Transfer Student Dictionary

Whether you transfer from a North Carolina Community College, an out-of-state two-year institution, or another four-year institution, the terminology used on campus can be confusing or even differ in meaning from what you may have learned at your previous school.

The Transfer Student Dictionary defines common terms and gives insight to their specific use at ECU to help with your transition to Pirate Nation. You may choose to navigate to a term by using the alphabet below, or you can browse through all the terms to discover terms you may not have known you were looking for!





Academic Advising

Each college, school, and department at ECU has a system of academic advising where a student is assigned to a faculty member or academic advisor.

A student’s academic advisor helps students to identify appropriate majors, assist during registration, keeps a record of the student’s progress, and is available throughout the year for additional advising.

To learn more about academic advising at ECU, visit


Academic Appeals

An Academic Appeal is a request for reconsideration of student progress, assessment, or awards. Essentially, any academic policy a student feels they have been held to unfairly can be the subject of an appeal. Usually, these appeals take the form of attendance appeals, grade appeals, suspension appeals, or withdrawal appeals.

At ECU, you’ll hear the term SAP Appeal, which means Student Academic Progress appeal. These appeals may be requested if a student has an extreme personal or family emergency, an unanticipated medical difficulty, or serious psychological difficulty. Students who performed poorly in a course due to missing deadlines, or other choices within their control, should not use the appeal process.

Academic Appeals are handled through the Office of the Registrar.


Academic Calendar

The Academic Calendar illustrates the important dates in the fall and spring semesters, as well as the summer sessions. It also includes the exam schedule.

To know whether the college is closed for a holiday, or when you should be taking an exam, view the academic calendars here.



Broadly, admissions refers to the process of applying for entrance to an institution and includes all materials requested, such as an admissions application, official high school (and other college) transcripts, the verification of residency, student health services checklist, and other items found here (for transfer students). Students who complete all admissions requirements may then submit their enrollment deposit and officially enroll at the university.

Admission to ECU vs. Admission to an Academic Program

Admission to ECU does not guarantee admission to any individual academic program. What does this mean? Academic programs (or majors) at ECU may require pre-requisites or applications to enter or be considered for that major. This is because some majors may be highly technical and require extra education to be successful, or because there is limited seating in the program.

Transfer Admissions

To be eligible for transfer admissions, students must have attended a college or university after graduating from high school, having earned a minimum of 24 transferable credit hours. Students under 21 years old must also have completed the NC High School Minimum Course Requirements and submit an official, final high school transcript. Transfer students must also have a minimum 2.0 GPA for all college-level coursework completed.


Baccalaureate Degree

Baccalaureate degree is the fancier term for bachelor’s degree. Essentially, it is what you will earn once you complete the Graduation Requirements.

Baccalaureate Degrees at ECU require a minimum of 120 semester hour credits. Each major has its own set of requirements which can be found in the Undergraduate Catalog.



A campus is the grounds and buildings of a university, college, or school. ECU has multiple campuses.

  • The Main Campus houses most of ECU’s colleges, professional offices, and student resources.
  • The Health Sciences Campus houses the Brody School of Medicine, College of Nursing, College of Allied Health Sciences, the School of Dental Medicine, the Health Sciences Campus Student Center, the Laupus Library, as well as many medical offices serving the community.
  • The West Research Campus hosts designated wetlands and large areas for biology, botany, and other sciences to complete field studies. It also hosts an environmental health onsite wastewater facility open to the public and all educations and is home to the Institute for Health and Safety in Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries.


The Undergraduate Catalog provides information about courses, programs of study, degree requirements, and academic policies at ECU. It should be your first place to look if you have a question about course descriptions, courses included in your major, when you can declare a major, attendance policies, grading policies, and any other academic policy you can think of. To view the Undergraduate Catalog, visit



As official documents that attest to your knowledge, certificates are a way to show you have gained expertise in a certain area that differs from your major.

Certificates may also allow you to meet industry standards, assisting in broadening your employment opportunities.

At ECU, you can add a certificate, or certificates, as part of your bachelor’s degree.

To view all available certificates at ECU, click here.


Classification of Students/Class Standing

Students are classified by the number of semester hour credits they have completed.

