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Ask an Advisor

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2018 GraduationMay 5th, 2018
Countdown to May 2018 Graduation!


As you know, November is the time to register for spring classes.  Most of our students do this in person, which we encourage because it is the best way to answer your questions as you progress toward your degree and beyond.

During this month, this space will be hosting an “ASK AN ADVISOR” column once a week, hosting your questions and soliciting expert advisor help to answer them.  Please submit any questions via email to Dr. Therese Madden at We are all looking forward to this conversation so that you always know exactly where you stand with regards to your graduation progress.

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION, submitted by an Intensive Business student:  Why can’t I take 12 units?

ANSWER:  Well, it’s complicated….*

First, the good news.  You can take 12 units or more.  However, you can NOT usually do that many units in a semester at NDNU.  (We do request one-time exceptions if you want to and are in your final semesters before graduation.) However, many students take classes concurrently at NDNU and a community college and the combined unit count is often at 12 or more units.

OK, but why can’t you take 12 units at NDNU in any given semester?  Answer:  NDNU has two tiers of tuition, one for full-time students and another for the Intensive students who stay below 12 units.  THIS IS A GOOD THING as you’ve got the less expensive rate.  The program design and expectations of working adult students supports this educational model and justifies the different tuition rates.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  The definition of “part time” differs depending on context.  Within these definitions, Intensive students have the best of all worlds!  For tuition purposes, you are considered part time, paying a lower tuition rate because you take fewer than 12 units per semester.  But for Financial Aid purposes, full-time is defined as six units per semester, so as long as you are taking at least one class each term (or one at NDNU and one at a community college), you will still qualify for Financial Aid, loans, etc.

* “Well, it’s complicated…” may sound frustrating, but it is the most honest answer to the why behind many advising questions.  Students often talk with each other, which can create confusion.  PSP programs (Human Services, Intensive Business, and Intensive Liberal Studies) are degree completion programs, recognizing that students began their studies at another insitution (or institutions) and working with each student individually to create and execute a degree completion plan.  So if your colleague has to take math but it isn’t on your worksheet when you chat with your advisor, it is probably because you already took a class that satisfied that requirement.  Feel free to ask to be sure!  And if your friend is satisfying a Religion class at a community college but you had the impression that it would be best to complete it at NDNU, it is likely because your friend doesn’t need additional Upper Division units and you do.

Advising is always individually geared toward your particular needs, with the understanding that for the most part you want to finish 1) with no more classes than are required for your degree and 2) with no more than 46 Upper Division units at NDNU (because you can spend less money taking lower division units at the community college.)  But there are exceptions even to these assumptions, so ask, ask, ASK!


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