Registration Requirements

Continuous Registration for Fall and Spring Semesters

All students must register each fall and spring semester and pay the requisite tuition and fees for each semester until all degree requirements are completed, including graduation. Failure to maintain continuous registration each fall and spring semester will result in administrative withdrawal from the university after the semester drop/add deadline. In addition, all PhD students within years of full funding must also register for continuation (CTN 1-01) in summer, unless on summer experiential leave.

The only exception to the continuous registration requirement is an approved leave of absence granted by The Graduate School’s associate dean of academic affairs. After successful completion of at least one full-time semester, students in good academic standing may apply for a total of two semesters of leave. If granted, leave is for the full semester only. Those who have been on a leave of absence and who intend to resume a degree program must give the department and the academic dean notice of this intention one month before the first day of the semester of their return. A request for a medical leave of absence must be supported by a letter stating the necessity for leave from the student’s current treating medical practitioner. A similar letter is required for a student to return to the rigors of graduate education from a medical leave of absence. With the approval of their academic advisor, doctoral students within years of funding may apply for summer experiential leave, as an alternative to summer enrollment, to pursue professional and career development opportunities outside the university. Such leave does not count toward the two-semester limit of formal leave of absence.

Doctoral Students

All doctoral students must register for a total of six semesters of full tuition. After the six semesters of full tuition, doctoral students will be charged a reduced tuition. Those PhD students with an earned graduate degree may petition to reduce the number of semesters of full tuition required for the degree to five semesters. Specific course requirements for doctoral students are set by the degree-granting programs and departments. Doctoral students may enroll in up to fifteen credit units per term and should seek permission from their director of graduate studies (DGS) for any additional credits. Students must be registered during the terms when they take qualifying, preliminary, and final examinations; when they submit dissertations in final form to ProQuest and DukeSpace; and when they graduate. These milestone examinations may occur during breaks between terms for students registered in the term immediately before and immediately after the break, with the milestone counting in the term following the break. Once a doctoral student has finished coursework, registration in continuation (CTN 1-01) is sufficient to maintain full-time enrollment status.

Master’s Students

Full-time master’s candidates must register for at least three semesters of enrollment, at a full load of at least nine credit units per term, until a minimum of thirty units of degree credit have been achieved (some programs require more than thirty credits to obtain a degree). Full-time students can enroll for fewer than nine credits only during the final semester when they are completing the required degree credits in their program. Part-time master’s candidates are charged tuition on a per-credit basis. An academic load of more than fifteen credits in a given term must be approved by the student’s DGS. Approved transfer coursework into a master’s program will not reduce the minimum registration of thirty units for a master’s degree at Duke University. Students must be registered during the terms when they take final master’s examinations, submit their theses, and graduate. The master’s examination may occur between terms if the student is registered for both the term before and after the break when the exam occurs, but the examination milestone would count in the term after the break.

Registration Periods

All students who are enrolled in The Graduate School and who have not been granted a current leave of absence by the academic dean must register each fall and spring until all degree requirements are completed. New students will register immediately prior to the first day of classes in either term; continuing students register during the announced registration periods (set by the Office of the University Registrar) in November and April.

In the fall and spring semesters, all continuing PhD students are registered automatically for continuation (CTN 1-01), unless there are registration blocks on their accounts, such as those resulting from unpaid bursar balances. Students must take necessary action to resolve registration blocks, wait for the blocks to be removed from their accounts in DukeHub, and then manually register for continuation or courses as appropriate.

Repeating Courses

Graduate students may repeat enrollment for certain types of courses, including colloquia, journal clubs, or internship practicums. All instances of the course will appear on the transcript. Students may not repeat content-area courses for graded credit to count more than once toward degree requirements.

Auditing Courses

Any PhD or master’s degree candidate enrolled full-time may audit graduate and undergraduate courses without charge during the fall and spring semesters, if this is acceptable to the faculty teaching these courses. Students should obtain faculty permission prior to registering to audit the class. If the student is not a graduate degree student, an audit fee is charged. There is a fee associated with auditing courses during the summer session as well as for master's students' auditing courses in any part-time term.


Graduate students may withdraw from courses up to the last day of graduate classes by filing a course withdrawal request signed by the student, instructor, and DGS. For courses taken for credit, this will result in a W notation on their transcript for that course; for an audited course, the notation is WA. Tuition is not refunded for students who withdraw from a course. Students who wish to withdraw from their programs must notify the academic dean of their intent in writing. In the case of involuntary program withdrawal, the academic dean will notify the student. Students who are withdrawn from The Graduate School, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, during a term in which they are registered will be charged pro-rated tuition for the term that depends on the number of weeks that had transpired before the withdrawal notice.

Summer Registration

Graduate students may be registered for summer to conduct research or to take courses. PhD students who are conducting research related to their degree and/or are receiving support through university funds during the summer terms, but are not enrolled in any courses, must be registered for summer but are charged a reduced continuation tuition. Doctoral students within years of funding will be registered automatically for continuation (CTN 1-01) in summer. Other summer session students should register at announced times beginning with the February registration period and up to the Wednesday preceding the start of the appropriate term.

Students who plan to enroll in courses in the summer session should have their course programs approved by their DGS. There may be tuition charges associated with taking summer courses. Summer session students may add a course or courses before or during the first three days of the term. Courses may also be dropped before and during the first three days, but a 20 percent tuition fee will be charged (1) if the course is not dropped before the first day, and (2) the dropped course(s) results in a total tuition reduction. Courses dropped after the third day of classes are not eligible for tuition refund.

Students wishing to enroll in summer courses intended for undergraduates must submit the request to enroll in a course below 500-level form to the graduate school registrar for approval. Additional tuition will be assessed for all undergraduate-level summer courses. Doctoral students registered for summer may request a tuition waiver if the undergraduate-level course is deemed essential toward the student’s program of study by the DGS.