Missouri State Glossary of Terms

Academic terms

Academic year – Begins in August with the fall Intersession, continues through the spring semester, and concludes with the summer session.

Alumni – Individuals who have attended or graduated from a particular college or university.

Catalog – University’s official publication of academic policies and procedures, programs of study, and course offerings for a particular academic year.

College – Group of academic departments and/or programs administered by a college dean.

Credit hour – Standard unit of measuring coursework. The unit of credit used at Missouri State is the semester hour.

Dean’s List – Published list of students who have achieved a specific level of achievement established by the university. The list is published at the conclusion of each semester and Summer Session.

Declaring a major/minor – Indicates that student wishes to pursue a particular major and/or minor. Many majors have specific admission requirements.

Degree audit – Advising tool designed to assist in tracking a student's progress towards graduation. Missouri State uses Degree Works to provide degree audits to students.

Department – Division of a college dealing with a particular field of knowledge.

Education Abroad – Program in which students can take courses and pursue educational opportunities in a country other than one's own.

Exit Exam – Required for all bachelor degree graduates for assessment purposes.

General education program - Group of foundation courses required of undergraduate students regardless of the student's major.

GPA – Grade point average; calculation derived from dividing the grade points earned by the number of credits attempted.

InternshipWork at a business or agency related to a student's major and/or career plans for which credit hours are awarded.

Lecture hours / lab hours – Represents the number of hours per week a course will meet in a lecture environment or laboratory environment, respectively. Generally one hour of a course in a lecture environment is equivalent to two hours of a course in a laboratory environment.

Major – Collection of courses and requirements that is designated as the student's primary area of specialization. Appears on the student's diploma and transcript.

Minor – Collection of courses indicating additional specialization in an area of study beyond the major. Minors do not appear on the student's diploma but are listed on the student's transcript.

Prerequisite – Specific requirements that must be met prior to enrolling in a given class. Prerequisites may consist of courses, test scores, or enrollment in a specific program of study.

Semester – Instructional period of 15 weeks plus a final examination period offered twice a year (referred to as Fall and Spring semester). Additional instructional periods include intersessions and a summer session.

Seminar – A class at a college or university in which an instructor and small group of students discuss a topic or topics.

Service-learning – Program which allows students to earn academic credit in selected courses in exchange for meaningful and productive community service.

Syllabus – Document describing the objectives, outcomes, assessment activities, and structure of a course that is made available to students during the first week of classes.

Transcript – Serves as the student's official academic record and the university's official record of credit and degrees awarded, including the courses taken by a student and the grades received in each course. Probations, suspensions, and disciplinary expulsions also appear on the transcript.

Tuition – The amount of money that must be paid for classes. Other fees may be assessed in addition to tuition.

Campus terms

Bear Line – Missouri State University’s shuttle system. The Bear Line transports students to different locations on campus (including parking garages) and near campus.

BearPass Card – Student's official university identification card.

BearWear – Apparel that shows off a person’s Missouri State spirit. BearWear is often maroon and/or white.

Carillon – The 140-foot tower, located on the southwest corner of Meyer Library, which contains 48 bronze bells. While the Carillon automatically plays a chime every 15 minutes, musicians perform special songs and concerts with it throughout the year.

Dining Dollars– A declining balance dollar account for purchasing meals on campus. Much like a debit card, Dining Dollars begin with a total dollar amount and the balance is subtracted from each time Dining Dollars are used.

FERPA – The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Enacted in 1974, it protects the privacy of student education records. All educational institutions that receive federal funding must comply with FERPA.

First-generation student – A student whose parent(s) or legal guardian(s) have not completed a bachelor's degree and is the first in their family to attend a four-year college/university to attain a bachelor’s degree.

FSLFraternity and Sorority Life, the university program that oversees fraternities, sororities, and their activities.

Hold – Block which prohibits students from functions such as registering for courses or receiving a transcript or diploma. Most holds are due to not completing required processes or paying financial obligations.

MFA – Multi-Factor Authentication. MFA secures your Missouri State Account by confirming your identity when you try to sign in. MFA requires you verify two factors: something you know, such as your password, and something you have, such as your smartphone.

Missouri State Account – This is what you will use to log into most systems at Missouri State. It is typically formatted with “@login” and is not your Missouri State email address.

My Missouri State – Web-based system that provides access to personal student information, email, Brightspace, online registration, and much more.

OSE – The Office of Student Engagement, the university department which fosters out-of-class learning through fun, interesting, and engaging campus activities and events.

PIE – Partners in Education; a program designed to facilitate communication between first-year students and their families. Through written consent of the student, members will have increased access to their student's information.

PSU - Plaster Student Union, a building containing restaurants, meeting and study spaces, departments related to student experiences, and other resources for students. It is often referred to as the "campus living room."

SAC – Student Activities Council, Missouri State’s student programming board. It plans social, cultural and diverse events open to the entire student body.

SGA – Student Government Association, the student organization that represents the student body’s interests to the university administration.

SOAR (Student Orientation, Advisement and Registration) – Program, a day and a half in length, designed to assist students and their families in making a successful transition to university life.

SSPR – Self-Service Password Reset. You must register a phone number and a non-MSU email account to utilize SSPR. Once registered, SSPR can send you a code to set a new password and unlock your account without having to contact the Help Desk.

The Standard – Missouri State University’s student newspaper, published weekly on Tuesdays during the fall and spring semesters.

Work study – A form of financial aid in which students with financial need are provided part-time jobs to earn money to help pay education expenses. This money is paid directly to the student and not automatically applied to tuition and fees.


Academic advisor – A university employee who is committed to helping students meet their educational goals and to make informed and responsible decisions.

Board of Governors – Governing body for Missouri State University appointed by the Governor of Missouri.

Boomer – Missouri State University’s lovable mascot.

Bursar – A financial administrator for a university. The bursar is responsible for billing student accounts and receiving payments.

Dean – Highest administrative officer of a college.

Department head – Administrative officer holding faculty rank; responsible for a primary unit within an academic organization.

GA / TA – Graduate assistant or teaching assistant. These individuals are students in a graduate program who—in return for receiving tuition remission and/or a stipend—teach courses, perform research, or work in an administrative area.

Provost – The senior academic administrator at a college or university. This person provides supervision and oversight to the university’s curricular, instructional, and research activities.

RA – Resident assistant. RAs are trained undergraduate student leaders who help foster community between members of a residence hall’s floor or wing; they also keep residents safe by enforcing university policies.

Registrar – A university officer who is in charge of registering students and keeping academic records.