Full Time Status

I need to be registered as a full-time student. What is considered full-time?

There are two sets of rules defining full-time.

The first set of rules is imposed by the Graduate School. In order to be considered a full-time student under the Graduate School criteria, you must be enrolled in:

For MS Students:

  • 1 hour master’s thesis or
  • 5 hours of graduate level coursework or
  • 8 hours of graduate and undergraduate coursework combined or
  • 12 hours of undergraduate coursework or
  • 1-3 hours of Master’s Candidate for Degree.

For PhD Students:

  • 1 hour dissertation or
  • 5 hours of graduate level coursework or
  • 8 hours of graduate and undergraduate coursework combined or
  • 12 hours of undergraduate coursework or
  • 5 dissertation hours (post-comp PhDs)

The second set of rules is imposed by the federal government for federal financial aid purposes.
Full-time: A graduate student who is enrolled in at least nine semesters hours* in a fall, spring or summer term.
Half-time: A graduate student who is enrolled in at least four semester hours* in a fall, spring or summer term.
*excludes Masters Candidate for Degree courses; they cannot be included in the semester hour calculation for financial aid eligibility and/or loan deferment.

If you are a full- or half- time student, you are eligible for aid and loan deferment. If you are less than half time, you are not eligible for aid or loan deferment.

Thesis/Dissertation Hours

How do I register for Thesis/Dissertation credits?

MS Students

Students who wish to write a master’s thesis must register for 6 credits of master’s thesis credit. Although not a strict requirement, students typically enroll for 3 master’s thesis credits each semester over a two-semester period. The course number is MCEN 6959; however, master’s thesis credit is controlled enrollment credit so students cannot register themselves. Contact the graduate advisor for registration during the drop/add period. You can never register for more than 6 credits of master’s thesis credit.

Note: Master’s thesis credits cannot be applied toward the PhD program.

PhD Students

Contact the graduate advisor to register for PhD dissertation credits during the drop/add period. The course number is MCEN 8999; however, dissertation credit is controlled enrollment credit so students cannot register themselves. Please make an appointment with the graduate advisor to discuss a timeline for dissertation hours.

How many PhD dissertation credits should I register for?

The number of dissertation credits you should enroll in largely depends on your progress in the PhD program. Please make an appointment with the graduate advisor to discuss a timeline for dissertation hours. To complete the requirements for the PhD you must register for a minimum of 30 dissertation credit hours. Distribution of those hours is as follows:

  • a student may not register for more than 10 dissertation credit hours in any one semester, including summer.
  • not more than 10 credit hours taken in semesters prior to the semester in which the comprehensive examination is passed may be counted for the 30 dissertation hours required for the degree.
  • not more than 10 dissertation hours of credit taken the semester in which the comprehensive examination is passed may be included in the 30 credit hours required for the degree.

Continuous registration. A student must register for a minimum of five dissertation hours in the fall and spring semesters of each year, beginning with the semester following the passing of the comprehensive exam and extending through the semester in which the dissertation is successfully defended (final examination).
More information is available in the Graduate School Rules, page 21.

Petitions

I am unable to meet a curriculum requirement or wish to waive a requirement. Is there a petition process?

If you wish to waive a curriculum requirement or substitute a course you should submit a petition to the Graduate Committee. This petition form is available on the Forms and Handbooks page. Your petition should contain the reason(s) for your request, i.e. what action you are requesting the Graduate Committee to take, and include detailed information about why the request should be approved. Supplementary materials such as course descriptions or syllabi may also be included. All petitions should be routed through the Graduate Advisor.

Independent Study

How do I register for Independent Study?

To complete an independent study you must submit a petition and an independent study proposal to the graduate advisor to be reviewed by the graduate committee. The independent study proposal must include the following information in order to be reviewed:

  • Duration
  • Background
  • Description of the project
  • Learning Objectives
  • Organization
  • Reference Materials
  • Deliverables at end of project

Independent study credits are “controlled enrollment” credits so you cannot register yourself. Please do not request an independent study be added in the middle of a semester. Please note BS/MS must register through the graduate program to enroll for a 5000 level independent study.

Independent study course work cannot exceed 25 percent of the course work required for the master’s degree. The independent study course number is MCEN 6848. Further information about independent study course work is on the second page of the independent study agreement form.

Download the Independent Study Agreement Form

Establishing Residency

How do I establish in-state residency?

