Say What? | A glossary of common terms at Northern State University


The online bookstore used by NSU students to purchase books for courses. 

Census date

The date by which 10 percent of the class days have been completed and the last day in which students may add or drop a class for a full refund on standard-length classes. Each semester has a census date for standard-length courses. Classes that are not a standard length will have a different census date.


Desire2Learn is the system used by NSU to deliver course content online.


The head of a school or college within a university setting.


The academic program planning guide that displays academic requirements for students’ major, minor, or certificate programs; also known as a Program Evaluation or Degree Audit, the guide indicates requirements that have been completed and what is still needed.


The two-factor authentication required for access to NSU systems. More about DUO

Finance Office

Handles business transactions, including tuition, fee bills, and payments; library fines; parking fines; miscellaneous bills; educational expense short-term loans for books and supplies; and financial aid refund inquiries. Get details at Finance Office and myNSU Finance Office.

Financial Aid office

Assists students with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); scholarships; grants; loans; and workstudy. Students should complete the FAFSA annually. Learn more at Financial Aid and myNSU Financial Aid.

Full-time status

The academic status of an undergraduate student who is enrolled in a semester total of 12 credits or more; under 12 credits is considered part-time. The number of credits a student is enrolled in may impact financial aid and scholarships. Bachelor’s degrees require a minimum of 120 total credit hours, where an associate degree requires only 60 credit hours. It is recommended that students earn 15 credits each fall and spring semester if their goal is to graduate in four years. Professional advisors help with course selection and academic planning. 

Gen Eds or System General Education requirements

A set of required courses within a set of categories or goals that provide students with the foundation of knowledge necessary for progress into program-specific courses. NSU has six goals that require a specific number of credit hours: written communication, oral communication, social science, fine arts and humanities, mathematics, and natural science. 


Also known as the student portal - a campus-only student website where students can access account information and find information about registration, financial aid, technology services, professional advisors, assignments, event calendars, announcements, and many campus applications. 


A student-centered mobile app that provides personalized information to support academic success and timely graduation including choosing the right major, better understanding of requirements, making appointments with advisors and tutors, staying on top of important dates and deadlines, and creating peer study groups.

NSU email

Electronic mail used in conjunction with Google. The email system will be utilized for all NSU communication; students must check their NSU email accounts daily. Students have access to Google apps through their NSU account. More about NSU email

NSU Mobile

The NSU app that provides access to news, events, campus map and directory, courses, grades, Navigate (student), and Banner Self-Service registration. More about NSU Mobile

Office Hours

Times during which faculty are available to meet with students on a drop-in or scheduled basis. Office hours are typically posted in each course syllabus and outside faculty offices. 

Professional Advisor

(also known as advisor or academic advisor)

The staff member assigned to each student who is a resource for course selection and registration, withdrawals, internships, degree requirements, academic policies and procedures, academic planning, major exploration, and referrals to other support units on campus. Contact advisors

Progress Report

A term describing a time frame in which faculty review students’ academic standing within a course and recommend action to correct discrepancies. Students may also hear that they have a flag, early alert or kudos. Through Navigate, faculty provide feedback and professional advisors contact students to connect them with academic support and resources. 


The chief academic officer for NSU responsible for academic and budget affairs. The provost works with the university president to set academic priorities and allocate funds to advance those priorities. 

Recognized Student Organization or RSO

A student club, team, or organization that is chartered by the university. RSOs are great places to get involved and become part of a group with a shared interest. 

Registrar’s office

Registrar staff keep student records while maintaining legal and ethical behavior. The Registrar’s Office helps all students (former, current, and prospective) with many tasks including but not limited to program evaluations or degree audits, transfer credits, transcript requests, course registration, enrollment verification, graduation application, and institutional policies and procedures. Learn more at Records and Registration and myNSU Registrar's Office.

Resident Assistant or RA

A student employee assigned to a residence hall. The RA helps oversee student conduct, guide students to campus resources, and provide programs through which students can engage with each other. 


The electronic billing and payment service that can be found by logging on to Self-Service Banner. Students can pay their bill via e-check or credit card online through SDePay. Students can also view their tuition/fee statement and payment history, and set up access for parents or other authorized users to view and pay a bill. 

Self Service Banner or SSB

The web-based platform where students register for courses, view grades, access financial aid information, accept or reject financial aid offers, pay their bill via SDePay, confirm attendance, and complete other academic procedures. Visit SSB FAQs


The system where students record timesheets for work study or student labor positions. Visit Student SNAP

Student Affairs

The unit on campus that supports student success to enhance student growth and development, and drives student learning outside of the classroom. At NSU, the dean of students leads Student Affairs

Student Labor

On-campus student jobs that are not connected to financial aid awards. 

Student Success Center

The unit on campus made up of multiple resources for student success including academic advising, academic support, career services, American Indian Good Circle Program, Navigate, supplemental instruction, tutoring services, TRIO Student Support Services, and TRIO Upward Bound. Learn about the Student Success Center

Supplemental Instruction or SI

Scheduled peer-led study sessions that take place in addition to courses to help students have a deeper understanding of course content. More about SI


An outline of the topics, assignments, quizzes, and exams for each course. Each course syllabus will also include class expectations, meeting times, instructor contact information, and required course materials. 

Time Ticket

Students’ assigned registration day and time that can be found in Self-Service Banner (SSB). 


A government-funded program designed to provide additional support to students who qualify. NSU has two TRIO programs: Student Support Services (SSS) and Upward Bound (UB). 


The online platform through which students can search for employment. WolfWork lists job and internship vacancies of all types: full time, part time, summer, and on campus. 

Work Study

Federal Work Study is a federally funded program awarded to students who show financial need through the FAFSA. Workstudy jobs provide part-time employment while a student is enrolled in school.