Main Content Region

University Lingo

University Lingo

Since joining the CSUSB pack, have you heard some phrases or words you've never heard before? You are not alone! We use a lot of acronyms and terminology in college so it is normal that you may not understand everything. Below we have provided a list (broken up by category) to help you understand the "University Lingo". 

Is there a word not on this list? Email and let us help you out! You also may not be the only one unsure. 


University Lingo Full List PDF

Academic TermsFinancial TermsPeople & DepartmentsActivitiesUnique CSUSB Terms

Top 25 Terms to Know


1.   Asynchronous/ Synchronous - Asynchronous learning happens on your schedule. While your instructor will provide you with the lectures/assignments, you work on them on your time. However you need to be mindful of deadlines provided by your instructor. Synchronous courses are where you interact in a specific virtual place, through a specific online medium, at a specific time.  

2.  College - There are 6 colleges within CSUSB that provide the curriculum for the majors and programs:  College of Arts and Letters, College of Education, College of Natural Sciences, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Jack H. Brown College and the College of Extended and Global Education.  For example, if you are a Criminal Justice major, your college would be the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at CSUSB.  

3.  Credit/No Credit- In courses for which a letter grade is not used (A -F), a grade of CR or NC is offered. Students who earn a grade of A through C- (C minus) will receive credit (CR). Students who earn a grade of D+ (D plus) or less will receive a grade of no credit (NC). 

4.  Full time vs. Part time – Full Time is 12 units, credits, or hours per term at an institution. Full time credits or status is important for financial aid purposes (to receive a full financial aid award). A student who takes less than 12 units per term is considered part time.

5.  GE (General Education) - a set of courses intended to set an educational foundation of skills and knowledge to prepare students for success in their majors.  

6.  Hybrid Class - A course that includes both in-person and online sessions. 

7.  Major/Minor – A major is an academic subject chosen as a field of specialization. A minor is a set of courses, usually from 18-24 credits that students can take in addition to their major courses. Minors are optional in most majors but are a good way to increase the marketability of the degree.  

8. Office Hours – are times in which students can meet with their professors to ask questions and get assistance on how to be successful in the course. Office hours are often listed on the class syllabus, or you can ask your professor.  

9. Syllabus - an outline of the subjects in a course of study. A syllabus will also include the assignments and deadlines for those assignments (is always subject to change). Syllabi is the plural of syllabus.  

10. Waitlist- A class list that students can join through the same myCoyote registration process to wait for open seats in a class that is closed.  When a class reaches its maximum enrollment capacity it is then considered “closed”.   Department permission is required for all closed classes. If the class is waitlisted, students will need to add themselves to the waitlist and watch for email confirmation IF enrolled by the automated waitlist process. Waitlisted students are enrolled by order of position number on the waitlist. 


11.  Cost of attendance - The average cost to attend for one academic year (fall through spring). It includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation, and personal expenses.   

12.  Disbursement - the act of paying out money from a fund (I.e., Financial Aid Disbursement) 

13.  FERPA - The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act that protects students’ rights to confidentiality and limit our ability to release information about financial records.

14.  Subsidized/Unsubsidized - The federal government pays the interest for Direct Subsidized Loans while the student in college or while the loan is in deferment. Unsubsidized Loans are loans in which the interest starts accruing the moment you or your school receive the loan funds.  

People & Departments

15.  Academic Advisors - A faculty or professional staff member who helps students develop an academic plan toward graduation (may have been titled a counselor in high school or a community college).  

16.  Advising vs counseling - Advising [provides guidance to students throughout their academic journey by assisting them in making informed decisions that support their academic, personal, and career goals. Counseling supports the university mission of academic success and social justice through promoting the mental well-being of students. This is achieved through mental health counseling, advocacy, and outreach and consultation.   

17.  Dean - A college dean is someone who has responsibilities that involve students and faculty at a particular school. These can include academic or even duties that relate to student life. 

18.  First Generation - A student is first-generation if neither parent/guardian have bachelor’s degree (four-year degree). The status is based off parents/guardians, not siblings or other relatives.  

19.  Undergraduate - A student at a college or university who has not yet earned a bachelor's or equivalent degree.  


20.  Internship - Work experience intended to enhance your exposure to a particular field or job. Student’s department/major may require students to complete an internship before graduation.  

Unique CSUSB Terms

21.  Blackboard/Canvas - The Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS) and Canvas are e-learning portals used by CSUSB students, faculty, and staff to spark engagement, promote active learning, and enhance the online learning experience, available 24/7. A tool that allows faculty to add resources for students to access online.   

22.  Student Financial Services - The office on campus that handles tuition and other fees. They offer payment plans, direct deposits, emergency loans and work, with third party organizations for scholarships or grants.   

23.  Coyote Commons – New housing and university dining hall, where you can use your meal plans, dining dollars, and pay for breakfast, lunch, or dinner with all you care to eat options.  

24.  Census Date – Census Date is a set date by the college and typically marks the end of the add/drop period. 

25.  The Rec - the Recreational & Wellness Department is to provide a variety of safe and enjoyable programs and facilities to meet the diverse needs of the CSUSB community by creating a healthy social environment, enriching the quality of life and enhancing the educational experience.