A degree or academic degree originally began as a license to teach canon or ecclesiastical law. A university (from the Latin 'universitas') refers in general to "a number of persons associated into one body, a society, company, community, guild, corporation, etc." A university is a guild of students, teachers, and scholars. A degree is a status conferred to a graduate (from the Latin gradus meaning "step") within that body to qualify for becoming a scholar or teacher (master craftsman) within that body or the general guild system of universities. A university is a guild. A guild is a private society as opposed to society at large. Being in a guild confers rights, privileges, honors, and immunities depending on status or rank. In the past, being a member of the the scholastic guild (university) enjoyed some exemption from the jurisdiction of civil courts.