Authorization for Reduced Course Load
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.
You may be eligible for an RCL if you meet one of the following conditions:
- 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. Submit a completed Medical Reduced Course Load Approval Form in the RCL request form. Your licensed physician, doctor of osteopathy, or clinical psychologist must complete the Medical Reduced Course Load Approval Form.
- Pregnancy by itself will NOT be granted Medical RCLs unless your doctor explicitly provides a reason beyond normal pregnancy symptoms as a reason you are unable to attend classes.
- You must apply for this each semester you need a Medical RCL.
- 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. PhD and Master's students in your last semester of coursework do not qualify for this RCL if you still need to complete dissertation or thesis.
- Note: You cannot receive an RCL in your final semester if the only course(s) you plan to take are NOT required by your academic program.
- Note: You cannot receive an RCL in your final semester if you only take online courses. At least 1 course be a traditional face-to-face course.
- Thesis or Dissertation Work
- You are a Master's student of PhD candidate working on your thesis or dissertation full-time, registered for fewer than 8 credit hours.
- You must apply for this each semester you are on thesis or dissertation.
You can complete the Reduced Course Load (RCL) Request in the Request Center of the ISSS Portal.