Glossary of Academic Terms
Academic Calendar: The Academic Calendar serves as an information source and planning document for students, faculty, staff, and departments, as well as outside organizations. The calendar includes registration dates, class start dates, add/drop deadlines, exam dates, and more. CWI's Academic Calendar can be accessed here.
Academic Year: An academic year consists of three semesters, beginning with the Fall semester in August, extending through the Spring semester, and ending with the Summer semester the following July.
Adjunct Faculty: Adjunct faculty are instructors who teach 12 or fewer credits per semester at CWI. They are not considered full-time faculty.
Admission: The process of becoming officially recognized as a student. Once admitted to CWI, you do not have to go through this process again unless you have not enrolled or attended academic classes in the previous six terms and/or two years (see "Returning Student" for further information). You must fill out an admissions application form and submit it to CWI to begin the admissions process. (See also "Registration," which is required every semester during which you wish to take classes.)
Advisor: An advisor is a professional staff member that is responsible for helping a student navigate their educational journey. CWI may also refer to these staff members as Academic Advisors or Student Success Advisors. They may assist in career exploration, student success strategies, and planning your education path. Visit the Advising Services web page for more information.
Articulation Agreement (2+2): An agreement between institutions that provides assurance of smooth transfer of credit from one to the other, at least in selected programs of study. CWI has partnered with a number of institutions to provide direct access to transfer assistance and customized benefits for CWI students. Existing articulation agreements can be viewed on our Transferring from CWI web page.
Associate of Applied Science (AAS): A credential awarded for completion of requirements in an approved Career and Technical Education (CTE) program of at least 60 semester credits (includes a minimum of 15 general education credits) and represents mastery of a defined set of competencies. An AAS can typically be completed within two years if a student attends on a full-time basis. Students who are career-focused, know what they want to do, and have researched the advantages of earning the AAS can earn this degree without needing to complete the additional required general education coursework required by AA and AS programs.
Associate of Arts (AA): A credential awarded for completion of requirements in an approved academic program of at least 60 semester credits (includes a minimum of 36 general education credits) and represents mastery of a defined set of competencies. An AA can typically be completed within two years if a student attends on a full-time basis. An Associate of Arts degree program is typically an adaptable degree, meaning that it is flexible and encompasses all topics that are not primarily related to math or science. You can expect coursework that will focus on the liberal arts plus your choice of electives. Liberal arts classes often include English, music or art, psychology and philosophy, as well as, theater, history and perhaps a foreign language.
Associate of Science (AS): A credential awarded for completion of requirements in an approved academic program of at least 60 semester credits (includes a minimum of 36 general education credits) and represents mastery of a defined set of competencies. An AS can typically be completed within two years if a student attends on a full-time basis. An Associate of Science degree program requires an additional 15 credits of STEM courses and therefore focuses less on electives and more on math and science.
Basic Skills Education (BSE): The Basic Skills Education program is designed to improve the educational level of adults, out-of-school youth, and non-English speakers in our 10-county service area. Services include instruction in basic skills: reading, writing, and math, as well as GED preparation, English as a Second Language (ESL), and English language civics. More information about our BSE program can be found here.
Blackboard: Blackboard is the academic suite CWI instructors use to manage their classes and enhance learning. Your instructor may post supplemental resources, such as pictures, videos, or links to relevant web pages. Access to Blackboard is essential for success in your courses. You will receive important updates and complete tasks, such as taking exams and quizzes, using this suite. Instructions for logging into Blackboard can be found here.
Capstone: Capstone courses serve as a culminating experience for students' chosen programs. These courses provide students with the opportunity to summarize, evaluate, and integrate their experiences at CWI. Capstone courses are typically taken in student's final semester.
CARE Report: CARE (Communicate, Act, Refer, Engage) reports are reports filed by faculty, staff, students or the general public regarding a student concern. A CARE report should be filed when a student is in distress, needs resources, or needs support. Visit the CARE web page for more information.
