degrees, each in a different major, must complete all of the major and college requirements for both degrees, and also must complete at least 30 additional units for a minimum of 150 credits.

Double major - A program in which students may complete two undergraduate programs of study simultaneously. Students pursuing a double major fulfill the course requirements for both majors, and graduate with a minimum of 120 credits total. At graduation, a double major earns a single degree in the primary major, but both the primary and secondary major are recorded on the transcript.



Early action plan - An admission plan that allows students to apply and be notified of an admission decision well in advance of the regular notification dates. If admitted, the candidate is not committed to enroll; the student may reply to the offer under the college’s regular reply policy.

Enrolled - Registered in at least one credit-bearing course at time of semester census date.

Exchange student program - Any arrangement between a student and a college that permits study for a semester or more at another college in the United States or abroad without extending the amount of time required for a degree.

Exploratory Track program - Starting in fall 2015, students could no longer enroll as undeclared and enrolled in one of the eight Exploratory Track programs offered by the schools and colleges. See the Exploratory Track website for more information.



FAFSA - The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the form used by the U.S. Department of Education and almost all colleges and universities to determine eligibility for federal, state, and college-sponsored financial aid.

Financial aid - Grants, loans, assistantships, scholarships, fellowships, tuition waivers, tuition discounts, veteran's benefits, employer aid (tuition reimbursement) and other monies (other than from relatives/friends) provided to students to meet expenses.

First-Time First-Year (FTFY) - Students attending any college for the first time, including those with Advanced Placement credit and those who have earned college credits prior to high school graduation and/or during summer session between high school and college matriculation.

Fiscal Year - Funding year that includes July 1 through June 30. For example: FY 2013 refers to the fiscal year from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013.

Five Colleges - A consortium of five college campuses in Western Massachusetts: Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College and UMass Amherst. Under the guidance of faculty advisers at each college, a number of majors and certificate programs are offered jointly, where students choose a progressive series of courses available within the five college campuses to complete the requirements.

Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Student - 1 Undergraduate FTE = 15 credit hours; 1 Graduate FTE = 9 credit hours.

FTE Instructed Students (FTEIS) - A measure of instruction offered and consumerd, regardless of the majors of the students taught. Credits are divided by a full-time load to calculate full-time equivalency for courses taught in each discipline. For undergraduate courses, 1 FTE = 15 credit hours and for graduate courses, 1 FTE = 9 credit hours. For courses numbered 500-599, FTE depends on the level of the student. If multiple instructors are assigned to a course section, FTEIS are distributed proportionately to the instructors of record.

Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Faculty - Each full-time faculty member is counted as one FTE. For part-time faculty, FTE is generally based on their HR appointment.

Full-Time Faculty/Staff - Faculty/staff employed 100% time; those on unpaid leave are excluded.

Full-Time Student - Undergraduates: Students registered for 12 or more credit hours at the census date; Graduate Students: Students registered for 9 or more credit hours at the census date.



General education courses - Courses designed to introduce students to the fundamental knowledge, skills and values essential to the study of academic disciplines. See the Gen Ed website for more information.

Grade-point average (GPA) - The sum of grade points a student has earned divided by the number of courses or creditstaken. Sometimes high school GPAs are weighted to give additional points for their grades in advanced or honors courses.

Graduate student - A student who holds a bachelor’s or equivalent, and is taking courses at the postbaccalaureate level.



Headcount Student Majors -The actual count of individual students. Every student is assigned a major.

High school rank - The relative numerical position of a student in his or her graduating class, calculated by the high school on the basis of grade-point average, whether weighted or unweighted. A percentile scale with zero representing the top of a class and 99 the bottom.

Hispanic - A person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.



Independent study - Academic work chosen or designed by the student under an instructor’s supervision, and usually undertaken outside of the regular classroom structure.

In-state tuition & fees - The tuition and fees charged by institutions to those students who meet the state’s or institution’s residency requirements.

Instructional Faculty - Faculty whose primary responsibility is instruction; includes department heads and faculty who are on sabbatical or have release time for research; excludes faculty on leave without pay.

International Student (Non-resident alien) - A person who is not a citizen or national of the United States and who is in this country on a visa or temporary basis and does not have the right to remain indefinitely.

