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Additional information for some definitions may be found in the Guidelines and Procedures for Academic Program Review Manual (Directive 2015-016).

Accreditation and Accrediting Bodies

Accreditation speaks to the educational quality of the institution. It is an indicator that the institution meets certain minimum standards of quality. Institutions which have been accredited by bodies recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and, specifically, by the CHEA-recognized institutional accreditors that were formerly regional accreditor organizations (defined below) shall be considered accredited institutions for the purposes of the Ohio Articulation and Transfer Policy.

In order to facilitate evaluation and accreditation of institutions of higher education, CHEA, a national body, has the responsibility for setting standards for accrediting organizations which carry out these activities. CHEA has a formal process of recognition which requires that any accrediting organization so recognized must meet the same standards. CHEA has recognized three types of accrediting bodies: institutional accreditors that were formerly regional accrediting commissions, national accrediting organizations, and specialized/professional accrediting organizations that accredit free-standing professional schools and professional programs in multi-purpose institutions.

For a complete list and information about institutional accreditors that were formerly regional accreditorsee Appendix G, INSTITUTIONAL ACCREDITORS THAT WERE FORMERLY REGIONAL ACCREDITOR AGENCIES FOR HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS.

National accrediting organizations that accredit various kinds of specialized institutions have also been recognized (e.g., Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools [ACICS], Association of Advanced Rabbinical and Talmudic Schools [AARTS]). CHEA annually publishes a complete list of these organizations.

Specialized/Professional accrediting organizations that accredit free-standing professional schools, in addition to programs within multi-purpose institutions, have been recognized by CHEA (e.g., Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology [ABET], AACSB International - The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business [AACSB]). CHEA annually publishes a complete list of these organizations as well.


The systematic coordination among institutions of postsecondary-level learning, including extra-institutional settings, to ensure the efficient and effective movement of students among those institutions, while guaranteeing the students' continuous progression and advancement in learning without unnecessary duplication of coursework. 

Articulation Agreement

An articulation agreement is a formal policy between/among two or more institutions/entities of postsecondary-level learning specifying in detail how learning completed at one institution/entity will be accepted and applied by another toward its courses/certificates/degree programs. Such agreements may occur through a statewide system, among more than two institutions, or bilaterally (See Appendix H, DIRECTIVE FOR THE BILATERAL ARTICULATION AGREEMENTS WITH SECONDARY CAREER-TECHNICAL INSTITUTIONS: PRINCIPLES AND GUIDELINES).

Articulated Credit

Learning that occurs other than through a college course, has learning outcomes aligned with a college course(s), and is eligible for an award of credit in accordance with an articulation agreement. Articulated credit is postsecondary-level learning that results in the acceptance of that learning for college credit and its application toward courses/degree programs after the student’s matriculation to the receiving institution in compliance with institutional and regulatory requirements. Therefore, learning that is articulated for credit becomes transcript credit for the student after he or she meets the criteria for being officially enrolled at the receiving institution. Articulated credit does not include a course grade.

Associate of Arts/Associate of Science Degrees

Usually referred to as the University Parallel or Transfer Program, the AA and AS degrees are designed for students who desire two years of a liberal arts education and/or plan to complete their first two years of college work at an Ohio public community college, technical college, or regional campus, then transfer as juniors or seniors to Ohio institutions of their choice. Upon completion of the degree, students will have completed the Ohio Transfer 36 requirements of the sending institution.

Associate Degrees:  Applied Business, Applied Science, Technical Study (Type A and Type B), and Individualized Study

The Associate Degree is an award that requires completion of 60 semester or 90 quarter credit hours; associate degree programs should not exceed 65 semester credit hours unless it can be shown that the additional coursework is required to meet professional accreditation or licensing requirements.

Associate of Applied Business (AAB) and Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Degrees

The AAB and AAS degrees are awarded in recognition of successful completion of career-technical education programs and prepare students for immediate employment upon graduation. The curricula for applied associate degree programs are described in terms of technical and non-technical studies. Non-technical studies include general education and courses that serve as a base for the technical field (sometimes referred to as “applied general education” or “basic” coursework). Non-technical studies, including general education and applied general education courses, should make up at least 30 semester or 45 quarter hours of the degree.

Associate of Technical Study (ATS) Degrees (Type A and Type B)

ATS degrees are awarded for successful completion of a planned program of study designed to respond to the need for specialized technical education. The program must have an area of concentration which is equivalent to at least 30 semester or 45 quarter credit hours in technical studies and a clearly identifiable career objective. The area of concentration can either be formed by:

  1. Type A—a coherent combination of technical courses selectively drawn from two or more technical programs currently offered by the college to serve a career objective that would not be adequately addressed by one of the existing programs alone, or
  2. Type B—courses completed or training received by a student at other institutions of higher education, career-technical institutions, or other educational enterprises judged by the institution to be of college level and for which the institution awards degree credit.

