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Post-Secondary Students
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Glossary of Transfer Terms


Academic Calendar
Academic Year
Admission or Entrance Requirements
Advance Credit
Alberta-Based Private For-Profit Institution
Alberta-Based Private Not-For-Profit Institution
Alberta-Based Publicly Funded Institution
Alberta Transfer System (ATS)
Applied Degree


Baccalaureate or Undergraduate Degree
Bachelor’s Degree
Block Transfer


Career Laddering
Collaborative Program
Contact Person (CP)
Contact Person Assistant (CPA)
Contact Person's Website (CPW)
Course Equivalent


Date First Offered (DFO)
Dual Credit


Formal Learning


Grading System


Informal Learning
Instructor Qualification


Learner Pathways
Learning Outcomes
Letter of Permission

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)


Official Transcripts


Pan-Canadian Protocol on Transferability of University Credits
Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR)


Receiving Institution
Reciprocal Bilateral Transfer Agreement
Residency Requirement


Sending Institution
Selection Criteria
Shelf Life
Significant Number
Six Sector Model
Specified Credit
Subject Matter Expert (SME)


Transfer Agreement
Transfer Courses
Transfer Credit
Transferable Courses
Transfer Partner
Transfer Student


Undergraduate Student
Unidirectional Bilateral Transfer Agreement
University Transfer Program
Unspecified Course
Unspecifed Credit


Work in Progress (WIP)


Academic Calendar - An academic calendar is a post-secondary institution’s published document regarding programs, courses, fees, regulations, procedures, grading systems, scholarships important dates, and progression requirements.

Academic Year – For the purposes of ACAT the academic year is September 1 to August 31 (post-secondary institutions may differ).

Accessibility – An institution's degree of openness to students seeking admission. 

Admission or Entrance Requirements – A set of criteria stipulating education, training, skills or experience needed for eligibility to enter an educational program of study.

Advance Credit – The award of credit in recogition of skills, competencies, and knowledge of individuals learned by informal, non-formal experiential or formal means. 

Alberta-Based Private For-Profit Institution  A post-secondary institution which operates as a business receiving fees from each student they enroll.  

Alberta-Based Private Not-For-Profit Institution - An institution that is controlled or managed by a body most of whose members are not selected by a public authority and that it not established for the purpose of distributing profits to individual directors, employees, owners or shareholders.  These institutions operate exclusively for social, educational, professional, religious, health, charitable, or any other not-for-profit purpose.

Alberta-Based Publicly Funded Institution – An institution receiving support from the Alberta Government.

Alberta Transfer System (ATS) – Those institutions which are members of the Alberta Council on Admissions and Transfer and whose transfer agreements are included in the Alberta Transfer Guide.

Applied Degree – Degree from a program of study that blends theory and practice, with content selected to ensure mastery of a field of practice.

Articulation - The negotiation of a course/program transfer agreement.


Baccalaureate or Undergraduate Degree – Degree from a program that is designed to acquaint the student with the basic conceptual approaches and methodologies of the principal discipline/disciplines that constitute the program of study, to provide some specialized knowledge, and to nurture the capacity for independent work in the discipline/disciplines and field of practice.

Bachelor’s Degree – See Baccalaureate or Undergraduate Degree.

Block Transfer – A process whereby a cluster of credits is granted to students who have successfully completed a certificate, diploma or a group of courses that is recognized as having an academic wholeness or integrity, and that can be related meaningfully to another academic program.

Bridging – Courses or programs of study that fill gaps for students who have previous training in a field, but for various reasons may not meet formal recognition requirements for the field.


Career Laddering – The transfer of a successfully completed post-secondary credential for admission into another program credential at a higher level.

Certificate - A credential granted for the successful completion of one year or less of full-time study in a specific program.

Collaborative Program – The result of a formal arrangement between two post-secondary institutions to jointly deliver a program of study.

Contact Person (CP) - Designate at each institution responsible for overseeing efficient and effective flow of transfer agreements.

Contact Person Assistant (CPA) - Designate at each institution responsible for assisting a Contact Person.

Contact Persons' Website (CPW) - A web-based workflow management system though which institutions submit and respond to transfer agreement proposals.

Course Equivalent – A course equivalent is a course for which credit is given by the receiving institution.

Credit – The numerical value assigned to a course by a post-secondary institution, normally based upon the number of contact/classroom hours per week.


Date First Offered (DFO) - Field on transfer agreement that indicates the date the course was first offered at the sending institution.

Degree – A degree signifies the completion of an academic program of study from an accredited post-secondary educational institution.

Dual Credit - Dual credit may involve dual enromment in which the student is concurrently enrolled in a high school and post-secondary institution, or consecutive enrolment in which the student completes high school and subsequently is provided credit for learning when they are admitted to the specified post-secondary institution.


Formal Learning - Credit courses and programs offered at post-secondary institutions.


Grading System – The system used for evaluating a learners' success in attainting the learning outcomes of a post-secondary course.


Informal Learning - Knowledge and skills acquired through life and work experience.

Instructor Qualification - The total of an instructor's recognized education, skills, and knowledge directly relevant to instructing in a specific field of study.


