Graduate Studies


Minimum enrollment requirements for certain statuses or outcomes are as follows. Full-Time Certification is abbreviated here as FTC.

Status or Result Min Enr: Fall or Spring Min Enr: Summer
Full-time status 9 cr, 1 cr if FTC 6 cr, 1 cr if FTC
Eligibility for typical assistantship (some depts. require more) 1 cr 0 cr
Exemption from FICA/Medicare withholding on assistantship 4 cr, 1 cr if FTC 4 cr, 1 cr if FTC
Access to UNL services (Libraries, Health Center, Rec Center as described below) 1 cr 1 cr

Access to Services

Registration is required for services such as door access, the Recreation Center, the University Health Center, and some Library resources.

Students who pay the University Health Center (UHC) fee are able to access reduced-cost healthcare services at the UHC. Students enrolled in less than 7 cr per term pay a reduced University Program and Facilities Fee (UPFF) that does not include the UHC fee; to use the UHC they may pay the UHC fee or procure UHC services on a fee-for-service basis.

Doctoral Candidacy

Doctoral students who have advanced to candidacy status must be registered every fall and spring semester until they graduate, in accordance with the Guidelines for Registration During Doctoral Candidacy. Failure to maintain registration may result in the termination of the student’s program.

Full-Time Status

Hour Requirements

Graduate students are considered full time when registered for 9 credit hours during an academic semester or at least 6 credit hours during the summer.

Status Academic Year Summer
Full-time (F) 9 cr 6 cr
3/4-time (T) 6-8 cr 4-5 cr
1/2-time (H) 4-5 cr 3 cr
Less than 1/2-time (L) 1-3 cr 1-2 cr

Full-Time Certification

Thesis-option master's students (Option I) and doctoral students in candidacy may request full-time certification each semester they are under-enrolled, for the time allowed for their degree.

  • Eligibility: The student must be currently registered for at least one credit hour and have been registered at least half time (i.e., at least 4 credits) in the fall and spring terms prior to the initiation of the full-time certification status.
  • Limitations: Master's students may use full-time certification no longer than 3 consecutive terms; doctoral candidates may use it no longer than 24 consecutive months.

Summer Assistantship

Graduate assistants are not required to register for courses during the summer term. Graduate assistants employed in the summer but who are not registered for 4 credit hours or certified full-time during the summer term are subject to FICA and Medicare taxes.

Financial Aid

Status Academic Year Summer
Full-time (F) 9 or more cr 8 or more cr
3/4-time (T) 6-8 cr 6-7 cr
1/2-time (H) 4-5 cr 4-5 cr

Summer minimum registration for financial aid is 4 credit hours. These credits may be in different summer sessions; aid is disbursed in the session the student reaches half-time enrollment.


Graduate students holding any fellowship(s) are required to be enrolled as a full-time student as defined above. Students with external or departmental fellowships must follow the specific granting agency requirements.

Graduate students holding a traineeship are required to be enrolled full-time or be full-time certified during the tenure of their traineeship. Other remunerative employment must follow the granting agency requirements.

Graduate assistants may not work more than 19.6 hours per week, all jobs considered, including assistantship(s) and paid internships. Internships are considered work in a training environment related to the student’s educational career for which they receive pay; an assistantship and an internship may not be held by a student simultaneously if the total hours between the two equal more than 19.6 hours per week. This applies to fall and spring terms only.

Graduate students not employed, or graduate research assistants performing duties that are 100% thesis related, may register for a maximum of 15 credit hours during an academic year semester, 6 credit hours during one five-week summer session, 9 credit hours during one eight-week summer session, or 3 credit hours during the pre-session.

Maximum Registration Guidelines

Graduate students who are employed are advised not to exceed the following registration guidelines established by the Graduate Council.

Hours Employed Per Week Fall or Spring Summer 8-Week Summer 5-Week Summer 3-Week(1)
0 hrs 15 cr 9 cr 6 cr 3 cr
8-16 hrs 12 cr 8 cr 5 cr 2 cr
17-20 hrs 10 cr 6 cr 4 cr 2 cr
Full-time 6 cr 4 cr 3 cr 1 cr

These guidelines reflect the fact that graduate-level course work serves mainly as a guide for independent, scholarly study. Graduate students are expected to master subjects and to devote substantial time in independent library and laboratory investigation beyond minimum credit hour requirements.

For courses offered within a summer session, a general guideline is a maximum registration of 1 credit hour per week of instruction.