Associate of Individualized Study (AIS) Degrees

AIS degrees are awarded for the satisfactory completion of an individually planned program designed to serve an educational objective that could not be served through another degree program of the awarding institution. The program, planned by the student and faculty advisor, must contain an area of concentration consisting of a minimum of 20 semester or 30 quarter credit hours, which is formed according to one of the following models: a) an interdisciplinary, but coherent combination of courses drawn from a minimum of two and a maximum of four instructional areas; b) up to 40 semester or 60 quarter credit hours awarded by the institution for documentable educational experiences or courses completed at other institutions of higher education or educational enterprises judged by the institution to be of college level; or c) an unusual by academically coherent combination of technical and general studies courses.

Bachelor's Degree or Baccalaureate Degree

The degree is granted upon completion of a course of study normally requiring four academic years of college work. College work encompasses both upper- and lower-division institutional requirements.

An award that requires completion of 120 semester or 180 quarter credit hours, bachelor’s degree programs should not exceed 126 semester or 189 quarter credit hours unless it can be shown that the additional coursework is required to meet professional accreditation or licensing requirements. Bachelor’s degrees may be awarded for general areas of study, such as those recognized by the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Science degrees or in specialized professional and technical fields such as those recognized by the Bachelor of Fine Arts, the Bachelor of Music, the Bachelor of Education, and so on. Although bachelor’s degrees require completion of a specified number of credit hours, the length of the program can vary. For instance, bachelor’s degrees may be conferred for a five-year cooperative (work-study plan) program, which provides for alternate class attendance and employment in business, industry or government. They may also be conferred in instances where the full complement of credits is obtained in three years using various credit granting opportunities, including, but not limited to, College Credit Plus, Advanced Placement credit awarding guarantee, and other prior learning assessments.

Bilateral Articulation Agreements

The written agreements that are reached between individual colleges and universities or between a postsecondary institution of higher education and another postsecondary institution of learning, which detail course equivalency, program-to-program linkages, and undergraduate requirements.

Career-Technical Articulation Number (CTAN)

Each Career-Technical Articulation Guide (CTAG) course is assigned a Career-Technical Articulation Number (CTAN). A common statewide CTAN is assigned to each approved course/program offered by Ohio's adult and secondary career-technical institutions and public institutions of higher education. At the college and university level, CTANs are assigned to each approved course, courses, or program in addition to its unique institutional course number or designation. CTANs signify that the course/program is guaranteed to apply as an equivalent course, courses, or program bearing the same CTAN offered at public institutions of higher education in Ohio. Examples of CTANs include CTIT (Career-Technical Information Technology), OPBTI (Ohio Peace Officer Basic Training), and CTED (Career-Technical Education).

Career-Technical Credit Transfer (CT)2

Responding to House Bill 66 (ORC 3333.162), Career-Technical Credit Transfer (CT)2 is a collaborative initiative among the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the office of career-technical education of the Ohio Department of Education, public secondary/adult career-technical education institutions, and public institutions of higher education that initiated new articulation and transfer criteria, policies, and procedures which provide students in Ohio’s secondary and adult career-technical institutions with course/program credit guarantees. Eligible students are awarded college credit for agreed-upon technical knowledge and skills in equivalent courses/programs that are based on student learning outcomes, recognized industry standards, and/or third-party credentials.

College-Level Courses

These are courses offered by an institution of higher education for which credit is granted toward a particular degree(s). These courses are taught at an intellectual and content level which goes beyond courses taught at the high school level. For the purposes of this Policy, the receiving institution or respective statewide review panels determine which courses are college level and thereby eligible for transfer to a receiving institution.

College Transcript

A college transcript is the complete historic record of a student’s academic experience at an individual college or university including, but not limited to, courses attempted, credit hours assigned, grades received, and transfer credit accepted. It is a report forwarded at the request of the student to persons, institutions, or agencies for their use in reviewing the student’s previous academic performance. To be official, it typically must be sent directly from the sending institution to the receiving institution and bear the college seal, current date, and appropriate signature. 

Credit Hour

A minimum of 750 minutes for a semester credit hour of formalized instruction that typically requires students to work at out-of-class assignments an average of twice the amount of time as the amount of formalized instruction. Credit hours may be calculated differently for other types of instruction (e.g., laboratory experience, directed practice experience, practicum experience, cooperative work experience, field experience, observation experience, seminar, and studio experi­ence) as long as the credit hour calculations align with commonly accepted practices in higher education and with the regulations of institutional accreditors that were formerly regional accreditors and the federal financial aid program.