  • A freshman is enrolled in or has completed 1-29 semester hours credit.
  • A sophomore is enrolled in or has completed 30-59 semester hours credit.
  • A junior is enrolled in or has completed 60-89 semester hours credit.
  • A senior is enrolled in or has completed 90 or more semester hours credit.

Transfer students must complete 24 transferable credit hours at a regionally-accredited institution in order to qualify for transfer status. Students who have completed less than 24 credit hours must apply as Freshmen.


College vs. School, Department, or Program

Universities offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees, and they are made up of a group of schools known as colleges. Each college offers different degrees and are usually specialized or grouped by area of interest. Departments and schools that offer similar academic content are often organized into a college. Here is a visual of the hierarchy at ECU.

Colleges at ECU include:
  • Honors College
  • Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences
  • College of Allied Health Sciences
  • College of Business
  • College of Education
  • College of Engineering and Technology
  • College of Fine Arts and Communication
  • College of Health and Human Performance
  • College of Nursing

Each college at ECU houses departments or schools for major areas. Departments and schools are made up of faculty members who are experts in the field.

Departments or Schools at ECU include:
  • Department of Coastal Studies
Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences
  • Department of Anthropology
  • Department of Biology
  • Department of Chemistry
  • Department of Criminal Justice
  • Department of Economics
  • Department of English
  • Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures
  • Department of Geography, Planning, and Environment
  • Department of Geological Sciences
  • Department of History
  • Department of Mathematics
  • Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies
  • Department of Physics
  • Department of Political Science
  • Department of Psychology
  • Department of Sociology
College of Allied Health Sciences
  • Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies
  • Department of Clinical Laboratory Science
  • Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Department of Health Services and Information Management
  • Department of Nutrition Science
College of Business
  • Department of Accounting
  • Department of Finance and Insurance
  • Department of Management
  • Department of Management Information Systems
  • Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management
  • Miller School of Entrepreneurship
  • School of Hospitality Leadership
College of Education
  • Department of Elementary Education and Middle Grades Education
  • Department of Interdisciplinary Professions
  • Department of Literacy Studies, English Education, and History Education
  • Department of Mathematics, Science, and Instructional Technology Education
  • Department of Special Education, Foundations, and Research
College of Engineering and Technology
  • Department of Computer Science
  • Department of Construction Management
  • Department of Engineering
  • Department of Technology Systems
College of Fine Arts and Communication
  • School of Art and Design
  • School of Communication
  • School of Music
  • School of Theatre and Dance
College of Health and Human Performance
  • Department of Health Education and Promotion
  • Department of Human Development and Family Science
  • Department of Interior Design and Merchandising
  • Department of Kinesiology
  • Department of Recreation Sciences
  • Social of Social Work
  • Military Programs
College of Nursing

To explore majors within each department, visit the Undergraduate Catalog here.

Core & Common Core


Most universities require students to complete “core” courses as part of their major. The core are the main courses that will assist in completion of your major. Think of them as the basic building blocks for your subject area (major).

At ECU, most majors require either a core or common core as part of the requirements for graduation.

Common Core

A common core is a group of required courses in the subject area (major) that apply across any concentration.

At ECU, many majors require students to pick a concentration. The common core is a block of courses all students are required to complete regardless of the concentration they choose to complete.



Many degrees at ECU require students to choose a concentration. These are areas of emphasis in your major. In other words, you may be majoring in Philosophy, but your focus (or concentration) is pre-law.

Concentrations usually reflect the career field you wish to work in upon graduation, or the graduate/professional degree you wish to pursue after completion of your bachelor’s degree.



Cognates are courses required for your major, but they are taught by another major department.

For example, Business majors, who are part of the College of Business, are required to take MATH 2283 and ENGL 3880 as cognate courses, and those courses are offered through the Department of Mathematics and Department of English as part of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences.


Degree Works

Degree Works is the ECU’s planning tool that helps both you and your advisor monitor your progress toward graduation. Degree Works is essentially what you may have referred to at another institution as a Degree Audit.

Degree Works not only maps your chosen major as you complete courses, it is also tool where you can explore how changing majors would affect your time to graduation.

You will log into Degree Works through Pirate Port.

