ESL University Vocabulary

This ESL university vocabulary page will help you if you need to go and study in another country. Many people chose to go to university in another country if they get the chance, and many international courses will be taught in English; therefore, it is vital for you to know English university vocabulary.

Use the ESL university vocabulary on this page to help you speak about going to college.

This page is divided into two main parts. In the first there is the vocabulary list of words about university, and in the second part there are exercises and tasks to test how well you know the ESL university vocabulary.

The vocabulary list has a definition of each ESL university vocabulary item as well as its part of speech. Then after the list there is a set of flashcards that you can download and use anywhere; these have the words, their definitions and many pictures to help you understand the meaning. In addition, the vocabulary has been recorded being spoken by a native English speaker so you can hear the correct pronunciation.

Then the second part of the page has the following three exercises that you can do to test your knowledge of the ESL university vocabulary items you have learnt:

  • Identify the correct definition of a word.
  • Identify the correct word that matches a definition.
  • Identify the correct word that matches a picture.

ESL University Vocabulary List with Definitions

The following is a list of vocabulary items all about universities and being a student at a university. The list has a definition for each word as well as its part of speech. You should try to learn the words now and also use the list as a reference source in the future. After the ESL university vocabulary word list there are some flashcards of the vocabulary for you to download and then a recording so you can hear the correct pronunciation.

