Advising and Evaluations, International Freshman Registration Guide

Step 3: Learn Registration Vocabulary

Before selecting courses it is important to learn and understand the vocabulary used during the registration process. Please review the following information before you select your courses.


The academic year is divided into two semesters, fall and spring. Each semester is 16 weeks. The fall semester starts in late August and ends in mid-December. The spring semester starts in mid-January and ends in mid-May. For specific academic calendar information, visit


A unit represents 50 minutes of class time per week. Most classes are 3 units, but can range from 1 to 6 units. As an international student with an F-1 visa, you are required to take a minimum of 12 units per semester. However, it is recommended that you enroll in 15 units each semester to stay on track to complete your degree in four years.

A 3-unit lecture class can meet:

  • Three days a week for 50 minutes
  • Two days a week for 75 minutes
  • One evening a week for 150 minutes

You will take between 120-140 units to complete your bachelor’s degree. The exact number varies by major.

Class Standing

  • Freshman—has earned 0 to 29 semester units
  • Sophomore—has earned 30 to 59 semester units
  • Junior—has earned 60 to 89 semester units
  • Senior—has earned 90 semester units or more

Course Numbers

  • 80–99 do not count toward unit requirements, but may be required of some students
  • 100–299 are lower division (freshmen and sophomores)
  • 300–599 are upper division (juniors and seniors)

General Education (GE) Courses

General Education (GE) courses are courses from a variety of subjects (Composition, Oral Communication, Math, Science, Humanities) required of all students, regardless of major. GE courses will provide you with a solid foundation of skills, perspectives and knowledge preparing you for all majors. Most students complete their GE courses during freshman and sophomore years.

More information about GE courses can be found on pages 92-98 of the General Catalog.

Major Preparation Courses

Major preparation courses are lower-division courses intended to prepare you for the upper-division courses required in your major. You will take these courses during the first two years of your studies as you complete your General Education. Some major preparation courses can also count toward GE requirements.


Course or exam (for example, the ELM/EPT, Chemistry Placement Assessment, Precalculus Proficiency Assessment, etc.) requirements that need to be met prior to beginning some courses.

Remedial Courses

Remedial courses are designed to assist students with reaching college readiness in specific subject areas to meet the standards of higher education.