Load Requirements for Graduate Students


Rules of the College and University

Certain rules are imposed on the department from higher authorities.

  1. Students in the thesis master’s program or a Ph.D. program must register for thesis/dissertations credits each term in which a substantial amount of work is being done on the thesis/dissertation, even if the minimum of six (6) semesters hours of thesis has already been met. Students who have left the campus must register for at least two (2) semester hours of thesis or dissertation credit per term “so long as they are receiving faculty supervision.” [page 72 of the Graduate Bulletin]
  2. “Returning students who … have been out of school for two or more consecutive terms (including the summer term) must submit an application for readmission to the readmissions section of the Office of the University Registrar. This application must be submitted at least 60 days prior to the beginning of the term for which readmission is desired.” [Graduate Bulletin ]
  3. Any international student on a visa who still claims to be a student is required by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service to be a full time student except on their last semester, and they can only have one last semester.
  4. “Twelve (12) semester hours per semester constitutes a full-time load for graduate students and fellowship holders. A student who wishes to register for fewer than twelve (12) semester hours must have written approval from the academic dean prior to registration.” [Graduate Bulletin]
  5. “Nine (9) semester hours is defined as a full-time load for graduate assistantship holders on a quarter-time appointment or larger. Academic deans may grant exceptions to this policy for teaching assistants in those departments which conform to national course load policies in their disciplines. To satisfy the residence requirement, however, a doctoral student must be enrolled for twenty-four (24) semester hours during any period of 12 consecutive months.” [Graduate Bulletin]
  6. “The [maximum] number of hours which a graduate student may carry without special permission is fifteen (15). A heavier load may be permitted by the academic dean.” [Graduate Bulletin]
  7. “Students must register for at least one (1) semester hour of thesis or dissertation credit in the final term in which a degree is granted. Nonthesis-type master’s program students who have not previously registered for the comprehensive examination must do so the final term.” [ Graduate Bulletin]
  8. “To be eligible for Matriculation and Out of State waivers this summer, TAs and RAs must carry the following minimum course loads during the terms indicated:
    13-week Session A 9 hours
    6-week Sessions B or C (must be appointed for .50 FTE) 5 hours
    Combination of A & B or A & C terms 9 hours

    ” [Memo from the Dean of Arts & Sciences, 8 March 2002]

Additional Departmental Rules

The Department of Computer Science imposes the following additional student course load requirements. Since Summer 1997, the department checks registrations of graduate students, and cancels them if they do not meet the department’s requirements.

The department extends the University policy about thesis/dissertation hours to include students who are working on a master’s project. That is, a student who is using University resources or taking up the time of a faculty member is required to register for at least 2 hours of thesis, dissertation, project, or DIS.

The department formally recognizes only three categories of registration: Full Time, Part Time, and FEOTABD (means “Fully Employed, Out of Town, and All But Document”, see definitions below).

In short, only full-time students are entitled to any of the following departmental resources:

  1. Space allocation of any kind
  2. Telephone service
  3. Workstation (dedicated or shared)
  4. Printing service
  5. Copy service
  6. Access to departmental expense funds, for example to support travel

Partial relaxation of this policy (items 1, 2, 3 on an as-available basis and items 4, 5 only for research-related material) may occur in summer, as long as the resources are otherwise unused, and for FEOTABD PhD students returning to finish a dissertation.

The three categories, the required loads of students, and the privileges of students in each category are explained in more detail below.

The Categories

Full Time

This category consists of all graduate students who are not in either of the other two categories. All TAs and RAs are in this category.

Part Time

This category consists of graduate students who have been formally admitted to part time status. The admitting paperwork must reside in the student’s advising folder.

To be admitted to part time status, the student must submit a memorandum to the department chair, in writing or email, containing the following items :

  1. A request to be admitted to Part Time status
  2. A statement that the applicant is employed full time as a computer professional
  3. The name of the employing entity and location
  4. The employment supervisor’s name, address and phone number


This category, “Fully Employed, Out of Town, and All But Document”, consists of graduate students who meet ALL of the following criteria:

  1. All requirements for the degree have been completed, except for the defense of the document (Dissertation, Thesis, or Project)
  2. No on-campus services will be used, except for interaction with university personnel on the day (or two) of the defense

Computing facilities may be accessed remotely, but no on-campus services such as printing, library, major professor office or other space use, etc, are expected to be used.

The Requirements

Full Time students must register for nine (9) hours of graduate computer science credits each Fall and Spring semester and five (5) hours each summer semester in which they are using FSU facilities.

Part Time students must register for three (3) hours of graduate computer science credits each semester in which they are using FSU facilities.

FEOTABD students must register for one (1) hour of Dissertation, Thesis, or Project every semester.

One Exception

In the last semester, a student may register for as little as two hours. Note, however, that a student may have only one last semester. In the event that the student invokes this exception one semester and does not complete that semester, it cannot be repeated the following semester.


Many fellowships have load requirements that are higher than our departmental requirements. In such cases, the fellowship rules supersede those of the department.

Special Rules for Summer Only

If you are not on assistantship/fellowship, then

  1. If you are not using ANY university resources (including access to faculty), then you are not required to register at all. Most people who are in the middle of a thesis, project, or dissertation are not likely to be in this category since you will be continuing your contact with your major professor.
  2. If you are using some type of resources, then you need to register for something. If working on a thesis or dissertation, you should register for at least 2 hrs of thesis/diss. If working on a project, you should register for at least one hour of project. If not doing any of the above, you should register for something (e.g., a class or maybe a DIS). This could be as little as 1 hr. In particular, this means it is OK if you want to just sign up for one course this summer (if not on waivers).
  3. Remember that if it’s your last term, it is OK to register for as little as 1 hr (1 hr of thesis, diss, or project) … plus only whatever else you need to graduate.

If you have any questions about this, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies.