Registration FAQs

Registration Information For Graduate Courses

1.     What constitutes full-time enrollment?

a.     Any enrolled student who holds a fellowship, teaching assistantship or research assistantship is defined as a full-time student regardless of the number of credit hours for which the student is registered.  The office of Graduate Education indicates this with a code that is recognized for financial aid and tax purposes.

b.     For students who are not supported on an assistantship, the following definition of full-time enrollment applies:  ≥6 hrs (Fall/Spring); ≥ 1 hrs (Summer).  A student must be enrolled in the minimum number of hours indicated to maintain eligibility for financial aid.  International students not supported by assistantships must also enroll in the minimum number of hours to maintain their visa status.

c.     For unsupported students who have advanced to candidacy and are enrolled only in Thesis or Dissertation Research (BIOL-599 or BIOL-699), enrollment of 1 credit hour up to the number of required hours (6 MS, 12 PhD) is considered full-time.  Once the required hours are fulfilled, the student must still maintain enrollment in thesis or dissertation research, but may register for zero hours.  

2.   How many hours are needed for the MA, MS and PhD degrees?

a.   The MA and MS programs require a minimum of 30 hours of academic work at the graduate level.  For the MS degree, 6 hours must be devoted to Thesis Research (BIOL-5990).
b.   The PhD program requires a minimum of 36 hours of graduate credit, 12 hours of which are Dissertation Research (BIOL-6990).
c.    Please note that while the University Graduate Catalog specifies these as minimum hours, credit hours in excess of that required represent real tuition dollars charged against the Department budget.  For this reason, coursework that would exceed the minimum credit hours required must be justified and approved in advance. 

3.     Students on GTAs/GRAs must maintain continuous enrollment in ALL semesters including summer; failure to do so can delay issuance of an assistantship contract, which in turn may result in the student being charged tuition.  It may also result in a hold being placed on the student's records in the Dean's office which may prevent the student from registering for classes.  It is also important that you register during the normal registration period.  Failure to do so will result in FICA taxes (social security & medicare) being withheld from your paycheck, thus reducing your payment amount.  This causes problems for payroll because they must do extra, unnecessary work to get the taxes refunded.  If you have an assistantship, you also receive a tuition scholarship that covers the cost of your tuition.  Thus, registering on time does not incur any financial burden.  Please avoid causing others extra work by registering during the normal registration period.

4.     Students should check every semester to be sure that they don't have missing or incomplete grades on their transcripts for any courses. This is especially important for reading and research courses since faculty frequently forget to enter grades for these non-structured courses.  A student can check this by reviewing his/her transcripts or active registrations on Banner.  If courses are listed that have not been assigned a grade, it is the student's responsibility to contact the assigned instructor and request a correction.  Missing grades can disqualify a student for assistantships and/or medical insurance!

5.     For most structured courses, graduate students may self-register on Banner.  However, to register for courses requiring instructor permission (research hours, reading courses, etc.), the instructor must  either give permission on Banner or by having the student complete a paper registration form; this form must show the course information (including the CRN and instructor's section number) and have the instructor's signature.  Completed forms should be taken to the Registrar's office in DuBourg Hall, Room 22, for processing.

6.     The limit on the number of research (5970/6970) and reading (5980/6980) courses that students may count toward their degrees is 20% of total structured coursework. For MA students this is  6 credit hours (20% of 30 credit hours); for MS and PhD students it is 4 hours (20% of 24 credit hours is 4.8, but we don't have fractional credit hours).  Note that Banner will not prevent anyone from registering for excess hours in these courses.  However, since these credits represent part of a student's tuition scholarship, they count as real tuition dollars in our budget and you will be asked to justify the excess hours to the Department and the Dean.

7.   Graduate students may count a maximum of 10 credits of 400-level undergraduate courses toward their degrees.  Students must earn a minimum grade of 'B' in such courses for them to count toward graduate degrees.

8.     If a graduate course is listed at both the 5xxx- and 6xxx-level, students should be sure to register for the appropriate course (5xxx for MS students, 6xxx for PhD students).  See the table below for a listing of these courses plus some additional non-structured courses that commonly cause confusion; the grading scheme for these courses is also indicated.

9.     Once a PhD student has advanced to candidacy, s/he is expected to be enrolled in Dissertation Research hours (BIOL-6990) every semester until s/he graduates.  Once the 12-hour requirement is met, the student must still register in BIOL-6990, but for zero credits.   Faculty: please note that a grade of IP should be entered for this course until the student graduates.  Only then may the grade be changed to S.


 Course no.
 Title  Grading          Credit hrs
   Master's level courses
 Department Seminar    
 S/U      0-1
5950-01  Special Study for Exams    
 IP until completed, then S/U
(maximum enrollment 2 semesters)
 Research Topics
 Standard grading (A/B/C)
 Graduate Reading Course
 Standard grading (A/B/C)
5990-xx  Thesis Research
 IP until completed, then S/U
   PhD level courses
 Department Seminar
 S/U  0-1
 Special Study for Exams
 IP until completed, then S/U
(maximum enrollment 2 semesters)
6970-xx  Research Topics
 Standard grading (A/B/C)
6980-xx  Graduate Reading Course
 Standard grading (A/B/C)
 Dissertation Research
 IP until completed, then S/U

xx = Instructor section number


S/U:    Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory
IP:       In progress

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