All About Timing

Timing is everything.

In everything we do there is a real or implied time frame by which tasks must be accomplished in order to successfully achieve your goals. From the time the decision was made to apply to graduate school, attention to deadlines became an integral part of your graduate school experience.

Throughout your time as a graduate student, there are a number of required forms and processes that must be completed at specific times. Missing these deadlines can have consequences like impeding your ability to graduate when you wish to. Completing and submitting milestone forms assists departments and the Graduate Studies Office staff in determining your status and eligibility for continued progress and support as you finish your degree requirements. Timing for completing those milestones and, depending on your degree track, additional forms linked to benefits and status is critical for your continued progress.

The following questions demonstrate the need to be aware of the timing processing your milestone forms. How many can you answer with a “yes”?


  1. Did you know that the Memorandum of Courses and Program of Studies should be filed with the Graduate Studies Office before you’ve registered for half of the credits needed to complete your degree? If you have transfer credits you are applying to your degree, they are included in those “credits needed.” If the forms are filed with less than half your hours remaining to be taken, a memo from your advisor explaining the delay should accompany the form.

  2. Did you know there’s a time limit on the completion of your degree? Master’s students have 10 years from the oldest course listed on their Memorandum of Courses (MOC). If you took your first course and listed it on the MOC in Spring semester 2009, your degree should be awarded no later than May 2019. Doctoral students have 8 years from the time of filing their Program of Studies. You should file the Program no later than the beginning of your 3rd year.

  3. Did you know that you must file the Memorandum of Courses (master’s thesis students) or the Application for Candidacy (doctoral) before you are eligible to request to be full-time certified? Both of these forms trigger the status of candidacy which is needed for use of the full-time certification requests.

  4. Did you know that you need to be in candidacy as a doctoral student seven months prior to when you want to defend your dissertation? As is the case with the Memorandum of Courses, you can’t apply for candidacy and graduate in the same semester.

  5. Did you know that you must register for at least one credit hour, but less than nine, in order to request to be full-time certified? Registration means you are a student at the University.

  6. Did you know that there is a limit on the number of times a master’s thesis student or a doctoral candidate may use the full-time certification? Master’s thesis students may complete the request each semester for one consecutive year from first use. Doctoral students may complete it for two years from first use.

  7. Did you know that you are eligible to apply for graduation or defense of your thesis only if you have an approved Memorandum of Courses (Plan of Study) on file? An approved Memorandum of Courses triggers the availability of the online graduation application in MyRED. For the doctoral degree, it is the Application for Candidacy. It must be filed no later than the semester prior to when you want to graduate. The earlier you do this so it can be processed in a timely manner, the more chance you and your advisor will have a chance to address issues that may arise.

  8. Did you know that, even though you have completed all the requirements for your degree, you must apply for graduation in order to be considered done? There’s a time limit between some of the milestones, especially at the master’s level, and filing for graduation. If you do not know the time limit, check this website.

  9. Did you know that there are several University offices that rely on your timely pre-registration in order to accurately process your financial aid, assistantship pay, semester bill, tuition waivers, health insurance, full-time certification, loan deferral or immigration status? One action on your part assists many offices to serve you better. Yes, everything is connected and reliant on the timing of your registration and correct status in MyRED.

If you answered no or were unsure about any of the questions or any of the forms described above, it is recommended that you visit with our degree specialist in the Office of Graduate Studies. They are your resource for questions throughout your educational career at UNL. You may find their information and information about deadlines and forms at www.unl.edu/gradstudies/current.