The usual full-time course load for a graduate student is three to four courses (9 to 12 credit hours) per semester, depending upon the program and the courses (for example, language courses are usually not counted toward the course load), as well as upon the student’s ability to sustain graduate work, sometimes along with teaching, research, or outside employment. Students working as teaching assistants may not register for more than nine credit hours.
Any student carrying 8 or more credit hours per semester is considered full-time and will be billed as a full-time student. A student carrying 7 or fewer credit hours per semester will be considered part-time and will be billed per credit hour. International students must maintain full-time status in accordance with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services regulations. Most scholarships require that students be registered full-time or lose their funding.
Students who are studying for comprehensive exams or researching and writing theses, D.Min. projects, or doctoral dissertations are legally considered full-time students, even though billing is assessed according to registered credit hours per semester.
To remain in good standing as a fully registered student within the University, students must register for each semester OR seek Academic Leave from the STRS. Any active part-time or full-time registration (course work, comprehensive exams, in absentia, thesis, or dissertation guidance, doctoral defense) entitles students to maintain such privileges as the use of the library, computer center, the athletic center, counseling center, staff assistance, and health insurance. However, registration at less than full-time status (less than 8 credit hours per semester) does not qualify as full-time status for student loans or the maintenance of an international visa. Students who do not maintain continuous enrollment in the University may need to apply for re-admission, which may mean re-paying the application fee for re-enrollment.
Academic Leave means that a student is on leave and thus absent from the University and cannot expect the above privileges, nor can the student submit new research to be read or evaluated. However, a student can be on Academic Leave, or in absentia, and complete work for a professor for an incomplete course from a prior semester.
Seminarians going on a pastoral year must apply for Academic Leave from the Associate Dean for Seminary and Ministerial Studies. International students who hope to take Academic Leave must, according to U. S. immigration laws, consult the Office of International Student and Scholar Services to determine the exact regulations in force at the time of the proposed leave before applying for an Academic Leave.
Students who wish to apply for Academic Leave must submit the request in writing to the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies attached to the academic leave form prior to the semester in which the student expects to be on leave from the University. Students should also notify their Director and/or Advisor.
During Academic Leave, there is no charge made and no credit given to student accounts. If a student receives a bill while on Academic Leave, the student should contact the Associate Director for Graduate Studies, and the Student Accounts Office to make sure that the proper no-billing adjustment is made to the student’s account. The student’s enrollment will be automatically reactivated upon the expiration of the leave period.
University policies on continuous enrollment, full-time and part-time study may be found on CUA's Enrollment Policy page. University policies on Academic Leave may be found on CUA's Change of Enrollment: Undergraduate and Graduate Policy page.
Enrollment Status Change Form: Academic Leave; Term Withdrawal; Permanent Withdrawal