University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering

Graduate Academic Policies

Enrollment and Time Limitations

PhD Students

Full time enrollment requirements for PhD students are 9 hours in long semesters (Fall and Spring). The Summer enrollment requirements vary. Please check with your Graduate Program Adviser/Director for Summer enrollment. GTF (Graduate Student Tuition Fellowship) recipients must enroll for 9 hours except during the graduating semester when enrollment less than 9 hours which will meet the graduation requirement is allowed.

International students must file Reduced Course Load (RCL) petition, approved by the department and the College, to ISSS (international Student and Scholar Services). Time limit for GTF is for four years for MS to PhD students and for five years for BS to PhD students. Students must enroll for PhD Research and Dissertation hours (not Masters Research and thesis hours).


Masters Students

Full time enrollment for students who are not on in-state tuition waivers is 9 hours during the long semesters (Fall and Spring). International students are not required to enroll during the Summer semester.

Prior to Spring 2018, the College required any student who is on in-state tuition waiver (regardless of source of funding such as $1,000 scholarship or work at the University which enables him/her to receive the in-state tuition waiver) were required to enroll for 12 hours during Fall and Spring semesters. However, during the first semester several of our students are not able to handle the four courses. In order to improve the performance of these students without exceeding the graduation time, here is what is proposed for these students who are on in-state tuition waivers (example is for Masters class entering in Fall 2018)

Students on in-state tuition waiver ($1,000 scholarship or work on campus) must complete a minimum of 7 courses (21 hours) in the first two semesters, which can be done several ways. The recommendation is to take three courses in the fall and four courses in the spring. Please visit your department regarding the various options.

Degree Fall Spring Summer
PhD 9 hours 9 hours may vary
Masters In-State Waiver 9 hours 12 hours *may vary
Masters Out-of State 9 hours 9 hours not required

Full-time enrollment is expected of the following categories of graduate students:

  1. Masters students who receive in-state tuition waiver based on a scholarship are required to enroll full-time.
  2. PhD students who are on Graduate Tuition Fellowship (GTF) are required to enroll full-time.
  3. Students who are meeting Ph.D. residency requirements.
  4. Visa-holding students (F-1, J-1, or other temporary visas)
  5. Students during their last semester can enroll for the hours required to meet their degree requirements by filing a petition for a reduced course load (RCL).

*If a student does not complete the required hours (21 credit hours) during the first two semesters, the student will forfeit the in-state tuition waiver.


Thesis/Research Enrollment

Master’s degree with thesis requires 6 hours of thesis (6399 and 7399 course number) and 3 to 6 hours of Masters Research (6x98 course number). Typically, Masters students first enroll for Master Research as soon as they begin work on their research. They can also enroll in the thesis course during the semester they submit their proposal and complete committee appointment.

Master's students are awarded a final thesis grade in 6399 and 7399 from their thesis chair after successfully defending their thesis.

If you expect to graduate in a given semester, you must enroll in and complete that semester at the University of Houston.


Dissertation/Research Enrollment

Doctoral degrees require 12 hours of dissertation (8399, 8699, 8999 course number) and Doctoral Research (8x98 course number) which varies for BS to PhD and MS to PhD and from department to department within the College of Engineering.

Doctoral students first enroll in the 8x98 as soon as they begin work on their Doctoral research. The students must be continuously enrolled in research until they graduate, including summers if they are working on their research with their advisor.

Doctoral students are allowed to enroll for doctoral dissertation after they have submitted their committee appointment page to their department and submitted their proposal.

Doctoral students continue to enroll in Doctoral Research and/ or Doctoral Dissertation each semester until they graduate (including the semester of graduation).

Doctoral students are awarded a final dissertation grade in 8399, 8699 and/or 8999 (12 hours of dissertation courses) from their dissertation chair after successfully defending their dissertation.

If you expect to graduate in a given semester, you must enroll in and complete that semester at the University of Houston.


Time Limitation

The following comment is taken directly from the Graduate and Professional Studies Catalog: The University has a five-year time-limit rule for Master's degree programs. Students who enroll at the University of Houston must complete the usual master's degree program within five years of the date of admission to the master's program at the University of Houston. Any exceptions to this policy will require a petition approved by the department advisor, chair, college dean, and The Graduate School. Students who are in the joint MIE/MBA program have 7 years in which to complete this joint-degree program.

No course over five years old at the time of graduation can be used to satisfy the master's degree course requirements. This includes courses taken as Non Degree seeking and transfer courses approved for graduate credit.

Students who enroll as doctoral candidates must complete their degree requirements within 10 years of the date of first enrollment with a doctoral degree objective. Failure to comply will result in the candidate being ineligible for that doctoral degree.

Doctoral students must complete their dissertation within five years after completion of the comprehensive/qualifying exam. Otherwise, the exam must be repeated.

The following comment is taken directly from the Graduate and Professional Studies Catalog: Students entering a doctoral program with a Master’s degree qualify for up to eight (8) semesters of GTF funding. Students entering a doctoral program directly from a baccalaureate program qualify for up to ten (10) semesters of GTF funding. This means that financial aid is not available when the assistantship limit is exceeded. Normally, no individual may hold an assistantship at the University of Houston for more than a total of six years. Any exception to this policy must receive the approval of the dean of the college and the senior vice president for academic affairs.