Salisbury University students on campus

Academic Information

Academic Life at Salisbury University

First impressions of academic life in the United States might be confusing; some students comment on informality of the classroom yet high demands of the professors. The American educational system places higher value on creativity, tolerance and flexibility rather than on tradition and respect for authority. American professors want students to respect their knowledge and opinions, but they generally prefer discussions and debates to respectful silence. Teaching styles and classroom attitudes vary greatly among faculty.

American Classroom Etiquette: There are some American student behaviors that you might find surprising or that would be considered disrespectful in your country. For example, students may sit in class with their feet on the chair or their desk in front of them. They may eat, drink, or even sleep in class! Students may interrupt lectures to ask questions or even to raise objection to what is being said. In general, none of these behaviors denotes disrespect unless done in a belligerent or aggressive manner. In fact one way in which an American student shows respect for his or her teacher is by being an active participant in class.

Teaching methods: Lecture is the primary form of undergraduate instruction at US institutions. Although attendance may not be recorded, students are expected to attend. Material covered in a lecture class may be closely related to the reading assignments or may be completely new material. Reading the material before attending class may help with comprehension of the lecture; some students choose to tape lectures, especially when they have a problem understating the teacher. You must always ask you teacher's permission before you tape a class. Some lectures include a discussion section, when students are expected to share their knowledge and opinions of the material. Other forms of instruction include independent studies, seminars or internships.

Quizzes, Tests, Examinations: US colleges and universities test students quite frequently. Students should be prepared for each class to take a "pop-quiz", and announced short test that verifies students' knowledge and their keeping up with class material. These tests may consist of short replies, longer essays, True/False, multiple choice or "fill in the blanks". If a student is having problems with testing, s/he should consult the professor, academic adviser or International Students Advisor for help.

Homework: Homework is a very important part of course work, often consisting or reading. Students should pay attention to the syllabus, handed at the beginning of each semester. Students are responsible for all assignments given by a professor orally, or described in the syllabus. Other forms of homework include research papers, presentations, or group projects.

Conversation Partners Program: This volunteer program matches international students with American students, faculty or staff. The purpose of the program is for both people to get to know each other; they may spend as little as one hour a week together, or meet more frequently for activities. The American Partner is not a tutor; his/her job is to help international students speak English in a relaxed, nonacademic atmosphere while both partners enjoy getting to know each other. For more information, please contact Agata Liszkowska at (410) 543-6313.

Academic Success Program: Student Counseling Services offers a variety of resources to assist students in achieving success in their academic pursuits. Through our Academic Success Program, the Academic Success Coordinator offers individual and group counseling for students who desire to improve their study skills and study habits. Typical topics included in academic success workshops are: note taking, reading a textbook, test taking, time management and procrastination. Audio and videotapes, as well as a variety of written materials, are available for student use on such topics as time management, organizational skills, test taking, test anxiety, attention deficit disorder, etc. These materials must be used in the office during regular office hours. Student Counseling Services serves as a clearinghouse for information regarding tutoring services on campus. Anyone interested in receiving information regarding the availability of tutoring may contact the Academic Success Coordinator within Student Counseling Services, (410) 543-6070.

Glossary of Vocabulary Used at Salisbury University

Academic Advisor: A member of the faculty who helps and advises a student on academic matters (selection of courses). S/he may also assist a student during the registration process.

Academic Probation: A status resulting from unsatisfactory academic work; a warning that a student must improve academic performance or be dismissed after a specific period of time.

Academic Year: The period of formal academic instruction, usually extending from September through May. At Salisbury University it is divided into fall and spring semesters. Students may also take classes during summer and/or winter sessions.

Add a Course: To enroll in a course for which a student was not previously registered.

Advanced Placement: A waiver of some of the classes normally required for an undergraduate degree, granted to a student based on the prior study or experience (usually indicated by a student's performance on a special examination).

Alumnus: A person who had attended or graduated from a college or university.

Assignment: Out-of-class work required by a professor, due by a specific time.

Assistantship: A study grant of financial aid to a graduate student that is offered in return for certain services (teaching, research). These services are supervised by faculty/staff member.

Associate Degree: A degree awarded upon the completion of a two-year program of study, usually awarded by a community college.

Audit: Permits a student to take a class without a grade or credit.

B.A.: Bachelor of Arts degree awarded upon completion of a four-year program of study, generally focused on subjects related to arts (Music), humanities (Languages), or social sciences (Psychology).

B.S.: Bachelor of Science degree awarded upon completion of a four-year program of study, generally focused on subjects related to professional disciplines, like Nursing or Business.

Blue Book: A small booklet of writing paper with a blue cover, used for written examinations. Blue Books are available at the University's bookstore.

Campus: The area where the buildings of a college or university are located.

Cashier: The office (or person) where all the University bills are paid.

Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is a part of the US Department of Homeland Security): USCIS develops regulations for all international visitors, including international students. For more information, please refer to the Immigration Information in this booklet.

