Credit Limits and Full-Time Course Load

Graduate students may enroll for up to 16 credits during the initial registration period. Beginning Friday prior to fall term classes (and beginning two weeks prior to winter and spring terms), graduate students may increase their enrollment to a maximum of 18 credits.

Students who enroll for more than 16 credits will be billed additional tuition.

In summer term, graduate students are limited to 16 hours.

Students who wish to enroll for more than 18 credits (or 16 credits in summer) are required to submit a general petition form to the Graduate School.

For the term in which a degree is granted, graduate students must register for at least three graduate credits. If submitting a master's degree thesis in this final term, registration must include at least one of the three credits as Thesis (503)—see master's policies.

If a doctoral dissertation is being completed, registration must include no fewer than three credits of Dissertation (603) in the term of graduation—see Doctoral policies.

Exceptions may be made depending on the timing of the submission of the thesis or dissertation.

Doctoral students who have advanced to candidacy are considered to be full-time enrolled when registered in a minimum of three credits of Dissertation (603). However, various on-and off-campus agencies and offices have their own course-load requirements.

For example, GEs must register for and satisfactorily complete at least nine graduate credits each term. Some agencies offering student loans also set registration requirements.

Because the minimum registration requirements for the Graduate School may not satisfy some agency requirements, it is the student's responsibility to register for the required number of credits based on their individual situation. The Office of the Registrar can certify a student's registration.

Doctoral students that have not advanced to candidacy and master’s students are considered to be full-time enrolled when registered in a minimum of nine graduate credits. 

Examples of minimum enrollment requirements:

Graduate Employees

  • Nine graduate credits toward the degree

International Student Visa Holders

  • Nine credits for master’s students and doctoral students not yet advanced to candidacy
  • Three credits of 603 Dissertation for advanced doctoral students.
  • International students should request information from International Student and Scholar Services about immigration and naturalization regulations and minimum credit requirements.

Federal Financial Aid and Federal Loan Deferment

  • Five credits for master’s students and doctoral students not yet advanced to candidacy
  • Three credits of 603 Dissertation for advanced doctoral students.  

As previously noted, these guidelines are examples. Please contact the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships for accurate confirmations of eligibility.


Advancement and Financial Aid

Once formally advanced to candidacy, students receive email confirmation of their advancement from the dean of the Graduate School. Students are not considered advanced to candidacy prior to receiving this email.

While the advancement is tied to an academic term and not a specific date, the financial aid office adheres to date-based timelines for disbursement of loans.

Students should be advanced prior to the disbursement date in order to be full-time eligible for aid while registered for three credits of 603 Dissertation.

Contact the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships for more information.  International student visa holders should confirm their eligibility by contacting both the Graduate School and the Division of Global Engagement.