Glossary terms are organized alphabetically, click a letter below to see terms that relate to it.


ACCREDITATION:An endorsement given to educational institutions or academic degree programs by an organization that reviews qualifications.
ADMISSIONS:This is the process by which prospective students apply to a program and become accepted as a student.
AUDIT:To attend a class without receiving credit for the class.


BACHELOR'S DEGREE:A post-secondary degree available in the US, it is considered more intense than an Associate's Degree, but not as intense as a Master's Degree. 


CAESAR:CAESAR is the online student account system used by Northwestern University to manage registration, tuition, financial aid and more.
CERTIFICATE:A certificate is not a degree, but a credential which can be considered post-baccalaureate, graduate or professional. SPS offers all three types of certificates.
CEU:A CEU or Continuing Education Unit is awarded to students who complete a course which has been pre-approved as meeting requirements for continuing educaition in a specific field. Refer to the program description of your choice for information about CEUs.
CLEP:The CLEP (College-Level Examination Program) is a standardized exam that allows students to demonstrate proficiency in a field of interest. Students may successfully transfer in up to 11 units of CLEP credits, after petitioning and receiving permission to do so.


DAYSCHOOL:You may hear this term referred to when speaking with an adviser. The "dayschool" is Northwestern University's traditional classes offered during the day to resident students (in contrast to SCS courses which are offered at night an on the weekend).
DISTANCE LEARNING:Distance learning is our way of describing programs and courses which are offered entirely online, as they can be completed from anywhere.


ENROLL:Students who have been admitted to an SPS program may subsequently enroll, or become active in pursuit of that program. Enrollment in a program can be verified by the Registrar's Office.


FINANCIAL AID:This refers to any federal or financial tuition assistance provided to a student for the pursuit of academic goals.


GRADUATION:To commemorate and celebrate students' completion of degree programs, SPS hosts a graduation ceremony each June for all completion dates. Students must complete an Intent to Graduate form before participating in a graduation ceremony.



INDEPENDENT STUDY:A customized course of study undertaken by an undergraduate or post-bacc student and directed by a faculty member.

Internships provide a great opportunity for students to gain paid or unpaid workplace experience. While SPS does not actively place students in internships, we encourage students to seek out internship opportunities, either as a supplement to their program or as part of an independent study.




LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION:A requirement for many SPS programs, a letter of recommendation is a statement about you made by someone in a position to suggest your aptitude for a particular program. A letter of recommendation can be writen by a supervisor, professor or someone who can speak to your abilities in an academic or professional situation.


MATRICULATE:To enroll as a degree-seeking student.




PASS/NO PASS CREDIT OPTION:A student can petition to take a class with this option, and the result will not affect the student's overall GPA.

Undergraduate applicants may qualify for Performance Based Admission (PBA) if they have never studied at the college level before or if they do not qualify for transfer admission. PBA students must successfully complete four courses at SPS in order to lift their status; the decision to allow them to continue in the degree program is based on the first four courses completed after submission of the application.



REGISTER:After applying and upon acceptance to a program, students register for classes which they plan to take. This is the process of selecting and paying for courses in CAESAR, Northwestern's online registration system.


SATISFACTORY ACADEMIC PROGRESS:Defined as maintaining good academic standing, degree-seeking students must maintain at least a C average from term to term.


TRANSFER:Admissions has their own criteria for admittance to the School of Continuing Studies. Courses are evaluated for degree requirements by our credit evaluator. It is possible that a student may not be admitted via transfer admission, but may still transfer in coursework that counts toward his/her degree.




WITHDRAW:To elect not to take any classes in a given term.