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University Terminology


A+  The highest grade you can earn. It counts as a 4.33 in your GPA.

Add/Drop Period  During the first two weeks of class, whereby you attempt to add or drop courses from your schedule without tuition penalty.  Check the schedule of important dates to get exact dates.

Admission Requirements Prerequisites and requirements that must be met in order to be considered and/or gain admission to a program. They are used to verify that applicants have the necessary educational background for a reasonable chance of success. These could include classes (e.g. English 12) and additional components (e.g. letter of reference)

Advisor – a key resource and support person that you want on your team; like a compass to help you navigate your educational journey. 

All-Nighter (or to “pull an all-Nighter”) Staying up all night,studying or attempting to study. Too many all nighters may be hazardous to your health and/or your GPA.


B The second letter of the alphabet; it counts as a 3.0 in your GPA.


C The third letter of the alphabet. It counts as a 2.0 in your GPA.

Centre for Experiential Learning Previously the campus career centre, they can help you find a job on campus and have resources for career planning.

Certificate The credential awarded to students who successfully complete the required course work for programs that can be completed in one year of full-time study, or less. A minimum grade point average of 2.0 (“C”) is required. For academic programs, this is generally a minimum of 30 credits.

Cheating Suppress any temptation to cheat. The penalties are stiff if you are caught.

Clubs Too numerous to mention. Join one!

Conditional Acceptance Admission to a program on the condition that requirements are met by a specific date. Not available for all programs.

Contact Hours The number and type of hours per week spent in a course. Contact hours per week are listed as follows: (Lecture: Seminar: Lab--Practicum) (if applicable), e.g., (0:0:3) and are for the standard 15 week semester, unless otherwise specified.

Co-operative Education (CO-OP) Full-time, paid work experience that alternates with academic terms. One of the Experiential Education options at VIU. Contact the Campus Career Centre for more info.

Corequisite A specific course or requirement that must be taken at the same time as a prescribed course.

Course Load A full course load is normally 5 courses per semester, or 15 credits. No student may register in more than 18 credits per semester unless the Dean of the relevant program provides written permission. A full-time student is one enrolled in a minimum of 60 percent course load (9 semester credits – usually 3 courses.

Course Outline See Syllabus

Course Prerequisite Most credit courses have prerequisites (courses or other requirements), which must be successfully completed prior to taking the next course. Prerequisites are designed to ensure that all students in a class have the preparation necessary to give them a reasonable chance to succeed. All students, including those who are admitted to the University as Mature Students, are required to meet individual course prerequisites.

Credit Usually represents one hour of class per week for one term. See Credit Hour.

Credit Hour The standard unit of credits is the semester credit hour, which usually represents a minimum of one hour per week of classroom work during one semester. Although some University courses demand more than three hours of class, laboratory and seminar instructions, most University courses carry three credits.

Credit Value The unit value used to assign academic credit for a course, such as English 115 (3 credits).

Cumulative GPA GPA calculated from all courses across all semesters.


D The fourth letter of the alphabet. It counts as a 1.0 on your GPA.

Dean’s List Special Recognition for students achieving a GPA of 3.67 or higher in a minimum of 12 credits accumulated over the previous Summer, Fall and Spring semesters.

Dining Dollars Prepay for cafeteria purchases by adding $ to your student ID card.

Diploma Credentials awarded to students who complete at least 60 semester credit hours of course work and obtain a minimum overall average of “C” in those courses specifically required for each diploma.

Doctorate A post-secondary degree beyond a Master’s degree.  This may be a PhD (Doctor of Philosopy), EdD (Doctor of Education) or others.  Individuals with these degrees are addressed as Dr._______.


F A bad grade no matter how you look at it.  Try to avoid at all costs by being prepared.  Counts as 0.0 on your GPA.

Faculty  When you enroll at VIU you belong to a Faculty that your program is a part of.  Faculty is also a term used for University instructors.

Friends Special people for whom you care very much. They are often a comfort in time of need.  VIU friendships can last a lifetime.

Full Time Student A student is enrolled in a minimum of 60 percent course load (9 semester credits – usually 3 courses).

Fun Can be found at the strangest times in the strangest places. Take time to have it.


GPA or Grade Point Average total grade points for all courses divided by total credits earned.

Graduate Student: A student who has received a bachelor's degree or equivalent and who is enrolled in a program leading to a master's or doctoral degree.

Gymnasium Where most VIU students go to engage in fitness, fun, and friendship.



