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Guide to University Terms Used – Honours/Major/Minor/etc (NUS/NTU/SMU)

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Being someone that has not went through the University Education system yet, all the University terms/words being thrown around can be confusing.

This handy guide will help clarify everything.

University Terms/Words

To start off, all Universities have different policies and meaning on the words.

Graduating Honours in NUS is different from Honours in NTU, etc.

We will be covering 3 autonomous Universities in Singapore: 

NUS
NTU
SMU

For NUS

National University of Singapore (NUS) graduates command high salaries, with the syllabus fixated on theory.

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General modules: restricted or unrestricted electives

Undergraduates are able to exercise the S/U option (Satisfied/Unsatisfied). It allows you take a module without worrying about the grade, as long as you pass it.

S/U Option

Suppose a student obtains 4 Bs and 1 C for 5 modules this semester, and each module carries 4 modular credits (MCs). Assuming he keeps his grades, his CAP will be:

(4 x 3.5) + (4 x 3.5) + (4 x 3.5) + (4 x 3.5) + (4 x 2.0) = 3.20

If he chooses to exercise S/U on the C graded module, his CAP will be:

(4 x 3.5) + (4 x 3.5) + (4 x 3.5) + (4 x 3.5) + (4 x 2.0) = 3.50

Ideally, you should aim to exercise the S/U options in a way that would improve your CAP (Higher CAP, better honours classification)

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– Double Degree: Generally from different faculty. On graduation, you will have two degree qualifications. (e.g Double Degree in Accountancy and Law)

– Major: Main thing you are entering for (e.g Accountancy)

– Minor: Some sort like concentration, but you cannot SU the electives (e.g Bachelors in Business, Minor in Statistics)

2nd Major: Even more impactful than Minor. In general the 2nd Major is in the same faculty as your main major. You will have one degree qualification/paper.

Honours: NUS follows a Honours Class system:

CAP 4.50 and above – First Class Honours
CAP 4.00 – 4.49 – Second Class (Upper) Honours
CAP 3.50 – 3.99 – Second Class (Lower)
CAP 3.00 – 3.49 – Third Class (Lower)
CAP 2.00 – 2.99 – Pass

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For NTU

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is significantly easier to get a scholarship and double degree/major programme, than NUS.

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Core modules/General core modules (GERCORE): Must take, must pass. If you don’t pass you just retake. Cannot be SU-ed.

Elective (Unrestricted, UE): Electives from other faculties, etc. Must take a certain number (depending on major) to graduate.

Elective (General Prescribed, GERPE): Some sort like Unrestricted where you need to clear a certain number of it to graduate (depends on major requirements). 

Of those you clear, you have to include one Business GERPE, one Liberal Studies GERPE and one Science and Technology GERPE. The rest can be from any as long as you register as GERPE.

Both UE and GERPE can be SUed.

– Double Degree: Generally from different faculty. On graduation, you will have two degree qualifications. (e.g Double Degree in Aerospace Engineering and Business)

– Major: Main thing you are entering for (e.g Accountancy)

– Minor: Some sort like concentration, but you cannot SU the electives (e.g Bachelors in Business, Minor in Statistics)

– Concentration: Less impact than Minor. Requires you to take some electives, but you can SU and they still consider it as cleared.

2nd Major: Even more impactful than Minor. In general the 2nd Major is in the same faculty as your main major. You will have one degree qualification/paper.

– Honours: NTU has direct honours for some majors

But this doesn’t mean you automatically get a degree with Hons. If you graduate with a GPA of below 3.0, you will not be eligible for honours.

For SMU

Singapore Management University graduates command significantly higher salaries, as their students learning very important soft skills for the workplace.

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– Major: Main thing you’re studying (e.g Law)

At SMU, majority of people take double majors, so we have two main things to study. Can be related or unrelated – e.g econs and finance (related) vs econs and corp comms (not very related)

– Minor: SMU does not have

– Elective: Major electives and free/unrestricted electives

Major electives are modules you need to take for your major. There is a list of modules to choose from instead of specific set mods. (e.g as a Psych major, there’s a list of 20 psych mods i can take, but I only need to pick 10)

Free electives (or general education) are modules not related to your major.
You can take mods from Accountancy, Law, Info Systems, or even random things like Languages, Dance, Film, etc.

– Core: Compulsory modules: Uni core, Degree core, Major core.

Uni core is a common unified programme everyone goes through regardless of faculty. (i.e things like foundation in writing, communications, teambuilding)

Degree core is a common unified programme for everyone in that specific faculty.
(i.e for Social Sciences, everyone takes Intro Psych, Intro Sociology, Intro Pol. Sci, and Intro Stats regardless of major)

Major core are compulsory mods for your major. (i.e for Psych, Psych Research methods I and II)

– Track/Specialisation: More specific version of your major (Not all majors have track)

e.g “Operations Management (OM) with track in Analytics” means that they take the same OM major core as other OM majors, but their major electives are analytics-specific mods instead of just any OM mods.

– Honours: SMU doesn’t use the Honours system

SMU uses the cumulative GPA (Grade Point Average) criteria to recognize students with academic excellence and it is based on a 4.0 system.

Cumulative GPA Awards
3.8+/4.0 Summa Cum Laude (With Highest Distinction)
3.60 – 3.79 / 4.0 Magna Cum Laude (High Distinction)
3.40 – 3.59 / 4.0 Cum Laude (Distinction)
3.20 – 3.39 / 4.0 High Merit
3.00 – 3.19 / 4.0 Merit

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However, SMU does have (optional) Honours thesis. 

This has no impact on the degree classification (cum laude etc) given to you, but it is important to do honours thesis if you want to go into academia/research. (Currently only SOSS & SOE offer honours thesis)

Miriam

Miriam is part of the team that operates CocoTutors: #1 Home Tuition Agency in Singapore. We connect Parents and students to Tutors, via our tuition-matching system. You can try out our services at (www.cocotutors.com/) or by calling +65 9177 9055 directly.

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