Full Course of Study Requirement
Immigration regulations require that all F-1 students register for and complete a full course of study every term. Read below for general rules about registration. If you plan to enroll for less than a full course of study, you must have approval from ISSS before the semester begins. Click here for information about exceptions to the full course of study requirement.
- Credit Requirements:
- Graduate School Students: 6 credits per semester
- Undergraduate Students: 12 credits per semester
- Non-degree seeking students: 12 credits per semester
- Professional School Students: between 6 and 12 credits, depending on your program
U of MN requires a minimum of 13 credits per semester for undergraduate degree-seeking students. See more details ...
- Summer Session Enrollment: Continuing students are not required to enroll during summer session. Students admitted to begin a program in the summer MUST enroll full-time during the summer of admission.
- Thesis credits DO count toward your full course of study requirement. As long as the total number of credits meets your minimum requirement, you may take any combination of thesis and/or course credits.
- FTE stands for Full Time Equivalent. This means that the FTE courses (8444 for PhD students and 8333 for Master’s students) satisfy the full-course requirement for graduate students. If you are taking the FTE course, you do NOT need to submit a
Reduced Course Load form to ISSS.
- Grad0999 enrollment does NOT satisfy the full course requirement. Grad0999 is a zero-credit registration. Students enrolling in Grad0999 must also submit a
Reduced Course Load
Form to ISSS to maintain immigration status.
- Distance Learning courses are limited for F-1 students. Students with F-1 status may count a maximum of 1 course OR 3 credits of Distance Learning toward their full course requirement.
- Audited courses do NOT count toward your full course requirement. The audit grade basis for courses means you do not earn credit for the course.
- Enroll for all of your credits at the beginning of the term. If you plan to split your enrollment between the first and second half of the semester, you must enroll for ALL courses at the beginning of the term. You may not wait until mid-term to enroll for second half courses.
- You are responsible for your enrollment. If your department will perform enrollment for you, make sure that your enrollment occurs before the drop/add deadline of the term. SEVIS reporting occurs early in the semester, therefore retroactive enrollment is not acceptable. If your department does not enroll you before the deadline, YOU will lose your legal status.
Acceptable Reasons for a Reduced Course Load (F-1 Students)
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recognizes that circumstances exist that
prohibit a student from enrolling full time. Consequently, the DHS has declared the following to be acceptable reasons for
carrying less than a full course load.
Note: The reasons below are acceptable only if a student
has obtained PRIOR approval from an ISSS adviser for completing
less than a full course of study. Students who may have an acceptable
reason but fail to obtain prior approval from ISSS are in violation
of legal status.
Audited courses do NOT count toward your full course requirement. The
audit grade basis for courses means you do not earn credit for the course.
An F-1 student may reduce his/her course load only once per program
level due to academic difficulties. To maintain legal status, an
F-1 student who is authorized to reduce his/her course load due
to this reason must still be enrolled for at least 3/6 (3 graduate
student/6 undergraduate) credits (at least one half the full time
credit load) and must enroll full-time the next available semester.
ISSS must approve the request to cancel/withdraw from a class before
any changes to a students enrollment are made.
The DHS accepts the following academic difficulties as reasons for
a reduction of a students course load:
- Must cancel or withdraw due to improper course level
placement (supporting letter from academic adviser required.
- Initial difficulty with the English language and/or with reading
memo from academic adviser required.
- Unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods or reading requirements
(supporting letter from academic adviser required.
A letter from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or
licensed clinical psychologist is required clearly states that
the student is unable to maintain full-time enrollment.
DHS regulations limit to 12 months per program level the
period of time an F-1 student may enroll for less than a full course
load due to a medical condition. An F-1 student whose medical condition
does not permit full-time enrollment after a 12 month period must
either leave the U.S. and recuperate in the home country or apply
for a change of visa status to allow for continued medical treatment
in the U.S.
A student must be completing a program of study by the end of
- ISSS advises students who are ill and unable
to attend classes to see a doctor regarding their illness. If the
illness is such that the doctor recommends that the student withdraw
from classes or not enroll, the student may file a Reduced Course Load Form with a supporting letter from the physician. The supporting
documentation must clearly state that request for a reduction
in the students course load is based on medical considerations.
- Illness of family members is not a reason recognized by the DHS
for failure to enroll for a full course of study.
Working Full or Part-time on Research/Thesis; Or preparing for preliminary examinations: Submit the
Reduced Course Load
Form prior to the beginning of the semester. Or preparing for preliminary examinations.
Participating in a Full-time REQUIRED Internship or Full-Time
Co-Op: Prior approval of the Reduced Course Load Form for internship or co-op
is required. ISSS will need evidence of the internship requirement
or the approval to participate in a bona fide co-op program.
Reasons Not Acceptable for Reduced Course Load
- Financial difficulties
- Medical illness of family member
- Study for the GMAT, GRE, CPA, or other similar exam(s)
- Suspension from academic program
- Working on incompletes from a previous quarter/semester
Reduced Course Load Form
The Reduced Course Load for F-1 Students
Form must be completed for each semester that a student
fails to enroll full time. It is imperative that the Reduced Course Load Form
be submitted to ISSS and approved prior to enrollment for less than
a full course of study or prior to a cancel/withdrawal that results
in less than a full course of study. Failure to obtain prior approval
for a reduced course load will result in the loss of legal status.
- All students must submit their Reduced Course Load Form
to an ISSS
adviser during scheduled walk-in hours or a scheduled appointment.
- Graduate students taking zero credits must register for grad 0999 BEFORE submitting the Reduced Course Load Form to ISSS.
- ISSS advisers will make the final decision on the acceptability
of the Reduced Course Load Form.
- A Reduced Course Load Form approved by ISSS allows a student to maintain
legal F-1 status.
of Failure to Enroll Full Time Without an Acceptable Reason
December 03, 2009