Domestic and Global Diversity

Additional requirements for baccalaureate degrees at ECU require students to complete both a domestic diversity and global diversity designated course. Domestic Diversity courses address the understanding of diversity within the United States while Global Diversity courses address the understanding of diversity in other cultures.

Courses that meet the Domestic or Global Diversity requirement will have either a DD or GD designation as part of their course description in the Catalog. For a full list of these courses, view the Catalog’s section for Academic Advisement, Progression, and Support Services; Additional Requirements for Degrees.



In some majors, courses are allowed to double-count. This means they can satisfy more than one requirement in the major, minor, or general education. In other words, the course may be a requirement for the major, but it is also an option within General Education. It may count in both places as long as your major does not have a specific policy against it.

Most majors at ECU have a policy relating to double-count as to how many hours can double-count.

Students still have to meet 120 hours, regardless of double-counting.



Students may choose to earn one bachelor’s degree with two majors. One diploma is awarded that will list both the primary and secondary major.

A double-major is optional.

Students may choose to earn a double-major to improve their employability after graduation, or because they have interests in multiple areas. For example, you may choose to double-major in Philosophy and Political Science if you are planning on pursuing law school, or Anthropology and History if you want to work in archaeology.

With a double-major, the general education requirements for the primary major may be used to satisfy the general education of the secondary major, unless there are pre-requisites or co-requisites for the secondary major.


Students may choose to complete two baccalaureate degrees at the same time, earning two diplomas.

A dual-degree is optional.

Students earning a dual-degree will still need to meet the requirements for both degrees. Requirements like foreign language may not be waived under dual-degree.

A dual-degree is different than a double-major.

To see double-majors compared to dual-degrees, visit the Undergraduate Catalog, click on Academic Advisement, and choose “Dual Degree or Double Major Requirements.



Electives are courses outside of a student’s major core/mandatory courses. These courses allow students to pursue interests outside of their major. Electives give you a well-rounded education.

Free Electives vs. Restricted Electives

If your major allows for Free Electives, you are able to choose any course you wish to take that will fit into the elective category. If your major has Restricted Electives, this means the department or school has chosen electives for you as part of your major. Restricted Electives do not allow you to freely pick additional courses you wish to take.


Enrollment can refer to two different areas in higher education. It can refer to the overall number of students who are enrolled at a university, or for students, it is the act of moving from the admissions process to being an official student at the university.

Once you pay your enrollment deposit for ECU, you are officially considered an ECU student and move to the registration process.


General Education

The General Education Program at ECU allows you to explore a broad range of subjects that will help you become a well-rounded student.

There are 7 competency areas under General Education: Humanities and Fine Arts, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, Health Promotion and Health-Related Physical Activity, Written Communication, Mathematics, and General Education Elective.

All ECU students are required to complete 40 hours within the General Education program as part of their Graduation Requirements.

More information about General Education requirements and which courses apply as General Education credit can be found here and in the Undergraduate Catalog.


Graduation Application

A Graduation Application must be completed online through Pirate Port at least one semester prior to completing your degree requirements, found in the Undergraduate Catalog.

Consult with your advisor to ensure that your degree requirements on your Degree Works audit are complete or will be completed by the term you wish to graduate.


Graduation Requirements

A bachelor’s degree may be conferred (confirmed and awarded) by the university once a student has

  • earned minimum number of semester hours of credit required for the degree by the major department or school,
  • has met the general education requirements, and
  • has fulfilled all requirements of the major/minor.

A degree from ECU requires 120 semester hours with a minimum of 25% of the hours required for the degree, and 50% of the total hours required in the major, completed through enrollment with ECU.


Lower Division

Lower Division courses are freshmen and sophomore level courses, numbered between 1000 and 2000, that are completed at ECU or at a community college or other two-year institution.

Lower division courses introduce you to a subject, covering any foundational theories, ideas, concepts, or issues within that subject—usually with a broader perspective compared to Upper Division courses.



Your major is the specific subject you have chosen to focus on in order to complete your bachelor’s degree. Your major is often related to the career field or professional school you want to pursue upon completion of your degree.