Headache Physical feeling experienced before, during, or after exams. Remedy: try aspirin, or better yet, studying.

Health and Dental Plan  Full-time students at the Nanaimo campus will be assessed a fee of approximately $286 on behalf of the Students’ Union to pay for Health and Dental coverage.

Help Something we all need but are often too proud to ask for, and worse, too selfish to give.


Intramurals Recreational sport and activity leagues are REALLY popular-sign up early.

Involvement Strive for it.



Letter Grade VIU courses are graded with letter grades (A+, A, A-, B+, etc.). These will appear on your VIU transcript. Check your course syllabus to see how you will be marked in each course. See: VIU’s letter grade and grade point value information.

Lower Level Courses Courses numbered 100 to 299.



Major Minimum of 30 upper-level VIU credits specifically aligned to the area of academic inquiry.  You should declare a major, a double minor, or a major and a minor at the completion of 24 credits.

Mariner VIU's Varsity Althetic Teams

Mid-Terms Evaluation at mid-point of the semester.

Minor Minimum of 18 upper-level VIU credits from each area of academic inquiry.

Munchies An overpowering urge that compels you to attack the local vending machines. Often occurs while studying.  Try keeping fruit close by instead.



Parking Tickets Park legally and you won’t get them. The fine per ticket is $15.00.

Personal Education Number(PEN): A unique number which is assigned to all high school students in the Province of British Columbia. Applicants from BC are asked to provide their PEN at the time of application. High school counsellors can provide this information to Grade 12 students.

Plagiarism: Plagiarism is the intentional unacknowledged use of someone else’s words, ideas or data. See Student Academic Code of Conduct on this link under Academic Information.

Plenty To do if you get involved. Look around, find something you like to do, and get involved.

Popcorn and Pretzels The staples of life at a university. So good, they are consumed in mass quantities when studying.

Pre-Req’s (prerequisites) Required introductory courses before higher level courses may be taken.

Probation Academic status assigned when students registered in any number of credits earn less than a 2.0 G.P.A. (“C”)

Professor your educational instructor who will help you along the way. Take advantage of office hours!

Professional Programs Generally programs that result in a professional designation such as law school, medical school, veterinary medicine and architecture. Most require previous post-secondary education for admission.

Program Requirements: see Admission Requirements



Registration Appointment The date and time when you are given permission to register for classes within your student record.

Resident Advisor (RA) Students who live in the residence halls and provide enforcement of Policies and support, educational and social programs.

Road Trip Spontaneous trip with friends, generally to visit people at other schools.



Schedule Something you should develop to balance your time among academics, fun, work, friends, etc.

Scholarship: A student award based on academic merit or excellence. Repayment is not required. See Financial Aid & Awards.

SLAG (Student Life Activity Guide)The word on the street or, VIU Campus Rec’s activity guide.

Section Designates multiple offerings of the same course.

Semester A semester is 15 weeks long. There are two semesters per academic year.

Smile You have one. Use it to brighten someone’s day!

Social Life is what you make it. There are many events scheduled throughout the year. Get involved!

Student Ambassador A volunteer student leader who assists new and potential students and represents VIU at campus and community events.  Email studentambassador@viu.ca to learn more.

Study Abroad Exciting opportunities to expand your education by participating in field schools around the world.

Study Studying is necessary; don’t wait until the last minute to do required reading. Try to set up a daily study routine. This will eliminate last minute cramming and allow you more time for other things.

Syllabus At the beginning of a course the professor will give you a syllabus, or course outline, which will include information on what you will study, when assignments are due, and how grades will be assigned.



Transcript A record of a student’s classes and grades. There are a few kinds: an official transcript, an interim transcript and an unofficial transcript.

Transfer Credit Credit assigned for courses successfully completed at the post secondary level. For BC Colleges/Universities consult the current BC Transfer Guide.




Undergrad research Opportunity to work on a research project often in close connection with faculty.

Undergraduate A student working towards a bachelor’s degree.

Upper Level Courses Courses numbered 300 to 499.



VIUSU-VIU Student Union.

VIU Nation The Mariners’ blue painted, cheer raising, home court advantage squad.  Be part of the spirit!


Waitlist If a class you've selected is full, you will normally be offered the opportunity to place yourself on a waitlist. Know the rules about them by checking the Waitlist procedure.

Weekend A gift to the VIU student.

Work-op On campus student employment opportunities. Check out the opportunities at the Centre for Experiential Learning.