UCF defines full-time study as nine credit hours (three classes) per semester during the Fall and Spring and six hours (two classes) in the Summer. Please note that this definition of full-time study is set by the UCF Graduate College and has nothing to do with definition of full- or half-time status set by the US government for financial aid purposes. Contact Office of Student Financial Assistance for assistance on the latter issue.
Students who receive assistantships must maintain full-time status.
One of the most difficult transitions into graduate school is how much out-of-class preparation time each class takes relative to a three-credit-hour undergraduate class. Students who are used to four to five classes at a time in their undergraduate study are apt to assume that three classes will present an easy load. This is not the case. Full-time study is designed to be just that. If you are working a full-time job, have heavy family demands or other commitments, you should take fewer than three classes per semester.
In general, it is preferable for part-time students to begin by taking a single class in your first semester than it is to take two or three. If you find one class manageable, increasing your load in subsequent semesters can be done with more confidence. Finding yourself overloaded in your first semester is a more difficult problem to solve.
On the other hand, there is a situation in which taking a full-time load while not on assistantship makes sense. As described here, students are eligible to teach composition for the UCF Department of Writing and Rhetoric after they have amassed 18 credit hours in their programs of study. These assistantships are generally assigned on an academic year basis beginning in fall; thus students who have taken two classes per semester in their first year will not be eligible to teach in their second year. In such cases, the best solution is often to take two classes in the first semester, three in the second (assuming that six hours was supportable in the first semester), and one class in the summer, resulting in 18 credit hours at the beginning of the second fall semester.