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College Basics

Bachelor's Degree

Generally, students must study full time for four years to earn a Bachelor's Degree. In a bachelor's program, all students must take courses in the natural sciences, social sciences, art, and humanities. In addition, students take courses in their area (or field) of specialization. This area of study is called a major . Students may choose to have a second, related area of specialization called a minor . A major requires more credit hours than a minor. Before students can enter a bachelor's program, they must earn a high school diploma or a General Equivalency Diploma (GED).

Course Load

A course load is the number of credit hours students take during a semester. Generally, full-time undergraduate students must take a full course load, which is at least 12 credit hours per semester (6 credit hours during summer sessions). Full-time graduate students usually take 8 credit hours per semester (4 credit hours during summer sessions). Part-time students have a course load of 1-11 credit hours during a semester/session.

Credit Hour (Hours, Credits, Semester Hours, or Semester Credits)

These terms have the same meaning and are used to talk about academic work that students complete. One credit hour means that students attend a lecture, discussion, or laboratory for 50 minutes each week during a semester. Course credits are based on the number of hours students spend in class. For example, students taking a 3 credit hour English course go to class for 3 hours every week. At the end of the semester, the student will receive 3 credit hours toward their degree.

It is important to remember that for each credit hour students spend in class, they will study independently (homework, research) for three or four hours. For example, in a 3 credit hour course, students will study a total of 12-15 hours every week.

Degree

Students go to school to earn a degree. Undergraduate students try to earn a Bachelor's Degree. Graduate students try to earn a Master's Degree or Doctoral Degree.

Doctoral Degree (Doctorate, PhD)

After students earn a Master's Degree , students who want to earn a PhD must take more coursework, take a comprehensive exam, do original research, and write a dissertation (a long piece of writing on a specific subject - longer than a Master's thesis). Students usually spend three or more years working on a Doctoral Degree.

Grades

In all programs, professors evaluate student work with letter marks called grades. Grades and credit hours are computed to determine a student's Grade Point Average (GPA). At the end of each semester, students are given their semester GPA as well as their cumulative GPA. IU Southeast uses the following four-point grading scale:

Excellent: A+ (4.0), A (4.0), A- (3.7)

Above Average: B+ (3.3), B (3.0), B- (2.7)

Average: C+ (2.3), C (2.0), C- (1.7)

Poor: D+ (1.3), D (1.0), D- (0.7)

Failure: F (0)

Graduate Student

Graduate students are college/university students who are trying to earn a Master's Degree or Doctoral Degree.

Major

A major is a student's area (or field) of specialization. University students enroll in general courses like English composition, math, and public speaking and in courses that relate specifically to their major. A student pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Business, for example, is "majoring" in business. Students can major in more than one subject.

Minor

Students may choose to have a second, related area of specialization called a minor. A minor requires fewer credit hours than a major. A student pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Business, for example, can major in business and minor in international studies. Students do not have to have a minor.

Master's Degree

Students can usually earn a Master's Degree in two to three years. First, students must earn a Bachelor's Degree . Then they must take 30-60 credit hours in their area (or field) of specialization. The number of credit hours students must take depends on their field. In some fields, students must also write a thesis (a long piece of writing on a specific subject). Often, students earn a Master's Degree in the same field in which they earned a Bachelor's Degree , though this is not a requirement. If students want to pursue a Master's in a different field of study, they may have to take additional, prerequisite courses.

Semester/Session

The academic year is divided into semesters or sessions. IU Southeast offers a fifteen-week Fall Semester, a fifteen-week Spring Semester, and two six-week Summer Sessions.

School/Division

At most colleges and universities, degrees come from special units called schools or divisions. At IU Southeast, these units are the School of Arts and Letter, the School of Business, the School of Education, the School of Natural Sciences, and the School of Social Sciences, the Division of Nursing and the Division of Continuing Studies. Each school/division contains specific majors.

Transcript

A transcript is an official record of courses and grades from your school.

Undergraduate Student

Undergraduate students are college/university students who are trying to earn a Bachelor's Degree.

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