All Ohio public higher education institutions began operating with a semester calendar in 2012 (See Appendix R, DIRECTIVE FOR THE DEFINITION OF SEMESTER CREDIT HOUR AND LENGTH OF SEMESTER TERM).

While awarding semester credit hours typically occurs for instruction delivered in accordance with an institution's standard semester calendar, it may also occur for instruction that may not follow the typical pattern of an institution's standard semester calendar as long as the criteria for awarding such credit is met.

Semester-hour credit may be converted to quarter-hour credit by multiplying by 1.5 (e.g., five semester-hour credits will equate to 7.5 quarter-hour credits).


A recognition or award for completion of a prescribed course of study in an institu­tion of higher education designated by the customary titles of associate, bachelor, master, specialist or doctor. 

First-Time Student

A student who has no prior postsecondary experience (except as noted below) attending any institution for the first time at the undergraduate level. This includes students enrolled in academic or occupational programs. It also includes students enrolled in the fall term who attended college for the first time in the prior summer term, and students who entered with advanced standing (college credits or postsecondary formal award earned before graduation from high school).1

[1] The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) definition of a first-time student: https://surveys.nces.ed.gov/ipeds/VisGlossaryAll.aspx

Free or General Electives

These are college-level courses taken for credit outside of specific university, college, or departmental degree requirements. Some institutions have prescriptions governing the total hours of free or general electives permissible within a single degree program. 

General Education Requirements

Required within every undergraduate degree, this prescribed course of study, generally in the liberal education area, is guided by institutional mission and specific learning outcomes defined by each institution’s faculty and validated by the administration or governing board. At a minimum, general education requirements comprise no fewer than 36 semester or 54 quarter credit hours for baccalaureate degrees and associate of arts and associate of science degrees, and no fewer than 15 semester or 23 quarter credit hours for applied associate degrees.

General education is distinct from a program major, minor, or field of concentration and is often supplemented with additional liberal education requirements which are related to the needs of the individual degree programs. The curriculum reflects a breadth of study intended to ensure that all graduates possess a common core of college-level skills and knowledge. General education also includes a focus on “21st century” skills and knowledge2, including:

  1. Knowledge of human cultures and the physical and natural world;
  2. Intellectual and practical skills, including inquiry and analysis, critical and creative thinking, oral and written communication, quantitative literacy, information literacy, teamwork, and problem solving; and
  3. Personal and social responsibility, including civic knowledge and engagement, intercultural knowledge and competence, ethical reasoning and action, and foundations and skills for lifelong learning.

General education requirements in AA, AS, and baccalaureate degrees encompass and may be broader or more comprehensive than the Ohio Transfer 36. However, requirements in applied associate degrees tend to include fewer general education courses than the entire Ohio Transfer 36 due to the higher ratio of technical courses in these degree programs.

Remedial or developmental education courses are not considered part of general education and are not counted toward degree requirements.

[2] The Essential Learning Outcomes from the LEAP initiative: http://www.aacu.org/leap/vision.cfm(link sends e-mail)  

Institution of Higher Education

Two-year and four-year Ohio public universities and colleges, community college districts, technical college districts, university branch districts, state community colleges, or independent colleges and universities (that includes the applicable board of trustees or, in the case of a university branch district, any other managing authority), which formally adopt this Policy and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and authorized by the Ohio Department of Higher Education.

Lower-Division Courses

Courses at a level of comprehension usually associated with freshman and sophomore college students and offered during the first half of a baccalaureate degree program are called lower-division courses. These courses are numbered at a lower level than junior or senior courses (e.g., 100 or 200, instead of 300 or 400). Since there is not a one-to-one correspondence of the concept of baccalaureate lower-division courses to two-year degree and certificate programs, a course considered lower-division by a university may be completed by a student enrolled at a community or technical college during the first or second year of a two-year curriculum.

Military Transfer Articulation Number (MTAN)

Each Military Transfer Assurance Guide (MTAG) guarantee is assigned a Military Transfer Articulation Number (MTAN) using either an identification number assigned by the American Council on Education (ACE), a course number assigned by Community College of the Air Force (CCAF), or other identification numbers assigned by the source institution or entity. A common statewide MTAN is assigned to each approved military training, experience, and coursework. At the college and university level, MTANs are assigned to each approved course, courses, or program in addition to its unique institutional course number or designation. MTANs signify that the military training, experience, and coursework is guaranteed to apply as an equivalency course, courses, or program bearing the same MTAN offered at public institutions of higher education in Ohio.

Native Student

A student whose initial college enrollment was at a given institution of higher education and who has not transferred to another institution of higher education since that initial enrollment.