If you are an out-of-state domestic student, take immediate action to gain residency. Instructions on how to do this are at on the Registrar's site. It takes exactly one year to gain residency and your status may affect the possibility of future funding opportunities. Students should plan to complete the residency petition in their second semester.

Transferring Credit

I have taken graduate level courses from another engineering program. Are any of these courses transferable?

Graduate level courses that have not been used toward a bachelor’s degree, and in which grades of B or better are earned, are eligible for transfer into the PhD program. A maximum of 9 credits that have not been used toward your bachelor’s or previous master’s degree can be transferred to the master’s program. A maximum of 21 credits can be transferred to the PhD program.

Complete and submit the Request for Transfer of Credit form, available on the Graduate School website. An official transcript must be included with your request to transfer credit. The Transfer of Credit form should be routed through the Graduate Advisor so that departmental signatures can be collected.

Auditing/Dropping/Course Repetition

How do I audit a course?

Degree seeking students cannot audit courses. You can register for NC (no credit), but will need to pay full price for the course. Please note that if you are on a TA or RA appointment, your appointment will not cover the tuition cost.

How do I drop a course after the drop deadlines?

In order to drop a class after the final drop deadline has passed, you are required to petition the Dean and provide documentation showing that there were extenuating circumstances beyond your control (such as illness, injury, a death in your family, etc.) that occurred after the drop deadline, preventing you from attending/participating the course for which you were registered.

How do I get a grade of "incomplete" in a course?

To receive a grade of "I" Incomplete you must receive the consent of the instructor and be able to demonstrate that for documented reasons beyond your control, you have been unable to complete course requirements in the semester enrolled.

I’m a degree seeking graduate student but would like to take an undergraduate course. Will the grades count in my grad GPA?

Yes. All courses taken while a degree seeking student will be included in the GPA. Consider taking the class pass/fail or No Credit if you are concerned about the grade.

Graduation Process

I am graduating with my master’s degree. What is the process?

Students who wish to graduate must complete the appropriate paperwork at least one week before the deadlines posted on the Graduate School website.

Forms are located on the Graduate School website and in the Graduate Advisor’s Office.

The application to graduate is only available online. To apply for graduation online, logon to myCUinfo.colorado.edu and on the Student tab, select the Apply for Graduation link under Academic Resources. (Or once you’re in the Student Center you can select Apply for Graduation in the “other academics” dropdown box or go to My Academics and select the Apply for Graduation link.)

I am not able to defend my master’s thesis by the defense date and I don’t want to register for more credits. What can I do?

You must be registered on the Boulder campus as a regular degree-seeking student during the semester the examination is passed. If you are unable to meet the defense deadline, you may defend at any point up to the day before the next semester courses begin, and the defense will be considered as passed during that semester.

For example, if you are unable to meet the spring defense date but pass your defense before the start of summer classes, it is considered a spring defense. You will not graduate in spring and should follow the summer deadlines.

I am graduating with a PhD What is the process?

Students who wish to graduate with their PhD must meet the appropriate deadlines as posted on the Doctoral Graduation Information section of the Graduate School website.

The Doctoral Examination Report and Leaflet forms must be submitted to the Graduate Advisor at least two weeks before the final dissertation exam so that the dissertation committee can be approved.

In addition to the Doctoral Examination Report and Leaflet forms, graduating PhD candidates must apply for graduation online. The application for diploma is only available online. To apply for graduation online, logon to myCUinfo.colorado.edu and on the Student tab, select the Apply for Graduation link under Academic Resources. If for some reason, you are unable to graduate, you must go online and apply for graduation in the following semester by the posted graduation deadline.

I am not able to defend my dissertation by the defense date and I don’t want to register for more credits. What can I do?

You must be registered as full time, regular degree-seeking student at CU-Boulder, for a minimum of 5 dissertation hours during the semester in which you pass the final exam. If you are unable to meet the defense deadline, you may defend at any point up to the day before the next semester courses begin and the defense will be considered as passed during that semester.

For example, if you are unable to meet the spring defense date but passes your defense before the start of summer classes, it is considered a spring defense. You will not graduate in spring and should follow the summer deadlines.

Graduate Pay

What are the pay rates in the Department of Mechanical Engineering?
  • Pre-prelim: $2,212/month
  • Pre-comps: $2,314/month
  • Post-comps: $2,400/month
My summer pay is less than usual. What happened?

If you work over the summer and are enrolled in less than 3 credit hours you are required to contribute to a retirement plan.