REG 02.15.05 - Graduate Registration and Residence Requirements

Authority: Dean of the Graduate School

History: First Issued: June 1, 2002. Last Revised: May 10, 2013.

Additional References: 
Graduate Administrative Handbook 3.15

Graduate Administrative Handbook 3.17

Contact Info: Dean of the Graduate School, (919-515-7956)


1.1  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.


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.

2.1  Exceptions

2.1.1  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 (1) 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 (1) 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.

2.1.2  Withdrawal

2.1.2a  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 ten (10) working days of a semester) must obtain a leave of absence to meet the requirement for continuous registration.

2.1.2b  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 requirement.

2.1.3  Registration in a summer session

2.1.3a  Submission of Thesis/Dissertation and Oral Examinations

All students who take their final oral examination or submit their thesis or 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 or dissertation or have their final oral examination after the last day of a semester or summer session but before the next semester or session must have been registered in the semester or session that immediately preceded the date of submission or the date when the exam was held.

2.1.3b  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 as long as they were registered in the immediately preceding semester or summer session.

2.1.4  Incomplete Grades

Students whose only remaining requirement for graduation is removal of an "IN" (Incomplete) in a course are not required to be registered to remove the "IN" and graduate.

Nevertheless, students who do not remove any remaining "IN" grade(s) in the semester or summer session following completion of all other requirements and are not registered during the same semester or summer session will have their programs terminated at the end of that semester or summer session due to noncompliance with the continuous registration policy.

2.1.5  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 application fee, if they wish to resume their graduate studies at NC State. 


3.1  Full-time/Part-time Status of Graduate Students

NC State uses a uniform Schedule of Full-time/Half-time Status of Graduate Students.

The following requirements apply to ALL Graduate Students for the determination of Full-time or Half-time status.

Fall and Spring Semesters

3.1.1  Full-time:  To be considered full-time, graduate students generally must take a minimum course load of nine (9) credit hours each semester.  Graduate students may be full-time with less than 9 credit hours in the semester in which less than 9 credit hours remain to be completed in his or her graduate program, and for all semesters thereafter.  During the semester when less than nine (9) credit hours remain to be completed, students will be full-time when registered for that amount as long as registration is for at least three (3) credit hours.  Full-time for all subsequent semesters shall be at least three (3) credit hours and the course number shall not matter.  For example, if a graduate student needs only seven (7) hours to complete the credit hour requirement for his or her program in a given semester, seven (7) hours shall be full-time for that semester.  If the student needs only one (1) credit hour to complete, full-time would still be three (3) credit hours. Thereafter, the student would be full-time at three (3) credit hours.

3.1.2  Half-time:  Other than graduate students considered full-time under the provisions of 3.1.1, graduate students will be considered half-time when registered for at least 4.5 hours.

3.1.3  Cooperative Education

Graduate students in the Cooperative Education Program who are enrolled in a full-time graduate cooperative education course (i.e., COP 500) during the semester in which they are on a work assignment are considered full-time.  Graduate students in the Cooperative Education Program on a cooperative education part-time work assignment, and are enrolled only in COP 501 will be considered half-time.

3.2  Summer Sessions

3.2.1  Stipends and Social Security Taxes

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 (5) 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.

3.2.2  Summer registration for research assistants (optional)

Two special registration categories have been created for Research Assistants who would not otherwise take courses in the summer:  XXX 696 (Summer Thesis Research) and XXX 896 (Summer Dissertation Research), where XXX represents the course prefix of a specific department or program.  Each of these courses is for one (1) hour of credit, with registration for ten (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.

3.2.3  Access to student services

Students 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 (2) summer sessions.


A student working toward a doctoral degree must 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 option of establishing more restrictive requirements within the respective schools/colleges.

4.1  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 (2) 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.

4.2  Summer Residency

Summer course work can only be used in partial fulfillment of the residency registration 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).