General Requirements

Any graduate student using the assistance of a faculty member or any facility of The University of Alabama in relation to a degree program must be registered in an appropriate course reflecting that activity. This includes such activities as coursework, thesis and dissertation advising and reading, comprehensive examinations, and other degree requirements. Registration in courses numbered 599 (Thesis Research), 699 (Dissertation Research), 598 (Non-Thesis Research), and 698 (Non-Dissertation Research) may be repeated.


If the student's undergraduate preparation in either the major or minor subject is considered inadequate, certain preliminary (undergraduate and/or graduate) courses will be prescribed by the department or school concerned. These courses become prerequisites and do not carry graduate credit. The required prerequisites must be taken, if possible, during the first semester of enrollment.

Plan of Study

The student's plan of study is determined in consultation with the chair of the major department, the graduate director, or the chairperson of the graduate committee and is approved by that person and the dean of the Graduate School.

Course Loads

The normal course load for a fall or spring semester is 12 credit hours;  the maximum course load for a semester is 15 credit hours. Full-time enrollment for graduate students is 9–15 hours per regular semester.

Students may register for a maximum of 6 semester hours in a summer term or 12 hours during an entire summer dual session. No more than 3 semester hours may be taken during the Interim session. Taking more than 12 semester hours in a summer dual term requires a petition from the department regarding the extraordinary circumstances for approval by the Graduate School. A student who is employed part-time is expected to take a reduced load. The course load of a fully employed student will be evaluated according to the individual graduate program. It is recommended that fully employed students should register in no more than one course plus thesis or dissertation research.

Failure to Register for Three Years

If a student fails to register for three consecutive years, the student must reapply for admission. If readmission is granted, previous credit earned may be out of date and therefore not applicable toward a degree. See sections titled "Time Limits" for each degree in this catalog.

Assistantships: Admission Status, Class Hours, and FTE Level

Students with regular or conditional admission status may hold graduate assistantships. A minimum graduate GPA of 3.0 must be maintained while holding any assistantship, except during the first 12 graduate semester hours earned at UA. Students who have earned academic warning or are in non-degree status may not hold graduate assistantships of any kind.

A conditionally admitted student whose graduate GPA falls below 3.0 at any time during the conditional status will not be allowed to hold a graduate teaching assistantship until such time as the graduate GPA has increased to 3.0 or better. A student with provisional language admission status may hold only an assistantship that is externally funded through a contract or grant; he or she may not hold a permanently budgeted UA assistantship.

The FTE from all assistantships, plus any other on-campus employment, must be combined when determining FTE (Full-Time Equivalent) status.

Each graduate assistant must be a full-time graduate student. Full-time status for assistantships means 12 or more graduate semester hours of classes. However, the FTE level of the assistantship assignment is converted to equivalent credit hours and combined with actual class hours in order to meet the full-time requirement. A quarter-time assistantship (0.25 FTE) equates to 3 class hours and a half-time assistantship (0.50 FTE) equates to 6 class hours. This means that a student who has, for example, the typical 0.50 FTE assistantship needs to register for only 6 class hours in order to meet the full-time requirement (6 assistantship equivalent hours plus 6 actual class hours).

Overloads Involving Coursework Hours

The Graduate School must approve all overloads involving just courses when the number of course hours exceeds 15. Taking more than 15 semester hours in fall or spring semester requires a petition from the department regarding the extraordinary circumstances for approval by the Graduate School. 

Overloads Involving Assistantship FTE Plus Coursework Hours

The Graduate School does not need to approve combined FTE + course hour loads that are within the table guidelines below.

The table below includes the Graduate Council’s maximum recommended combinations of FTE plus course hours, as modified by the University in 2013 in accordance with Health Care Reform Act requirements. Combinations of assistantship FTE in excess of 0.50 are prohibited.

Combined FTE of All Assistantships Recommended Range of Graduate Course Hours the Student is Taking;
.25 9-15
.50 6-12

The Graduate School continues to urge caution when considering large course loads and will continue to monitor overloads even though prior approval is not needed. We especially monitor whether academic warnings and suspensions increase and, if they do, we track the student’s and department’s overload history for signs of a correlation. We hope and expect that student loads will be designed intelligently to provide meaningful yet not burdensome GTA and GRA experiences, while allowing students to move efficiently through their degree programs.

Caution also is urged when considering an underload, i.e., course hours below the recommended minimum for a particular FTE level in the previous table. Under-loads risk the student’s not making adequate progress toward degree completion. Under-loads typically occur only in the final semester and only to avoid taking needless extra course hours to meet the minimum number of hours normally expected for a particular FTE level.

For fall and spring semesters, a graduate student must be enrolled in classes to hold an assistantship. For Interim and/or summer, it is not required that a graduate student be enrolled in classes to hold an assistantship.

Please note that full-time status here is not the same as that required for other registration and financial situations. For example, fellowships, financial aid regulations, resident visa rules, the UA System Cooperative Exchange Program, INS and IRS regulations, and other academic policies use different status definitions with regard to full-time. For more information, please refer to the department(s) administering these other programs.

Part-Time Temporary Instructors

A graduate student employed as a part-time temporary instructor (PTTI) to teach a credit-bearing course must meet the SACS 18-hour requirement. Such PTTIs do not receive tuition waivers, must pay taxes on the income they earn as PTTIs, and must comply with Personnel Policies for Student Employees of The University of Alabama. These policies may be obtained by contacting the Human Resources Service Center or calling 205-348-7732.

Class Attendance

Graduate students are subject to the same rules regarding class attendance, the performance of assigned tasks, and course examinations as undergraduate students. Since graduate work presupposes specialization and thorough investigation, students will not be permitted to overload themselves with courses.

Continuous Registration for Doctoral Students

Once a student has met the requirements for admission to candidacy, received approval for the dissertation research proposal, or initiated enrollment in 699 (dissertation research for a doctoral degree), the student must pursue completion of the dissertation without interruption by enrolling each fall and spring semester of the academic year for at least 3 hours of dissertation research

Summer enrollment for 699 Dissertation Research is expected if the student is working on the dissertation and using any University facilities or resources, including faculty time, but the only time summer registration is required for dissertation research (3 hours minimum) is when a doctoral student is graduating in August or defending the dissertation during the summer semester. This is true whether or not the student has formally submitted an Application for Admission to Candidacy and Plan of Study.  

Graduate Credit

A student must be admitted to the Graduate School and must register as a graduate student in order to receive graduate credit. Approval for graduate registration must be obtained from program advisors prior to registration.

Noncredit Experiences for Graduate Credit

All course credit used toward a UA graduate degree must be taught at the graduate level. No graduate credit may be earned by correspondence study or for experiential learning not conducted under the direct supervision of graduate faculty of The University of Alabama. UA does not offer graduate credit for noncredit workshops, seminars, continuing education experiences, professional development, internships, work/life experience, and so forth.  

Satisfactory Academic Progress Requirements for Federal Financial Aid Recipients

All students at The University of Alabama who receive federal financial aid must make satisfactory academic progress toward completion of their degrees within a reasonable period of time. Satisfactory academic progress criteria may be obtained by contacting the Office of Student Financial Aid at 106 Student Services Center or calling 205-348-6756.