Career and Technical Education (CTE): Career and Technical Education (CTE) is a type of educational program that specializes in the skilled trades, applied sciences, modern technologies, and career preparation. Career and technical programs frequently offer both academic and career-oriented courses, and many provide students with the opportunity to gain work experience through internships, job shadowing, on-the-job training, and industry-certification opportunities. A full list of the College's CTE programs can be found here.
Catalog: An annual official publication which includes information regarding program requirements, course descriptions, and college policies.
Catalog Year: A student's catalog year refers to the academic year they were first admitted into the College of Western Idaho. Knowing your catalog year is important because you must follow the program requirements that were in effect during that academic year. Students may request to change their catalog year to any year in which they actively attended CWI, but they should meet with their Student Success Advisor before deciding to do so to ensure they fully understand how the change will affect their program completion.
Census Date: The census date is the point at which your enrollment is locked as the official enrollment for the term. Census dates are the last day that students can drop a class without receiving a "W" grade, change a course to or from an audit status, register for an internship or independent study course, and/or receive a 100 percent refund of tuition and fees for any classes dropped. Census is also they date when a student's first disbursement of federal financial aid is applied to the charges on their student account. Census dates can be found for each term on the Academic Calendar.
Commencement: A formal graduation ceremony where students officially receive their degrees and certificates. CWI holds an annual commencement at the end of the Spring semester, typically in May. For information regarding our next commencement ceremony, consult our Graduation web page.
Corequisite: A corequisite is a requirement (typically a course or placement test) that must be completed concurrently with another requirement or course. If a course has a corequisite, students will not be able to register in the course unless the requirement(s) are in progress or have been met. Students can check the course catalog or talk to their advisors if they have questions about specific corequisites.
Course Fee: Course fees are additional charges not included in the tuition. Fees may be charged to cover the cost of materials and equipment needed in certain courses.
Credit Hours (Credits): A credit hour is a measure of the total instructional content of each course, usually related to the total hours of instruction. Credits vary, depending upon the type of course and level at which it is offered. One credit is generally given for three hours per week of work in and out of class. For example, each hour of class lecture is generally expected to require two hours of work out of class. A description of the course types and associated hours of work required can be found on the Course Description Key. All degrees and certificates require a minimum number of credits in order to complete the program. A general outline of credit requirements for each type of degree and certificate offered by CWI can be found on the Degree and Certificate Requirements page. For the credit requirements of a specific program, please visit the applicable program page of the catalog.
Dean (Academic): An academic dean is the head of a significant collection of departments (i.e. an instructional school) with responsibilities for approving faculty hiring, setting academic policies, overseeing the budget, fundraising, and other administrative duties.
Degree: An academic award granted upon the successful completion of a prescribed program of study. CWI offers the following degree types: Associate of Applied Science (AAS), Associate of Arts (AA), and Associate of Science (AS). See above for detailed definitions of each degree type.
Department Chair: A department chair oversees a defined set of programs and course subjects. Information regarding departments, including department chair contact information, can be found within the Instructional School pages.
Developmental/Remedial Coursework: Developmental or remedial coursework are courses that are meant to increase a student's skills in math, reading, or English before they enroll in college-level courses. A student may elect to take remedial courses or may be required to take one or more remedial courses as a result of their placement test results taken upon their admission to CWI. Remedial courses are designated with a course number below 100.
Discipline: A discipline is an area of academic study. Disciplines provide the framework for a student's program of study. (See also "Major")
Double Major: Declaring two or more fields of study. Please note, financial aid or other funding sources may not recognize dual majors.
Dual Credit: The Dual Credit program allows high school students to enroll in college classes for credit prior to high school graduation. College credits earned through Dual Credit may apply toward high school and college graduation. CWI provides high school students with the opportunity to earn college credit in qualified classes taken at the high school campus or on the CWI campuses and online. Through this program, Dual Credit students can accumulate college credits prior to entering college.
