Graduate Student Frequently Asked Questions

Transferring credits from an MS degree to a PhD Plan of Study:

  1. The student meets with their committee and provides a copy of his/her MS transcripts for review.
  2. The committee determines the courses and credits that can be applied towards the student's PhD POS. These can include both coursework credits and research credits (maximum of 30 credits). These courses are then listed on the "MS credit transfer to PhD POS" form.
  3. The advisor signs the form and submits it to the CE Graduate Office.
  4. The student can then move forward with generating the draft of his/her electronic plan of study. The MS transfer courses should NOT be listed on the PhD plan of study with the PhD courses, however the student should list the approved MS transfer courses in the Comments section. Be sure to list the course number, course title, credits and date taken. The CE Grad Office will note the overall number of MS credit being transferred in the appropriate field in the POS during the approval process and it will be approved by the committee chair.
  5. The CE Grad Office will contact the student regarding the MS transfer credits and draft POS once it has been reviewed.  Do not submit the plan as final until you have confirmation from the CE Grad Office to do so.
  6. The MS transfer form will remain in the student's file as a record of the approval of the transfer courses and associated credits.

A special appointment may be requested by the head of a graduate program for an individual who does not meet the conditions required for regular appointment, yet who can contribute special expertise to the work of graduate students. The proposed member must hold a degree which is of at least the same level as the degree the student is earning. Such a person may serve as a member or as a co-chair, but not as chair, on graduate student committees and teach graduate courses.

If a student would like to request a special appointment for a potential committee member, the advisor should complete a Request for Special Graduate Faculty Appointment form and submit it to the Chair of the CE Graduate Committee, along with the resume/CV of the proposed member. This process can be time consuming (on the order of few months) and early planning is required. Please note that special faculty certification is based on the department that requested the certification. Therefore if a person has special certification from a different department, a Civil student cannot use that approval. Special certification will have to be requested through Civil Engineering.

Be sure to discuss your decision with your advisor and the CE Grad Office. The Graduate School will maintain your student status for two semesters of no registration. As long as you register in the third semester, you would not have to re-apply. Please note that summers are counted as a semester. If you are an international student, you should contact ISS to discuss options to maintain your VISA status as immigration guidelines do not typically allow for not registering.

As you register for classes, a tuition/fee bill is generated.  The number of registered credit hours determine the amount of your bill. If you are registered for less than eight hours, your tuition will be billed per credit hour and your fees will be prorated.  If you register for eight or more hours, you will be charged full-time tuition and fees.  Therefore, if you add or drop credits over the course of a few days, your bill may change.  Some fees may appear on your statement twice, once for the initial prorated amount, then another entry for the balance of the fee when you get to full-time enrollment.

If you have an assistantship and are eligible for tuition remission, this has to be manually applied to your account.  The process begins in Civil when you advisor confirms with the Civil business office that you are funded.  The Civil business office then notifies the bursar office of the tuition remission.  The bursar then adds coding to your account to credit the tuition remission to your bill.  This is applied only after your bill has fully processed, which is usually one business day after you register.  This means that the remission will not be immediately credited to your account at the time you register. In the spring and fall semesters, the bursar will automatically enroll students with an assistantship into a payment plan.

You can find helpful information about paying your bill at:

Most international students are eligible to request a reduction in course-load (RCL) during their final semester of study. The RCL request is made through International Students and Scholars (ISS). If approved the RCL would allow you to register for as little as one credit hour. If you are registering as Exam/Degree Only, you must request RCL. For F-1 students, the expiration date of your I-20 will be updated to the semester of the RCL since you are indicating that you will be done with the degree. Please note, if you are funded with a half time appointment and register for at least six hours, ISS will consider you full-time without having to do an RCL request.

If the new date is within a month of the original date, then you do not need to submit a new request. Please inform the CE Grad Office of the new date so that the records can be updated.  If it is more than a month from the original date (or in a new semester), please submit a new form.

Your Purdue email will stay active for at least six months after your graduation date. About a week before your account will be closed, you will receive an email with the exact date, so that you can be sure move files or save important information.

If you register for a 300 or 400 level course – initially it will be "excluded" on your transcripts. Once you include this 300 or 400 level course on your plan of study and have completed the course with a B or better grade, it will then be "included." MSCE students should have their plan of study completed by the end of their second semester. PhD students should have their plan of study completed by the end of their third semester.  The course audit to include the undergraduate course is done by the graduate school in the semester you are graduating.

Purdue University benefits from the knowledge and talents of non-native, English-speaking graduate teaching assistants in many aspects of its instructional program. These persons bring an essential diversity of culture to the campus and thus enrich our total academic environment. These benefits cannot be realized, however, if there is a language barrier between instructors and students.

Purdue University requires, therefore, that any person whose first language is not English, and who holds or is a candidate for appointment as a graduate teaching assistant, demonstrate adequate English proficiency before being assigned duties involving direct instruction of students.

