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The Graduate College Handbook

for students, faculty and staff – August 2019

C. Course Loads

1.  Full-time Enrollment
2.  Minimum Enrollment
3.  Maximum Enrollment
4.  Definition of a Credit Hour

  1. Full-time Enrollment:
    Graduate students may be required to maintain “full-time enrollment,” and what constitutes full-time enrollment can vary. For example, departmental requirements, eligibility for student loans or other financial aid, fellowships, certain types of non-University insurance policies, or tax requirements may use different definitions of full-time enrollment. Students are responsible for understanding what requirements apply to them.
    1. For all students.
      ​i. The Student Code contains the University definition of full-time status for students.
      ii. Simultaneous enrollment at another institution may not be added to hours enrolled at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in order to determine full-time status.
      iii. For the Graduate College, enrollment in off-campus or online courses offered through the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign counts toward full-time enrollment.
      iv. Audited courses do not count as any hours toward load.
      v. For purposes of loan deferral only, zero credit registration in GC 599 will count as full time registration.
      vi. Graduate student employees with assistantship appointments who are not registered for at least a half-time load in a particular term will be subject to Social Security and Medicare deductions from the assistantship pay for that term.
      vii. Verification of full-time enrollment may be ordered from the Office of the Registrar’s Transcript Section.
    2. International students. International students are considered by the Graduate College to be enrolled full-time when they meet the requirements as follows:International students with questions about full-time enrollment should see and contact the Office of International Student and Scholar Services for more details.
      1. International students on an F-1 or J-1 visa are required to maintain full-time enrollment for purposes of Student Exchange and Visitor Information System (SEVIS) reporting. Students who are required to take ESL classes as a result of the English Placement Test (EPT) or because of teaching assistantship obligations, may reduce their course load by four credit hours for each ESL course taken. If the ESL class is recommended, not required, and you are having difficulty with English, you may ask for a reduction based on academic reasons.
      2. International students whose first term of study is the summer term must carry a full course load.
      3. Continuing international students are not required by the campus to enroll for the summer terms, although their departments may require enrollment. Those who do enroll do not need to carry a full course load for SEVIS purposes.
      4. International graduate students who have completed all credit requirements (course work and thesis research) for their degree programs may register for zero hours of 599 until completion of study. This registration will be considered full-time for purposes of SEVIS reporting. International students seeking this exception to the full-time credit requirements should contact Office of International Student and Scholar Services before registering for the reduced credit load.
    3. Fellows and Trainees. Fellows and Trainees with waiver-generating appointments are required to register during each semester of the appointment. It is important to note that some funding agencies may have a specific enrollment requirement. Please verify this information with your funding agency or by contacting the Graduate College Fellowship office.
    4. Assistants. Assistants with waiver-generating appointments are considered by the Graduate College to be enrolled full-time when they meet the requirements as follows:
      1. Fall and/or spring term appointments: a minimum of 8 hours; individual programs may set higher requirements.
      2. Summer term appointment: a minimum of 4 hours for at least the eight week portion of the summer term (enrollment during the four-week portion of the summer term will not qualify as full-time registration) [Please note that the University does not require summer registration to be eligible to hold a summer assistantship.
    5. Students without appointments. Students without waiver-generating appointments are considered by the Graduate College to be enrolled full-time when they meet the requirements as follows:
      1. Fall and spring terms: a minimum of 12 hours
      2. Summer term: a minimum of 6 hours for at least the eight week portion of the summer term (enrollment in only the four-week portion of the summer term will not qualify as full-time registration)
    6. Students with questions.
      1. about registration load and loan deferment should consult their lenders (school, bank, or loan agency). Students may also contact the Office of Student Financial Aid, or, for advice or referral to the appropriate office or agency.
      2. about certification of full-time status should contact the Office of the Registrar.
      3. about the requirements of specific academic programs should be directed to the graduate office for that program.
      4. about their fellowships or traineeships should consult the Graduate College Fellowship Office or the funding agency.
      5. about full-time enrollment for international students on visas should contact the Office of International Student and Scholar Services
  2. Minimum Enrollment:
    ​       i.  All students should keep in mind that enrollment below a full-time course of study may jeopardize progress toward a degree, financial aid, fellowship, loan deferment, or the visa status of an international student (see Full-time Enrollment above).  
    ​       ii. Some departments have established a minimum amount of credit for which their students must register.
  3. Maximum Enrollment:
    The maximum amount of credit in which a graduate student may enroll is 20 hours in fall and spring terms and 12 hours in the summer term. Students in non-degree status have other restrictions, and can see chapter 2.A.2 for more information.
  4. Definition of a Credit Hour
    A credit hour is an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutionally established equivalency that reasonably approximates not less than:

    (1) one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out-of-class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or ten to twelve weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or (2) at least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1) of this definition for other activities as established by an institution, including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours. It is customary for graduate courses that carry either 3 or 4 hours of credit to meet in organized instruction for 43 to 58 contact hours per term (3 to 4 contact hours per week in fall or spring) including examinations.