Current Students

Academic Status and Regulations

Satisfying Residency Requirements and Maintaining Student Status

Residency Requirements

The Heller School PhD Program has three student status categories that govern residency and tuition policy: Required-Residence, Post-Residence, and Continuation.


Required-residence is 2 years for full-time students. Full tuition is required for each residence year, whether a Heller scholarship or an outside fellowship.

Part-time students usually take two courses per semester. All courses must be paid for in full. A part-time student who wishes to go full-time must receive approval from the Program Director. That student will then be charged the full-time tuition for all remaining semesters. Part-time students who change to full-time should not expect financial aid.


Students who have completed the required residence, courses and comprehensive paper register as post-resident students and have their tuition reduced to the Post-Resident rate. The post-resident fee allows a student to use University facilities, register for courses, receive VA benefits, and serve on Heller or University Committees. Post-Resident students may also defer payments on student loans; however, they must be able to prove that they are working at least half-time on their dissertation. Students in this category must be covered by health insurance, whether it is private insurance or the University's student health insurance plan. A student under this status may not be hired as a full-time employee on a Heller research project. This is a full-time student status.


A student who has completed all courses and the comprehensive paper and has an approved dissertation proposal becomes a Continuation student and pays the continuation fee. The annual fee for continuation status is less than that of a post-resident and entitles the student to the same University services with the exception of enrolling in classes. Continuation students must be covered by health insurance, whether it is private insurance or the University’s health insurance plan. Continuation students may be hired as a full-time employee (research associate) on a research project.

Maintaining Student Status

To maintain student status, students should keep in mind:

  • To be considered full-time, resident students need to take a minimum of 3 courses per semester.  Full-time status is especially important for people with student loans, training grants, and fellowships.
  • Part-time students must take 2 courses per semester. A student who wishes to take only 1 course because of special circumstances needs a written approval from his or her advisor and the PhD Program Director.
  • No student will be allowed to maintain status and register if he or she owes any tuition and/or fees from prior semesters.

Every student must have a health examination report and evidence of health insurance coverage on file at University Health Services. First-year students will not be allowed to register until they have submitted the Brandeis University Health Services Physician's Report completed by their doctor. Each year, all full-time students are automatically billed for the University health insurance individual coverage. Students who have private health insurance coverage can have the charge removed from his/her bill by returning the health insurance waiver form to the Health Services Department providing details about his/her private insurance coverage.


Periodically, students who have been withdrawn from the program wish to return. When this occurs the Program Director will form a faculty committee to review the re-admission request. The student will be asked to prepare a petition stating just were they are in the dissertation process and a time-table for completion within the time limits in place when they matriculated. The detailed content of this request will vary based on where the student is in the process and the requirements for its content will be conveyed to the student in writing by the Director. The central criteria for evaluation is whether the student has a high probability of completing a quality dissertation with the time remaining to them.

Registering for the Fall and Spring Semesters

Registration and course enrollment are the same process. By enrolling in a course you are officially registering with the University for that term. Registration signals your acceptance of the rights and responsibilities of being a Brandeis student as contained in the Brandeis Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook, the University Bulletin, and other University publications. Every category of student (resident, post-resident, continuation, fulltime, and part-time) should register for full semester, module I and module II courses or status during the registration period. 

Every student must have a health examination report and evidence of health insurance coverage on file at University Health Services. A student who has not completed the University’s health requirements or who has outstanding financial or other obligations will have a “Hold” placed on his or her account and will not be allowed to register. If holds are not cleared up by the last day of the course enrollment period, students will be administratively withdrawn from the University. Once a student is administratively withdrawn from the University, he or she will be required to reapply for admission in a subsequent semester.

Summer Term Registration

Students who intend to complete their PhD for an August 31 degree date must enroll in CONT 250b (Summer Research) for the summer term. August 31 degree candidates are automatically enrolled by the Registrar’s office when an online Application for Degree is submitted. The summer registration fee is waived for PhD candidates.

Inactive Student Statuses

Degree Pending

Students who have completed all degree requirements including final defense of their dissertation and who have had their dissertation deposit accepted by Proquest prior to the start of classes for the semester are assigned the status of Degree Pending. Students should request a change to this status upon depositing their dissertation or thesis. International students should check with the ISSO office prior to requesting this change. Students in this category are typically not eligible to use any academic services or University facilities, nor are they eligible for student loans or loan deferments. 

Leave of Absence

Time spent on authorized leaves of absence will not be counted toward the maximum time permitted to complete degree requirements.  For authorized leaves policies, visit the University Bulletin, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management and use the Academic Regulations drop down for details. Students who want to request a leave of absence should contact Ravi Lakshmikanthan, Associate Dean, Global and Strategic Initiatives,

Time Limit in the PhD Program

While the expected time for completion of the PhD Program is 4-5 years, the maximum time limit for completion is 10 years from entry into the program, 12 years for part-time students (subject to any relevant accommodations as discussed below). Except in situations where there is an approved accommodation, there will be no possibility for reinstatement after the maximum time limit has been reached.

 Full-time students must defend their dissertations no later than 9½ years (before March 1) from entry into the program. Part-time Heller School for Social Policy and Management students must defend their dissertations no later than 11½ years (before March 1) from their entry in the program. If any student’s dissertation committee requires changes, whether major or minor, the student has no more than 6 months to successfully re-defend his or her dissertation. Full-time students must successfully defend their dissertation proposal, including minor or major changes, within 6 years (before August 31) from the date of entry into the program. Part-time students must successfully defend their dissertation proposal, including any minor or major changes, by 8 years (before August 31) after their entry into the program (August 31). Except in situations where there is an approved accommodation, failure to successfully defend either the proposal or the dissertation within these time limits will result in termination from the program.

Brandeis University is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities and to the protection and equal treatment of pregnant students and students with pregnancy-related conditions. Students requiring reasonable accommodations based on a documented disability or pregnancy-related conditions may be entitled to an extension to any time limits in the Heller PhD Program. Students who believe they may require a disability accommodation should contact Student Accessibility Support (SAS) (; 781-736-3470) who will consult with the student and conduct an individualized assessment to determine whether and what accommodations may be necessary. Students who need accommodations due to pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions should contact the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) (; 781-736-4806) who will consult with the student and conduct an individualized assessment to determine whether and what accommodations may be necessary.

Rights and Responsibilities

Every member of the University community is expected to maintain the highest standards of academic honesty. All students are further required to abide by University standards of conduct as stated in the Rights and Responsibilities Handbook from The Department of Student Rights & Community Standards.

Voluntary Withdrawal

A student who wishes to withdraw voluntarily from the Heller School during a semester must do so in writing to the PhD Program Director and the Assistant Dean for Student and Academic Services on or before the last day of instruction in the term. Failure to notify the School in writing of a withdrawal may subject the student to administrative withdrawal, refusal of readmission, loss of eligibility for refunds in accordance with the refund schedule outlined in the “Fees and Expenses” section. Permission to withdraw voluntarily will not be granted if the student has not discharged all financial obligations to the University or has not made financial arrangements satisfactory to the Office of Financial Services.

Involuntary Withdrawal

Failure to Register: Students who fail to register by the registration deadline (refer to the Academic Calendar on the Registrar’s site) and/or fail to meet their financial obligations with the Office of Student Financial Services will be administratively withdrawn. They may be readmitted for study in a subsequent term, but not for the term in which they were withdrawn for failure to register. Belatedly fulfilling financial obligations will not negate the effects of administrative withdrawal.  Any Heller student receiving notification of impending administrative withdrawal should immediately contact the Assistant Dean for Academic and Student Services.