Class: Referring to a number of credits earned (Freshman: 0-29, Sophomore: 30-59, Junior: 60-89, Senior: 90 and above); also, referring to a group of students who meet with the faculty member on scheduled basis.

College: An institution of higher learning that offers undergraduate programs, usually of four year duration, which lead to the B.A. or B.S. degrees. The term "college" can be also used to describe any post-secondary educational institution.

College/University Catalogue: An official publication of a college or university, giving information about academic programs, facilities, services, entrance requirements and student life. The SU Catalogue is published every two years, for updated class schedules please check each semester's Registration Bulletin.

Community College: An institution of higher learning where the Associate Degree is awarded after students complete a two-tear program of study.

Course: Regularly scheduled class session of one to five (or more) hours per week during the semester. A degree program is made up of a specific number of courses and is different at each institution. All courses are assigned a name and a number for identification purposes.

Course Number: The number given to identify a course, e.g., History 101. Numbers 100-499 usually refer to undergraduate courses, and numbers 500 and above describe graduate courses.

Cram: Intense study at the last possible moment before an examination. This is not a recommended way to study.

Credit by examination: Academic credit granted by a college for a student's having demonstrated proficiency in a subject as measured by an examination.

Credits: Units which most institutions use to record completion of courses (with passing or higher grades), which are required for an academic degree. The Undergraduate and Graduate Catalogues define the amounts and kinds of credits each student must complete to receive his/her degree (also called credit hours).

Dean: Director or the highest authority within academic division of study (Dean of the School of Business, Dean of the School of Liberal Arts).

Dean's List: The list of full-time, undergraduate students whose GPA was 3.5 (out of possible 4.0) or higher for a given semester.

Degree: Diploma or title awarded to a student who completed a prescribed course of study.

Degree Program: A program leading to the Bachelor of Arts, the Bachelor of Fine Arts, the Bachelor of Science and the Bachelor of Social Work. Requirements for graduation require the total of 120 semester hours, of which 47 must be from the General Education courses, and the remaining from Electives and Required Courses.

Degree Requirement: A set of requirements which a student must fulfill before s/he graduates (they include matriculation and completion of approved degree programs.) Requirements for a degree programs are different for each major. For more detailed information, please consult the Undergraduate or Graduate Catalogue.

Department: Administrative subdivision of a university or college, in which instruction in a certain subject is given (Biology Department, Accounting Department).

Discussion Group: A group of students who meet with a faculty member to discuss a certain academic topic.

Double Major: Any program of study in which a student completes the requirements of two majors concurrently.

Drop: A process by which a student officially removes himself/herself from taking a class.

Drop/Add Period: A period of time during the first week of the semester, were students may change courses for the semester by "dropping" or "adding" a course. Courses dropped during that period will not appear on a student's permanent record. Courses dropped after that period will appear on the permanent record, with the appropriate grade. International students must retain at least 12 (undergraduate) or 9 (graduate) credit hours for fall and spring semesters.

Electives: Courses that a student may "elect " (choose freely) to take for credit toward his/her degree. (also see Required Courses)

Essay: A method of examination, or homework, by which a student presents his/her knowledge of a subject in a written composition.

Faculty: Members of the teaching staff, and occasionally the administrative staff, of an educational institution.

Fees: An amount of money charged by institutions, in a addition to tuition, to cover costs of certain services (health services, laboratories, etc.).

Final: The last, and often most difficult, examination of the semester.

Flunk: To receive an unsatisfactory grade for an examination, or a course.

Fraternity: A social organization for male students, with specific objectives, rules and regulations.

Full-time Student: A student who is taking a full load of course work at an institution; at Salisbury University that number is 12 for undergraduate and 9 for graduate students (all international students must remain full-time student during their stay.)

General Education Requirement: To graduate from Salisbury University, each undergraduate student must take at least 47 credits from four General education groups: Group I - English and Arts, Group II - History and Social Sciences, Group III - Sciences, Group IV - Physical Education.

GPA (Grade Point Average): A system of recording academic achievement based on an average of a student's grades. The GPA is calculated as follows:

1. To compute the quality points for each course in which a grade of A (4 points), B (3 points), C (2 points), D (1 point) and F (0 points) was earned, multiply the credit hours for the course by the grade points assigned to that grade:


Credit Hours


Quality Points

English 101 3 B 9
History 101 3 D 3
Chemistry 121 4 A 16
Math 103 3 C 6
Art 104 3 F 0

Totals 16   34

2. The grade point average for the semester is calculated by dividing the total quality points earned by the number of hours completed; (34 quality points) divided by (16 credit hours) equals (2.125); GPA = 2.125.

3. The cumulative grade point average is calculated by dividing the total quality points earned in all semesters by the total credit hours in which a grade of A, B, C, D or F was earned for all semesters.

Graduate: To complete a course of study prescribed for a certain degree, also a person who graduated.

Honor Society: An organization honoring students for achieving distinction in academic areas and/or service.

