Reduced Course Load Exception
Under certain circumstances, an F-1 student may request authorization to engage in a reduced course load (undergraduate, less than 12 credits or graduate, less than 9 credits).
A reduced course load may only be granted by International Services and only in specific situations. If you are a student in need of a reduced course, talk with your DSO as soon as possible. Do not drop below a full course of study unless your DSO approves your reduced course load requests and updates your student record in SEVIS.
Authorization for a reduced course load may only be granted in the following situations: initial academic difficulties, temporary illness or medical condition, or needing fewer courses than a full course load in your last term to complete the program of study.
How to Request a Reduced Course Load
- Students should consult with their academic advisor and designated school official to determine eligibility for a full course of study exemption prior to any drop below full time
- The deadline to request a full course of study exemption is the last day to add a class for the academic semester
- Students eligible to request a full course of study exemption must complete the “Full Course of Study Exemption” request using the International Services Portal
Full Course of Study Exemptions
Graduating students who need fewer courses than a full course of study to satisfy all graduation requirements with at least one of your remaining courses is required for your degree. The reduced course load must consist of at least 6 credits for undergraduate students or 4.5 credits for graduate students. Students must receive a degree audit and authorization from your academic advisor determining you will be satisfying all degree requirements in your final semester and have not previously been authorized for a full course of study exemption to complete your program in your final semester. If the student is not required to take any additional courses to satisfy the requirements for completion, but continues to be enrolled for administrative purposes, the student is considered to have completed the course of study and must take action to maintain status. Such action may include an application for change of status or departure from the U.S.
A student in their first semester who is experiencing; initial difficulties with the English language, initial difficulties with reading requirements, unfamiliarity with American teaching methods, or improper course level placement may be eligible for a full course of study exemption. The reduced course load must consist of at least 6 credits for undergraduate students or 4.5 credits for graduate students.
The Designated School Official, located in International Services may authorize a reduced course load (or, if necessary, no course load) due to a student’s temporary illness or medical condition while the student is maintaining valid F-1 status at a particular program level. The student must provide medical documentation to substantiate the illness for a temporary leave from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or clinical psychologist. A medical leave must be submitted by the individual student each academic semester and authorized by International Services in addition to Academic Services in order to continue to maintain valid F-1 status.
A student who has been previously authorized to drop below a full course of study due to illness or medical condition for an aggregate of 12 months, will not be eligible to be authorized for an additional exemption. Students wishing to request a temporary leave as a result of an illness or medical condition must complete all requirements for a medical leave of absence through Academic Services.