Ohio Articulation Number (OAN)

When a course at an Ohio public higher education institution is approved for a particular Transfer Assurance Guide (TAG) course, it is assigned an Ohio Articulation Number (OAN). This common statewide OAN is assigned to each approved course in addition to its unique institutional course number or designation, signifying in part that the course is guaranteed to apply as an equivalent course or courses bearing the same OAN offered at other public institutions of higher education. Examples of OANs include OSS (Ohio Social Sciences), OSC (Ohio Sciences), and OET (Ohio Engineering Technologies).

Online Courses

Institutional online courses are expected to be treated the same as native in-person courses in respect to academic rigor. 


Refers to any system by which a student can take courses for a grade of pass or fail in lieu of a letter grade. This includes systems that count as failing D's and F's, or just F's. 

Passing Grade

Passing grades include the grades of A, B, C, and D (except as noted above under pass/fail). The grade of D- is also included as passing at some, but not all, Ohio institutions (See Appendix E, TRANSFER OF COURSES WITH A PASSING GRADE POLICY). 

Prior Postsecondary Experience

Credit not considered as “prior postsecondary experience” for the purpose of distinguishing between first-time and transfer students: credit for military service/training from an association such as the American Council on Education; credit from any non-credit courses, as defined by the institution; credit received for completion of tests/assessments; credit received before the student has earned a high school diploma (i.e., AP or dual enrollment credits); or credit for life experience.  Students with prior postsecondary experience credit from attending a military academic institution (e.g., Community College of the Air Force, West Point, U.S. Naval Academy, etc.) would not be considered first-time students.  [Source: Fall Enrollment by Student Level, Race/Ethnicity and Gender (Part A)]3

[3] IPEDS definition of prior postsecondary experience: https://surveys.nces.ed.gov/Ipeds/VisFaqView.aspx?mode=reg&id=3&show=all

Receiving Institution

The institution of higher education at which a transfer student currently desires to enroll and apply previously earned college credit or eligible college-level learning toward a degree program.

Sending Institution

The institution of higher education at which a transfer student earned transferable academic credit during his/her previous enrollment or the career-technical institution from which a student desires to articulate learning for credit. 

Student Academic Record

The information maintained by the institution should reflect the unabridged historical facts of the student’s learning experiences. It may include any other information pertinent to the evaluation of those facts. 

Statement of Transfer and Articulated Credit Applicability (Degree Audit Report)

This statement is a report designed to compare a student’s academic work, at any point in the student’s career, with the requirements of one or more of the institution’s academic programs. It is a comprehensive report detailing the student’s progress toward meeting those requirements. This report is generally known as the degree audit report. At institutions where the Statement of Transfer and Articulated Credit Applicability (Degree Audit Report) is readily available, it is used for internal advising purposes, instead of the transcript.


The process of transitioning previously earned college credit at one institution of higher education to another. It is the mechanics of credit, course, and curriculum exchange. 

Transfer Credit

Transfer credit refers to units (hours) of academic credit awarded at a receiving institution in recognition of college-level credit earned at a sending institution. 

Transfer 36 Articulation Number (TMAN)

When a course at an Ohio public higher education institution is approved for an Ohio Transfer 36 course in English or mathematics that has learning outcomes specified, it is assigned a Transfer 36 Articulation Number (TMAN). This common statewide TMAN is assigned to each approved course in addition to its unique institutional course number or designation, signifying in part that the course is guaranteed to apply as an equivalent course or courses bearing the same TMAN offered at other public institutions of higher education. TMANs are assigned in two areas: TME (Transfer 36 English Composition) and TMM (Transfer 36 Mathematics, Statistics, and Logic).

Transfer Student

A student who is entering for the first time, but known to have previously attended a postsecondary institution at the same level (e.g., undergraduate, graduate).4

[4] IPEDS definition of a transfer student: https://surveys.nces.ed.gov/ipeds/VisGlossaryAll.aspx

Universal Course/Program Equivalency Classification System

A system developed and enhanced using a Five-Step Process to Equivalency and an online course/program equivalency management tool to perform four essential functions:

  1. Ensure that students can begin higher education at any public institutions of learning in Ohio and articulate and/or transfer courses, programs, and degrees to any other public institutions of higher education without unnecessary duplication or institutional barriers;
  2. Electronically manage the universal documentation of course/program equivalencies to learning outcomes and degree requirements statewide;
  3. Eliminate inconsistent and irrational judgments in the application of transfer and articulated credit; and
  4. Guarantee that the application of credits from transfer students will be treated in the same manner as credits for native students in the same degree programs.

Upper-Division Courses

Courses at a level of comprehension usually associated with junior- and senior-level college students and offered during the last half of a baccalaureate degree program are called upper-division courses. In general, these courses are numbered at a higher level than the freshmen or sophomore level courses (e.g., 300 or 400 numbered courses as opposed to 100 or 200 numbered courses, respectively).