Graduate students enrolled in nine or more credit hours per semester are considered full time; however, the following exceptions apply:

1)     After completing all required course work, a master’s student may be considered full-time while enrolled in a 3 credit hour thesis course (699).  This full time status can be maintained for two semesters.

2)     After entering candidacy status, a doctoral student may be considered full-time while enrolled in a 3 credit hour dissertation course (799). Doctoral candidates may maintain full-time status in this way until completion of the number of dissertation credit hours specified by their programs in The University Catalog and designated on the plan of study.

Continued enrollment in thesis (699) or dissertation (799) credit hours beyond those that are required will not provide full-time status unless the student also enrolls in thesis extension (801), dissertation extension (802), and/or research extension (803) courses to fulfill the 9 credit hour requirement.

Permission to enroll in extension courses requires verification by the committee chair that the student is making satisfactory progress.

Meeting Visa Requirements for International Students on an F-1 or J-1 Visa

Students are encouraged to consult the International Programs Center (IPC) for visa guidance and maintaining status.
Doctoral students on an F-1 or J-1 visa, upon and after admission to candidacy and after completion of all dissertation hours required on the plan of study, may enroll in one hour of dissertation extension each term to meet visa requirements.

Master’s students on an F-1 or J-1 visa, upon completion of all required course work and any thesis hours required on the plan of study, may enroll in one hour of thesis extension or research extension each term to meet visa requirements.

Each term, the academic department must supply a letter to the International Programs Center verifying that the student remains in good standing and is making satisfactory progress toward completion of the degree.

Students with fellowships or awards that specifically require full-time enrollment

International students (F-1) are considered to be maintaining status as long as they pursue a full course of study and make normal academic progress towards their degree. At UNCG a full-time load for F-1 visa holders is defined as 9 credit hours for graduate students without assistantships. On-campus employment pursuant to the terms of a scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship at the graduate level is deemed to be part of the academic program of a student otherwise taking a full course of study, so graduate students with assistantships must take a minimum of 6 credit hours per semester.

Please note that for F-1 students no more than 3 credits per term can be taken on-line or through distance education to meet their full-time course load. At UNCG this means that students are limited to one three-hour WEB course per term. Exceptions to the 3 hour online/distance limit: F-1 students who 1) have spent at least one academic year on campus in full-time status, and 2) want to take online summer courses, and 3) plan to continue attendance in the fall may take online courses or courses at other institutions if given prior approval by the International Programs Center (IPC). If a student has only one course at the end of his/her program it cannot be online or distance (unless the student takes the course outside the US and gives up the opportunity to do Optional Practical Training) even if it occurs in the summer. [Please note: many sponsoring entities allow their scholarship recipients only one online course for the entire program of study (e.g., Saudi Arabia Cultural Mission and Oman sponsored students, Kuwaiti) so students must consult with their scholarship sponsors before taking online courses.]

I-20s cannot be generated for students in programs that cannot meet these requirements.

Exceptions to the F-1 full-time load: F-1 students may undertake a reduced load under the following circumstances with prior approval from the International Programs Center (IPC):

(A) Academic difficulties. The IPC may authorize a reduced course load on account of a student’s initial difficulty with the English language or reading requirements, unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods, or improper course level placement.
(B) Medical conditions. The IPC may authorize a reduced course load (or, if necessary, no course load) due to a student’s temporary illness or medical condition for a period of time not to exceed an aggregate of 12 months while the student is pursuing a course of study at a particular program level.
(C) Completion of course of study. The IPC may authorize a reduced course load in the student’s final term, semester, or session if fewer courses are needed to complete the course of study.

(D) Master’s thesis students, and doctoral students admitted to candidacy.  The same rules apply as listed above under the first FAQ about definition of “full-time” as long as F-1 students obtain prior approval from IPC.

For any questions regarding maintaining F-1 status and obtaining prior approval, please contact the International Programs Center.

Veterans, active-duty military, and military-affiliated students who utilize the GI Bill Education Benefits do not have to enroll full-time to receive benefits; however, in order to receive full benefits, they must be full-time.  The VA prorates most benefits for less than full-time pursuit (see links below for more details).  Each chapter of benefits will vary; however, students who use these benefits simply need to know the new full-time rate so they can plan accordingly.  Also, if UNCG defines 9 hours as full-time, there are no exceptions for full-time with fewer hours (i.e. dissertation full-time with 3 hours according to UNCG will still be less than half time according to the VA).

Chapter 30:

Chapter 31: Must see VA Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for details

Chapter 33:

Chapter 35:

Chapter 1606:

Chapter 1607:

The Graduate School will allow you to have an assistantship while enrolled in six (6) hours of courses or three (3) hours of thesis or dissertation (see above).

For financial aid you will be able to receive student loans as a half-time or three-quarter time student. Remember that in general you must be enrolled in at least half-time or 4.5 hours at the 500 level or above to receive Federal Student Loans.

Yes, you can receive Federal Student Loans as a half-time or three-quarter time student.  Half-time is 4.5-6.5 hours and three-quarters time is 7-8.5 hours.  If you qualify for one of the exemptions where 3 hours is considered full-time, you must have at least 3 hours to receive Federal Student Loans.  Again, in general at least 4.5 of your hours must be at the 500 level or above.

Yes, Federal Student Loans that are in repayment can be deferred if you are at least half-time (taking at least 4.5 hours, or 3 hours if you qualify under one of the exemptions above) in your degree program and registered in classes at the 500 level or above. Always check with your loan servicer.

Students registered in 6 or more main campus credit hours must either “enroll in” or “waive out” of student health insurance each semester by submitting information on-line to prior to the semester deadline. More information is available at

Thesis and dissertation students who meet the definition of “full-time” in the first question above will be eligible for insurance at 3 hours and will be automatically enrolled and charged if they do not waive out. Enrollment for student insurance will end approximately one month after school starts, so if students’ registration is not finalized by that point and they are not already enrolled in the plan, they will not be eligible for the plan in that semester.

Continuous medical insurance coverage under Student Blue takes place for international degree-seeking students holding F-1 and J-1 visas and enrolled less than full-time (thesis and dissertation).