3.15 Minimum Registration and Residence Requirements

A. Permission to Register
B. Requirements for Continuous Enrollment
C. Requirements for Full-Time/Part-Time Registration
D. Requirements for Residence Credit in Doctoral Programs

A. Permission to Register
The Department of Registration and Records must have authorization from the Dean of the Graduate School before a graduate student in any classification will be permitted to register for classes. This authorization will be sent to the Department of Registration and Records at the time the student is notified of acceptance for graduate study. The Department of Registration and Records provides grade records to students at the end of each scheduled school term.

B. Requirement of Continuous Enrollment
After a student is admitted to the Graduate School and enrolls for the first time, he/she is required to maintain continuous registration. Continuous registration refers to a student's enrollment each semester, excluding summer sessions, until he/she has either graduated or his/her graduate program has been terminated. All students attending classes must be registered for either credit or audit.

  • 1. Exceptions
    • (a) Leave of absence
    • A student in good academic standing who must interrupt his/her graduate program for good reasons may request a leave of absence from graduate study for a definite period of time, not to exceed one year within a given graduate degree program. The student should initiate the request with the chair of his/her advisory committee and have it approved by his/her Director of Graduate Programs (DGP) before the DGP submits it to the Graduate School. The Graduate School should receive the request at least one month prior to the first day of the term involved. The time that the student spends on an approved leave of absence will be included in the time allowed to complete the degree, i.e., six (6) years for the master's and ten (10) for the doctoral. Time limits are not extended.
    • (b) Withdrawal
      • (i) Withdrawal during the registration period. Any student enrolled in a graduate program who is registered for a given semester and withdraws during the official registration period (typically the first 10 working days of a semester) must obtain a leave of absence to meet the requirement for continuous registration.
      • (ii) Withdrawing after the registration period ends. Any student withdrawing after the official registration period ends DOES NOT need to obtain a leave of absence and will be considered by the Graduate School as having met his/her continuous registration requirements.
      (c) Registration in a summer session - submission of thesis/dissertation and oral examinations
    • All students who take their final oral examination or submit their thesis/dissertation to the Graduate School during either summer session must be registered for either the first or second summer session. Those who wish to submit their thesis/dissertation or have their final oral examination after the last day of a semester or summer session, but before the next semester or summer session, must have been registered in the semester or summer session that immediately preceded the date of submission or the date when the exam was held.
    • (d) Graduation
    • Students who complete all requirements for the degree prior to the first day of the fall or spring semester or the first summer session may graduate during the next semester or summer session without being registered provided that they were registered in the immediately preceding semester or summer session and that they applied to graduate during that preceding term. Students may not graduate, or apply to graduate, during any term in which they are on a Leave of Absence.
    • (e) Incomplete Grades
    • Students whose only remaining requirement for graduation is removal of an "IN" (Incomplete) grade are not required to be registered in the following semester or term in order to complete the work and graduate; however, only one registration free semester or term is allowed.

      Students who anticipate not being able to remove a fall "IN" grade by the end of the spring semester should register for that spring, and any subsequent semesters needed to complete the work, to stay in compliance with the continuous registration policy. Students who fail to remove a spring “IN” grade by the end of the summer will not be terminated (because summer registration is not required for continuous registration), but they will have to register for the following fall and any subsequent semesters until the "IN" has been removed.
    • If a person needs to be classified as a student during the time the "IN" is being removed, registration for XXX 688 or XXX 689 is appropriate. If a student needs to be full time, registration must conform to the full-time rules outlined in sub-section C.
  • 2. Failure to maintain continuous registration
  • Graduate students whose programs have been terminated because of failure to maintain continuous registration and who have not been granted a leave of absence during a fall or spring semester will be required to reapply for admission and pay the admission fee, if they wish to resume their graduate studies at NC State (see Readmission, Section 2.3).

C. Requirements for Full-Time/Part-Time Registration
Full-time/Part-time Status of Graduate Students (updated on July 15, 2014)
NC State uses a uniform Academic Load Schedule of Full-Time Status of Graduate Students for Loan Deferment, Financial Aid, Visa Status, Payroll Tax Withholding, Graduate Student Support Plan Eligibility and Veteran's Benefits Purposes. This schedule will be the only resource used to determine a student's status for these purposes. These definitions apply to all graduate students, U.S. and international, participants and non-participants in the Graduate Student Support Plan.

  • 1. Fall and Spring Semesters
  • Graduate students enrolled in degree plans requiring a thesis or dissertation
  • Full Time
  • These students will be full time if they take at least 9 hours per semester until the semester in which a course load of at least 3 credit hours will reach an accumulated total equal to the minimum number of hours required by their program. They will continue to be considered full time until they complete their thesis or dissertation, as long as they enroll for at least 3 credit hours.
  • Half Time
  • Should a graduate student in a plan requiring a thesis or dissertation fail to maintain full-time status in any given term, as here defined, they are subject to the requirements governing students in non thesis or dissertation plans (as outlined below) in order to be certified as “Half Time”.
  • Graduate students enrolled in degree plans not requiring a thesis or dissertation (1)
  • Full Time
  • These students will be full time if they take at least 9 hours in a given semester.
  • Half Time
  • These students will be half time if they take at least 4.5 hours per semester.
    (1) Master’s students enrolled in plans allowing both a thesis and a non-thesis option will be classified as “non-thesis” students and subject to these rules until such time as a graduate plan of work designating the thesis-option, is approved by the Graduate School.
  • Co-op Students
  • Co-op students registered for COP 500 will be considered full time. Students registered for only COP 501 will be considered half time.
  • 2. Summer Sessions
  • Graduate students are not required by the University to be registered during the summer. However, students who receive a stipend but who are not enrolled in the University during a period of five weeks or more are subject to Social Security tax withholding. In particular, this means that Social Security taxes will be withheld from the paychecks of Graduate Research Assistants (RAs) who do not register in the summer. Specifically, Social Security taxes will be withheld in June for RAs who are not registered in Summer Session I and in July for RAs who are not registered in Summer Session II. The source of funds that pays the stipend must pay the same amount of Social Security tax as is withheld from the student's paycheck during these months.
  • Two special registration categories are available for Graduate Research Assistants who would not otherwise take courses in the summer: XYZ 696 (Summer Thesis Research) and XYZ 896 (Summer Dissertation Research), where XYZ represents the course prefix of a specific department or program. Each of these courses is for 1 hour of credit, with registration for 10 weeks, beginning the first day of Summer Session I. Social Security taxes will not be withheld from the June or July paychecks of RAs who register for either 696 or 896. Full time in the summer is a minimum of 1 hour.
  • Please note that student who are not registered during the summer do not have access to financial aid during that period, nor do they have access to the Student Health Service unless they pay the student health fee for each of the two summer sessions.
  • Waiver of Hours
  • Graduate students who meet certain prescribed special conditions, may be certified as either a full-time or half-time in cases where they do not meet the requirements for such as outlined above. A waiver of the uniform academic load rules requires attestation on behalf of the student by their committee chair, academic advisor or the Director of their graduate program and approval by the University.

D. Requirements for Residence Credit in Doctoral Programs
A student working toward a doctoral degree is expected to be registered for graduate work at NC State for at least six (6) semesters beyond the bachelor's degree. The University has minimum residence requirements, as defined below, but the academic schools/colleges have the prerogative of establishing more restrictive requirements within the respective schools/colleges.

  • 1. Hours of Graduate Work
  • Doctoral residence credit is determined by the number of semester hours of graduate work carried during a regular semester.
Semester Credits (Hours)
Residence Credits
9 or more
less than 6
(including registration in 590, 690 series)
  • At least two residence credits are necessary in continuous residence (registration in consecutive semesters) as a graduate student at NC State University, but failure to take courses in the summer does not break continuity.
  • 2. Summer Residency
  • Summer course work can only be used in partial fulfillment of the residency requirement. A single summer session is equal to one-half of the corresponding amount for a regular semester (e.g. six semester hours carried during a summer session will earn one-third of a residence credit; less than six credit hours will earn one-sixth of a residence credit).