Continuous Enrollment Policy

Bike Path in spring

Students in other master's programs or in professional doctorates are not affected by this policy.A continuous enrollment (CE) policy will go into effect in the Fall of 2022. This policy affects students in research/creative activity-based terminal graduate degrees (Ph.D., Ed.D., and M.F.A. only). 

Under the CE policy, students in Ph.D., Ed.D., and M.F.A. programs must enroll for a minimum of 0.5 credit hours for two semesters of each academic year that they are working toward the degree unless on an official leave of absence.

How will the policy work?

Any student who has not officially declared a leave of absence and who fails to enroll for more than one semester will become inactive in their program. Such a student must apply for re-enrollment if they wish to continue in the program. Return to active status requires approval from both the program and Graduate College.

Any re-enrolled student will be enrolled during their first semester back in 0.5 credit hour for each semester of missed enrollment up to a maximum of two semesters (i.e., up to 1.0 credit hour). In addition to the missed enrollment credit hours, a returning student will need to enroll for at least 0.5 credit hours for the current semester. The student is responsible for paying tuition and fees for these hours, along with any penalties or late fees. (Re-enrollment is not the same as reapplication; students re-enrolling within the time limits for their degree may ordinarily just pick back up where they left off.)

Leave of Absence

Up to one official leave of absence may be used during work on the degree program, extending up to one calendar year. Students on leave of absence are understood not to be working on the degree or using any university resources, including IRB or research support, library materials, or substantial faculty time. Leave of absence does not extend the time to degree.



  • Q: Why is Ohio University implementing a continuous enrollment policy?
    A: Requiring continuous enrollment for research doctoral students is an established best practice, one in place at most of our peer institutions both inside and outside of Ohio. The policy allows better communication with students; helps prevent students from unintentionally drifting away from their projects; assures that students will have access to university resources when they are working on their degrees; and allows the university to understand how many students we really have and how long the degree programs really are. This policy also includes M.F.A. students. M.F.A.s are terminal degrees, designed as full-time programs, and require extensive independent work from students that could potentially stretch on beyond coursework.
  • Q: Why does this policy not apply to professional doctorates or other master’s programs?
    A: Professional doctorates are highly structured and it is unusual for students not to follow their cohort or to work on degrees without being enrolled. Many of our master’s degree programs are intended for part-time enrollment by working professionals, and most master’s programs do not have a long-term research project during which students choose not to enroll.
  • Q: I am an international student and my registration has to be considered full-time for visa purposes. Will I still need to register for a full credit hour of dissertation or research hours?
    A: Check with your program to see if it will make a 0.5-hour course available to you for CE. If they do choose to reduce the thesis, dissertation, or other research/project hours to 0.5 minimum credits, we will designate those courses as full-time study for visa purposes at 0.5 hours. For the sake of equity, programs are also encouraged to make this 0.5-hour enrollment for theses or extended projects in programs that do not require CE (e.g., M.A./M.S. programs).
  • Q: What counts as an academic year?
    A: Academic years begin at the start of the Fall semester and continue through the following summer. In practical terms, students can’t skip enrollment in two consecutive terms (including summer) while maintaining CE.
  • Q: I will not be enrolled for two semesters in AY2021-22 (Fall 2021-Summer 2022). Will I need to pay for any missed semesters this year?
    A: No. The policy will go into effect in Fall 2022, so that is the first semester that counts for CE requirements.
  • Q: How do you declare an official leave of absence?
    A: To declare a leave of absence, complete the Leave of Absence Declaration formBefore submitting this form to the Graduate College, please talk to your program director and faculty advisor to be sure that both you and they fully understand the leave of absence policy.
  • Q: Can your academic program turn down a leave of absence request?
    A: A program can refuse a leave of absence request if there is a program-level policy allowing the program to do so. However, the university will not levy financial penalties against a student who has declared an official leave of absence and re-enrolls the next semester after the official leave concludes.
  • Q: The leave of absence policy only permits one year’s leave. What if I need more?
    A: If your ability to do any work on a degree extends more than a calendar year, it is in your best interest to withdraw from the program and reapply when you are ready to resume your research.
  • Q: I have used up my tuition scholarship eligibility but am still on a graduate assistantship with a stipend. Do I still need to register for a full credit, or can I register for 0.5 hours?
    A: For AY22-23, you still need to register for a full credit hour. There are both policy and technical changes affecting multiple University offices that need to be worked through in order to change that minimum.

Please note, programs have discretion about whether to accept all coursework more than five years old if a student reapplies for the program. You should always talk with your program director and faculty advisors prior to withdrawing from your program.

Need More Information?

Should you have questions, please email