Learner Pathways - Different routes that individuals take to progres into, within, and out of the post-secondary education system.  Learner pathways are used to describe the recognized mobility options available to different learners.

Learning Outcomes - The knowledge, skills, and abilities that a student has attained and is able to demonstrate as a result of successfully completing a particular set of educational experiences.

Letter of Permission – A letter from a student’s home institution guaranteeing that a course the student completes at another institution will be counted by the home institution toward the student’s program of study.


Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) - A formal agreement of intent between two or more institutions to accept courses (or clusters of courses) for credit.  Generally MOU's also incorporate other factors such as recognition of co-op placements, reduced course load (beyond what is accepted for advanced credit) for completion, etc. that is not normally found in a Transfer Agreement.


Official Transcripts – Official documents summarizing a student’s academic progression at an educational institution.


Pan-Canadian Protocol on Transferability of University Credits (PDF) – A statement describing transferability between universities across Canada.

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) - A process for assessing and recognizing a persons' knowledge and skills, acquired through non-formal and informal learning, in relation to a certain goal (for example, receiving credit in a post-secondary program, meeting professional licensure/certification requirements, or obtaining employment).  A PLAR assessment may include one of the following:  written exam, oral exam or interview, performance assessment, product assessment, and portfolio assessment.


Receiving Institution – The post-secondary institution to which a student transfers.

Reciprocal Bilateral Transfer Agreement – A transfer agreement that has been negotiated between two institutions whereby Institution A agrees to accept the course (or cluster of courses) successfully completed at Institution B in lieu of its own, and reciprocally, Institution B agrees to accept the course.

Residency Requirement – Specified number of credits that must be completed at an institution in order to be awarded a credential for a program of study.


Selection Critiera - Categories of qualifications, capabilities, or experience (academic or other) that provide the basis for screening and admission to a program of study.

Sending Institution - The post-secondary institution a student transfers from.

Shelf Life - A time limit imposed by an institution for granting transfer credit for certain courses that acknowledges the changing relevance of the information inititially imparted.

Significant Number - A number of transferring students requesting transfer credit that is large enough that accomodation on a case-by-case basis is no longer efficient, viable or recommended, and that clearly indicates there is a need for course-by-course or program-by-program inter-institutional agreements.

Six Sector Model – The Six Sector Model refers to the institutional arrangement of Campus Alberta's 26 publicly funded institutions:

  1. Comprehensive Academic and Research Institution (CARI);
  2. Baccalaureate and Applied Studies Institution (BASI);
  3. Polytechnical Institution (PI);
  4. Comprehensive Community Institution (CCI);
  5. Independent Academic Institution (IAI):;
  6. Specialized Arts and Culture Institution.

Although all 26 Campus Alberta institutions are members of the Alberta Transfer System (ATS), the ATS is comprised of 39 institutions in Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon and British Columbia. 

Specified Credit – A course that is close enough in learning outcomes to a receiving institution's course to be given transfer credit for an exact course code.

Subject Matter Expert (SME) - An individual who understands a business process or area of inquiry well enough to answer questions from people in other groups who are trying to assist.


Transfer - The mobility of students among post-secondary institutions on the basis of their having transfer credit.  (see Transfer Credit)

Transfer Agreement – An agreement between two institutions (a sender and a receiver) that specifies how the sending institution's course or program will be accepted for credit at the receiving institution.

Transfer Courses – Courses designed to transfer from one institution to another institution.

Transfer Credit – Credit completed at one post-secondary institution and accepted for credit at a different post-secondary institution.

Transferable Courses - Courses designed to complete an institution's own credential, but may transfer to another institution through a transfer agreement.

Transfer Partner - An institution with which another institution has established a transfer agreement.

Transfer Student – A student who has earned credit at one or more post-secondary institutions and is transferring that credit to another post-secondary institution to continue a program of study.


Undergraduate Student – A student enrolled in a program leading to a certificate, diploma or bachelor’s degree.

Unidirectional Bilateral Transfer Agreement - A transfer agreement negotiated between a sending institution and a receiving institution, which is primarily intended to be one-way.  In practice, advance credit for courses involved in an agreement usually will be awarded at either institution, particularly when the agreement involves courses that are part of a university transfer program.  However, in some cases credit will not be awarded in the opposite direction; for example, Institution A may agree to accept Institution B's cluster of transferable courses in lieu of its own courses and have the agreement entered in the Transfer Guide.  However, it might not be appropriate for Institution B conversely to award transfer credits for the cluster of courses if a student with the one course from Institution A presented it for advanced credit assessment.  (See Reciprocal Bilateral Transfer Agreement.)

University Transfer Program – A program specifically developed whereby the first two years of a degree-level program are completed at a college before transferring to an institution with an accredited degree program.

Unspecified Course – A course that will transfer towards satisying requirements for a credential, but is not close enough in content to a receiving institution course to be given transfer credit for an exact course code.

Unspecified Credit - Credit that will transfer towards satisfying requirements for a credential, but is not close enough to a receiving institution specific required credit courses to be given tranfer credit for an exact course code.

Upgrading – Adult students taking the high school courses necessary to gain admission to post-secondary studies.


Work in Progress (WIP) - Function within the Contact Persons' Website (CPW) displaying transfer agreements in progress.

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