Continuation Courses Made (Not So) Easy
This document should be read in conjunction with the Frequently Asked Questions.
The Policy: The Graduate School has a policy that all degree-seeking graduate students must be active and enrolled in something every fall and spring term. This begins when the student is first admitted to degree status and continues until the student has graduated. Note that this does not apply to Temporary or Non-Degree students. Note also that this requirement does not apply to registration during the summer term. There are two exceptions:
If the student intends to graduate in August, then he/she must be registered in something during the summer. Students must be enrolled during the term in which they intend to graduate.
If the student has completed everything prior to the beginning of a term, but did not graduate during the previous graduation cycle (for example, they failed to apply for graduation or they did not complete their thesis or dissertation by the deadline), then that student is not required to register for their final term (the term in which they will graduate).
The Penalty: Approximately three weeks after the beginning of each fall and spring term an automatic process is run that will discontinue every graduate student (degree and non-degree) that has failed to register. That student will no longer be considered an active Marquette graduate student, and any loans that would have been deferred will start to come due (or the six-month grace period will start being used).
If the student wants to resume his/her studies in the future, he/she will have to get the consent of the department to be readmitted. This is done by the student sending an email request to the Graduate School via their department. The department must approve or deny the request and forward the email string to Erin Fox. Additionally, the student will be required to pay $100 for every fall and spring term that they were not registered (currently capped at $500 maximum). This is the same fee that would have been assessed if the student had registered for a Continuation course to remain active. Furthermore, because this is a readmission, there is no guarantee that the student WILL be readmitted. If the student had been marginal, the department is under no obligation to approve the student’s readmission request.
Additionally, the six-year period that each student has to complete his/her degree will continue to run during this period of inactivity.
Alternative #1 – Leave of Absence: If a student anticipates a need for a break from his/her studies, and if the reason meets the criteria listed in the Graduate Bulletin (bereavement, illness, injury, care giving, military service, maternity, paternity), then the student should request a period of Leave of Absence. The process is described on pages 59-60 of the current Graduate Bulletin. It is critical to note that leaves of absence may not be requested retroactively; that is, after the start of the semester. The student must request Leave of Absence by completing the Request for Leave of Absence form on the Graduate School Forms Web page. The form must be submitted to the academic department for approval or denial, and then forwarded to the Graduate School.
An approved Leave of Absence will allow a student to take a break from his/her studies without any penalty. The six-year clock does not run during approved leaves of absence. Furthermore, there is no need for the student to register for anything while in an approved leave of absence status. When the student resumes his/her studies, there is no financial penalty of $100 per term, as described above. An end date to a leave of absence status is entered at the time the leave of absence is approved. When that end date is reached, the student is reactivated and made eligible to register; there is no need for the student to contact the Graduate School. However, if the student should want or need additional time, this must intentionally be requested and approved.
Alternative #2 – Registration: Normally, students meet the continuous enrollment requirement by registering for course work. The requirement to be enrolled is met by taking as few as one credit, and in fact can also be met by taking a zero-credit course. Continuous enrollment does not require that a student take a certain minimum number of credits. There are, however, other reasons that a student may want or need to be designated a half-time (4, 5, or 6 credits) or full-time (7 or more credits) student.
Loan eligibility and deferral of previous loans normally require that the student be registered for half-time or full-time status; less than half-time status is usually not sufficient to be eligible for loans or to defer loans.
International students on an F-1 visa must be full-time students.
Students receiving financial aid through the Graduate School, i.e. Teaching Assistantships, Research Assistantships, Fellowships, Scholarships, must be full-time students.
Continuation Courses: Most students will eventually reach a point in their academic careers when they have taken all of the required courses and thesis or dissertation credits, but who are still working to complete degree requirements. Or, for example, a graduate assistant may be taking less than a full-time load for a valid reason, but would still need to be registered as a full-time student. These are examples of when continuation courses come into play.
If you have a scholarship, assistantship, or fellowship, and there is still money available in your account, that money may be used to pay for the Continuation Course fee of $100 per semester.
