Decoding university jargon

Universities have a language all their own. Don't be intimidated—just learn a few key terms and you'll be fine.

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Have you ever wondered what an academic calendar or a registrar’s office is or does? Once you begin university, you’ll start hearing these terms (and many others) a lot more. Starting to learn them now will help you feel more prepared when you arrive on campus. To help you out, we’ve decoded exactly what this academic language means, along with some other expressions that are unique to Dalhousie.

Here’s what you need to know:

Academic calendar

An official university document that describes the requirements for your degree. It also includes admission requirements, university rules and regulations, course descriptions, and more.

Brightspace

Brightspace is the online learning platform that Dal uses for all courses. Your professors can use it to share course materials and assign homework, and you’ll likely be using it to hand in assignments, complete quizzes, and see your grades.  

B00 number

Your B00 number (often called your “boo” or “banner” number) is basically your own personal ID number. It’s used so that every student with the same name aren’t confused with one another! It’s a very important number because you’ll need it to access most campus services.

Co-op

Co-ops (co-operative education) are when you take a semester off from courses to apply what you’ve learned in the workplace. You’ll work in a paid, full-time position in a field related to your academic and career interests.

DalCard

DalCard is your student ID card, but it’s much more than that. It acts as your library card, gym card, a debit card for buying goods and services on campus, your bus pass for Halifax Transit, and gets you free access to all Tigers and Rams home games!

Dalplex

The Dalplex is our beautiful 57,000-square-foot fitness facility. Break a sweat and de-stress by taking a group fitness class, going for a swim, playing squash, shooting hoops, and more. The Dalplex is free to all full-time students—all you need is your DalCard to get in. Fun fact: many exams are also held in the Dalplex.

DalSafe

DalSafe is a mobile app provided by Dalhousie’s Security Services and Facilities Management. On the app you’ll find campus notices, parking information, an interactive map, and best of all, snow day notifications!

Degree program

Program, degree, degree program: these are all terms that get used interchangeably. Your degree program is your defined course of study that leads to your academic qualification (e.g. a Bachelor of Applied Computer Science). You’ll also have a major, which is your specific topic of study within your degree program. For example, your major might be History, while your degree program is a Bachelor of Arts.

Experiential learning

Experiential learning means learning by doing. To break it down, here at Dalhousie you’ll have the opportunity to gain experience in your field through co-ops, internships, work-terms, volunteer opportunities, and research projects.

The Killam

You’ll come to know the Killam as the large grey box in the middle of Studley campus in Halifax. But don’t be fooled by appearances—inside this building is a library filled with many wonders. The Killam is Dal’s largest library, housing over a million books, 40,000 academic journals, and a 3D printer, all of which are accessible to Dal students. It’s also a great place to get some quiet study time in, or grab a bite to eat in the atrium.

NetID

Your NetID is your other unique identifier at Dalhousie. You use it to access all of Dalhousie’s online services, including your myDal email and Dal Online.

Provost

Funny enough, the word “provost” once referred to the “keeper of a prison.” Today, it usually refers to a university’s chief academic officer. This person is responsible for aligning budgets and plans with the university’s academic mission, and integrating goals across the university.

Registrar’s Office

The typical definition of a university’s Registrar is the person who handles all the student records. But the Registrar’s Office (RO) is so much more than that. The RO processes applications for admission, runs the scholarship and financial aid programs, administers academic regulations, handles university documents about your grades and enrolment status, and much more.

Syllabus

A syllabus is a paper booklet that outlines what you’ll learn in your class. It often has deadlines for assignments, contact information for your professor, any readings you’ll have to complete, and a list of textbooks you’ll need to purchase.

The SUB

The SUB (pronounced like the sandwich) is our nickname for the Student Union Building. Located on the Studley Campus, the SUB houses the Dalhousie Bookstore and our campus pub The Grawood, plus tons of other services. You’ll also find lots of great spots here where you can grab a bite to eat, like one of the three Tim Hortons locations on campus.

TA

TA is an acronym for teaching assistant. These are typically upper-year undergraduate or graduate students who help professors with grading assignments, answering questions, and sometimes teaching tutorials and labs. They’re a great resource if you require a little extra help in a course.

Tiger Patrol

The Tiger Patrol is a free night-time shuttle service available to all students in Halifax through the Dalhousie Student Union and Dal Security. All you need to access the shuttle is your DalCard. Tiger Patrol departs from the SUB and stops along designated areas in the city.