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Graduate Program

Registration and Enrollment Guidelines for Graduate Students


When to Register

Each semester students should register for courses (via MyNIU) during the end of the preceding semester:

  • Be aware of when registration begins (MyNIU should have that information before registration begins) and register as soon as possible after that.
  • Be aware that some popular courses may fill and close before the end of registration.
  • International students and Graduate Assistants should be aware of the number of courses they are required to take.

Students are allowed to request drops and adds of classes from the Director of Graduate Studies through the end of the first week of classes.  In most cases, these requests will be granted.  However, section changes will only be made for compelling reasons (such as work hour conflicts).

Schedule Changes after Registration

After the first week of classes, schedule changes of any kind will be made only for compelling reasons.

Students arriving on campus after classes begin who request schedule changes should understand that such requests might not be granted.  If the student needs additional course(s), he/she will be placed in course(s) at the discretion of the Director of Graduate Studies.

Course Loads

  • The Department considers a normal load to be 9-11 credit hours (or three courses) for fall and spring; 6 or 7 hours (2 courses) for summer.
  • The Department and the Graduate School consider fewer than 9 credit hours to be an underload.
  • The Department and the Graduate School consider more than 12 credit hours to be an overload.

All students must have permission of the department for an overload. This permission is almost never granted.  A student schedule with 4 CS courses (in Fall or Spring) or 3 courses (in Summer) will very rarely be granted even if it does not constitute a formal overload.  Students who do register for 4 CS courses without permission may be dropped from one of them without warning at the discretion of the Director of Graduate Studies. However, international students may take any required English course as a 4th course.

Computer Science Graduate Assistants must be enrolled for a normal load in all semesters except in their last semester (before graduation) when they may request an underload permit.

International students must maintain a normal load in fall and spring semesters except for their last semester (before graduation) when they may request an underload permit. They are not required to enroll in summer courses.

International students are required to make “reasonable progress toward the degree.”  In practical terms, this means that international students may not take courses outside the CS department until they have finished the 10 required CS graduate courses with the following exceptions:

  • Out-of department courses related to computer science and approved by the Director of Graduate Studies (see the next section).
  • English 453 or other required English courses.
  • 1- or 2- credit hours of physical education courses (or the like) along with 3 regular CS courses.

Notes on Specific Classes

Non-CS NIU courses: Permission to take a non-CSCI NIU course for credit toward your CS degree must be obtained from the Director of Graduate Studies before the end of the first week of the semester.  Do not register first and then seek permission. These courses must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies before enrollment.

CSCI 690 and 696, Internship courses: These should be set up before the beginning of the semester (application, enrollment, and CPT permission (for 690) whenever possible. The department realizes that students cannot control the timing of offering letters; however permission for any 690 internship after the Add/Drop period will be granted only for compelling reasons. Permission will not be granted after the third week of a Fall/Spring semester of the first week of a Summer semester. See the page on Internships for more details.

Internship reports (for both 690 and 696) are due at the Department at the beginning of the last week of the semester (Final Exam week for Fall and Spring; 8th week of classes for Summer). The department does not accept emails or faxes of these reports. See Internship Report Requirements for specific guidelines.

If your report is late or incomplete or otherwise unsatisfactory, a “U” (unsatisfactory) grade will be recorded.  You must be aware of the possible consequences of a “U” grade. These consequences can, in specific circumstances, include delay of graduation, ineligibility for additional internships or scholarships, and even dismissal as a student at NIU.

Be aware that your late, incomplete, or unsatisfactory report can take some time to be reviewed and subsequently approved. Once approved, the “U” can be changed to an “S” (satisfactory), but this process alone may take 2 – 3 weeks.

CSCI 697, Graduate Reading in Computer Science: The Director of Graduate Studies requires a signed permission statement from a faculty member and a 1-page description of the project, written by the student in consultation with the faculty member. This description must include the work to be undertaken and the planned outcomes of the project (software, report, Web site, etc.).

Understand that a couple of sentences on one page is not a one-page report.

Ideally, all this should be arranged before the beginning of classes, but in no case will permission be granted after the end of the first week of classes.

In addition,

  • No more than one reading course may be taken in a given semester.
  • Reading courses may not be added after classes begin if the student is already registered for three CS classes. Four CS classes in a semester will not be approved, nor will students be allowed to drop a regular course for which they are already registered in order to take a reading course after classes have begun.
  • A reading course may not be taken in conjunction with a Research Assistant assignment (with the same professor) unless the topic for the reading course is sufficiently different from the research. The Director of Graduate Studies will make this determination.

Finally, we ask that you avoid enrolling in classes that you have no intention of taking (i.e., courses that you plan to drop later and substitute a different course). If your enrollment has the effect contributing to filling the class (and thus closing it), other students (who want to take the course) may be blocked from taking it.  In addition this practice makes it difficult for the department to accurately make last minute adjustments to the semester’s schedule.


Exceptions to some these rules may be made in special or emergency situations.