Academic Program Definitions
To provide clarity and conformity to academic terms used in correlation with program and program components at the University.
faculty, staff, and students
The following are terms and their definitions for programs and program components used in program inventory, catalogs, and/or other publications. All programs and program components require governance review, though the level of that review varies as outlined in the Approval of Academic Programs and Academic Units and the Faculty Responsibility for Establishment of Curricula, Academic Standards, and Degree Requirements policy. Only degrees and majors are designated on the diploma. Definitions indicate if the program or program component is designated on the transcript. Transcript designations are limited to the program and program components as specified in the definitions below.
While some program or program components lead to certification or licensure by an external agency such terms are not eligible for inclusion on a transcript or diploma because KU does not award the certification or license.
Degree: An award approved by the Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) as official recognition of the completion of a prescribed course(s) of study following matriculation. Official degrees are listed in the KU Catalog and in KBOR’s Program Inventory. Each degree earned is designated on the transcript.
Major: A program of study offering both depth and breadth in a particular discipline or field of study. Majors may be offered at the bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, or doctoral levels. For a bachelor’s degree, a major should entail approximately the equivalent of one (1) academic year of work in the main subject plus one (1) academic year in related subjects, or two (2) academic years in closely related subjects within a liberal arts interdisciplinary program. A major must be tied to a degree. The major is designated on the transcript when the degree is awarded.
Concentration: A structured plan of study within a major representing a sub-specialization or emphasis within a major field available only to students majoring in that discipline. The number of semester hours for a concentration varies, but is included within the semester hours for the major. Concentration is the only approved term and terms such as “emphasis”, “area study”, “sequence”, “general”, “track”, “option”, or “specialization” should not be used. Concentrations are designated on the transcript when the degree is awarded.
Minor: A program of study with less depth than a major. A minor is completed to complement, or as an addition to a major. A minor may not exceed twenty-four (24) credit hours at the bachelor’s level; twelve (12) credit hours at the master's level; and eighteen (18) credit hours at the doctoral level. Minors may not have specializations. Only students enrolled in a degree program may pursue a minor. Students shall not major and minor in the same field nor shall students have a minor and concentration in the same field. Minors are designated on the transcript when the degree is awarded.
Double Major (within a single school/college): An undergraduate student who meets the major requirements of two academic units for a single undergraduate degree within a single school/college. Students who graduate with a double major within a single school/college are required to complete all University requirements and the requirements of both majors, but only one set of collegial requirements. One undergraduate degree is awarded. Both majors are designated on the transcript when the degree is awarded (e.g., B.A. with Major in History & Major in English).
Double Degree (within a single school/college): Two separate undergraduate degrees housed in the same school/college. Students must complete requirements for each degree and the school/college determines restrictions on course overlap. The school/college may impose other restrictions. Two separate degrees are awarded and both degrees appear on the transcript (e.g., B.A. with Major in English and B.S. with a Major in Behavioral Neuroscience).
Double Degree (in two different schools/colleges): Two separate undergraduate degrees housed in different schools/colleges. Students must complete requirements for each degree. Two separate degrees are awarded and both degrees appear on the transcript (e.g., B.A. with Major in Economics and B.S.B. with a Major in Business Administration).
Dual Degree: Two distinct graduate degree programs housed in separate academic units with formal arrangements between the units. The units may be housed within the same school/college or in two separate schools/college. Students apply separately to and must be accepted by both programs. A portion of the curricula of dual degree programs may be integrated. The programs may allow special coordination of scheduling or allocation of electives. At least 50% of courses applied to each graduate degree shall be courses designed for graduate work at the 700 level or above, rather than undergraduate courses credited toward a graduate degree. Each degree is designated on the transcript (e.g., M.D./Ph.D., J.D./M.B.A., M.A. in Geography/M.U.P.).
Dual Degree - Accelerated: An undergraduate degree program and a graduate degree program with formal arrangements for a partial integration of the curricula. The arrangements may be between two distinct units housed within the same school/college, two separate schools/college, or within a single unit. Students must be accepted by both programs. The programs may allow special coordination of scheduling. At least 50% of courses applied to the graduate degree shall be courses designed for graduate work at the 700 level or above, rather than undergraduate courses credited toward a graduate degree. Units may allow well-prepared advanced undergraduate students to substitute graduate courses for required or elective courses in an undergraduate degree program and then subsequently count those same courses as fulfilling graduate requirements in the related graduate program. “Accelerated” is the only approved term and terms such as “4+1” or “3+2” should not be used. Each degree is designated on the transcript (e.g., B.A./M.A. in Economics, B.A./M.A. in Classics, B.A. in Environmental Studies/M.U.P.).
Joint Degree: A single degree established and coordinated jointly between two schools/colleges. If one school is on the Lawrence/Edwards campus and one school is on the Medical Center campus, the program administrator must designate one campus as the governing campus for the purposes of admissions, financial aid, etc. The degree is designated on the transcript (e.g., B.S. in Engineering Physics or Doctor of Audiology).
Undergraduate Certificate: A defined set of courses and/or experiences united under a particular theme. A certificate program generally requires the equivalent of twelve (12) or more credit hours of coursework. A certificate program’s curriculum may include non-credit-bearing educational experiences in place of some credit-bearing coursework; in these instances, a certificate may include as few as six (6) credit hours of coursework combined with an approved education experience. Such educational experiences must meet clearly defined criteria; entail a significant investment of student time; and be designed to complement the remainder of the certificate requirements. The certificate is designated on the transcript.
Graduate Certificate: A focused collection of courses that, when completed, affords the student some record of coherent academic accomplishment in a given discipline or set of related disciplines. Students may be awarded these certificates upon completion of a well-defined program of coursework. The didactic material comprised within a graduate certificate program may represent a more practice-oriented subset of an existing graduate discipline. A graduate certificate program will comprise of no less than nine (9) and generally no more than eighteen (18) credit hours of course work in a particular discipline or related disciplines of study. The certificate is designated on the transcript.
Certificate of Completion (non-credit): A non-credit certificate offered by the school, college, or other unit that awards Continuing Education Units (CEU) or other certificates of attendance or achievement. These programs do not involve credit courses. Participants are not registered in the official student information systems and all records are kept by the offering unit. Non-credit certificates of completion are not designated on the transcript.
Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
01/20/2022: New policy published in Policy Library.