Wednesday, March 02, 2011

These continuous enrollment policies remind you that schools are in the business of making money

This memo below was sent out to all department chairs, graduate studies chairs, and graduate program administrative support staff at OSU. I don't think it was intended to be read by students or anyone else, but it got forwarded to the student list, and they haven't taken me off of that list yet. For brevity, I'm omitting the PDF that was attached to the memo.

I have always thought these continuous enrollment policies (and limits on funding based on a credit hour ceiling) were slimy. It's even slimier when you read this memo which initially says it is in the benefit of the student to finish their doctorate quickly but then at the end says that it ensures the college is making money.
Patrick S. Osmer, Vice Provost and Dean
February 28, 2011

Department Chairs
Graduate Studies Committee Chairs
Graduate Program Administrative Support Staff


I am writing to remind you of the Continuous Enrollment Policy that is in effect for all students who were admitted to the Graduate School autumn quarter 2008 and after. We are receiving petitions for exemption from the policy, which we need to have approved by the college before we can consider them, as I ex­plain below.

Simply put, this policy requires all post-candidacy students to be enrolled for a minimum of three credit hours every quarter (excluding summer quarter) until graduation. I am including a copy of the policy for your convenience. Recall that the policy is an outcome of the process that led to the reduction of full-time enrollment for post-candidacy students to three credit hours. One specific goal of continuous enrollment is to reduce time to degree for doctoral students by having them formally engaged with their program and the university. Going away to teach somewhere else with the intent to finish the dissertation off campus, for example, is not in the student’s best interests or the university’s.

A student may apply for a leave of absence due to extenuating circumstances such as the birth or adoption of a child or a serious medical condition, but a leave will not be granted with the sole reason of financial hardship.

If a student is requesting an exemption from continuous enrollment due to circumstances not covered by the leave of absence as stated in the Graduate School Handbook, I am asking that he or she direct that petition to the dean’s office for your review. The college may choose to cover the cost of the post-candidacy enrollment for an individual student and we will work with the college to manage that process. I remind you that according to the current budget model, the net marginal revenue to the college will be positive for a student who enrolls for three hours and for whom the college covers the (standard) fee au­thorization.

We continue to communicate this policy to students and to graduate programs and appreciate your assis­tance with that process. Please let me know if you have further questions.



250 University Hall
230 N. Oval Mall
Columbus, OH 43210-1366
PH:(614) 247-7413
FAX:(614) 292-3656
Currently, students get into their post-candidacy period as soon as possible and must keep 3-hour enrollment per quarter. Before that, students were urged to do their candidacy a year before defending their dissertation (so the candidacy started the "writing year"). In general, students were asked to maintain 15-hour enrollment (because it was good for individual department budgets). But then the state got involved and started to crank down on the maximum number of hours a doctoral student could accumulate... and things went down hill from there. So now we have early candidacies and lots of mandatory 3-hour enrollment. By the way, if you didn't get the hint, students don't actually take any classes during these 3- or 15-hour enrollment periods; they take (and someone pays for) "research hours". "Research hours" are usually not given letter grades (although some universities give them letter grades, which helps graduate students to buffer their GPA's against some classes that they actually do have to take), and they rarely require any deliverables to pass them. They are throw away classes invented by bean counters.

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