Declaring a Major

Declaring your major is your official choosing of the major you want to pursue while at ECU and the process of being admitted into that major. You should declare your major as soon as possible, but no later than once you reach 60 hours of credit. This is so you are not adding unnecessary courses to your degree which can affect financial aid, veterans’ benefits, and your time to completion. However, if you are undecided in your first semester at ECU, that is okay.

Changing a Major

You should always consult with your advisor before changing your major, but if you believe you need to change your major, the process is the same as when you declared your original major.



A minor consists of 18-30 semester hours of credit in an area that differs from a student’s major.

For most Bachelor of Arts degrees, students are required to complete a minor, while they are optional for most Bachelor of Science degrees.

To explore ECU’s minors, click here.



A pre-requisite is a course that must be completed before moving on to another course. This is usually because the pre-requisite course contains material you need to learn so you can be successful in the following course. For example, you must complete Principles of Biology I before you can complete Principles of Biology II because you need the knowledge from the first course to successfully complete the second.

Pre-requisite may also refer to something that you must complete before you are able to declare your desired major at ECU. For example, to declare a major within the College of Business, students must complete 8 pre-requisite courses. These are necessary for students to be successful within their major.

     How do you know if a course has a pre-requisite?

Pre-requisites are noted in a course’s description with the letter “P.” Course descriptions are found in the Undergraduate Catalog.




Registration is the process of choosing courses for the upcoming semester or session, and then “signing-up” for those courses.

Each semester, enrolled students receive a Registration Personal Information Number (PIN) from their academic advisor. This PIN allows you to complete registration for the upcoming semester. Before you register, you should participate in academic advising and view your Degree Works evaluation.

Information about registration can be found through the Office of the Registrar.




A semester is a unit of measuring the academic year. Essentially, it is a half-year measurement of courses.

Most universities offer a fall and spring semester between 15 and 18 weeks long.

At ECU, courses are offered in fall and spring semesters. Both the fall and spring semesters are 14 weeks plus an additional week of exams.

ECU also offers two summer session formats: one 11-week session, or 2 five-week one-half terms.

Semester Hours Credit

Semester hour credits, or credit hours, are how each course is measured to ensure the outcomes of the course are being achieved. In other words, does your class meet enough to teach you the required material?

1 semester hours credit is roughly equivalent to 15-16 contact hours per semester.



Transferability (vs Applicability)

Transferability refers to the ability of a course to transfer to ECU as credit. Applicability of courses refers to whether the transfer course will apply to your degree.

If a course comes from a regionally accredited institution, has a similar course description, covers similar course content, and carries the same credit hours, it should transfer to ECU. It may transfer as a direct equivalent such as ENG 111 transferring as ENGL 1100, or it may transfer as elective credit and be marked with “XXX” such as BUS 110 transferring as ZELE 1XXX. Either way these credits all have the potential to count toward your degree because ECU does not have a transfer credit limit; we will evaluate and award all potential credit.

However, not all of the transfer credits you receive will apply to your major. Applicability of transfer courses is determined by your major. Additionally, you must complete half of your degree through ECU, so if you have earned more than 60 transfer credits, it is likely that some of these credits will not apply toward your degree, though they will be transferred if they are equivalent.


Upper Division

Upper Division courses may be referred to as Junior or Senior level courses. They are usually noted as 3000 or 4000 level courses, and they offer a more in-depth level of study, specifically within a student’s major.

Transfer students who complete their Associate’s in Arts or Associate’s in Science from a North Carolina Community College will begin with Upper Division courses, having completed Lower Division requirements.




Course Withdrawal

A student may withdraw from a course after the drop/add period if they do not want to continue in the course. The course will stay on the student’s transcript with a grade of “W,” as long as the withdrawal is completed before the “Last Day for Withdraw without Grades” date in the Academic Calendar for each semester. If completed within the refund period, students may receive a partial refund.

Students may only withdraw from 16 credit hours while completing their degree at ECU. Withdrawal should be used cautiously and with the advice of your academic advisor as it can affect your financial aid, veterans’ benefits, or time to degree completion.

Term Withdrawal

Students who want to withdraw from all of their courses are asking for a term withdrawal. If you need to complete a term withdrawal, you will meet with your Academic Advisor before completing the withdrawal.

For more information about withdrawals, click here.