Elective: A course in which the student has some choice or selection -- as distinct from a course that is absolutely required in a particular curriculum. In many cases, "electives" may be limited within categories -- as for example to satisfy General Education requirements where some elective credits must be taken from various general education categories.
Faculty: The faculty is composed of all persons who teach classes for the College.
FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the application for education loans and grants from the federal government.
FERPA: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 is a set of regulations that guarantees a student the right to inspect and review his/her educational records, the right to amend those educational records, and the right to some control over the disclosure of the records.
Final Exams (Finals): Final exams are the culminating assignment or exam in an academic course. The type of final administered in a course is left to the discretion of the instructor. Final exams are given on specified dates that may be different than the regular class time and are usually listed in each semester’s class schedule as part of the syllabus.
Finals Week: Finals week is the last week of each semester during which students will complete the required final exams for academic courses they are enrolled in.
Financial Aid: Aid is made available from grants, scholarships, loans, and part-time employment from federal, state, institutional, and private sources. Awards from these programs may be combined in an "award package" to meet the cost of education. The types and amounts of aid awarded are determined by financial need, available funds, student classification, academic performance, and sometimes the timeliness of application.
Full-Time Enrollment/Part-Time Enrollment: A full-time student is enrolled in 12 or more credits in a semester (full-time status for a Summer term is usually six  credit hours). A part-time student is enrolled in less than 12 credits in a semester (or less than six  credits in a Summer term).
General Education (GE): The phrase “General Education” refers to the educational foundation of skills, knowledge, habits of mind, and values that prepare students for success in their majors and in their personal and professional lives after graduation. This educational foundation is developed primarily through courses designated by the Idaho State Board of Education as GEM or by CWI as an institutionally designated GE course. All degrees include a set of general education course requirements that students, regardless of their major, must meet. In combination with a student’s major, general education curriculum prepares students to use multiple strategies in an integrative manner, to explore, critically analyze, and creatively address real-world issues and challenges. General education course work provides graduates with an understanding of self, the physical world, the development and functioning of human society, and its cultural and artistic endeavors, as well as an understanding of the methodologies, value systems, and thought processes employed in human inquiries. General education helps instill students with the personal and civic responsibilities of good citizenship and prepares graduates to be adaptive, life-long learners.
General Education Matriculation (GEM) Courses: General Education Matriculation (or GEM) courses must cover a set of outcomes, criteria, and knowledge objectives defined by the Idaho State Board of Education. These outcomes differ based on the designated GEM content area and are covered in detail on the General Education page. The six GEM competency areas defined by the Idaho State Board of Education are as follows:
- GEM 1 - Written Communication
- GEM 2 - Oral Communication
- GEM 3 - Mathematical Ways of Knowing
- GEM 4 - Scientific Ways of Knowing
- GEM 5 - Humanistic and Artistic Ways of Knowing
- GEM 6 - Social and Behavioral Ways of Knowing
Additionally, CWI has three institutionally designated general education competency areas which must be met by students earning an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree. These include:
General Education requirements vary by program. Be sure to consult your program requirements (and transfer institution requirements, when applicable) prior to selecting GE courses. Your Student Success Advisor can also assist with choosing the best GE courses based on your academic goals.
Grade Point Average (GPA): A grade point average (GPA) is a measure of a student's overall academic performance, typically calculated as a numerical average of grades earned in all courses. CWI has multiple GPA types listed on transcripts and each is used to determine different things like a student's academic standing or honors. The definition of the various GPA types are defined on our Grading Policies page.
Graduation: Once a student has completed all requirements for their chosen program, they can apply for graduation and will their have their earned degree or certificate conferred after the Registrar's Office confirms the requirements have been met. Students must apply for graduation whether or not they plan to participate in the commencement ceremony. Deadlines for graduation applications are outlined in the academic calendar. Students should submit graduation applications through myCWI within one semester of completing their degree and/or certificate requirements.
