Academic Advising Terms


Your academic advisor may use some terminology you may not be familiar with. Below you will find a list of terms and definitions that can help you understand terms discussed during your academic advising appointment.

Academic Probation: Students with a cumulative grade-point average below 2.0 are placed on academic probation and are restricted from taking more than 13 hours per term while on probation.

Academic Suspension/Academic Dismissal: When placed on academic suspension, a student is not allowed to enroll in courses for one regular semester.  This occurs if the student’s GPA falls below a certain minimum GPA as shown in the table below. Academic dismissal occurs when a student has been suspended and reinstated but then fails to raise their GPA to required level.  In this case, a student cannot enroll at USA for one full calendar year.

GPA Hours Minimum GPA
 00-42  1.20
 43-54  1.43
 55-66  1.56
 67-77  1.64
 78-89  1.69
 90-102  1.73
 102-up  1.80


Audit: A course for which you pay tuition and fees but do not receive credit.

Bulletin: The official university publication that contains policy and procedural information for the university, including degree program requirements and course descriptions.

Credit hours: Every class is worth a value called a credit hour, which generally equals the amount of time you spend in class per week during the semester. Every degree program requires you to take a certain number of credit hours in order to earn a degree.

Degree Plan or Curriculum: A list of exact courses, subject areas, and credit hours needed to obtain a specific degree.

Degree Works: A curriculum mapping system available in PAWS that will allow your to see what courses are remaining for your chosen major and allow you to “degree shop” if you wish to change majors.

Drop/Add: This term refers to adjusting your schedule by dropping and/or adding courses. The Drop/Add period is limited and is indicated on the academic calendar.

Financial Aid: Monies available to eligible students in the form of grants, loans, scholarships, and work study funding. The monies come through federal and state government or private donations.

Full-time students: A student who is taking at least 12 credit hours in a semester.

Grade point average (GPA): The average of the student’s grades for all classes taken at the University of South Alabama.

Official Transcript: A sealed, printed record of every course a student has taken at the University of South Alabama along with the grades earned. Official transcripts may be obtained from the Registrar.

PAWS: An online interface that houses student records and allows for course registration. Part-Time Student: A student that is enrolled in less than twelve hours per semester.

Prerequisites: Preliminary skills, knowledge or courses required before enrollment in a particular course. Required Grade

Point Average: The established standards designating appropriate academic progress. To stay in good academic standing, a student must maintain a grade-point average of 2.0 or greater on coursework earned at the University of South Alabama.

Sakai or USA Online: The learning management system you will use for online courses or courses with a web component.

Semester: An academic term.

Transfer Credit: Credit hours taken at an institution other than the University of South Alabama that are applied toward a degree at USA.

Unofficial Transcript: A record of every course a student has taken at the University of South Alabama including the grades earned. Unofficial transcripts can be found in the PAWS system.