Glossary of Terms

The following is a list of commonly used terms and acronyms that often appear in Institutional Research and Academic Affairs-related publications. Please contact us if there are any additional terms that should be included on this list.

Updated April 2016.

Acceptance Rate (also called Admission Rate):
The number of students admitted divided by number of students who applied.
APDB (Academic Planning Database):
APDB reports provide information in support of academic planning and administration. These reports present information related to enrollment, student-faculty ratios, class size, mode of instructions, and more organized by discipline, discipline category, and administrative structure. These reports are used locally to support such activities as the review and approval of newly proposed degree programs, as well as the continued evaluation of existing programs. They are also utilized by the Chancellor's Office to examine and assess the structure, workload and productivity of each campus's faculty in order to conduct its annual analysis of faculty utilization.
Campus GPA:
Refers to the cumulative GPA for courses taken within the University only.
Census Data:
Denotes all data collected on Census Date that has been approved by the Chancellor's Office. These are the official numbers for reports to the federal government, state agencies, and various national organizations. Census data is the result of a rigorous data checking, cleaning and error correction process. The most important Census Data submissions are the Enrollment Reporting System-Student (ERSS) and Academic Planning Database (APDB).
Census Date:
The date when official enrollment is taken for each campus in the CSU system. It is the close of the fourth week of each semester. It usually occurs on or around Oct 1st and March 1st, respectively.
A cohort is a group of students with similar college experience (First-Time Freshmen, Undergraduate Transfers, and First-Time Classified Graduates) who matriculate together in the same semester. Cohort Retention and Graduation Rates are the main measures of progress and success for each group as a whole.
Continuing Students:
Refers to students who had enrolled the previous semester and returned for the current term.
Course Level:
Lower Division includes 100 and 200 level courses, Upper Division includes 300-500 level courses, Graduate includes 600+ level courses.
Degree GPA:
Refers to the overall cumulative GPA a student has earned at the time the degree was awarded.
Enrollment Status:
A coding system which classifies the current enrollment of a student and distinguishes between new, continuing, returning, and transitory students.
ERSS (Enrollment Reporting System—Student):
The Chancellor's Office uses this to monitor the status of all students enrolled in state-supported programs. It is the one of the sources for student FTE count of each campus in the CSU system.
Those who checked the category of "Other" have chosen this category and do not fit in any of the given ethnic groups. "Multiracial" became a new category and separated from "Other" in 2010.
Includes all individuals who did not self-report a racial/ethnic background.
Exceptional Admission (also called Special Admit):
Campuses are allowed to admit students who are not academically eligible for admission, but are considered disadvantaged. This category could also refer to students with special talents such as athletic or musical abilities.
Faculty with Multiple Departments:
Refers to faculty that teach in more than one department. The FTES is divided among the departments based on course enrollment. The FTEF is also divided based on the proportion of the WTU/15 in each department.
FERP Faculty:
Refers to persons who participate in the Faculty Early Retirement Program.
First-Time Freshman:
A student who has not previously enrolled in an institution of higher education, but who may have earned some college units prior to matriculation, such as students who entered with advanced standing (college credits earned before graduation from high school).
Full-time Employee:
Persons employed 100% of the time. Also includes persons on leave.
Full-Time Equivalent:
The ratio of the total number of paid hours during a period (part time, full time, contracted) by the number of working hours in that period Mondays through Fridays. One FTE is equivalent to one employee working full-time.
Full-time Equivalent Faculty (FTEF):
All full-time faculty members are counted as 1 FTE. FTE for part-time faculty, early Retirement Program members (FERP) and Teaching Assistants are calculated based on their particular HR contracts. This also includes faculty on sabbatical and/or those without a current teaching load.
Full-time Equivalent Staff:
The number of full-time equivalent staff employees.
Full-time Equivalent Student (FTES):
FTES are calculated by dividing the sum of the Student Credit Units (SCU) by 15 for Undergraduates and 12 for Graduate Students. These FTES are allocated to the department offering the course, regardless of the instructor's affiliation.
Full-Time Graduate Student:
A graduate student taking 9 or more units is considered full-time.
Full-Time Undergraduate Student:
An undergraduate student taking 12 or more units is considered full-time.
A - F - Letter grade
CR – Credit
NC - No Credit
I – Incomplete
IC – Incomplete Charged
WU - Unauthorized withdrawal
W – Withdrawal
Other Codes:
AU - Audit
Blank - No grade
RD - Report Delayed
RP - Report in Progress
SP - Satisfactory Progress
Graduate Degree-Seeker:
A student who holds a Bachelor's degree or its equivalent, and is enrolled in a graduate degree program (such as Master's or Doctorate).
Graduation Rate:
The Graduation Rate is the sum of the number of students who graduated within 6 or 4 years divided by the number of students who originally entered at the same fall semester. College cohorts are based on the initial majors that students declared during the first semester at college. Therefore, students who graduated from a college other than the one they initially declared are still credited to their initial college selection.
Graduation Rate within Major:
Refers to the proportion of entering undergraduates (First-Time Freshmen and Transfers) who earned a degree in a specified number of years within their original major.
Headcount of Major:
Counts only the students who have declared majors and only their first majors. Anyone without a major is counted as "Undeclared" and is excluded from the enrollment count of departments.
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS):
A system of interrelated surveys conducted annually by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). IPEDS consists of twelve interrelated survey components that are collected over three collection periods (fall, winter, and spring). The completion of all IPEDS surveys is mandatory for all institutions that participate in, or are applicants for participation in, any federal financial assistance program authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended. The IPEDS program department of NCES was created in 1992 and began collecting data in 1993.
Institution of Origin:
The institution of learning attended by the student immediately prior to enrolling in Sonoma State University.
Instruction Faculty Fraction (IFF):
An element that specifies the portion of a faculty appointment supported by instructional funds. For example, a faculty member with a full-time teaching appointment would have an IFF of 1.0.
Instructional Administrative Fraction (IAF):
Defines the administrative work assigned and the term of appointment, such as Department Chairs, Associate or Assistant Department Chairs, Athletic Directors, Deans, Associate and Assistant Deans.
Instructional FTEF:
This incorporates only those faculty members with in-classroom workloads, including supervisory teaching, and/or instructors who are administrators or staff. The FTE for Full-time faculty is calculated as WTU/12. The FTE for part-time, FERP, and teaching assistants are calculated as WTU/15. These FTEF are allocated to the department offering the course, regardless of the instructor's affiliation.
Non-Resident (for fee purposes):
A student with Residence Status "N" (another state or U.S. possession) or "F" (foreign country).
Non-Resident Alien (for fee purposes):
A student who is not a citizen or national of the United States and who is in this country on a visa or temporary basis and does not have the right to remain indefinitely (Citizenship Codes: F, J, O, N).
Other Support Fraction (OSF):
Indicates the share of a faculty appointment that is supported by state budget funding, including the full appointment fraction (1.0) of a person who is teaching one or more sections and is being paid from state funds budgeted to accounts other than instruction or instructional administration, and reimbursed faculty time. For example, a librarian, administrator, or computer center professional who teaches a course that is funded from the total state support budget would have his/her full appointment time recorded as Other Support Fraction (OSF).
Permanent Faculty:
Faculty who are tenured or on tenure track.
Postbaccalaureate Student:
A student who holds a bachelor’s or equivalent degree, is at a graduate student level, and is seeking a postbaccalaureate credential or certificate.
Regular Admission:
A student who meets all the stated academic requirements for admission to the University.
Retention Rate:
The sum of the number of continuation and graduation divided by the number of students who originally entered at the same fall semester.
Retention Rate Within Major:
A tracking rate which is the sum of those continuing as undergraduates plus those who earned a degree during a defined period within their original majors.
Returning Students:
Refers to students who had enrolled previously, left for more than one term, and were then readmitted.
School/Department FTES:
FTES is credited to the college/department which offers the courses. A student’s FTE is credited to the English Department if that student took English 101 in a semester (regardless of the student’s major).
Student Credit Units (SCU):
Identifies the total number of earned course credit units for all students enrolled in a given section.
Student-Faculty Ratio (SFR):
Student-Faculty Ratio is FTES divided by Instructional FTEF.
Team-taught Courses:
Refers to the courses taught by more than one faculty. The FTES of the courses is divided among the instructors.
Temporary Faculty:
Faculty who are not on tenure track or in FERP program even if their total contract time or instructional WTU may be equal to 1.0 FTEF.
Term GPA:
Refers to the GPA a student has earned at the conclusion of a semester.
Time to Degree:
The total length of time it takes a student, from his/her first day of class, to receive a degree. For CSU analysis purposes, total time to degree (TTD) is a measure of the time lapse between matriculations to degree completion.
Transfer Student:
A student entering Sonoma State for the first time but known to have previously attended a postsecondary institution at the same level (e.g., undergraduate, graduate).
Transitory Students:
Students primarily enrolled at another educational institution (often a high school) but have permission to take courses for credit at Sonoma State.
Weighted Teaching Units (WTU):