Grant: A grants is an award most often given to students with financial need. Unlike student loans, grants do not have to be repaid under most circumstances. Not all students are eligible for need-based grants.
Hybrid Course: Hybrid courses combine face-to-face classroom instruction with online learning. A portion of a hybrid course is scheduled on campus and the rest is completed online. Hybrid sections of a course are designated with an "H" at the end of a section number.
IncludeED: Some courses utilize IncludeEd which delivers all required course materials to students as part of tuition and fees. This benefits students by offering the convenience of paying for course materials with tuition and fees, and increasing student success by ensuring that all students are prepared the first day of class. For courses that list IncludeEd, students can visit the bookstore website to see how course materials will be delivered.
Independent Study: Academic work chosen or designed by the student with the approval of the department concerned, under an instructor's supervision, and usually undertaken outside the regular classroom structure. Internships share a common course number of 296, meaning an independent study course code within any subject area will be [subject/course prefix] 296 (example - ENGL 296 English Independent Study - Portfolio). The number of credits earned for an internship is determined by the number of hours spent completing duties or projects as assigned; 45 hours are required for one (1) credit. Students must register for an independent study course by completing an Independent Study Registration Form and submitting it either in person at a One Stop Student Services location, through the student's myCWI email, or by fax or mail (legible, valid photo ID must be included for all faxed or mailed forms).
Internship: An experience that allows students to work in a professional environment to gain training and skills. Internships share a common course number of 293, meaning an internship course code within any subject area will be [subject/course prefix] 293 (example - ENGL 293 English Internship). The number of credits earned for an internship is determined by the number of hours spent completing duties or projects as assigned; 45 hours are required for one (1) credit. Students must register for an internship course by completing an Internship Registration Form and submitting it either in person at a One Stop Student Services location, through the student's myCWI email, or by fax or mail (legible, valid photo ID must be included for all faxed or mailed forms).
Lab: Laboratory classes require students to perform certain functions in controlled situations that help them test and understand what is being taught. CWI offers both supervised and unsupervised labs. For labs supervised by an instructor, a student will complete 30 hours of class time and 15 hours of homework per credit earned. For labs not supervised by an instructor, a student will complete 45 hours of class time per credit earned.
Lecture: In lecture classes, students attend class on a regular basis and the instructor lectures on class material. The most common instructional method for courses at CWI is lecture. Students should expect to complete 15 hours of class time and 30 hours of homework per credit earned.
Loan: Student loans are borrowed funds that MUST be repaid with interest. Several different types of loans, both need-based and non-need-based, are available to CWI students and their parents.
Major: A major is a student’s chosen field of study. It usually requires the successful completion of a specified number of credits.
Math Diagnostic: The Math Diagnostic exam is a placement test that students must complete upon admission to CWI unless they have either ACT or SAT scores or prior math college credit. The Math Diagnostic is used to determine a student's mathematical skills and will place them into the appropriate mathematics course. More information about the Math Diagnostic exam can be found on the Placement Testing catalog page.
Midterm: During the middle of each semester, instructors may give midterm exams that test students on the material covered during the first half of the semester. Some classes have only two tests, a midterm and a final.
MyCWI: myCWI is a secure online interface that provides access to important CWI information systems and processes to assist you in achieving your college goals. Some of the features include:
- Register for and drop classes
- View and print your class schedule
- View grades and unofficial transcripts
- Request your official transcript
- Check your progress toward graduation
- View federal financial aid documents and awards
- Pay your bill
- Apply for graduation
- Print an Enrollment Verification form
My Progress: My Progress is a tool in Student Planning which helps students find out what courses are needed to complete their degree or certificate. The My Progress report will show all of the courses a student has taken at CWI or at other schools if you have had an outside transcript evaluated. Completed courses will be placed in different categories (including General Education, Major Requirements, and Electives) within the report; any requirements that haven't been completed will be displayed in red. More information and instructions on using the My Progress tool can be found here.
