The educational system in the United States may be different than the system in your home country.

This list was created to help explain some of the key words and concepts that you will come across as you go through the application process.

Bachelor’s Degree

Students enter a bachelor’s degree program after successful completion of secondary school. It is an undergraduate degree obtained after four years of full-time study.

Classification of Undergraduate Students

Freshman – First-year student
Sophomore – Second-year student
Junior – Third-year student
Senior – Fourth-year student

Colleges and Schools

Universities in the United States are composed of colleges and schools specializing in specific fields. Shenandoah University has the following schools: College of Arts and Sciences, Shenandoah Conservatory, School of Health Professions, Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy, Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business and the School of Continuing Education.


Value awarded at the successful completion of each course. Most courses at Shenandoah are four credit hours.

Fall Semester

Period of the school year which usually begins in late August or early September and ends in December.


Additional costs such as health insurance, orientation, individual lessons and laboratory fees.

Full-time Course Load

All international students must maintain a full-time course load. For undergraduate students, it is 12-credit hours per semester; for graduate students, it is 9-credit hours per semester.

Grade-Point Average (GPA)

A GPA is found by dividing the number of quality points (grades such as A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0) by the number of credit hours the student has attempted.


The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required for entrance into many graduate-level programs.


The Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT) is not required for entrance into the MBA program at the Shenandoah University Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business. The GMAT is a computer adaptive test used by many MBA programs to assess the ability of MBA candidates in four areas: analytical writing, integrated reasoning, quantitative and verbal.


The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) can be used to demonstrate the English proficiency of non-native English applicants.

International Student

For admission purposes, international students are students who wish to pursue undergraduate or graduate degrees at Shenandoah University but who are not citizens, permanent residents or refugees in the United States of America.

Letter of Recommendation

A letter from someone qualified to attest to your academic ability and your potential to succeed in higher education (professor, employer, etc.).

Living Expenses/Room and Board

Estimated costs for housing and meals.


An area of concentration in a student’s undergraduate studies.

Master’s Degree

A graduate degree awarded after the completion of a period of study usually lasting two years. Students may enter a master’s level program upon completion of a bachelor’s degree.


A mandatory period of several days before the beginning of the academic semester in which students are given useful information to help them in their transition to university and American life.


The Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) is used in the admission of graduate-level pharmacy programs.

Transfer Student

A student who has begun his or her undergraduate education at another institution but wishes to complete studies at Shenandoah University. Students may receive transfer credit towards their degree based on the course work they have already completed.


The Scholastic Aptitude Test is commonly required for incoming undergraduate student applicants.

Spring Semester

Period of the school year which usually begins in January and ends in May.

Student Visa

After a student’s application is accepted and his/her financial ability to pay for their university education documented, they will be issued an I-20 form from Shenandoah University which permits the student to apply for an F-1 student visa. The student is responsible to schedule an interview date with their local United States consulate or embassy in their home country.


The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) can be used to demonstrate English proficiency of non-native English applicants.


An official document issued by an academic institution which lists the courses a student has taken, the marks/grades they received, and the degrees or diplomas granted.


The cost of courses.