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I am lost on how many courses to take in my first semester


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I'm asking specifically in the Religion forum because my background is mainly in another discipline and I'm unsure about Religion courses and their workloads. 

I'm starting a Religion PhD program and originally talked to an advisor about how many classes to take, and they recommended four. These would all be graduate seminars and add up to about 14 credits. I've been reading about how it's typical to take three as a full course load. If I did this, my credits would drop to 11. While there doesn't seem to be a minimum requirement at the school, it's "typical" (at least on the degree worksheet) for students to take one of the cores and about 11 credits but after reading many grad student experiences, it seems like this would be overkill. 

How many courses is it typical to take in your first semester? Would four be overkill? As I've never taken a grad course before, would it be better to err on the side of caution and take three instead? 

I reached out to a graduate student but they haven't responded yet. 

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Even if you rate yourself a workaholic, I'd never encourage someone to take more than three courses their first semester. The work expected of you is going to be higher than as a M* student. On top of that, and this is school dependent, but you're going to be encouraged to take on administrative responsibilities too - sitting on a committee (mostly), and probably other small things. All of this is in addition to balancing social and personal responsibilities.

Start at three and see how you feel in the spring. Keep in mind though that as you get settled into the program they tend to ask more of you.

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