A full-time student is one who is matriculated and meets the conditions for each term noted below:
- Registers for nine or more graduate credit hours in a fall or spring term; or
- Registers for a minimum of three hours of thesis substitute (992), thesis (993), or dissertation (994) in a fall, spring, or summer term. Note: A student may register for additional courses as needed, but if registering for less than nine hours, this must include a minimum of three hours of 992/993/994 to be considered full-time; or
- Registers for fewer than nine graduate credit hours in a fall, spring, or summer term, exclusive of 992/993/994, and has been granted a Waiver of Hours for that term.
A student who was registered for the immediately preceding fall and spring semesters and expects to return for the fall semester does not need to enroll during either of the summer sessions to maintain status as a full-time matriculated student. Certain campus services may have required fees for access during the summer sessions.
Individual graduate programs may set guidelines on research enrollments, including which academic milestones should be passed before enrolling in 992/993/994. Once students successfully defend their dissertation or thesis or complete their thesis substitute, no further enrollments are necessary or permissible, and graduation should not be delayed.
All 992/993/994 courses are similarly named following university guidelines and hold fixed credit hours at 3.0, thereby always conferring full-time status.
Students should contact the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid with questions about full-time status for financial aid purposes.
Waiver of Hours
Graduate School approval of a waiver of hours is contingent upon the student submitting a Waiver of Hours Form. This form must also include a statement from the academic program certifying that the student's overall academic involvement-teaching assignments, research projects-is consistent with the workload of a full-time student.
All waiver of hours requests must arrive at The Graduate School by the close of the normal add period (generally five days after classes begin) for final review and processing before the semester's census date ("census date" is generally two weeks after classes begin). No waiver of hours requests will be retroactively approved.
Students are required to be registered whenever degree progress is being made or University resources (including faculty time) are being used to appropriately reflect work being done. Academic programs and students should be aware that students who lapse enrollment lose official student status and recognized University affiliation. Relinquishing formal student status can disadvantage students by eliminating their eligibility for financial aid and student campus services and benefits.
In addition, the following specific registration requirements apply.
Assistantships and Fellowships
Each student holding a service (assistantship) or non-service (fellowship) appointment must be registered full-time in order to hold that position during the fall and spring semesters. Students must be on-campus unless the award requires their presence at another campus or research center.
Examinations and Thesis/Dissertation
A student must be registered during the semester(s) or summer terms in which any written and/or oral examinations are taken and graded.
Students must be registered for a minimum of three credit hours of thesis substitute (992), thesis (993), or dissertation (994) during the semesters or summer terms in which the thesis/dissertation is proposed and defended or a thesis option is completed.
Registration for the prior semester will cover events that occur during a break between semesters. This registration covers a student from the first day of class in a semester until the day before classes begin for the next semester. For example, if a student is registered for a minimum of three credit hours of 992/993/994 in the fall semester and intends to defend in the same term, the defense must occur between the first day of fall classes and the day before the first day of spring classes. Similarly, summer registration would cover a defense occurring anytime between the first day of summer session I classes until the day before the first day of fall classes. If the defense takes place during a summer, students must be registered for a minimum of three credit hours of 992/993/994 during either the first or second summer session to be covered for the entire summer term.
Individual graduate programs may set guidelines on research enrollments, including which academic milestones should be passed before enrolling in 992/993/994.
Once students have completed all courses, including a minimum of three credit hours of thesis substitute (992)/thesis (993) or a minimum of six credit hours of dissertation (994), they must continue to register for three credit hours of 992/993/994 each academic semester (fall/spring) until the degree is completed to reflect academic progress and in order to use University resources (including faculty time).
Once students successfully defend their dissertation or thesis or complete their thesis substitute, no further enrollments are necessary or permissible, and graduation should not be delayed.
Students should register for no more than 16 hours in any semester. A student enrolled in the summer may not register for, and will not receive graduate credit for, more than eight hours a session. Overload requests are considered on an exceptional basis and should be initiated by the student's academic program and forwarded to The Graduate School for approval.
A student who holds a service appointment within the University or is employed either on- or off-campus is advised to register on the following basis:
- A student engaged in teaching three to six credit hours or in performing other part-time duties for 10 to 20 hours weekly is advised to register for no more than nine hours of course credit.
- A student engaged in teaching more than six credit hours or in performing other part-time duties for more than 20 hours weekly is advised to register for no more than six hours of course credit.
- A student engaged in full-time employment is advised to register for no more than three hours of course credit.
During a summer session, a student who holds a service appointment should register for no more than three hours of course credit.
Courses may be added only during the official add period. Please refer to the University Registrar's Calendar for official add period dates for the standard semester and summer terms.
The Graduate School serves as the Dean's Office authorization for University Registrar forms.
A Graduate School signature is required to process an add in a regularly-scheduled course after the census date in a given term. Effective dates are not altered. For courses scheduled outside the standard term dates, proportional deadlines are similarly applied.