One Stop Student Services: One Stop Student Services provides a single service point for students. Our approach coordinates Recruitment, Admissions, Financial Aid, Registrar, and Student Accounts functions within one convenient campus location.
Online Course: Online courses provide computer-based instruction with electronically facilitated contact with the instructor and other students. Because these courses are not place-bound and do not require regular meeting hours, students who are self-motivated, have time-management skills, and are solution-based learners, are most successful in online courses. Our online courses are delivered through a user-friendly learning management system and provide students a more flexible option for class scheduling. Online sections of a course are designated with an "W" at the end of a section number.
Open Registration: Open registration is the designated period when all admitted students are able to register for courses. See the Academic Calendar for open registration dates.
Prior Learning Assessment (PLA): Prior Learning Assessment provides methods to convert knowledge in specific subjects that has been gained through life experiences or a variety of instructional means into alternative credit. PLA is available to students who have been accepted and are currently enrolled. Visit the Prior Learning Assessment web page for more information regarding policies and specific methods available for CWI courses.
Pass/No Pass Courses: Pass/no pass courses do not earn letter grades or grade points for students. If a student passes a pass/no pass course, they will receive a "P" (pass) on their transcript and the associated credit hours. If the student does not pass the course, they will receive an "NP" (no pass) on their transcript and no credit hours. The evaluation for the pass/no pass course is not figured into the student’s GPA.
Plan of Study: A Plan of Study Guide is the most helpful sequence of courses recommended or required by the program in order to facilitate timely completion of all degree and/or certificate requirements. Each program at CWI provides a Plan of Study Guide designed to help students with registration every semester.
Prerequisite: A prerequisite is a requirement (typically a course or placement test) that must be completed prior to registering for another course. If a course has a prerequisite, students will not be able to register in the course unless the requirement(s) are in progress or have been met. Students can check the course catalog or talk to their advisors if they have questions about specific prerequisites.
Pre/Corequisite: A pre/corequisite is a requirement (typically a course or placement test) that can either be completed prior to or concurrently with another requirement or course. If a course has a pre/corequisite, students will not be able to register in the course unless the requirement(s) are in progress or have been met. Students can check the course catalog or talk to their advisors if they have questions about specific pre/corequisites.
Priority Registration: Priority registration provides an opportunity for students closest to graduation to register first. Students are assigned a registration time based on the number of credits they have earned. (Institutional and transfer credits are included; credits in progress are not included.) Priority registration is enabled during fall and spring registration periods; summer is open registration. See the Academic Calendar for priority registration dates.
Registration: The process in which students choose and enroll in courses to be taken during the academic year or in summer sessions. Registration for each semester/term is open during specified periods of time throughout the year, which can be found on the Academic Calendar. Students register online using Student Planning. Students should receive an automated email in their student email account confirming their registration after it has been completed.
Residency: A student's residency at the time of their enrollment at CWI is used to determine the tuition they will be charged. Full-time residents of Idaho, and specifically residents of Ada, Bonneville, Canyon, Jerome, Twin Falls and Kootenai Counties, are eligible for a discounted tuition rate. Detailed information on how a student's state and district residency are determined, as well as a description of how to request a residency redetermination, can be found on the Resident Status for Tuition Purposes catalog page.
Returning Student: A returning student is a degree-seeking student who has previously been admitted to CWI but has not enrolled or attended academic classes in the previous six terms and/or two years. If you have not enrolled in academic courses in the previous six terms and/or two years, then you will need to apply for readmission and determine your current residency. Returning students must complete requirements by the admission deadline. Students who do not complete requirements by the admission deadline will not able to enroll as a degree-seeking student.
Scholarship: Scholarships are gift aid that may be based on academic achievement, particular skills, talents, abilities, and/or interests and may or may not have a financial need requirement. Like grants, scholarships do not have to be repaid. Scholarship deadlines vary. For the most current information on scholarships available, please review the CWI Scholarships web page.