For continuation courses that have less than half-time, half-time, or full-time versions, it is critical that the version that is approved be based on the amount of academic work that the student is doing. If, for example, a student were working 5 hours per week on their thesis or dissertation, that is clearly not worthy of full-time status. The Graduate School has not defined the number of hours per week that are appropriate for the various statuses – that is between the student and the approving authority (adviser, DGS or chair).
A rough guideline might be:
Less than half-time: Less than 10 hours per week
Half-time: 10-20 hours per week
Full-time: Greater than 20 hours per week
It is critical that the status that is granted is based on the work being done. If we were to be audited by the federal authorities and found to not be able to justify the status that is given, the university can be assessed significant financial penalties.
An explanation of the various types of courses, and how they might be used, follows:
Master’s Comprehensive Exam Preparation (9984/9985/9986): Some master’s degree programs require that the student pass a comprehensive exam. The exam is often given during a term when the student is also taking course work, and his/her status can be based on registration in actual courses. But sometimes a student may need most or all of a semester to prepare for and take a comprehensive exam. The student may register for the appropriate version of Master’s Comprehensive Exam Preparation. This zero-credit course can carry the status of less than half-time, half-time, or full-time, and can only be taken once.
Doctoral Comprehensive Exam Preparation (9987/9988/9989): Same as above, but for doctoral students. Students can, but are not required to, register for the Doctoral Comprehensive Exam Preparation course while they are preparing for and taking their Doctoral Qualifying Exams. This zero-credit course can carry the status of less than half-time, half-time, or full-time, and can only be taken once.
Graduate Standing Continuation (9970): This continuation course will keep a student in an active status. The course exists only as a less than half-time status, and as such, is not sufficient to defer loans or make a student eligible for loans. Because there are no financial or loan implications for this course, it does not need to be justified by doing academic work. This can be used if a student needs or wants time away from his/her studies, but the reason does not qualify for Leave of Absence.
Graduate Fellowship (9974): A zero-credit course that exists only as a full-time course. Registration for this course will, by itself, put a student in full-time status, and may be used to achieve full-time status while a student is receiving a graduate fellowship. It may be taken alone or in conjunction with other courses.
Graduate Assistant Teaching (9975): A zero-credit course that exists only as a full-time course. Registration for this course will, by itself, put a student in full-time status, although in most cases it is expected that a student will take this in conjunction with credit-bearing courses. It may be used to achieve full-time status while a student is a Teaching Assistant. It may be taken alone or in conjunction with other courses. Note that serving as a Teaching Assistant does not require that the student take this course. This course is simply to help a student achieve full-time status and thereby be eligible for a Teaching Assistantship.
Graduate Assistant Research (9976): A zero-credit course that exists only as a full-time course. Registration for this course will, by itself, put a student in full-time status, although in most cases it is expected that a student will take this in conjunction with credit-bearing courses. It may be used to achieve full-time status while a student is a Research Assistant. It may be taken alone or in conjunction with other courses. Note that serving as a Research Assistant does not require that the student take this course. This course is simply to help a student achieve full-time status and thereby be eligible for a Research Assistantship.
Field Placement Continuation (9977/9978/9979): A zero-credit course that may be taken in a less than half-time, half-time, or full-time status. For use by students who are required to complete a field placement course, and who may need to register for a continuation of it.
Thesis Continuation (9994/9995/9996): A zero-credit course that may be taken in a less than half-time, half-time, or full-time status. For use by master’s degree students who have completed all course work and their required six thesis credits, and who are still working on their thesis.
Professional Project Continuation (9991/9992/9993): A zero-credit course that may be taken in a less than half-time, half-time, or full-time status. For use by students who have completed all course work and any required professional project credits, and who are still working on their professional projects.
Doctoral Dissertation Continuation (9997/9998/9999): A zero-credit course that may be taken in a less than half-time, half-time, or full-time status. For use by doctoral students who have completed all course work and their required twelve thesis credits, and who are still working on their thesis.