How do I register when I enter the research phase of my graduate study?

Date: August 2017


Good afternoon,

This fall, I will be a third-year doctoral student. My A exam is scheduled for October 2. Assuming I pass, I intend to initiate my data collection in the field soon after that (likely the following week in October). I will not be taking any courses in the Fall.

I see that there are different registration codes for pre-candidacy graduate research (GRAD 9010) and post-candidacy dissertation research (GRAD 9011). My instinct is to register for six credits of each type of research because I will spend Aug 22 – October 2 in pre-candidacy research and October 3 – December 1 in post-candidacy research. However, I also understand that this is assuming that I pass my A exam.

My concern is that I make sure to get credit for all the dissertation data collection I will be doing during October-December. If I only register for pre-A exam research credits, I would not get appropriate credit for this work. Please advise as to how I should register.

Thanks in advance for your assistance.

Registering Graduate Student


Dear Registering Graduate Student,

Thanks for sending in an “Ask a Dean” question. First, let me provide a little background on the research courses that are offered through the Graduate School. 

Because almost all graduate programs at Cornell are explicitly defined as being full-time, students are expected to maintain at least 12 credits of enrollment during each academic term. Students in M.S., M.A. and Ph.D. programs often take courses in their first few semesters, then shift to a research focus taking fewer than 12 course credits. When this occurs, we automatically enroll then in one of the ungraded research courses such as GRAD 9010 or GRAD 9011. This signifies that the student is devoting part or full effort towards academic research activities that are required for the degree program.

Pre-A exam doctoral students will be automatically enrolled in GRAD 9010, so you may see this on your Student Center record now. Since this is largely a placeholder to establish full-time status there is no compelling need to change this to GRAD 9011 once you pass your A exam. If you have a particular concern about this please contact the Graduate School registrar (Anne Haessner at and she can discuss your options. Alternatively, if your graduate field offered a research course you should talk with your GFA about how to enroll in this. Some, but not all, fields do offer such courses.

Good luck on your exam!



Jason Kahabka
Associate Dean for Administration and Student Services