IPEDS - The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is a system of interrelated surveys conducted annually by the U.S. Department’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). IPEDS gathers information from every college, university, and technical and vocational institution that participates in the federal student financial aid programs. Institutions that participate in federal student aid programs are required to report data on enrollments, program completions, graduation rates, faculty and staff, finances, institutional prices, and student financial aid, as per the amended Higher Education Act of 1965.



MassTransfer (formally Joint Admit) student- There are two types of MassTransfer students: Massachusetts community college students who complete associate degrees enroll in programs with the full transfer of credit, guaranteed admission, and a tuition discount; and any student in the Massachusetts public higher education system who completes the MassTransfer Block (34 credits) with the benefit of satisfying the general education/distribution/core requirements at any other Massachusetts public higher education institution (with the receiving institution able to add no more than six additional credits or two courses). See the MassTransfer website for more information.

Master's degree - An award that requires the successful completion of a program of study of generally one or two full-time equivalent academic years of work beyond the bachelor's degree.

Matriculated - Enrolled in a degree program.

Minor - A program of at least 15 credits in a coherent set of courses in a particular discipline, department or program designed for students to attain some competence in a second area of study without fulfilling the full range of requirements of the major.



Need-Based Financial Aid - Aid in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and student employment awarded to students on the basis of demonstrated financial need.

Non-Degree Student - Student not enrolled in a degree program, but enrolled in credit-bearing classes where the academic credit appears on a UMass Amherst transcript, and may be transferable into a degree program at the discretion of the program/institution granting the degree.

Non-Matriculated - Not enrolled in a degree program.

Non-Need Based Financial Aid - Aid in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and student employment not based on demonstrated financial need.

New England Regional Student Program (NERSP) - A program enabling students from other New England states enrolled at UMass Amherst to pay reduced tuition and fees if they choose a qualified major not offered in their home state.



Online course- A course where most or all of the content is delivered online.

Online program- An academic program where 50% or more of the coursework can be completed online.

Out-of-state tuition & fees- The tuition and fees charged by institutions to those students who do not meet the institution’s or state’s residency requirements.



Part-Time Student - Undergraduates: Students registered for fewer than 12 credit hours at the census date; Graduate Students: Students registered for fewer than 9 credit hours at the census date.

Prerequisite - A course students must complete before taking a more advanced course in the discipline.

Program Fee (PF) - A fee charged to graduate students to remain matriculated while not enrolled in courses.



Race/ethnicity - Category used to describe groups to which individuals self-identify. A person may be counted in more than one group.

Required fees - Fixed sum charged to students for items not covered by tuition and required of a large proportion of all students. It does not include application fees or optional fees such as lab fees or parking fees.

Residency - A student's permanent address, generally used to determine tuition and fees.

Retention (Persistence) Rate - A measure of the rate at which students persist in their educational program, expressed as a percentage. This generally represents the percentage of first-time first-year students in a given cohort who enrolled from fall semester to fall semester.



SAT Score - The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is a suite of exams designed to assess academic readiness for college. It is the most widely used college admissions tests. During the admissions process, UMass considers both the SAT Math and SAT Verbal scores.

Secondary Major - Undergraduate students who declare more than one major.

State-supported - Academic programs and academic units providing instruction funded by the state.

Student Credit Hours (SCH) - See Credit Hours.

Student Majors - A student with a declared major within the school or college. At the undergraduate level, data reported represent a duplicated count of student majors (primary and secondary majors). FTE student majors are distributed proportionally across major programs.

Student/Faculty Ratio - The ratio of FTE students to FTE instructional staff.

Staff - All non-faculty appointments.

Student Level - An indication of a student’s progress toward a degree: first-year, sophomore, junior, senior, unclassified.



Transfer Student - A student who earned 12 or more credits at another higher education institution prior to enrolling at UMass Amherst.

Tuition - Amount of money charged to students for instructional services. Tuition may be charged per term, per course, or per credit.



Undeclared - An undergraduate student who has not declared a specific major.

Undergraduate - A student enrolled in a four- or five-year bachelor’s degree program or an associate's degree program.

URM - An acronym referring to under-represented minority, it includes U.S. Citizens or immigrants who self-identify as American Indian/Alaska Native, Black/African American, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic Latino, and those who declared multiple race/ethnicities including one of these.



Yield - The percent of admitted students who enrolled.