Graduate students are required to register for each term, including summer, whether they are taking classes, conducting research, doing independent reading, writing a thesis, or utilizing any other academic service or campus facility.
A graduate student must be registered for a minimum of 36 research and/or course units to be classified as a full-time student, and may not enroll in excess of 36 research units. A graduate student who registers for less than 36 total units, or who undertakes activities related to the Institute aggregating more than 62 hours per week (in class, research, and teaching assistantship units), must receive approval in advance from the dean of graduate studies. A petition for this purpose may be obtained from the Graduate Office website and must carry the recommendation of the option representative of the student’s major option before submission.
Graduate students register during a two-week period each quarter. A late registration fee of $50 is assessed for failure to register on time. Graduate students with a Bursar’s bill balance of $1,500 or more may have a hold placed on their registration for the subsequent term the day before online registration opens. The hold will be released once students have paid their bill or worked out a satisfactory payment plan with the Bursar’s Office.
Before registering, students should consult with their adviser. An adviser is assigned to each entering graduate student by the option representative. In most options, a new adviser is assigned when the student begins research. Only members of the professorial faculty may serve as advisers. With the approval of the dean of graduate studies, any graduate student whose work is not satisfactory may be refused registration at the beginning of any term by the division in which the student is doing their major work. See the section on Satisfactory Academic Progress for more information.
In registering for research, students should indicate the name of the instructor in charge, and should consult with the instructor to determine the number of units to which the proposed work corresponds. At the end of the term, the instructor in charge may decrease the number of units for which credit is given if the instructor feels that the progress of the research does not justify the original amount.
Students will not receive credit for courses unless they are properly registered. Students themselves are responsible for making certain that all grades to which they are entitled have been properly recorded. Please note that graduate students who enroll in courses numbered below 100 will not receive credit for those courses unless the course(s) is specified in the requirements for a graduate degree as stipulated in the Caltech Catalog.
All changes in registration must be reported to the Registrar’s Office by the student. Such changes are governed by the last dates for adding or dropping courses as shown on the Academic Calendar. A student may not withdraw from or add a course after the last date for dropping or adding courses without the option’s consent, written approval from the instructor of the relevant course, and the approval of the dean of graduate studies.
If the withdrawal occurs after Add Day of any term, a W (standing for “withdrawn”) will be recorded on the student’s transcript for all courses in which the student is enrolled. A grade of W is not included in the computation of the student’s grade-point average.
General Administrative Requirements
Graduate students are required to have continuity in registration, maintain full-time status, make satisfactory progress, and be in residence until all requirements for a degree are fulfilled. This means that students must either be registered, enrolled or on an approved leave from the Institute. Reduced duty status maintains registration for a student who cannot carry a full load due to a medical condition, disability or pregnancy.
Registration is required for the term in which the thesis defense is undertaken, with the exception of the first week of each term. Approval of the dean is required for any student seeking to enroll for a subsequent term beyond the defense during the academic year. Once the degree is conferred, further enrollment as a graduate student is not permitted.
Detached duty status maintains registration for a student doing research at an external location, such as a national laboratory or another academic institution, for an extended period.
Students are entitled to at least two weeks’ annual vacation (in addition to Institute holidays), and they should arrange their vacation schedules with their research advisers early in each academic year. Any questions should be referred to the graduate studies Office.