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Credit Loads and Academic Status for Graduate Assistants



To set the minimum and maximum credit load per semester for graduate assistants.


Academic Goal

To assure that graduate assistants will be able to give appropriate attention to both academic progress and assistantship responsibilities.



All graduate students appointed to graduate teaching, research or administrative assistantships; graduate traineeships; or graduate fellowships.

Policy Statement

  1. Graduate assistants must be enrolled at Penn State as graduate students. More specifically, since assistantships are provided as aids to completion of advanced degrees, assistants must be degree-seeking and enrolled in residence for credit loads each semester that fall within the limits indicated in the table below. Maximum limits on permissible credit loads are indicated in order to assure that the student can give appropriate attention both to academic progress and assistantship responsibilities. These considerations give rise to the table of permissible credit loads below.
      Level of Assistantship
    Credits Per Semester Credits Per 6-Week Summer Session
      Minimum Maximum Minimum Maximum
    Quarter-time 9 14 5 7
    Half-time 9 12 4 6
    Three-quarter-time 6 8 3 4

    Credits taken during the Maymester and over both six-week summer sessions must total a minimum of 9 (for 1/4- and 1/2-time assistantships) or 6 (for 3/4-time assistantships) and cannot exceed a maximum of 8 (for 3/4-time assistantships), 12 (for 1/2-time assistantships), or 14 (for 1/4-time assistantships).
  2. To provide for some flexibility, moderate exceptions to the specified limits may be made in particular cases. The credit limits specified above may only be increased or decreased in exceptional cases for a specific semester or summer session by permission of the assistantship supervisor, the student's academic adviser, and the dean of the Graduate School (requests should be submitted for the dean's approval via the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services). The Graduate School expects that an exception made in one semester or summer session will be compensated for by a suitably modified credit load in the subsequent semester or summer session, so that, on the average, normal progress is maintained at a rate falling within the limits above. Failure to do so may jeopardize the student's academic status. Maintenance of the established credit loads and responsibility for consequences of a graduate student's change of course load rest with the student and adviser. The course load is a factor in determining whether a graduate student is classified as a full-time or part-time student; has met residence requirements; and is eligible to hold a fellowship, traineeship, assistantship, or departmental or program appointment.
  3. Full-Time Academic Status--Students holding fellowships, traineeships, or other awards based on academic excellence are required to carry 9 or more credits each semester (fall and spring). For awards that require full-time summer registration, students should register for a minimum cumulative total of 9 credits (over all summer sessions), or SUBJ 601 (in the case of post-comprehensive doctoral candidates). A graduate assistant whose semester or summer session credit load meets or exceeds the minima in the above credit table and whose assistantship duties are directly related to his or her degree objectives is considered by the Graduate School to be engaged in full-time academic work for that semester or summer. A post-comprehensive doctoral candidate who is registered for SUBJ 601 also is so considered.
  4. Part-Time Academic Status--A student who in any semester or summer session is registered for study but who does not meet the criteria for full-time status is considered to be engaged in part-time academic work for that semester. This includes students registered for SUBJ 611.

Revision History

Adapted from Graduate Bulletin: June 2018

This page was generated on December 1, 2022 at 12:50 PM local time. This may not be the most recent version of this page. Check the Penn State Graduate School website for updates.