WTU is a measure of faculty workload. For example, a lecture class that meets three hours per week generates 3 WTU. A CS Number is generated in the APDB file and used to define the type of courses.

For non-supervision segment (CS Number 01 thru 21), WTU is computed as the product of Course Credit Units and a "K factor," obtained as follows:

Weighted Teaching Units (WTU) Computations
CS Number K Factor CS Number K Factor
01 thru 04 (lecture) 1.0 16, 17 (lab) 2.0
05 thru 06 (seminar) 1.0 18 (activity) 6.0
07 thru 14 (activity) 1.3 19 thru 21 (activity) 3.0
15 (lab) 1.5
For a "supervision" resource segment (CS Number 23, 24, 25, 36, & 48), WTU is computed as enrollment times with an adjusting factor, obtained as follows:
Supervision Weighted Teaching Units (WTU) Computations
CS Number Adjusting Factor CS Number Adjusting Factor
23 1.000 36 0.333
24 0.667 48 0.250
25 0.500 77 and 78 Zero

Yield Rate (also called Enrollment Rate):
Equals number of students enrolled divided by number admitted.


  • CSU Student Enrollment System Reference Manual, 2007
  • CSU Academic Planning Database Reference Manual, 2007
  • Human Resources Data documents, 2007
  • Sacramento State University Glossary, 2014
  • San Diego State University Glossary, 2016