Degree Completion Enrollment Requirement

Graduate students must be registered at VT for at least the minimum number of credits (3 credit hours) in the semester or summer session when they take an examination required by Graduate School Policies and in the semester when a degree is completed. Students who have a thesis/dissertation ready for defense by the beginning of a semester, may schedule that defense early in the semester and qualify for Start of Semester Defense Exception (SSDE, 1 credit).

Start of Semester Defense Exception (SSDE)

SSDE is a special enrollment category for students who have fulfilled all requirements, including advisory committee review and agreement that the thesis or dissertation is ready for defense, and are registering only to take the final oral examination. To qualify for start of semester defense exception, a student must have:

  • completed all requirements (including passing grades on all courses on the plan of study), except for the final exam and
  • submitted the final copy of the thesis/dissertation to the advisory committee within the first three weeks of the semester and at least two weeks before the defense and
  • received permission from the advisory committee, who have read the document and consider it ready for defense (to the extent that the student can make corrections and submit the ETD within two weeks of the defense) within the first three weeks of the semester and
  • been enrolled in at least three credit hours the preceding semester and
  • submitted the SSDE form to the Graduate School by the Friday of the third week of classes or no later than three weeks prior to the defense, whichever date comes first

If a student registers for SSDE, his/her enrollment status will be less than full time, which may affect the following:

  • financial aid or loan deferments
  • employment opportunities (not eligible for assistantships or fellowships)
  • visa status (for international students)

Students should consult with the Graduate School and/or Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid to understand the consequences and additional requirements that may result from enrolling under start of semester defense exception.