SNAH Definitions

FDU’s School of Nursing and Allied Health offers degrees from Associate to Doctoral levels, a range of instructional modes, and curriculums focused on delivering healthcare credentials on the shortest schedules consistent with effective outcomes. In some cases, the descriptions of these flexible programs may use unfamiliar terms. These definitions may help to explain the terms used, but please feel free to contact the School (for instance by using the form on this page) at any time with any questions.

Accelerated nursing program

Accelerated nursing programs offer a rapid pathway to licensure as a registered nurse for students who have already completed a bachelor’s or graduate degree in a non-nursing discipline. Accelerated nursing programs generally do not include non-nursing core curricula and offer few academic recesses. They are typically 12-24 months long.

Entry-to-practice nursing program

Entry-to-practice nursing programs prepare students to take the NCLEX-RN for licensure as a registered nurse. Entry-to-practice nursing programs award students with a diploma, associate degree, bachelor’s degree, or Master’s degree, and include accelerated nursing programs.

Second degree nursing program

A second degree nursing program is an entry-to-practice nursing program for students who have previously earned a bachelor degree, and includes accelerated nursing programs.

Completion program

Completion programs are for licensed/registered allied health or nursing professionals who received their initial preparation through certificate, diploma, or associate degree programs, and who want to earn a bachelor’s degree. They are typically online, have a flexible pace, and include primarily arts and science courses (rather than allied health or nursing courses).

Distance (or remote) education

Distance (or remote) education refers to the use of one or more technologies to deliver instruction to students who are separated from the instructor by supporting substantive interaction between the student and the instructor and course content, either synchronously or asynchronously. Technologies used for distance instruction include the internet; one-way and two-way transmissions through open broadcasts, closed circuit, cable, broadband, fiberoptic, satellite, or wireless communication devices; video conferencing (such as Zoom); learning management systems (such as Blackboard or Canvas); digital simulations; and productivity applications (such as GoogleDocs).

Online (or remote, or virtual) course

An online course is one in which all content is delivered without the need for faculty and students to meet in person. Some online courses have synchronous sessions (where students meet online at set times and interact in real-time) and other online courses are fully asynchronous. (Denoted by WEB or RMT in Course Catalogue.)

Hybrid (or blended) course

A hybrid course is one in which there is a component of in-person learning. Some hybrid course models have all students meet in person for certain lessons with online learning to complement/supplement, while other hybrid course models offer students the option of attending lessons either in-person or online. (Denoted by BLD in Course Catalogue.)

In-person course

A fully in-person course is one in which there is not online learning. This course model has become uncommon as course content (such as slides, readings, videos, and discussion boards) is increasingly available and accessible in online repositories (such as Blackboard or Canvas). Physical education courses commonly are fully in-person. (Denoted by LEC or LAB in Course Catalogue.)

Accessible course content

Accessible course content is usable by as many people as possible without an undue burden. In an accessible course, students have equal opportunity to access everything they need to be successful regardless of their range of circumstances, locations, or ability. These resources may include online publications in place of expensive textbooks, video recordings of live classes so that students can review what was presented, and sample tests for practice.

Synchronous vs Asynchronous online (or remote, or virtual) learning

Synchronous and Asynchronous learning are the two main types of online learning. In synchronous learning, learning occurs in different locations but at the same time for all students. This approach allows students to engage with the instructor and other class participants in real-time, using web conferencing software (such as Zoom).

In asynchronous learning, neither the students nor the instructors meet at a specified time. This approach allows students to complete their work when it suits their schedule. Asynchronous learning occurs when students complete readings, contribute to discussion boards, view videos, and complete assignments independently.  There are many collaboration applications that allow students to complete group work in an asynchronous learning environment.

Cohort-based curriculum

A cohort-based curriculum is one in which students start and advance together throughout the duration of the program. Cohort-based courses are familiar to healthcare students, who have many courses that need to be taken in a particular sequence and have few elective courses. Students in a cohort-based curriculum commonly have assignments due on set dates. Students who need to retake a course in a program with a cohort-based curriculum may have to wait a semester or two to progress in their program, as not all courses are offered every semester. 

Self-paced curriculum

A self-paced curriculum is one in which students have more control over the pace at which they advance through an educational program (including how many and which courses they will take each semester) and/or the pace at which they progress through individual courses and complete assignments. A self-paced curriculum is usually offered online, primarily with asynchronous learning methods, and is very desirable among working adults.

Elective course

An elective course is a course that a student can choose to take as part of their degree program but is not required for graduation or to fulfill a specific program requirement. In many cases, the credits earned for an elective course are required for graduation, but the course per se is not.


A prerequisite requirement (or prerequisite course) is one that must be successfully completed before a student can enroll in a program or in a higher-level course. Prerequisites are designed to ensure that students have the necessary foundational knowledge and skills to succeed in more challenging program requirements. A co-requisite must be taken during the same term; laboratory courses are typical examples.