The test appointments are very limited, so we must prioritize students with a teaching assistantship offer and make sure they are able to test first. If you wish to take the OEPT, please contact the CE Graduate Office so we can get you on the waiting list in the appropriate priority.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an alternative study, internship, cooperative education, or other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by a sponsoring employer through a U.S. College or University. 

CPT is only available for current F-1 students when it is part of the student's established curriculum within their program of study. CPT must be integral to the student's primary major program of study. It cannot be authorized for work related to a student's minor, certificate program, previous or future major.

CPT is not intended for general, ongoing work authorization, or as a bridge to employment after graduation. True volunteer work (i.e., at a food bank or animal shelter) does not require CPT. However, any internship, whether it is paid or unpaid, requires CPT authorization prior to participation.

If authorized, CPT is granted for specific dates, a specific employer, and a specific location. Any practical training or employment that begins prior to the authorized start date or occurs after the authorized end date is considered unauthorized employment and will result in the loss of your legal status inside the US. This includes “volunteering” and participating in orientation, training, or welcome sessions with a prospective employer. ISS requires 10 business days to process a CPT request, so please plan accordingly.

All international students enrolled at Purdue University are required to comply with the mandatory health insurance policy, including students participating in full- or part-time Curricular Practical Training.

The Graduate Program in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering does not require CPT for degree completion; however, we do support students taking advantage of appropriate CPT opportunities and will recommend CPT requests for academic credit.  In this case, the CPT requirement should be an integral part of your major field of study.

The Lyles School of Civil Engineering will allow summer CPT experiences for students, as acceptable by ISS.  Should a student have opportunity for an extended CPT experience (two consecutive semesters), we will approve one additional semester (summer + fall OR spring + summer).  Requests for more than two consecutive semesters will not be considered.

Before your Curricular Practical Training (CPT) will be approved, you must have:

  • completed 1 academic year in full-time status (fall & spring semesters)
  • a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0
  • an approved Plan of Study

You will not be approved for CPT in a semester in which you are scheduled to or plan to register as a candidate for graduation.

If you are an F-1 international student and plan to work off campus, you are required to apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). F-1 students must complete the ISS online CPT workshop and receive written employment authorization from ISS before beginning employment. Further information regarding CPT instructions, forms or processing times, please contact the Office of the International Students and Scholars (ISS) at Contact Student Services | ISS (

An offer letter from the company must be submitted when registering for the course. The letter must include:

  • title of the position
  • dates of employment (start and end dates)
  • mailing address, including zip code of the employment location
  • number of work hours per week
  • salary, and a brief description of the job duties and responsibilities

CPT Application Check-list:

  • Step 1: Learn about CPT - Review CPT information on ISS website:
  • Step 2: Receive departmental approval for CPT from your Faculty Advisor
  • Step 3: Complete “CPT Statement of Understanding” and “Offer Letter Verification” e-forms - As your first step in the online application process, you will log in to myISS at and navigate to the “F-1 and J-1 Student Services” category. Find the “Curricular Practical Training (CPT)” e-form and click on it.
  • Step 4: Register for CPT course (CE 59800 – Graduate Professional Internship). If there is not already a section of CE 59800 set up with your advisor as instructor, please contact the CE Grad Office to have a section set up.
  • Step 5: Complete “Immigration Documents Upload” and “CPT Course and Academic Advisor Verification” (your faculty adivisor is the appropriate contact person for this form) e-forms - Once ISS has verified your job offer letter contains the required information, you will be granted access to the next step in your application.
  • Step 6: Wait for processing – Processing time at the Office of International Students and Scholars (ISS) is approximately 5 business days from the date they receive all required e-forms and documents, and your academic advisor's recommendation. To be fair to all students, ISS processes requests in the order in which they are received and cannot accommodate expedite requests. Do not work in any capacity, paid or unpaid, until you receive authorization from ISS.
  • Step 7: Receive your I-20 from ISS - ISS will contact you via email after your I-20 has been created and is ready to be picked up.

Civil Engineering does not require a current MSCE student to submit a full application package in order to continue to a PhD.  Our process is:

  1. Identify a faculty member willing to support you as a PhD student
  2. Have your MSCE awarded (complete MSCE plan of study, register as a candidate)
  3. During the semester you will have your MSCE awarded, complete the Continue to PhD form and submit it to the CE Grad Office at least 45 days before the end of the semester
  4. International students will need to do a Change of Degree Objective request with ISS and may need to extend their I-20

Once your MSCE is awarded, the Grad School will update your degree objective to PhD. Remember that up to 30 credits from your MSCE can transfer to your PhD.

The Dean of Student's Office does have a Student Legal Services department. You can visit their website for more information or to set up an appointment:

If you have questions specific to landlord/tenant issues, you can also find information here:

Additional questions? Contact us.