FAQ

FAQ

Current Students

Q: How many credits should I register for in order to maintain full-time status?

A: Typically, you will register for 9 credits for full-time status (you can register for more than 9, up to 12). However, when you are within 9 credits of reaching your program requirement (30 for M.S., 72 for Ph.D.), then register for the number of credits you have remaining, but not less than 3. You can confirm the number of credits you’ve completed in MyPack Portal.

For example, suppose you are an M.S. student who has completed 25 credits. You would need to register for at least 5 credits for full-time status.  

If you are an M.S. student who has completed 29 credits, then you would register for 3 credits for full-time status.

Note that students who do not have full-time status are not eligible for GSSP benefits such as tuition waivers and health insurance and cannot hold assistantships of any type.

Q: What is the Graduate Student Support Plan (GSSP)? Why does it matter?

A: The GSSP is a support framework that covers graduate student tuition and health insurance for a limited number of semesters. A large portion of GSSP funding comes from the state. Because resources are limited, students are only eligible for GSSP support for a limited time. Provided that students maintain full-time status (see previous question) and good academic standing (cumulative NC State graduate GPA≥3.0), students remain eligible for this support up to the time limit. Currently, M.S. students have four semesters of support, and Ph.D. students have either eight or 10 semesters of support, depending on whether they entered the program with a related M.S.

Learn more about the GSSP.

To check your GSSP status, log in to The Graduate Student Online Academic Reporting System (GSOARS) and display your information. Scroll down the page to “Show Graduate Students Support Plan Details,” and click there to display a chart that indicates the number of needed credits. The “person” icon indicates your position as of the semester designated at the top of the form.  

Q: I am past the Graduate Student Support Plan (GSSP) time limit. What now?

A: If you are in a RA, check with your advisor to see if tuition is budgeted in the grant that pays you. If so, then you can print out your tuition bill and have your advisor complete the needed information so that it can be paid. If you are on a TA, then you will either have to pay the bill yourself or work with your advisor to identify other funding sources to cover the tuition.

Q: Can cross-listed, 500-level courses I took when I was an undergraduate student at NC State count toward my graduate degree requirements?

A: Only if they were not counted as a requirement toward your B.S. degree. Courses cannot be applied to multiple degree programs. 

Q: I have completed my coursework and am mostly registering for “research credits,” but I’m confused by the different course options. What’s the difference between MEA 693, 695, and 699? (The corresponding Ph.D. versions are 893, 895, and 899.)  

A: In most situations, M.S. students should always register for the “695” courses (“895” for Ph.D. students). The _93 versions were originally designated for students completing non-thesis-related research projects for credit (for instance, with a faculty member who is not their advisor), and the _99 version is intended for students who have met all other requirements and are exclusively focusing on preparing to defend.  

Q: Are there specific courses required for my graduate degree?

A: It depends on the sub-discipline of study. For Marine Science students, M.S. candidates are expected to take three of the following four courses: Chemical, Physical, Biological or Geological Oceanography; doctoral students are required to take all four. Atmospheric Science students are typically expected to take two of the following three courses: Atmospheric Physics (MEA 514), Atmospheric Dynamics (MEA 705), or Environmental Fluid Mechanics (MEA 700). It is up to the committee and advisor to discuss these requirements with the students.  At this time, there are no specific course requirements for geology students.

Q: Where can I review the graduation requirements?

A: M.S. and for Ph.D. students can read requirements in the MEAS graduate handbook.

The university Graduate School also has a comprehensive online handbook that contains information on many program details and requirements.

Q: When should I form my graduate advisory committee?

A: As soon as possible, but typically toward the end of your second semester in the program, once the general area of your research has been identified.

Q: What is the purpose of and requirements for a graduate advisory committee?  

A: The advisory committee is there to provide technical expertise in your area of study, to ensure that high-quality, graduate-level research is undertaken, and to assist in advising and mentoring the student. The committee is involved in all aspects of the graduate thesis, beginning with approval of the Graduate Plan of Work (GPOW).

Students should strive to form their committees no later than the end of their second semester of study, and they should be sure to involve the committee members and keep them up-to-date on research progress.

Q: One of my committee members is located at another university and will not be able to attend my defense. Is it possible for them to attend remotely?

A: Yes, but only if you complete, obtain signatures and gain approval via the Remote Committee Exam Form well in advance. Note there are both M.S. and doctoral versions of the form.

Prospective Students

Q: What is the minimum GPA for admission to MEAS?

A: The undergraduate GPA cut-off for full admission is a 3.0, but exceptions are possible in rare circumstances. Students with a GPA below a 3.0 can only be admitted with provisional status, and then elevated to full admission after successful completion of graduate-level coursework.

Q: What is the minimum GRE for admission to MEAS? 

A: There is no specific cut-off for GRE scores, but a combined V+M of 302 (new format) is generally recognized. Our admissions process considers a variety of applicant data, including previous research experience, letters of reference, technical skills and personal statement.

Q: If I am offered an assistantship, will it also cover tuition and health insurance? 

A: Yes. Students who are on TA or RA appointments and maintain full-time status and good academic standing (GPA ≥ 3.0) are provided with a tuition waiver and health insurance through the Graduate Student Support Plan (GSSP). The GSSP is a support framework that covers graduate student tuition and health insurance for a limited number of semesters. A large portion of GSSP funding comes from the state. Because resources are limited, students are only eligible for GSSP support for a limited time. Currently, M.S. students have four semesters of support, and Ph.D. students have either eight or 10 semesters of support depending on whether they entered the program with a related M.S.  

Students eligible for North Carolina tuition residency should apply for it after one year; otherwise, the out-of-state portion of tuition is not guaranteed to be covered. For more information, review the support plan guidelines here.

Q: Can I transfer credits from my previous M.S. degree to count toward my MEAS Ph.D.?

A: Yes, but only up to 18 credits. The credits you transfer should be approved by your advisor and meet the usual accreditation standards. 

Q: My offer letter only describes support for the first year. Will I be able to count on support through the completion of my degree? 

A: In nearly all cases, provided that students are making satisfactory progress toward their degree and maintaining academic standing, student support will continue until completion of the degree. 

Q: I would like to visit campus before deciding whether to attend NC State for graduate school. Are there any funds available to help support travel costs?

A: Yes, provided that the travel is not overly expensive and depending on the timing in the recruiting cycle. For students who have been accepted and offered an assistantship, we can usually set up a visit. In some years, we organize “visit weekends,” where groups of prospective accepted students visit MEAS.

Q: Can cross-listed, 500-level courses I took when I was an undergraduate student at NC State count toward my graduate degree requirements?

A: Only if they were not counted as requirement toward your B.S. degree. Courses cannot be applied to multiple degree programs.

Q: Are there specific courses required for my graduate degree? 

A: It depends on the sub-discipline of study. M.S. Marine Science candidates are expected to take three of the following four courses: Chemical, Physical, Biological or Geological Oceanography; doctoral students are required to take all four. Atmospheric Science students are typically expected to take two of the following three courses: Atmospheric Physics (MEA 514), Atmospheric Dynamics (MEA 705), or Environmental Fluid Mechanics (MEA 700). It is up to the committee and advisor to discuss these requirements with the students. At this time, there are no specific course requirements for geology students.

Q: Where can I view graduation requirements?

A: M.S. and Ph.D. students can review graduation requirements in the MEAS Graduate Handbook.

The university Graduate School also has a comprehensive online handbook that contains information on many program details and requirements.