Reduced Course Load

Immigration regulations require that all students with F-1 & J-1 immigration status must be enrolled for a full course load every semester. A full course load is defined as 12 credit hours for undergraduate students and 9 credit hours for graduate students.

Dropping below full-time enrollment without the prior approval of your academic advisor and your International Student Advisor is a violation of your legal student status.


Each student is limited to one approved semester below a full course load prior to the final semester of the program. In the final semester of their program, students are allowed to take less than a full course load if that is the number of credits needed to complete their degree.

Exceptions to the full course of study requirement are limited to the following:

During the first or second semester only:

  1. Initial Difficulty with English LanguageReading Requirements, or American Teaching Methods
  2. Improper Course Level Placement

During the final semester only:

  1. To Complete Course of Study in Current Semester

To apply, complete the Application for a Reduced Course Load with your academic advisor. Email the International Student Advisor at with the form and to schedule an appointment for approval.


If F-1 students experience a medical emergency or event and need a break from their studies, they should work with the Center for International Students (CIS) to request a reduced course load (RCL) for medical conditions. The Center for International Students may authorize an RCL (or, if necessary, no course load) due to a student’s temporary illness or medical condition for up to 12 months during the course of study at that program level.

  • Cannot exceed 12 month aggregate per program level (LewerMark medical insurance plans will only cover one semester)
  • Require a student continue to maintain LewerMark insurance coverage even if they are not enrolled in classes.
  • May excuse a student from all classes
  • Require a student provide medical documentation recommending a specific period of time off or reduced course load from a licensed:
    • Medical Doctor
    • Doctor of Osteopathy
    • Clinical Psychologist
  • Are authorized for one semester at a time, the student is responsible for renewing the RCL each term, and providing new or continuing medical information
  • May be used back-to-back or at different times during a program level
  • Only apply to the student. Students wishing to take time off to care for ill relatives would not qualify.
  • The condition must be of a nature that full-time study is not possible. Allergies, sprained ankles, or pregnancy would not count.

Students who wish to apply for Medical RCL must submit a completed Medical Exception to a Full Course of Study form, along with medical documentation, to the Center for International Students at least two weeks prior to the semester in which they plan to have reduced or no course load.

Students will also need to apply for an official Leave of Absence from the University. You can do so on the ‘Student’ Tab in Truview under ‘Registration.’ Select ‘Medical Leave’ or ‘Personal Leave.’

If RCL for medical conditions is not adequate for meeting the needs of the student, the CIS may instead authorize a Leave of Absence. Students should note that Leave of Absence may NOT be taken in the United States. Students who do not qualify for a Medical RCL must either become enrolled full time or depart the United States.

The student must always talk to the Center for International Students before they stop attending classes; otherwise the student risks having their SEVIS record terminated for unauthorized withdrawal and must depart the United States immediately.