Rules & Regulations

Time Limit 

Master's Degree 
Students must complete all requirements for the master's degree within six (6) calendar years, beginning with the date the student commences courses carrying graduate credit applicable to the degree program either at NC State or another institution. The time limit remains at six (6) years even if a student was on approved leave of absence during the six-year period. The student’s degree clock for time to completion starts with the first course approved for inclusion in the plan of work or the date of admission to the program, whichever comes first.

Doctoral Degree 

All doctoral students must attain candidacy for the degree within six (6) calendar years from the date of admission and complete all degree requirements within ten (10) calendar years. The time limit remains at ten (10) years even if a student was on approved leave of absence during the 10-year period. The student’s degree clock for time-to-completion starts with the first course approved for inclusion in the plan of work or the date of admission to the program, whichever comes first.

Exceptions to time limits

The Graduate School may grant exception to the above time limits for a period of up to two (2) years.  Requests may be submitted informally and only need to explain the extenuating circumstances and provide a reasonable timeline for completing the work within the limits of the extension. Requests for extensions of more than two (2) years, or requests to further extend extensions granted by the Graduate School, may be presented to the Administrative Board of the Graduate School (ABGS). The Graduate School will decide whether the request should be presented before the ABGS on a case-by-case basis depending on the circumstances of each case. Factors and circumstances that the Graduate School will consider in making this decision include, but are not limited to, the currency of the coursework and/or research effort falling outside the allowed time limit window. 



Requests for extensions of more than two years should be submitted in writing to the Graduate School when the completion date is clearly in sight, e.g., when a defensible thesis/dissertation is in hand or the last course(s) in a coursework only degree has/have been undertaken. The request should include the following:



  1. A proposed Plan of Work;
  2. A timeline for completing the degree;
  3. A statement documenting the extenuating circumstances that justify the request for a time extension;
  4. A statement explaining the impact that the proposed extension would have on the validity of the student's course work and program, including the currency of the courses, not just in material but in pedagogy and interpretation, and the research (if appropriate); and
  5. Endorsement of the request from the student's advisory committee and the Director of Graduate Programs (DGP).

The request will be formally considered by the ABGS who will recommend approval or denial. If the request is approved, the student is bound to the terms of completion outlined in the request. Failure to follow the approved plan will result in termination from the degree program.


A GPA of at least 3.000 for the degree requirements as well as on overall graduate course work at NC State is required for graduation.

Requirements for Full-Time/Part-Time Registration 

Full-time/Part-time Status of Graduate Students 
NC State uses a uniform Schedule of Full-time/Half-time Status of Graduate Students. These definitions apply to ALLgraduate students.

  • 1. Fall and Spring Semesters
  • Full Time
  • Students will be full time if they take at least 9 hours per semester until the semester in which a load between 3 and 8 hours will reach an accumulated total equal to the minimum number of hours required by the program. Full time for that semester will be that load. Full time thereafter will be a minimum of 3 hours per semester. Course number does not matter.
  • Half Time
  • Students who are registered for less than that required for full-time but are registered for at least 4.5 hours will be considered half-time.
  • COP 500 and COP 501
  • Students registered for COP 500 will be considered full time. Students registered for only COP 501 will be considered half time.
  • 2. Summer Sessions
    • (a) 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 weeks or more, or who work 30 or more hours per week, are subject to Social Security tax withholding. 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; students who work more than 30 hours per week are not exempt regardless of registration status. The source of funds that pays the stipend must match the Social Security tax withheld from the student's paycheck during these months.
    • (b) Summer Registration for Research and Extension Assistants (optional)
    • Two special registration categories have been created for Research and Extension 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 1 hour of credit, with registration for 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 and are working less than 30 hours per week. Full time in the summer is a minimum of 1 hour.
    • (c) 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 Services unless they pay the student health fee for each of the two summer sessions.

Requirements for Residence Credit in Doctoral Programs 

A student working toward a doctoral degree is expected to 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 prerogative of establishing more restrictive requirements within the respective schools/colleges.

  • 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 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.
  • 2. Summer Residency
  • Summer course work can only be used in partial fulfillment of the residency 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).