Assignment: A homework given to university students. (noun)
Academic: Relating to schools, colleges, and universities. (adjective)
Academia: The academic community at universities whose main activities include learning, teaching, and research. (noun)
Advisor: A person who assists students in planning their educational programs. (noun)
Audit: To attend a course without getting a grade for the course. (verb)
Bachelor’s degree: The first degree for people studying at a university. (noun)
Bursar: The treasurer at a college or university. (noun)
Bursary: An amount of money that is given to a person to allow him or her to attend university. (noun)
Campus: The buildings and the surrounding land of a university or college. (noun)
College: A higher education institution where you can study for an undergraduate degree (American English). (noun)
College of further education: A higher education institution or part of a university that provides vocational or specialized education. (noun)
Community college: A college that offers two-year programs for students from the local community (American English). (noun)
Commencement: A ceremony at which students formally receive their academic degrees (American English). (noun)
Course: A series of lessons on a particular subject, usually ended with an exam. (noun)
Certificate: An official document that proves you have passed an exam or completed a course. (noun)
Credit: Course unit. (noun)
Curriculum: The subjects that are included in a course of study in a college or university. (noun)
Degree: The qualification given to students who have completed their studies at a college or university. (noun)
Dean: A high-rank official in a university who is in charge of a department or group of departments. (noun)
Department: A section of a college or university that deals with a particular area of study. (noun)
Dining hall: A large room in a university building where people can eat together. (noun)
Diploma: A document given by a college or university that shows you have finished your studies or passed a certain exam. (noun)
Dissertation: The paper written at the end of a degree course. (noun)
Distance course: A course in which students learn on their own at home and communicate with faculty and other students via the internet. (noun)
Dormitory: A large building at campus where students live (American English). (noun)
Education: A particular kind of teaching or training that aims to develop knowledge and skills. (noun)
Enroll: To officially join in a course. (verb)
Exam: A formal test of a student’s knowledge or skill in a particular subject. (noun) 
Faculty: A group of departments in a college or university that focuses on an area of study or several related subjects. (noun)
Fail: To be unsuccessful in a test or exam. (verb)
Financial aid: The money that is given or lent to help a student at a university to pay the cost of his or her study. (noun)
First degree: The degree that undergraduates do. (noun)
Fraternity: A social organization for male university students (American English). (noun)
Freshman: A first-year student at school, college or university (American English). (noun) 
Fresher: A student who is still in his or her first term at a university (British English). (noun)
Freshers’ week: A week at the beginning of a new academic year at university that is organized to welcome new students. (noun)
Grade Point Average: The average of a student’s grades during his or her studies at university (American English). (noun) 
Graduate: To complete a degree at a university (verb); a person who has a university degree. (noun)
Grant: An amount of money given by the government to allow a student to follow a course. (noun)
Halls of residence: A large building at campus where most students live in their first year of university. (noun)
Higher education: Education that is given at college or university. (noun)
Homecoming: A celebration for former students, held annually by a university or college (American English). (noun)
Instructor: A university teacher who ranks below assistant professor and teaches a limited number of classes (American English). (noun)
Junior college: A college where students study for two years, which equals the freshman and sophomore years of a four-year undergraduate course (American English). (noun)
Law school: A higher education institution for postgraduates that trains students to become lawyers (American English). (noun)
Lecture: An activity when students make notes and listen to the lecturer. (noun)
Lecturer: A person who teaches in a university but not a professor. (noun)
Major: The main subject that a student studies at college or university. (noun)
Master’s degree: A university degree that you get after studying for one or two years after your first degree. (noun)
Matriculate: To officially begin studying at a university; to attend the academic standard required for a course. (verb)
Matriculation: The process of matriculating. (noun)
Medical school: Another name for medical faculty. (noun)
Minor: The second most important subject that a student studies at college or university. (noun)
Pass: To succeed in an exam or test. (verb)
PhD: An abbreviation for Doctor of Philosophy, the highest university degree, which is obtained by doing advanced research. (noun)
Polytechnic: A college which offers vocational courses or focuses on teaching scientific and technical subjects. (noun) 
Postgraduate: A university student who has completed a first degree and is studying for a more advanced degree. (noun); more advanced level than a first degree. (adjective)
Prerequisite: A class that must be taken before another class. (noun)
Professor: A university teacher of the highest rank. (noun)
Qualification: A course of study that you have completed or an exam that you have passed. (noun)
Quiz: A short test given to students. (noun) 
Register: To record a name on an official list. (verb)
Registrar: The administrator who is responsible for student records. (noun)
Registration: The act of enrolling. (noun)
Research: A careful and detailed study of a subject in order to discover new facts or test new ideas. (noun)
Room and board: A room to sleep in with food provided. (noun)
Roommate: Someone who you share a room with for a period of time during your study at university. (noun) 
Sandwich course: A course which includes periods of study with periods of work between them to provide students with practical experience. (noun)
Semester: One of the two periods into which a year is divided at university. (noun)
Seminar: A course offered for a small group of students. (noun)
Session: A school or university year. (noun)
Scholarship: An amount of money that a student gets from an individual or organization to help pay for his or her education. (noun)
Sophomore: A student who is in the second year of a university study (American English). (noun)
Sorority: A social organization for female university students (American English). (noun)
Spring break: A two-week holiday from college or university in the spring (American English). (noun)
Student loan: An amount of money that you borrow from the government or a bank to fund your study at a university and which you must pay back after you completed your study. (noun)
Student union: An association of students at a university that is concerned with students’ rights, living conditions, etc. (noun) 
Syllabus: A list of topics or books that are planned to be studied in a particular subject. (noun)
Term: One of the three periods into which a year is divided at university. (noun)
Textbook: A book that contains detailed information about a subject that people study at university. (noun)
Theological college: A college where students are trained to become priests or church ministers. (noun)
Thesis: The paper written at the end of a doctorate degree. (noun)
Training college: A college for adult learners that gives training for a particular profession. (noun)
Transcript: An official record of the courses that a student has taken and the marks received (American English). (noun)
Tuition: The teaching given to a small group or one person in a college or university. (noun)
Tuition fees: The money that a student pays to get an education at a university. (noun)
Tutor: A teacher who works with one student or a small group of students. (noun)
Tutorial: A one-to-one teaching activity with a tutor. (noun)
Undergraduate: A college or university student who is studying for a first degree. (noun)
University: A higher education institution where people study or do research for a degree. (noun) 
Varsity: The main team that represents a college or university in sports competitions (American English). (noun)

Vocabulary Flashcards for University Words

You can download the following ESL university vocabulary flashcards to use when you are offline. Just click the following picture or the link that follows it and you can save the cards to your commuter.

ESL university vocabulary flashcards

Spoken University Vocabulary

This section has two recordings of the ESL university vocabulary being spoken by a native English speaker. The first one is a simple recording that you can listen to; while, the second one is a video in which you can see the flashcards at the same time as the vocabulary item is spoken. Listen to them as many times as you need to so you can learn the correct pronunciation for the ESL university vocabulary.





ESL University Vocabulary Exercises

Exercise 1 – Correct Definition

In the first ESL university vocabulary exercise you need to decide which of the options (A-D) in each of the five question has the correct definition to match the word given. When you have finished you can use the get score button at the end of the questions to see how well you did.

ESL University Vocabulary Definitions


Choose the correct definition for the university vocabulary in this quiz.

1) What is the definition of Community college?
        A) A college that offers two-year programs for students from the local community (American English).
        B) The first degree for people studying at a university.
        C) The subjects that are included in a course of study in a college or university.
        D) A person who assists students in planning their educational programs.
2) What is the definition of Dormitory?
        A) A particular kind of teaching or training that aims to develop knowledge and skills.
        B) A large room in a university building where people can eat together.
        C) A large building at campus where students live (American English).
        D) A formal test of a student’s knowledge or skill in a particular subject.
3) What is the definition of Grant?
        A) A first-year student at school, college or university (American English).
        B) A university teacher who ranks below assistant professor and teaches a limited number of classes (American English).
        C) The main subject that a student studies at college or university.
        D) An amount of money given by the government to allow a student to follow a course.
4) What is the definition of Prerequisite?
        A) A class that must be taken before another class.
        B) A course of study that you have completed or an exam that you have passed.
        C) The process of matriculating.
        D) To succeed in an exam or test.
5) What is the definition of Scholarship?
        A) A careful and detailed study of a subject in order to discover new facts or test new ideas.
        B) One of the two periods into which a year is divided at university.
        C) An amount of money that a student gets from an individual or organization to help pay for his or her education.
        D) A social organization for female university students (American English).

Score =

Correct answers:

Exercise 2 – Correct Meaning

Now, in the second ESL university vocabulary exercise each question gives you a definition and you need to decide which of the options (A-D) in each of the five questions goes with the given definition. Again you can use the get score button to see how many you got correct. 

ESL University Vocabulary Identification of Meaning


Choose the word that matches the definition given in each of the five questions in this quiz.

1) What is the meaning of the following definition: The main team that represents a college or university in sports competitions (American English)?
        A) Student loan
        B) Term
        C) Varsity
        D) Transcript
2) What is the meaning of the following definition: A two-week holiday from college or university in the spring (American English)?
        A) Sandwich course
        B) Quiz
        C) Roommate
        D) Spring break
3) What is the meaning of the following definition: A university student who has completed a first degree and is studying for a more advanced degree?
        A) Postgraduate
        B) Junior college
        C) Qualification
        D) Matriculate
4) What is the meaning of the following definition: A student who is still in his or her first term at a university (British English)?
        A) Fresher
        B) Homecoming
        C) First degree
        D) Law school
5) What is the meaning of the following definition: A high-rank official in a university who is in charge of a department or group of departments?
        A) Faculty
        B) Dean
        C) Credit
        D) Dissertation

Score =

Correct answers:

Exercise 3 – Identify Picture

For the last ESL university vocabulary exercise you need to look at the following pictures and decide which of the options (A-D) in each question matches the indicated picture. Then when you have finished you can use the get score button to see how well you did.

ESL University Vocabulary Picture Descriptions


Identify the best description for each of the images (A-E) given above that correspond to the five questions in this quiz.

1) Which description best describes picture A given above?
        A) Spring break
        B) Registrar
        C) Exam
        D) Session
2) Which description best describes picture B given above?
        A) Fail
        B) Bursar
        C) Campus
        D) Assignment
3) Which description best describes picture C given above?
        A) Course
        B) Dormitory
        C) Dissertation
        D) Faculty
4) Which description best describes picture D given above?
        A) Student loan
        B) Research
        C) Dinning hall
        D) Sorority
5) Which description best describes picture E given above?
        A) Matriculate
        B) Graduate
        C) Lecture
        D) Qualification

Score =

Correct answers:



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