Reduced Course Load Guide
Dropping below full-time enrollment (12 credits for undergraduates; 8 credits for graduates) requires prior approval from International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) in the form of a Reduced Course Load (RCL). See 8 CFR § 214.2(f)(6)(iii). Students enrolled in thesis or dissertation hours can also be considered to be full-time students, with prior ISSS and academic approval. Students experiencing difficulty with English language proficiency or reading requirements will need to register for English as a Second Language coursework as needed to bolster language skill and remain full-time. ISSS reserves the final right to approve or deny any Reduced Course Load request. In some cases, ISSS may instead recommend a Leave of Absence, which would allow the student to withdraw from classes but also necessitates departure from the United States.
A student is only eligible for a Reduced Course Load in very specific circumstances:
- Academic Difficulty (only approved once per academic level):
- You are in your first or second semester and are having initial difficulty understanding American teaching methods for your classes. You must resume full-time study in the next available semester. You must carry at least half-time credit hours.
- You have been placed in an improper course level. You must resume full-time study in the next available semester. You must carry at least half-time credit hours.
- Documented Illness, Medical, or Psychological Condition (12 months total)
- You have a documented illness, medical, or psychological condition. Bring a completed Medical Reduced Course Load Approval Form to an international student advisor or email it in a PDF attachment to email@example.com. Your licensed physician, doctor of osteopathy, or clinical psychologist must complete the Medical Reduced Course Load Approval Form.
- Pregnant students requesting RCL must include an explanation from their doctor with specific reasons beyond normal pregnancy symptoms as to why the student is unable to attend classes.
- Completion of Course of Study
- You are in your last semester and require fewer credits to graduate than are necessary to be considered a full-time student. You may only use this reason twice.
- Note: Students can not receive an RCL in their final semester if the only course(s) they plan to take are not required by their program.
- Thesis or Dissertation Work
- You are a Master’s student or Ph.D. candidate working on your thesis or dissertation full-time, registered for fewer than 8 credit hours. PhD and Master's students in their last semester of course work do not qualify for this RCL if they still need to complete Dissertation or Thesis.
- If your ISSS advisor feels that you qualify for a reduced course load, complete the Reduced Course Load Form. You will be notified via email when your advisor/coordinator completes his/her portion. Follow the specific instructions on the form for medical RCLs.
- Do not drop below full-time registration until an international student advisor approves your request. Dropping below full-time registration before obtaining RCL approval from ISSS constitutes an immigration violation and may result in the termination of your student status.