Orientation - College Vocabulary

NCC college Vocabulary hero image

Starting college is a little like visiting another country for the first time! There are new customs to learn, rules to observe, and vocabulary to become familiar with. Here are some college terms you should know.

Academic Advisor

A member of the faculty who will help a student plan his or her program of study each semester.

Academic Calendar

A list of various dates of academic importance, including the opening and closing of classes, holidays, and vacations.

Academic Standing

A student's academic status. To be considered in "good" academic standing, a student must maintain a minimum grade-point average that increases with the number of credits completed. A student whose average falls below the minimum will be required to reduce his or her schedule (i.e. take fewer courses each semester) until that minimum is reached.

Associate's Degree

A degree offered by Nassau Community College.  Nassau offers the Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree; the Associate in Science (A.S.) degree; and the Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree.  Each degree requires students to successfully complete a prescribed course of study.


A term referring to the specific requirement (e.g. Communication Arts, Fine and Performing Arts, Western Heritage) that a course fulfills.


Catalog (or Bulletin)

The official publication of the College. It lists the faculty, programs, course descriptions, college regulations, and requirements for graduation.


A course of study intended to educate students in a specific career area.  Certificate programs are approximately thirty credits.

Common Reading

A book that is read in many classes at NCC and that serves as the basis for campus programs and discussions.


A course that must be taken at the same time (in the same semester) as another course.


A unit of study that is the equivalent of fifteen hours of classroom attendance. To earn an associate's degree at Nassau Community College, students must successfully complete a minimum of 64 credits.  Students should speak with their advisor to determine the exact number of credits they need for their curriculum. 


A five-digit number that identifies a specific section of a course in the MyNCC registration system.  Every course has a specific CRN.


An approved program of study leading to an associate's degree. 

Dean's Honor List

An honor conferred upon  students in recognition of outstanding scholastic achievement. To qualify a student must have completed a minimum of twelve credits per semester and attained a 3.5 or higher semester average with no grades of withdrawal (W or UW), failure (F), unsatisfactory (U), or incomplete (INC).  Part-time students are also eligible for the Dean's Honor List.

Distance Education

A teaching/learning experience in which the instructor and students are separated by physical distance and use a wide variety of media to communicate.  Course content and instruction are delivered through the web using the learning management system D2L Brightspace.

Degree Requirements

The courses and grade-point average required for graduation from the College. 

Drop/Add Period

A time (usually the first week of the semester) when students may make changes in their schedules.


A course that a student chooses to take in fulfillment of his or her degree requirements.  Almost every curriculum has some electives.

First Year Experience Program

A series of programs and projects aimed at helping new students feel welcome and comfortable at the College.  The First Year Experience program (FYE for short) includes a common reading, a book that is read in many classes and that serves as the basis for discussions throughout the school year; a campus-wide Day of Service, a daylong series of campus and community service projects involving students, faculty, and administration in charitable and fund-raising activities; a series of workshops, known as "Conversations About College," devoted to important college issues and topics; a peer mentoring program; and a friendly and informative blog, "What's Up, NCC?", providing practical advice about college success.  The goal of FYE is foster a sense of community on campus and to help all students feel a part of life at NCC. 

Full-Time Student

A student who is enrolled for at least twelve credits (or the equivalent number of noncredit courses) a semester.

Grade Grievance Procedure

The process by which a student may appeal a final grade that he or she has received in a course.

Grade-Point Average (GPA)

A student's academic average.


A "freeze" imposed on the records of students who are in arrears to the College or who have failed to comply with a College policy or regulation.


A program of enriched classes in humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and other subjects. Honors classes are open to incoming freshmen who ranked in the top 20 percent of their high school class as well as currently enrolled students who have excelled academically at the College.


A term that refers to courses offered by the following academic departments: Art, Communications, English, Foreign Languages, Library, Music, Philosophy, Reading/Basic Education, and Theatre/Dance.

Hybrid Course

A Distance Education course that combines face-to-face instruction with online learning.

Immunization Requirement

A New York State law requiring students born after 1956 to furnish proof of immunization against measles, mumps, and rubella. Students who fail to provide such proof will be disenrolled from their classes.

Incomplete (INC)

A grade assigned to a student when, at semester's end, certain course requirements have yet to be fulfilled.  The Incomplete grade is assigned at the discretion of the instructor.  To earn credit for the course and receive a final grade, students must complete and submit the missing work by the end of the following semester.  An Incomplete changes to an F (failure) if the work is not completed by this deadline. 

International Study Programs

Opportunities for students to earn college credit through courses and internships in other countries. International study opportunities are available through a number of academic departments, including Accounting/ Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Foreign Languages, Hospitality Business, and Marketing/Retailing/Fashion.


A credit-bearing work experience available to students.  The Art, Psychology, English, Accounting/Business Administration, Hospitality Business, Communications, Criminal Justice, and Marketing/Retailing/Fashion  Departments, among others, offer internship opportunities.


