Glossary of Terms and Position Descriptions

Position Descriptions

Students have access to academic advisors who are available to help with understanding program requirements, reviewing course selections for program compatibility, advise on program majors and minors and other opportunities offered at NSCAD University.

At NSCAD University there are 6 division chairs: Art History and Contemporary Culture, Craft, Design, Foundation, Fine Arts, and Media Arts. Each division oversees the courses within their division and the faculty who teach those courses. Division chairs can provide permission to students for program waivers (see description below). Division chairs rotate positions every three years from the full-time faculty within their division.

The academic dean oversees timetable development and program development. The dean meets regularly with division chairs to collaborate on these aspects of NSCAD University. The faculty report to the dean.

There are a few types of directors at NSCAD University. Each graduate program has a director who oversees the programming and student advising. There is a director of the Master of Design, the Master of Fine Arts and the Master of Arts in Art Education. Like division chairs, the position of director is held by full-time faculty and rotates usually every three years.

There are also for services: directors in admissions, marketing and communications, and advancement.

The registrar is the official overseer of academic records and is responsible to make sure the processes and academic requirements are clearly defined and available for all stakeholders. Registrars approve letters of permission and transfer credits and review applications to graduate. The registrar works closely with the assistant registrars, who are also academic advisors, to make sure information is easily understandable and available to students, staff and faculty.


Students who accumulate more than 6 credits of “D” and “F” grades in consecutive semesters may be academically dismissed. This will mean they cannot register for classes in upcoming semesters. Usually academic dismissal lasts for one academic year after which time students may request a re-entry to programs with a renewed focus on studies.

Students who accumulate 6 credits or more of “D” or “F” grades in a sequence of three semesters may be placed on academic probation. When on probation students can be restricted from course selections that require students be in “good standing”. These courses include advanced level course work in “studio” and opportunities to study off campus on letter of permissions or student exchange opportunities. Students are expected to improve their grades in the upcoming semesters. Once students successfully improve their grades the probation restriction may be removed.

An academic year begins in September and ends in the following summer.

Students can take a leave of absences from studies throughout their program and this is also known as a “hiatus”. Students who submit a Leave of Absence form are then placed on academic “hiatus” and their status as students is suspended until their return. If students choose not to return to studies after three consecutive regular (fall and winter) semesters they will be “deactivated” in the system. Students then need to request a formal “re-entry” to study that will be considered by the registrar. Students who are not in study for more than three consecutive semesters may be subject to the degree requirements as they stand upon their return. Degree requirements do change over time so this means that the requirements for their degree could have changed in the time of their absence.

A letter of permission is a formal approval by the registrar for students to study at another university. When NSCAD University students wish to take a course elsewhere and have the course considered for transfer to their degree requirements, they must submit a LOP request to be reviewed for feedback and final approval by the registrar. This LOP is recognized by other universities as a note from NSCAD University verifying the status of the student as a “NSCAD student” attending as a visiting student taking one or two courses. Upon completion of the course work, the transcript from the host university is sent to NSCAD University for transferability. Not all courses at other universities can count towards a NSCAD degree but an academic advisor can answer questions related to LOPs.

Courses have “requisites” or “prerequisites” listed as part of their description. These are courses you need to complete prior to taking the course listed. Requisites ensure students have acquired the necessary knowledge and skills to move forward in their program.

Students at NSCAD University must adhere to the satisfactory academic progress rule. This means students must complete their course work on a regular progression and successfully complete courses they attempt in each term. Students who accumulate too many “W” withdraw from a course after the last day to drop a course before it appears on a transcript or “F” fail grades will not be making “satisfactory academic progress”. The rule requires students to successfully complete 75% or more of the course work they attempt.

A transcript, either unofficial or official is a record of your academic progress. A transcript outlines the course codes, titles, credits completed and grades for all courses attempted or completed during a student’s program of study. An official transcript includes a stamp from the institution and is usually sent via mail directly to a third party. An unofficial transcript is less formal. As noted above, if students do not drop a course before the withdraw period a “W” appears on the transcript next to the course that was withdrawn during the semester. Students can drop courses from the time registration opens until the first few weeks of classes without the course appearing on their transcript.

Each semester there is a published list of important dates. The date by which a course drop is recorded as “w” will be noted in important dates. Usually this is after week three of classes.

Students who have attended other post secondary institutions or who have completed IB programs may be awarded transfer credits that will be included on their transcript and that can count towards their degree. When a new student applies to NSCAD University they are required to disclosed other post secondary studies by including an official transcript. When a student commits to attending NSCAD University the registrar will review the official transcripts submitted and apply transfer credits accordingly. If a transcript is submitted and there are courses that are listed as “IP or In-Progress” these credits cannot be confirmed and therefore cannot be applied. A second official transcript will then need to be mailed to the admissions office for final review of transfer credits.

A waiver can be issued for either a requisite requirement or a program requirement. The approval of waivers in these two circumstances differs.

Students can request permission to take a class before they have completed the requisite for the class. In this case a student would ask permission of the faculty member teaching the course to take the course without having previously taken the requisite class. Faculty will usually request details of previous experience in the subject matter to determine if they believe the student will be able to successfully engage in the course material without previously completing the requisite work. In this case the faculty then provides permission for the student to take the course and an academic advisor can then either input the permission in Self Service for student self registration or can override the requisite block and register the student.

A waiver of a program required course can only be provided by either the division chair or dean. Students can request permission to substitute one course for another course that is required in the program pathway. The division chair or dean will consider the compatibility of the course waiver to ensure it meets the intended outcomes for the program and provide permission to the student and their academic advisor. This permission is then held in the student file for future reference when reviewing degree requirements.

In Self-Service students may see a message “Granted Permission” when trying to register for a course. This means the student must obtain permission from the faculty teaching the course in order to take the course. Students should then contact the faculty and copy their academic advisor for permission. Once granted the advisor will input the permissions in the system so that the student can then register for the class. Usually this takes between 24-48 hours during a work week.