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Course Load

Section 3.1 of the Graduate School Handbook

Masters or Predoctoral Candidates. For full-time status, a student must register for the minimum number of regular credit hours as specified for the categories below. Audited credit hours do not count towards the minimum credit hours required for full-time status. However, audited credit hours can be included within the maximum number of credit hours allowed per autumn or spring semester or summer term.

Full-time status for all graduate students who are not yet doctoral candidates (pre-candidacy) is typically eight to 18 credit hours per autumn or spring semester and eight to 12 credit hours per summer term. This credit-hour requirement is applicable for their visa and/or financial aid eligibility.

Pre-Candidacy Academic Leave. Pre-candidacy students that do not plan to or do not register for a semester or more are required to fill out an academic leave form to declare withdrawal or leave of absence. This form requires advisor and program approval and must specify inclusive dates of leave. Students who do not complete the academic leave form or do not enroll after the inclusive date will require program and advisor approval to be reinstated in their program. In certain cases, the program may require the student to reapply.

Doctoral Candidates. Full-time status for all doctoral candidates (i.e., students who have achieved doctoral candidacy status) (Section 7) is three credit hours per autumn or spring semester or summer term.

Continuous Enrollment. All students who successfully complete the doctoral candidacy examination are required to be enrolled in every autumn and spring semester (summer term is excluded) until graduation. These students must be enrolled for at least three credits per autumn and spring semester. These registration requirements can include research hours. This policy is effective for all students. Post-candidacy doctoral students are not eligible for academic leaves. They may apply for a leave of absence due to medical or military reasons (Section 7.7).

International Students. International students are required to register for a minimum of eight credit hours in autumn and spring semesters. Enrollment in the summer term is optional unless the international student is in the first or last term in their program, is participating in a Curricular Practical Training, or is on an appointment as a graduate associate.

Graduate Associates. Graduate associates (Section 9) holding 50 percent or greater appointments must register for at least eight credit hours per autumn or spring semester, and at least four credit hours in summer term. GAs holding a 25 percent appointment must register for at least four credit hours per autumn or spring semester and two credit hours in summer term. Doctoral candidates must register for at least three credit hours each autumn or spring semester or summer term an appointment is held. These registration requirements can include research hours.

Fellows, Trainees and Students Receiving a Graduate School Match. Students holding the titles Graduate Fellow, Graduate Trainee or Graduate Research Associate-Graduate School Match (GRA-GSM) (Section 10), regardless of the source of the funds, must register for a minimum of 12 credit hours each autumn or spring semester the appointment is held and at least six credit hours in summer semester. Graduate Fellows, Graduate Trainees or GRA-GSM who are doctoral candidates must register for at least three credit hours per autumn or spring semester or summer term an appointment is held. These registration requirements can include research hours.

Exceptions Regarding Course Loads

Non-Graduate Credits. Under certain circumstances non-graduate credit course work may count toward the minimum requirements for GA and fellowship eligibility. Monitoring of the appropriateness of non-graduate credit course work will be the responsibility of the Graduate Studies Committee of the Graduate Program.

Course Load Inconsistent with Full-time Status: In certain situations, graduate students may desire to enroll in more than the number of credit hours required for their full-time status, based on their status in the program (e.g., for pursuing a minor, interdisciplinary specialization, certificate or dual degree). Such students should seek prior approval from their advisor and Graduate Studies Committee and discuss how enrolling for excess credit hours may affect their progress, program of study and any financial implications. This can be especially relevant for graduate students who hold Graduate Trainee, Graduate Fellow or GRA-GSM appointments and receive the graduate fee authorization (GFA) benefit (Section 11.1). The GFA benefit is typically limited to credit hours defined in full-time status.

Other. Information on course loads for students receiving other loans or work-study support is available from the university’s Student Financial Aid Office.