Semester: Periods of study that divide the academic year into segments of approximately 16-weeks each. CWI offers two 16-week semesters during an academic year; the fall semester typically begins in August and the spring semester typically begins in January. CWI also offers an 8-week summer term which typically begins in June.
Student Account Consent: Before each registration cycle, students must sign a ‘Student Account Consent’ agreeing to the terms and conditions of registering for a course. Consent may be given within myCWI. This video shows how to complete the process.
Student ID Card: Student ID cards are issued to new students prior to the start of classes. Students will need them for identification purposes to use the library materials, to obtain admittance to College activities, to use the computer labs, and for all transactions in One Stop Student Services. CWI, in partnership with ValleyRide, offers free transportation for employees and students with a valid CWI identification card and sticker on any fixed routes serviced by Valley Ride Transportation. More information can be found on our Transportation and Parking web page.
Student Planning: Student Planning is a tool located within myCWI > My Toolkit for Students > Plan & Register. It is a great way to help students stay on track during their educational journey. Students will not only be able to register for classes but also create a degree plan, update personal information, and explore changing majors! More information, including helpful tips and video tutorials on how best to utilize Student Planning are available here.
Syllabus: An outline of the important information about a course. Written by the professor or instructor, it usually includes important dates, assignments, expectations and policies specific to that course.
Transcript: The transcript is a permanent academic record of a student at college. Transcripts show all the courses in which the student was officially enrolled, the final grade for each course, any in-progress courses, the courses from which the student has withdrawn, credits attempted and credits completed, courses repeated, semester and cumulative grade point averages, and degrees and/or certificates earned.
- Unofficial transcripts are available at no cost and can be viewed/printed through myCWI. Unofficial transcripts are typically for a student's personal use and are generally not accepted by other institutions or employers.
- Official transcripts are available for a fee and can be ordered through the National Student Clearinghouse. Please note that official transcripts won't be released by the College if you have any holds on your student account.
Tuition: An amount of money charged by CWI per term, per course, or per credit, in exchange for instruction and training. Tuition generally does not include the cost of textbooks, room and board, and other fees.
Waitlist: A course waitlist is a list of students who want an opportunity to register for a section that is full when, and if, a seat becomes available. Eligible students can waitlist for a full course on myCWI, provided a waitlist is available for that course. Students will be notified through their CWI email when a seat becomes available and will have 48 hours to register for the seat. Students who are on a waitlist are encouraged to check their student email regularly for notifications. Instructors cannot override the waitlist. Waitlists close the Friday before classes begin. Waitlisted students are not considered enrolled in a course; students must be officially registered for an open seat in order to have enrollment status at the college.
Withdrawal: Withdrawal is the process of officially removing yourself from one or more of the courses you have registered for during any given term. The impacts of withdrawing from courses depends on when it is done; a description of the effects of withdrawing before and after the census date for each term can be found on the Dropping/Withdrawing from Courses page. Withdrawals deadlines can be found on the Academic Calendar.
Workforce Development (WD): The Workforce Development program offers opportunities to quickly gain the skills and certifications needed to obtain employment or apprenticeships, retrain for new opportunities, or advance your career. You can take as many short-term, noncredit classes as you want with no applications, no transcripts, and no hassle. More information about our WD program can be found here.
Work-Study: Work-study is a need based award that allows students to earn wages through employment opportunities. If eligible for work-study, a student can work part time (up to 19 hours a week). In order to be eligible for a work-study award, students must demonstrate financial need, meet all application deadlines, be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, and enroll in at least one course each semester. Additional information about the work-study program can be found here.
Write Class Placement: The Write Class Placement (WCP) exam is an English placement test required of all students admitted to CWI unless they have with prior English college credit or a documented score of six (6) or higher on the SAT Essay. The WCP uses multiple measures (such as GPA, standardized test scores, and self-assessment) to direct students into the appropriate English course for their skill level and is taken online by the student, at their own pace. More information about the Write Class Placement exam can be found on the Placement Testing catalog page.