The majority of rules relating to graduate students are to be found in the General Information Catalog, the Graduate School Catalog, and in each semester's Course Schedule.  Some rules are in less accessible places or are unique to this department or the College of Engineering and need emphasis.

Course Load

The following policy regarding minimum course loads for graduate students is in effect for the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering. 

A.  Every full-time graduate student is required to register for at least 9 semester hours each long semester. Full-time registration is required for:

    1. Students with University-administered fellowships
    2. Students holding TA/GRA/AI appointments
    3. International students in the U.S. on a student visa
    4. Students in university Student Housing

A one-time exception to the 9 hour rule is allowed in a student’s last term. Students, who have completed all other requirements for the degree except completion of thesis, report, or dissertation and his/her supervising professor estimates the work yet to be done on it will require less than six weeks for submission of final copy to the Graduate School, can register for only 698B, 398R or D, or 399W.  This exception can only be used for one semester; if another semester is required, the student will be required to register for 9 semester hours of credit.  This one-time exception does NOT apply to students with a GRA/TA/AI/Grader appointment.

B.    Any graduate student appointed for any number of hours as a research assistant must be registered for at least three semester hours of seminar, special studies, report, thesis or dissertation every semester they are on such research appointment.  For MS students in their first year of residence, these three credit hours should generally be in addition to the requirement of (A).

C.    Any teaching assistant not also appointed as a research assistant, and any non-supported graduate student must sign up for at least three semester hours of seminar, special studies, report, thesis or dissertation in any semester in which the student is working on their report, thesis or dissertation research with a faculty member.

D.    Part-time students in the graduate program with quarter-time or more employment outside of the university have a minimum course load requirement based on the actual number of hours of said employment as indicated in the following table:

Outside Work


Minimum Course Load*

Semester Hours

10 - 199
20 - 296
30 and up3
*plus 3 hrs of research related coursework during each term a student is supervised by a faculty member.

E.     Students must maintain continuous registration to remain in a degree program unless prior approval is granted by the Committee on Graduate Studies for the student to not register on specified occasions.  Normally, a student must register for the summer session, an exception being made only in those cases in which the student will neither spend a significant portion of his/her time on the research problem nor be obtaining advice from the supervising professor.  Any student having a break in his/her registration sequence without prior approval who seeks reinstatement in a degree program must petition the Committee on Graduate Studies for approval.

F.     Students may petition for relief from the Minimum Course Load Requirement if they feel they have an unusual case or disagree with the Graduate Advisor's implementation of the policy.  Such petitions should be addressed to the Chairman of the appropriate Committee on Graduate Studies for action.

Credit/No Credit

No courses may be taken on a Cr/NC basis to satisfy conditional admission entrance requirements.  In addition, MS candidates must take all courses in the major area on a grade basis.  Up to two minor courses (supporting work), or fifty percent of the minor courses, whichever is less, may be taken on a Cr/NC basis. C E 398D (Departmental Report) is counted toward the CR/NC rule limit.

Note: ESL courses do not count toward the graduate program (Program of Work).

Incomplete Grades

Graduate students have only one long semester to finish an Incomplete (X) course.  At the end of one long semester after an Incomplete is issued, the Incomplete grade will become permanent on the student’s record unless a grade change form has been submitted by the instructor.  Permanent incomplete grades will appear on a student’s transcript as an (I).  Permanent Incomplete’s cannot be changed.  Therefore, students must make every effort to complete the required coursework in the semester following the issuance of an Incomplete.  Students with two or more incompletes cannot be appointed.

Special Studies Courses

Research courses (CE 397C or D) are not counted toward MS or PhD degree requirements but do count in satisfying the course load requirements.  If a seminar course or special studies (CE 397) course is intended to be counted toward the degree, arrangements must be made with the Graduate Advisor prior to registration.  Seminar courses are always taken on a Cr/NC basis; anyone registered for a letter grade will automatically be changed to Cr/NC by the department unless other arrangements have been agreed upon.

Transfer of Credit for the MS Degree

Up to six hours of credit may be transferred from another university toward the MS degree if the courses were graduate level, not counted toward any other degree, and if the student received grades of A or B.  Transfer credit requests should be made early in the student’s program.  See the Graduate Advisor or Graduate Coordinator for additional information.

Undergraduate Courses Allowed for the MS Degree

Students writing a thesis may count up to nine hours of upper-division undergraduate courses toward the degree requirements with no more than six hours in either the major or the minor.  Students writing a Graduate School Report may count up to 6 hours of upper-division undergraduate coursework, while students in the No Thesis/Departmental Report or No Thesis/No Report options may count only 3 hours of upper-division undergraduate coursework toward the MS degree.  As of fall 2008, grades in upper division undergraduate courses count in the graduate GPA.

Continuous Registration - Thesis, Report, or Dissertation

As soon as there is room in your schedule of courses and you begin work on the thesis, report, or dissertation, the student should begin registering for research hours CE 698 (thesis), CE 398D (departmental report), or CE 397D (dissertation research). 

An MS student taking the thesis option would register for the two-course sequence, starting with CE 698A the first semester of research, and subsequently CE 698B.  CE 698B is required in the semester of graduation.  CE 698B may be repeated until the thesis is complete. 

Students in the Master's Departmental Report option generally register for
CE 398D DEPARTMENTAL REPORT in their final semester. 

PhD students will register for 397D (or 697D) Dissertation Research until they are officially admitted to candidacy.  Once admitted to candidacy they are required to be registered in CE 399W DISSERTATION (or 699W, or 999W) in the Fall and Spring semesters until graduation. CE X99W Dissertation is required registration in the final semester.

Students should plan to register for 9 hours in Fall and Spring semesters, and 3 hours in Summer.  If you have been advised to register in more than these hours, please consult the Graduate Coordinator.

-Thesis, report and dissertation are taken on a Credit/No Credit basis. 

-Registration during the summers is not required if you are away from campus, have no contact with the university during that period, and are not appointed as a GRA/TA. 

In Absentia/Post-Summer Registration

A student registered in the summer, who completes his/her degree requirements after the summer deadline but before the start of the fall semester, may request In Absentia Registration (also called Post-Summer Registration).  A complete description of this procedure appears in the current Graduate Catalog.  There is a $25 registration fee.  Students registered In Absentia officially graduate in December.

Applications for PhD Candidacy or MS Graduation

Graduation/candidacy guidelines for both MS and PhD students are available on the Graduate School website, along with the deadlines for submitting the required forms.  Master’s students must submit the graduation application online early in the semester they plan to graduate.  An electronic MS Program of Work will automatically be sent to the graduate coordinator and advisor for approval after you have submitted your online graduation application.  PhD students are expected to take the qualifying exam prior to registering for their second semester and should apply for Admission to Candidacy once the exam is passed.  Application for Doctoral Candidacy is completed on the Graduate School web page.

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