Registration during doctoral candidacy

Once a student becomes a doctoral candidate, the student is required to enroll continuously until the program is completed.

Doctoral candidacy is not the same as admission to or enrollment in a doctoral program; it is a specific stage of doctoral program progress.

Questions? Contact Eva Bachman, Doctoral Specialist.

Last modified January 4, 2016.

Summary of enrollment requirements for doctoral candidates vs. other students

To have this... ...this category of student... ...must enroll in at least this many credit hours
Full-time status Any student without full-time certification 9 cr 9 cr 6 cr
Candidate with full-time certification 1 cr 1 cr 1 cr
Eligibility for typical assistantship
See Guidelines for Graduate Assistants
Any student (candidate or not)
Some depts. require full-time registration. Overall Graduate Studies requirements are shown here.
1 cr 1 cr 0 cr
Access to UNL services (Libraries, Health Center, Rec Center) Any student (candidate or not)
Reduced-cost UHC access depends on payment of UHC fee, included in UPFF when enrolled at least 7cr; see details below.
1 cr 1 cr 1 cr
Exemption from FICA/Medicare withholding on assistantships Any student without full-time certification 4 cr 4 cr 4 cr
Candidate with full-time certification 1 cr 1 cr 1 cr

Continuous registration

Following admission to candidacy, doctoral candidates must register each fall and spring semester until they graduate. If not registered by the end of the first day of class in an academic semester, their graduate programs may be terminated.

Academic Leave can, for eligible students, provide an exception to the continuous registration requirement.

Candidates do not need to register during summer sessions unless required by their department while an assistantship, for a student visa, to defer student loans, or if desiring Health Center access.

Number of credit hours

Doctoral candidates must register for at least 1 credit hour each academic semester but may need to register for additional hours due to the following factors.

  • FICA/Medicare exemption:
    • To be exempted from withholding for FICA (Social Security) and Medicare, candidates being paid as graduate assistants must either have full-time status or register for 4 credit hours each academic semester and summer session.
  • University Health Center, University Libraries, and Campus Recreation Center:
    • Graduate students registered for at least 1 credit hour in an academic semester or summer session are able to access these locations. Additional charges may be incurred based on use.
    • Students who pay the University Health Center (UHC) fee are able to access reduced-cost healthcare services at the UHC.
      • Students enrolled in 7 or more credit hours per term pay the full University Program and Facilities Fee (UPFF), which includes the UHC fee.
      • Students enrolled in less than 7 credit hours per term (regardless of full-time certification) pay a reduced UPFF that does not include the UHC fee; those who wish to utilize the UHC may elect to pay the UHC fee or procure UHC services on a fee-for-service basis.
  • Health Insurance:
    • All UNL students enrolled in 3 or more credit hours or full-time certified are eligible to purchase this plan.
    • Graduate assistants and international students are automatically enrolled in the health insurance program.
  • Financial Aid:

Full-time status and full-time certification

Graduate students must normally register for 9 credit hours each academic semester to be considered full-time.

However, students admitted to candidacy who enroll in at least 1 credit hour per term can be considered full-time if they meet the criteria:

  1. Registration for at least 4 credit hours during each of the two academic semesters preceding the first use of this reduced credit registration.
  2. Employment for no more than 19.6 hrs/week (up to 0.49 FTE).
  3. Certification of Full-Time Graduate Status (request and approval) in advance of each academic semester. This requires enrollment for a minimum of 1 credit hour each academic semester.
  4. If on F1 visa: Certification for Reduced Course Load form for the International Students and Scholars Office. To determine summer registration requirements, consult ISSO. ISSO's reduced course load form is not specific to full-time certification and may also be necessary for medical issues or other special cases.

Doctoral students may use full-time certification for a maximum of two consecutive years. Candidates who need to maintain full-time status beyond the allowed period will need to again register for at least 9 hours each academic semester and 0-4 hours each summer. See summary table for more information.

Registering for fewer credit hours can impact the cost of services such as those at the University Health Center.  This is because a student's registration load determines their Program and Facilities Fee, which pays in part for certain campus services.

Tuition and fees

Candidates who were classified as Nebraska residents for tuition purposes and relocate out of the state while maintaining continuous enrollment remain eligible for resident tuition.

In-absentia registration for ABD students at resident rate

Students who have completed all courses on the program of studies and who are registering for dissertation (999) hours in excess of the requirements of the program in order to maintain continuous registration are eligible for a waiver of the non-resident portion of tuition. To qualify for this benefit, students must:

  • Have grades for all courses on the program except for dissertation (999) hours.
  • Send email to Eva Bachman requesting this benefit. (You need only make this request once; your ABD status, once approved, will remain in effect until you graduate.)