A period (approximately four weeks) between the end of the fall semester and the beginning of the spring semester.

Learning Community

A cluster of thematically linked courses from different academic departments.  Students who participate in a learning community enroll in an entire cluster, where they work together on projects  and assignments that stress the relationships among the academic disciplines.

Learning  Skills Workshops

A series of workshops intended to help students improve their listening, reading, note-taking, and test-taking skills.  Learning skills workshops are sponsored by the Department of Student Personnel Services and are offered every semester.

Liberal Arts

A curriculum that consists of courses from a variety of academic departments and disciplines, including English, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and Humanities.


The NCC student literary magazine.  Luna contains a variety of student work, including poetry, short fiction, short plays, and photography.

Matriculated Student

A student who has been formally accepted into a degree or certificate program. 

Multidisciplinary Courses

Courses that explore the influence and relationships of ideas from different academic disciplines.  Examples of multidisciplinary courses are MDC 101: The Making of the Modern Mind and MDS 101: Connecting the Sciences - A Macroscopic Approach.


The College's student information and registration system.  MyNCC allows students to view their academic and financial records, register for classes, and make changes in their schedule.

MyNCC Portal

A link to a variety of web-based applications and services (student email, the MyNCC registration system, and so on) used by NCC students. The MyNCC Portal uses a single username and password that allows students access to a range of applications.

 NA (Never Attended)

A grade assigned when a student registers for a credit course but does not attend any class sessions.


(sometimes known as your MyNCC or "N" number)
An eight-digit number (preceded by the letter N) assigned to each student at Nassau Community College.  Students can use this number to enter the MyNCC Portal and conduct college business.

NCC 101 (College Success Seminar)

A course designed to help new students adjust to college, succeed in their classes, and get the most out of their Nassau experience.  The seminar, which carries one general elective credit, is offered in the fall and spring semesters as well as during the summer.  It is highly recommended to new students.

Noncredit Courses

Courses that are designed to help students improve specific academic skills (e.g. speaking, reading, writing, mathematics), increase their general knowledge of certain academic subjects (e.g. music and physics), and be better prepared for credit classes in these areas.  While these courses do not carry college credit, they do count toward the number of class hours required to be a full-time student.

Nonmatriculated Student

A student who has not been accepted as a degree candidate but who is permitted to take classes at the College.  Nonmatriculated students may take no more than eleven credits each semester.

Office Hours

Times that faculty are available in their offices to meet with students.  Full-time faculty hold office hours each week.

 Part-time student

A student who is registered for 1-11 credits (or the equivalent number of hours) a semester.

 PIN Code

A six-digit number that students create to gain access to the MyNCC Portal (the College's student information and registration system).

Placement Tests

Exams administered to students prior to their first semester at the College.  Placement Tests indicate students' proficiency in English, Reading, and Mathematics.


A course that must be successfully completed in preparation for another, usually more advanced class.


An academic limitation placed upon students with unsatisfactory grades.

Remedial Courses

Noncredit classes designed to help students improve specific academic skills (e.g. reading, writing, and mathematics) and be better prepared for credit courses.  Students required to take a remedial course (or courses) must do so during their first semester at the College.

Schedule (or Program)

The courses that a student is taking during a given semester.


A term of the school year, approximately fifteen weeks.  At Nassau Community College, the fall semester begins in early September and ends in December; the spring semester begins in mid January and ends in mid May.

Social Sciences

A term that refers to classes offered by the following departments: Economics/Finance, History/Political Science/Geography, Psychology, and Sociology/Anthropology/Social Work.

Student Code of Conduct

Guidelines for student behavior on and off the campus.  The code can be found in the College Catalog.

Summer Sessions

A term of study during which students may earn college credits.  There are three summer sessions at Nassau Community College. 


A disciplinary action taken by the College against a student for violations of the Code of Conduct.


A document that lists a course's requirements (readings, exams, due dates for projects, etc.) as well as the professor's name, telephone number, email address, and office hours.  Most faculty distribute their syllabus (sometimes known as a course outline) at the first or second class meeting.


A list of the courses a student has taken at the College and the grades he or she has received in them.  Students can view their transcripts and other academic records on the MyNCC Portal.


A grade assigned to a student who stops attending a noncredit course.  The UU grade indicates unsatisfactory performance in that class. 

UW (Unofficial Withdrawal)

A grade assigned to a student who stops attending a credit course without officially withdrawing. The UW grade is calculated as an "F" in the student's grade-point average. 


The official student newspaper, written and edited by NCC students.


Classes that use NCC's online management system, Brightspace, to supplement coursework.


A three-week term of study scheduled during the intersession.

"What's Up, NCC?"

The First-Year Experience Program's college success blog. "What's Up, NCC?" provides information and advice about campus life and college success.

Withdrawal (W)

A grade assigned to a student when he or she elects not to complete a course. To receive a "W" grade, a student must file a Drop form with the Registrar's Office.  Depending upon when the withdrawal process is initiated, the instructor's signature may also be required.

Top of page