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Coursework for MS and PhD students

Rackham requires PhD students to be continuously enrolled unless they are on an approved Rackham leave of absence. Students are not expected to enroll for classes during the Spring/Summer terms (May–August), with the exception of PhD students who defend their dissertations during the summer months. PhD students must be enrolled for EARTH 995 during the term in which they defend.


To register for classes, you must log on to “Student Business” in Wolverine Access with course selections, including class and section numbers at hand. You should have obtained electronic permissions (overrides) for independent study courses from the Academic Program Manager. First-year students register for classes after attending the Orientation in late August, one week before the start of Fall classes. After the first term, students can register at the opening of student registration, usually three weeks before the end of the current term. If you fail to register by the first day of class, a $50 late registration fee will be assessed to your account. To avoid this fee, register for the minimum credits required by the first day of classes. You can “drop/add” the schedule without incurring fees up to the third week of the term. The late registration fee is increased by $25 at the beginning of each subsequent month except for late admissions, non-degree students, PhD students registering to defend their dissertation.

Tuition bills will be generated once you register for classes. They will show up on student accounts. If you have a GSI, GSRA, or department fellowship appointment, tuition waivers are credited directly toward their account approximately three weeks into the term. The process can be slow - especially during fall when there are many new GSI appointments to be loaded into the system. Registration fees are not covered by the department, so it is your responsibility to pay the fees by the first day of classes to avoid late fees. Any questions regarding tuition payments or fees should be directly to the Academic Program Manager.

Course selection

Study the LSA Course Guide for a term-specific list of classes in LSA and talk to your adviser, faculty mentor, and senior students in your lab to discuss appropriate coursework, including cognate courses. Generally, PhD pre-candidates and MS students register for 8 to 12 credits per term. PhD candidates must enroll for 8 credits of 995, and have the option of taking one course per term or more than one course for a total of no more than four credits without paying additional tuition.

Students with

  • GSI and GSRA appointments must register for a minimum of 6 credit hours per term.
  • departmental fellowships must register for a minimum of 8 credit hours per term.
  • F-1 visas must be registered full-time. Full-time for international students is defined as 8 credit hours for those holding fellowships, and 6 credit hours for those with GSI or GSRA positions. This non-negotiable immigration rule is monitored by Rackham's International Admissions Office.
  • deferred loans must register for a minimum of 8 credit hours per term.

EARTH courses with graduate credit


Numerical grade points on a 4.0 scale are translated to letter grades as follows: 

A+ = 4.3   A- = 3.7   B = 3.0   C+ = 2.3
A = 4.0   B+ = 3.3   B- = 2.7   C = 2.0

Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grades – Graduate students can take a course S/U or Visit/Audit but get credit only if they earned a grade of C- or better. Credit for a cognate course requires a grade of B- or better. Graduate students may not take courses Pass/Fail.

Minimum required grade point average (GPA) – Graduate students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 (i.e., B) or better. Rackham places a student whose cumulative GPA falls below B in a given term on academic probation for the following term or half term of enrollment. Both the student and the department are notified of this in writing. During the probationary term, the student cannot be awarded a graduate degree or certificate and cannot transfer credit to a Rackham master’s program, advance to candidacy, or be allowed to change the program (i.e., dual degree, degree level, etc.). A student may be dismissed from the program if after one probationary term, the cumulative GPA continues to be a B or worse.

Incompletes – A student may receive a grade of Incomplete (“I”) if the amount of remaining work to be completed by the end of the semester is small and the instructor approves an extension for completing the unfinished work. The instructor must determine a deadline for finishing the assigned work before a grade is assigned. The notation of “I” remains a permanent part of the academic record. When coursework is completed to the satisfaction of the instructor, the grade will appear on the transcript as, for example, “I B+.” The grade point average is based only on hours of coursework completed.


See Rackham Academic Policies for complete information.