Full-Time/Part-Time Determination for All Graduate Students

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. (updated on July 15, 2014) 

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.

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.