NDSU Distance & Continuing Education (DCE)

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Student Resources

Academic Terms Defined

Below is a list of academic or commonly used terms and their definitions.  Many of these terms are used throughout our website.  This list is intended to provide students with a place to look up terms they may encounter throughout their time at NDSU.  Additional terms will be added to this list as needed.


Blended Learning

A blended learning program is one that incorporates any type of distance-based classes with on-campus or traditional face-to-face classes.  Often this type of program has a majority of the degree requirements online with the face-to-face classes offered nights, weekends, or a specific timeframe (ex. two weeks over summer semester).

CD/DVD classes

Classes that are listed as CD or DVD are offered using a CD that is formatted much like a book or a DVD that offers video lectures for you to view. These classes may be accompanied by a packet that includes a syllabus, class assignments, and instructor contact information.

CEU or Continuing Education Unit

Classes that are listed as CEU or Continuing Education Units are used for maintaining a professional license. We offer a variety of CEUs for a variety of professions. These classes are not eligible for use on a degree program and are not posted on an official NDSU transcript. The Distance and Continuing Education office maintains a transcript system specifically designed for classes that offer CEUs.

Combo or Combination Classes

Classes that are listed as Combo or Combination are offered using a combination of formats. Generally, these classes will have face-to-face and distance-based activities or assignments that are requirements.

Course Level Designations

Course level designations distinguish between undergraduate, post-baccalaureate professional development, and graduate-level classes. All classes are accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Credit Classes

Classes that have credits listed (ex: 1 credit) offer college credit and are posted to your official NDSU transcript. These may be classes at the undergraduate, graduate, or professional development levels. Courses that are designated with 600 (ex: EDUC 600) are exclusively for professional development purposes. These 600 classes are generally used for maintaining a teaching license or other relevant professional license.

Face-to-Face/Traditional Classroom classes

Face-to-face classes are traditional classroom type classes where all students and instructors meet in the same place at the same time.  They are generally offered at a specific time, in a specific place.  They run the same as other on-campus face-to-face classes, but often have evening start times or may be offered at off-campus locations. 

NC or Non-credit classes

Classes that are listed as NC or Non-credit are often workshops, seminars, or conferences. These classes are generally for personal or professional growth and are not eligible for use on a degree program. Most professional workshops or seminars offer a certificate of completion.  Some may also offer CEUs.

Non-credit Certificates

These non-credit certificates are generally for personal or professional growth. Please note these are not degree credit certificate programs. Upon completion of a non-credit certificate program you will receive a certificate of completion. These certificates will not be posted to your NDSU transcript.

Online/Web-based/Internet Asynchronous Classes

Online classes may also be referred to as web-based or internet asynchronous classes. Online classes generally use a learning management system (Blackboard, Moodle, etc.) to post a syllabus, materials, assignments, and communication from instructors. Some online classes are self-paced and some have specific deadlines for tests and assignments. Check with your instructor regarding their class expectations for deadlines.


Mail, print-based, text-based, and correspondence courses are different terms for distance learning classes that are offered using textbooks and/or printed packets. These correspondence courses often have a printed packet that includes a syllabus, materials, assignments, and communication from instructors. Most packets and required textbooks are purchased through the NDSU Bookstore. Contact Distance and Continuing Education if a packet is not available at the bookstore. Coursework is completed at the student's pace and is turned in to the Distance and Continuing Education office by the end of the semester.  Some professional development print-based classes will supply the textbook and materials upon registration.