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Glossary of Terms

This glossary contains terms found in Commission publications, on this website, and in the education community. Several subsets of this glossary are available; click on the description in the menu to view them.

Definitions of Degrees

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Advanced Degree

An award conferred by a college, university, or other postsecondary education as official recognition for the successful completion of a program of studies past the baccalaureate level. These degrees include:
  • Post-Baccalaureate Certificate
  • Post-Masters Certificate
  • Further Professional Certificate
  • Master's Degree
  • Doctoral Degree
  • Middle/Intermediate Degree
  • First-Professional Degree

Associate Degree

An award that normally requires at least 2 but less than 4 years of full-time equivalent college work.

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Baccalaureate

Bachelor's degree.

Bachelor's Degree

An award that normally requires at least 4 but not more than 5 years of full-time equivalent college-level work. This includes all bachelor's degrees conferred in a 5-year cooperative (work-study plan) program. A cooperative plan provides for alternate class attendance and employment in business, industry, or government; thus, it allows students to combine actual work experience with their college studies. Also includes bachelor's degrees in which the normal 4 years of work are completed in 3 years.

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Certificate

A formal award certifying the satisfactory completion of a postsecondary education program which usually require two or less years of undergraduate course work and are vocationally/occupationally oriented.

CTE (Career Technical Education) Programs

Programs (disciplines) that prepare students for entry into a wide variety of employment opportunities in 15 industry sectors.

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Degree

An award conferred by a college, university, or other postsecondary education as official recognition for the successful completion of a program of studies. Types of degrees include:
  • Certificate
  • Pre-Baccalaureate Certificate - Less than 1 Year
  • Pre-Baccalaureate Certificate - At least 1 but less than 2 Years
  • Pre-Baccalaureate Certificate - At least 2 but less than 4 Years
  • Post-Baccalaureate Certificate
  • Post-Masters Certificate
  • Further Professional Certificate
  • Associate Degree
  • Bachelor's Degree
  • Master's Degree
  • Doctoral Degree
  • Middle/Intermediate Degree
  • First-Professional Degree

Doctoral Degree

The doctoral degree classification includes such degrees as Doctor of Education, Doctor of Juridical Science, Doctor of Public Health, and the Doctor of Philosophy degree in any field such as agronomy, food technology, education, engineering, public administration, ophthalmology, or radiology. For the Doctor of Public Health degree, the prior degree is generally earned in a closely related professional field of medicine or in sanitary engineering.

Dual Degree

Program of study in which a student receives two degrees from the same institution.

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First-Professional Degree

An award that requires completion of a program that meets all of the following criteria: 1) completion of the academic requirements to begin practice in the profession; 2) at least 2 years of college work prior to entering the program; and 3) a total of at least 6 academic years of college work to complete the degree program, including prior required college work plus the length of the professional program itself. First-Professional degrees are discipline-specific and may be awarded as follows:
  • Dentistry (D.D.S. or D.M.D.)
  • Medicine (M.D.)
  • Optometry (O.D.)
  • Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)
  • Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M., D.P., or Pod.D.)
  • Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.)
  • Law (L.L.B, J.D.)
  • Theology (M.Div, M.H.L., B.D., or Ordination)
  • Chiropractic Medicine (D.C. or D.C.M.)
  • Pharmacy (D. Phar.)

Further Professional Certificate

An award that requires completion of an organized program of study beyond the doctoral or first-professional degree.

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General Education Requirements

A program of courses in the arts and sciences that provides students with a broad educational experience. Courses typically are introductory in nature and provide students with fundamental skills and knowledge in mathematics, English, arts, humanities, and physical, biological, and social sciences. Transfer students often take these classes while attending a community college. Completion of a general education program is required for the baccalaureate degree.

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Master's Degree

An award that requires the completion of a program of study of at least the full-time equivalent of 1 but not more than 2 academic years of work beyond the bachelor's degree.

Middle/Intermediate Degree

Includes Education Specialist, Candidate in Philosophy, Master in Philosophy, etc.

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Post-Baccalaureate Certificate

An award that requires completion of an organized program of study requiring 18 credit hours beyond the bachelor's; designed for persons who have completed a baccalaureate degree, but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of master.

Postgraduate Degree

An award conferred by a college, university, or other postsecondary education as official recognition for the successful completion of a program of studies past the baccalaureate level. These degrees include:
  • Post-Baccalaureate Certificate
  • Post-Masters Certificate
  • Further Professional Certificate
  • Master's Degree
  • Doctoral Degree
  • Middle/Intermediate Degree
  • First-Professional Degree
  • Post-Masters Certificate

    An award that requires completion of an organized program of study requiring 24 credit hours beyond the master's degree; designed for persons who have completed a master's degree, but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctor's level.

    Pre-Baccalaureate Certificate - At least 1 but less than 2 Years

    An award that requires the completion of an organized program of study at the postsecondary level in at least 1 but less than 2 full-time equivalent academic years, or designed for completion in at least 30 but less than 60 credit hours, or in at least 900 but less than 1,800 contact hours.

    Pre-Baccalaureate Certificate - At least 2 but less than 4 Years

    An award that requires the completion of an organized program of study at the postsecondary level in at least 2 but less than 4 full-time equivalent academic years, or designed for completion in at least 60 but less than 120 credit hours, or in at least 1,800 but less than 3,600 contact hours.

    Pre-Baccalaureate Certificate - Less than 1 Year

    An award that requires the completion of an organized program of study at the postsecondary level in less than 1 academic year (2 semesters or 3 quarters) or in less than 900 contact hours by a student enrolled full time.

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    Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) Disciplines

    Any discipline (program) related to Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics. These programs lead to careers that are considered important by many scholars to the foundation of an advanced society.

    Acronym: STEM

    See the related links below for a list of CIP codes related to STEM disciplines.

    Related Links:

    STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) Disciplines

    Any discipline (program) related to Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics.

    SEE: Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics for additional information.

    Related Links:

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    Undergraduate Degree

    An award conferred by a college, university, or other postsecondary education as official recognition for the successful completion of a program of studies prior to the baccalaureate level. These degrees include:
    • Certificate
    • Pre-Baccalaureate Certificate - Less than 1 Year
    • Pre-Baccalaureate Certificate - At least 1 but less than 2 Years
    • Pre-Baccalaureate Certificate - At least 2 but less than 4 Years
    • Associate Degree
    • Bachelor's Degree

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