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Unit Load FAQ

Glossary of Terms and Phrases

Full-time:  The term “full-time” has different meanings for different purposes.

  • For enrollment status at CSUSM, full-time is defined as taking 12 or more units in a semester for undergraduates.
  • For fees and tuition calculation at CSUSM, an undergraduate student is required to pay full-time fees when enrolled in 7 or more units.
  • For financial aid eligibility, full-time status for undergraduates is defined as 12 or more units. For more information, visit the Financial Aid website.
  • For international undergraduate students, the U.S. government requires students using F-1 and J-1 visas to register and complete at least 12 units to maintain status.
  • For Veterans Affairs (VA) educational benefits, the VA defines full-time as being enrolled in 12 or more units in a semester for undergraduates. For more information, contact Veterans Services.

“Graduate On Time”: Each student must determine what graduating “on time” means to them. For those who desire to graduate in four years, a unit-load of 15 units per semester or 30 units per academic year would be required.

Register/Enroll: The process for signing up for classes. These words may be used interchangeably.

Unit: The measure of credit each course is assigned is based on the amount of time a student should devote to the course each week. For example, a unit of academic credit equates to one hour of classroom/laboratory time and two to three hours of preparation each week. Therefore, a 15-unit course load requires 45 to 60 hours of time each week.

Unit-load: The number of units a student is taking in any given semester.