Drop deadlines for the standard semester and summer terms are given in the University Registrar's Calendar. To drop a course outside the close of the normal drop period (generally eight weeks after classes begin) and before the last two weeks of a semester, the student must complete and obtain the required signatures on the Registration Drop/Add Form, available through the student's academic program or the Office of the University Registrar.
The Graduate School serves as the Dean’s Office authorization for University Registrar forms.
A Graduate School signature is required to process a drop in a regularly-scheduled course after the normal drop period in a given term. Effective dates are not altered. No regularly-scheduled course may be dropped in the last two weeks of classes in a fall or spring semester or during the last week of a summer session. For courses scheduled outside the standard term dates, proportional deadlines are similarly applied.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Dropping a course after the census date may have financial and academic consequences. Please refer to the Academic and Financial Policy Regarding Tuition and Drop Dates.
A student registered for and wishing to drop an inter-institutional course follows the same procedures and deadlines as required for dropping courses at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Official withdrawal from the University is required if a student wishes to drop all courses after a semester begins.
Course changes after the last day of classes for the current term must be submitted on a Post-Semester Registration/Drop/Add form available through the student's academic program or the Office of the University Registrar. Appropriate justification and approval by the academic program should be attached to the post-semester form prior to submission for processing by The Graduate School.
Students may take a maximum of two graduate-level courses through inter-institutional registration during a fall or spring term or a maximum of one graduate-level course during a summer term, provided that the student is also registered for the balance of a normal load (at least three credit hours) at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Students may take courses in residence at North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, North Carolina Central University, or Duke University. Students may also take courses online though the UNC System inter-institutional website by having a request approved and paying tuition directly to the visited institution.
No inter-institutional course may be taken pass/fail (satisfactory/unsatisfactory, credit/no credit, etc.) and all courses must earn a specific grade. Please refer to the Graduate Grading section of this Handbook for the policy concerning inter-institutional grading.
To register for a residential inter-institutional course, the student must complete an Inter-Institutional Approval Form and obtain the director of graduate studies' signature certifying the following requirements:
- the course is appropriate for the student's degree program, and is a graduate-level course according to the current numbering schemes below:
- Duke — 500 and above (except Divinity and Nursing courses)
- NCCU — 4000 and above
- NCSU — 500 and above
- UNC-C — 5000 and above
- UNC-G — 500 and above;
- an equivalent course is not available on this campus; and
- the course does not earn a pass/fail grade.
The Graduate School serves as the Dean's Office authorization for University Registrar forms. The student then submits the request form to the UNC-Chapel Hill Office of the University Registrar for approval and processing.
Courses taken by UNC-Chapel Hill degree students via inter-institutional registration earn residence credit as if they were courses on this campus.
The exchange of inter-institutional grades between universities is a time-consuming process and grades may not appear on a student's record at the same time as grades from their home campus. Students opting to take inter-institutional courses during their final semester should closely monitor their academic record for posting delays that may prevent graduation.
English Prerequisite to Registration
All new international students subject to the English proficiency exam requirement (TOEFL or IELTS) will have their test scores reviewed in their first semester of study. Students who may benefit from additional support services in reading, speaking, and writing will be notified of campus resources available to them.
International students must observe all enrollment conditions required by their student visa, including remaining enrolled full-time in the program to which they were admitted. Changes in the enrollment status of international students must be reported to International Student and Scholar Services by the student as soon as possible.
Please note that certain restrictions may apply on distance and online course enrollments. Please consult with your graduate program with questions about maintaining full-time enrollment.
Failure to maintain continuous and accurately reported full-time registration can have severe consequences, including, but not limited to, loss of visa status and deportation.
International Teaching Assistants
International teaching assistants may be evaluated for their teaching ability and choose to register for “GRAD 810: Communicating in the American Classroom.” This course focuses on interpersonal communication, teaching skills, and classroom phrases and pronunciation.
The University will only cancel registration for students who did not attend or participate in any courses. If a student attended or participated in any portion of courses, then Dropping Courses or official Withdrawal from the University processes should be followed. Appropriate justification and approval by the academic program should be included with the cancellation request prior to submission for electronic processing by The Graduate School.
Additionally, registration may be canceled under the following circumstances:
The Graduate School will automatically cancel the registration of those students who become academically ineligible. See Academic Eligibility.
Nonpayment of Tuition and Fees
A student's registration will be canceled if tuition and fees are not paid (or properly arranged for deferment) by the payment deadline given in the University Registrar's Calendar. To register subsequent to such cancellation, students must pay tuition and fees in advance and add courses no later than the last day for adding courses specified in the University Registrar's Calendar.
Failure to Submit Campus Health Services Forms
If a new or transfer student, or a matriculated student not registered for two years, fails to submit the immunization record and Medical History Form, registration will be canceled.
For additional information about the University's Cancellation policies, please refer to the Office of the University Registrar.