ID (Identification Card): A card with a student's photograph, stating that an individual is a member of the University. Each students receives an ID card at the beginning of his/her study, and should keep it throughout their studies. The ID cards are used throughout the campus: (in the library, computer labs, gym etc.) They are also used as a cash card: once a student deposits a certain amount of money into his/her account, that ID card can be used as cash around campus.

Independent Study: A method of receiving credit for study or research independent of the assignments of any specific courses.

International Student Advisor: A representative of the University whose job is to provide guidance and information to international students in many areas of student life, including US government regulations, visas, academic regulations, customs, language, financial problems, housing, travel plans, health insurance, etc. The International Student & Scholar Services office is located in the Center for International Education, (410) 677-5495.

Internships: Short-term, supervised work experiences, usually related to a student's major field, for which the student earns academic credit. The work can be full or part time, on or off campus, paid or unpaid. Student teaching and apprenticeships are examples of internships.

Lab (laboratory): A classroom where practical learning and demonstration in science subjects take place.

Lecture: The most common method of instruction in university or college courses, when a faculty member provides information by speaking to a group of students (class).

Major: The subject or area of study in which a student concentrates (English, Business).

M.A./M.S.: Master of Arts/Master of Science awarded upon completion of one or two year program of graduate study beyond the Bachelor's Degree.

Matriculate: To be formally enrolled in a university or college.

Mid-term: The examination given in the middle of the semester.

Minor: The subject or area of studies in which a student concentrates to a lesser degree than in his/her major.

Multiple-choice Examination: An examination in which questions are followed by two or more answers, from which a student selects the correct answer.

Networking: Connecting with people in your chosen profession. Many people are successful in obtaining employment immediately after graduation using this technique.

Open-book Examination: An examination during which a student is permitted to use his/her book.

Oral Examination: An examination during which a student answers questions by speaking rather than by writing.

Part-time Student: A student who carries less than full load of courses (all international students must carry a full load; 12 credit hours for undergraduate and 9 credit hours for graduate students).

Pass/Fail: A grading system that rates a student's performance on a pass/fail basis, rather than on grades (A, B, C, D, F). For more information on grading system, please refer to the SU Catalogue.

Ph.D.: The highest academic degree awarded by a university to students who have completed at least three years of study beyond their bachelor's and master's degrees, and who have demonstrated their academic ability in oral and written examinations and through original research presented in a form of dissertation (thesis).

Placement Test: An examination used to test a student's academic ability in a certain subject, so s/he can be placed in a course at an appropriate level. In some cases students may get credit after scoring high on a placement test.

Plagiarism: The use of someone else's words or ideas without acknowledgment of their source; it is not acceptable in the US and can carry serious repercussions.

Practical Training: A period of time, up to 12 months, of practical training in the field of study, permitted to international students after completion of an academic program; written recommendation of the University and approval of the USCIS are required.

Prerequisites: Courses that a student is required to complete before being permitted to take more advanced courses.

Quiz: A short test, written or oral, usually less formal than an exam.

Registrar: The office (or person), maintaining students' academic and personal records.

Registration: A process during which a student officially signs up for classes.

Required Courses: Classes that a student must take in order to complete his/her degree.

Research Paper: A formal written report that includes research findings and a student's own ideas.

Residence Hall: A building on campus where students live during the school year.

Sabbatical: A period of time (usually one semester) when a faculty member is not teaching, but concentrating on his/her own educational research.

Scholarship: A study grant, usually given at an undergraduate level, to help a student with his/her tuition and fee payments. International students at SU are eligible for departmental and Rotary scholarships only.

Semester: A period of study of approximately 15 weeks, usually half of the academic year (fall semester and spring semester).

Seminar: A form of class instruction, generally open to seniors and graduate students. It combines independent research and class discussion, under the instruction of a faculty member.

Sign-up Sheet: An informal way of registering for an activity; usually a name, address and phone number are requested.

Social Security Number: A number issued by the US government for identification, insurance and tax purposes. At SU it is also a student number, shown on ID cards.

Sorority: A social organization for female students, with specific objectives, rules and regulations.

Syllabus: An outline of activities that will take place during each academic course; a syllabus will often describe a faculty member's expectations and examination schedules.

Take-home Examinations: An examination which may be completed at home.

Test: An examination, or any other procedure that measures academic abilities of a student.

Transcript: A certified copy of a student's academic record, containing course titles, credits and final grades for each course. An official transcript will also state the date and the degree awarded to a student, if any.

Transfer: Many American students begin their postsecondary education at one institution and finish it at another. They transfer from one institution to another.

True/False: An examination in which questions are answered by marking "True" or "False".

Tuition: The money an institution charges for instruction and training (does not cover "fees" or cost of books or other materials).

Tutoring: A method of providing help to students by instruction outside of class. Advanced students will work with individuals or small groups to increase understanding of the material. Such help is provided in some courses at lower levels (100).

Undergraduate Studies: Two- or four-year program in a college or a university, after high school graduation, leading to an associate or bachelor's degree.

Withdrawal: The procedure in which a students officially removes himself/herself from taking a class, or from an institution.