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There are many terms and vocabulary words that are specific to the college environment that can be confusing for new students.

If you hear your success coach, professor, or counselor use a word you are unfamiliar with, then it's okay to ask what it means!

Associate Degree

An associate degree is the degree awarded by a community college upon satisfactory completion of a degree program.


A certificate is achieved after you complete the classes and training relating directly to the specific area of study.


A cohort is a group of students who work through a curriculum together to achieve the same academic degree or certificate. As an online cohort student, you will be limited to what classes you take in order to achieve your academic goal.

General Education (GE)

General Education (GE) requirements are a specific group of courses required of all students in college who are working toward a degree, regardless of major. These are also called Breadth Requirements. GE courses are designed to give students exposure to material outside of their major.

Consult the College Catalog or an academic counselor for general education requirements for the associate degree.


A major is a student’s primary field of study or area of concentration. A major is important for students planning for a certificate, degree, or transfer to a four-year institution.


A prerequisite is a requirement that must be met before enrolling in a particular course. To meet a prerequisite, you must have a certain assessment test score, have taken a prior course, or have previously demonstrated knowledge. The course descriptions in the college catalogs and the listings in the class schedule include course prerequisites, if any exist.

Program Map

A program map is an education plan that specifies what classes you need to complete your degree or certificate, and when to take them.


A semester is half of an academic year, usually 16 weeks in length. For example, the spring semester runs January through May, and the fall semester runs August through December.


A syllabus is a typed summary of course requirements and assignments that is distributed by a professor, usually on the first day of class.