In the state of New Jersey, an advanced practice nurse (APN) is an individual who has been educated as a nurse practitioner (NP), clinical nurse specialist (CNS), or as a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). An APN has completed a course of study from an accredited nursing program, has succeeded in passing an examination in an APN specialty credentialed by a national certifying agency, and then becomes certified (colloquially termed as “licensed”) by the state of New Jersey as an APN. In other states, APNs are referred to as “APRNs” (advanced practice registered nurses) and may also include certified nurse midwives (CNMs). States also differ in the degree of practice/prescribing independence permitted for individuals certified as APNs/APRNs. In New York and California, NPs are currently not required to complete an examination in an APN specialty in order to be certified by the state.

Nursing license exam (NCLEX-RN)

Every person who applies for licensure as a registered professional nurse (RN), regardless of state or educational preparation, is required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). States differ on steps needed to be eligible to take the NCLEX-RN exam, but all require that a candidate be 18 years of age and graduate from an accredited, approved nursing program.

Advanced practice nursing certification exam

In almost all states, APNs must successfully complete an examination in an advanced practice nursing specialty that is accredited by the American Board of Nursing Specialties (ABNS) and/or the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) in order to be designated and practice as an APN. In some cases, candidates can take this examination prior to graduation from an accredited, approved advanced practice nursing program.

Healthcare/nursing program accreditation

Specialty healthcare program accreditation ensures that the program meets national standards in preparing graduates for licensure/certification. Programs that prepare students to become healthcare providers must meet specialty accreditation requirements, beyond what is required for overall college/university accreditation. The two major accrediting bodies for nursing programs in the United States are CCNE (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education) and NLNAC (National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission). There are also specialized accrediting bodies for programs in nurse-midwifery, nurse anesthesia, allied health specialties, physical and occupational therapy, pharmacy, psychology, etc.

Experiential learning

Experiential learning is the process of “learning by doing.” Engaging students in experiences where they can connect theory and knowledge is considered a best practice in education. Experiential learning activities include clinical rotations in hospitals, sub-acute care settings, and healthcare clinics; as well as community engagement experiences (e.g., participation in health fairs, food distribution, support groups), participation in university wellness activities (e.g., blood drives, vaccine clinics), virtual reality scenarios, and clinical laboratory simulations.

Direct care clinical hours

Direct care clinical hours are hours in which a student in a healthcare program provides care directly to a patient/client, under the supervision of faculty. These hours do not include hours developing competencies in a skills lab, using virtual reality applications, engaging in simulations, or conducting a community or other project. Direct care clinical hours should be distributed in a way that prepares the students to provide care to the populations served and may include telehealth and international direct care experiences.

Graduate tuition discount

A graduate tuition discount is non-loan assistance that a college/university offers to reduce the cost of tuition for students enrolled in the graduate program. Graduate tuition discounts may be merit-based, program-based, or based upon some other criteria. In every case, the effect is the same: the amount a student pays for tuition is reduced.

Academic credits

Academic credits measure the time commitment a college/university student is expected to devote to learning. According to federal guidelines, one academic credit “reasonably approximates” to one hour of classroom learning plus two hours of independent work, for a 15-week course. The number of academic credits required to complete a degree program varies, but must be aligned with local, regional, and/or national standards. Credits required to complete a degree may vary from student to student, depending on credits earned in prior learning, advanced placement credits, credit for military service, and other programs.

Matriculated student

Matriculated students have enrolled in a college/university and registered for a specific degree, with the aim of completing the academic requirements to be conferred with that degree, after being accepted for admission to the college/university.

Non-matriculated student

Non-matriculated students have registered to take a course at a college/university but are not enrolled in a program that leads to a specific degree. Non-matriculated students may later choose to apply for admission to a degree-granting program at the university/college where they have taken a course and may be able to apply the course toward that degree.

Full-time student

A full-time student is a student who is enrolled for the number of hours or courses that the school considers to be full-time attendance. This varies depending on the context. For example, a university undergraduate student is considered to be full-time for federal financial aid if they are enrolled in at least 12 credit hours per semester. Graduate students may be considered full-time if their total course load is equal to at least 75 percent of the normal full-time course load.  Doctoral students may be considered full-time even if taking as few as 6 dissertation credits.

First-time, full-time student

A first-time full-time student is a student who is attending college for the first time and enrolled in a full-time course load. These students have different needs than students with college experience, or who are attending part-time. In the past, first-time, full-time students had typically recently completed high school. As college becomes more accessible, and course format more flexible, first-time, full-time students are increasingly diverse.

Transfer student

A college transfer student is someone who has completed coursework at one college/university and then decides to transfer to another college/university to continue their studies. Transfer students need to pay close attention to how their completed coursework will apply to the degree requirements at the new college/university and tend toward transferring to institutions with liberal credit transfer policies.


Change-of-major refers to the process by which a student enrolled in a college/university switches to a different area of study, either within the degree program or in an entirely new degree program. This is a formal process and often requires being “accepted” into the new major or degree program, including meeting prerequisite requirements.