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University Terms and Definitions



  • A+ The highest grade you can earn. It counts as a 4.33 in your GPA.
  • Academic Advising: Educational Advisors in VIU’s Advising Centre help prospective and current VIU students to explore, make program and course choices that align with their personal and professional goals and to problem solve and enhance their educational experience.  Contact the Advising Centre for information and support as you navigate the world of post-secondary education.  Registered students from first year on may consult Degree Advisors regarding Majors/Minors, program completion and additional opportunities.
  • 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.


  • B The second letter of the alphabet; it counts as a 3.0 in your GPA.
  • Bachelor's Degree: Generally, this is a first degree in an undergraduate program. At VIU, it normally takes 4 years to complete if you are studying as a full time student (4 years of classes from September - December and January - April). This typically means that you are registered in 5 courses per term, as you will need a minimum of 120 credits to graduate with a VIU bachelor's degree. See VIU Degree Programs.
  • Bursary: Money awarded to a student based on financial need and reasonable academic standing. More Bursary info.


  • C The third letter of the alphabet. It counts as a 2.0 in your GPA.
  • Calendar: VIU’s official calendar is our online calendar.  It lists all VIU programs, by credential or subject area, and provides program outlines, course descriptions and additional admissions information.  If a discrepancy occurs between any printed information and the online calendar, the online calendar would prevail. 
  • 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
  • Credit Value: The unit value used to assign academic credit for a course, such as English 115 (3 credits).


  • D The fourth letter of the alphabet. It counts as a 1.0 on your GPA.
  • Dean: The person who acts as the head of a faculty.
  • 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.
  • Degree: The academic credential that is awarded to a student who has completed a particular course of study. There are three types of degrees: bachelor's degree (also known as undergraduate degree), master's degree and doctoral degrees.
  • Degree Audit: The process of matching the courses taken to the specific program requirements. The GPS link in the online student record is an unofficial method that determines which program requirements have been met. Degree Advisors must sign off on degree completion requirements. 
  • Degree English Requirement: All students in undergraduate degree programs at VIU are required to complete 6 credits of first-year English composition and literature courses or specified alternatives or exemptions. See Undergraduate Degree English Requirements.
  • 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.__________________.


  • Elective: An optional course that is not individually specific to your program.
  • Exam Schedule: There are final examination periods at the end of each semester.  These are posted online and at the Registration Centre one month prior to exams.
  • Exchange: Exchange is one Education Abroad option for VIU students.


  • F 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.


  • GPS: The online Goal Planning System in a VIU student record outlines the program requirements needed for degree completion and matches a student's personal course record against those requirements.  Find this in your online student record menu.
  • Grade Point: A numerical value given to letter grades used to rate academic performance. Students are assigned a letter grade for each course taken, an each letter grade carries a grade point value.
  • Grade Point Average (GPA): The GPA is the total grade points for all courses taken divided by total credits earned.  Here is how to calculate a student’s GPA. VIU requires academic students to maintain a GPA or 2.0 (C average) each academic year.  See Probation Policy also.
  • 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.


  • 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. for more information about the Health and Dental Plan, check http://www.viusu.ca/section/130.


  • Language Proficiency Index (LPI): Most VIU academic programs require English 12, or equivalent, with C grade or higher for admission purposes.  The LPI and ACCUPLACER are two self-study exam options accepted at VIU in lieu of English 12. 
  • 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. Here is VIU’s lettergrade/per cent grade info.
  • 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 at the completion of 24 credits.
  • Mariner VIU Varsity athlete.
  • Master's Degree: Students working towards this designation (ex. MA, MSc, MBA, etc) are called "graduate students." Usually, this is the degree earned after a bachelor's degree that precedes a doctoral degree.
  • Mid-Terms Evaluation at mid-point of the semester.
  • Minor Minimum of 18 upper-level VIU credits from each area of academic inquiry.


  • 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.
  • Probation: Students register in any number of credits who earn less than a 2.0 GPA (“C”) average over Fall and Spring semesters will be placed on probation when they register next.  See details.
  • 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.
  • Prerequisite:A preliminary requirement which must be met before registration in a particular course.  Course outlines list prerequisites where applicable.
  • Professor your educational instructor who will help you along the way. Take advantage of office hours!


  • Resident Advisor (RA) Students who live in the residence halls and provide enforcement of policies and support, educational and social programs.
  • Reserves: Registration in a course or section is limited to a certain kind of student based on factors such as program, year and degree.


  • Scholarship: A student award based on academic merit or excellence. Repayment is not required. See Financial Aid & Awards.
  • Section: Many popular courses are divided into multiple classes or sections with different professors and time slots. There may be several sections (Section N01, N02, N03) of the same course (FRCH 100). Some courses include both a lecture section and lab section. In this case you are required to attend both lecture and lab.
  • Ex: ACCT 100 F15N04 (accounting 100 course, Fall 2015, Nanaimo campus, section #4)
  • Semester: Period of time during which the University offers courses. At VIU, there are three academic sessions each year: Fall (Sept – Dec); Spring (Jan – April); Summer May – Aug (summer is optional, offering a small range of 14 week or compressed 7 week courses).
  • Study Abroad Exciting opportunities to gain credit while expand your education by participating in field schools around the world.
  • 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: An official copy of a student's academic record. Generally, applicants are required to submit official transcripts of their past study to determine if they can be admitted to VIU.
  • Transfer Credit: Credit assigned for courses successfully completed at the post secondary level. For BC Colleges/universities consult the current BC Transfer Guide.


  • Undergraduate: A student working towards a bachelor’s degree.
  • Undergraduate Research: Opportunity to work on a research project often in close connection with faculty.
  • Upper Level Coursese: Courses numbered 300 to 499.


  • VIUSU VIU Student Union.


  • Waitlist: As course sections may fill during the registration period, many courses have a waitlist option available. Students who choose to waitlist for a course will be offered, in their waitlisted order, spaces that become available. If you are on a waitlist, you must follow the Waitlist Procedure to claim a seat that opens up for you.
  • Work-op: Vancouver Island University’s Student Work Opportunities program is designed to create diverse and positive work opportunities, which will provide financial assistance to Vancouver Island University students. The program will provide employment opportunities that support experiential learning and skill development that will be mutually beneficial to students and to the institution. Students may work only one Work-Op position per semester. Exceptions may be considered on a case-by-case basis.
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