Full Course of Study and "Normal Progress" Requirements
F-1 visa international students are required to register for and complete a full course of study every term (fall and spring). Undergraduate students must register for at least 12 credit hours each term and graduate students must register for at least 9 credit hours each term. If you plan to register for less than a full course load, then you must have approval from your DSO first. Failure to register for a full course load without a reason accepted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can result in the loss of on-campus employment and violation of status.
Acceptable Reasons for a Reduced Course Load:
Academic difficulties due to improper course placement (the course is too advanced for you), initial difficulty with the English language and/or with reading requirements, or unfamiliarity with teaching methods in the United States.
Your academic advisor or Dean must provide documentation to the DSO of the academic difficulties, and the DSO will approve or deny the request for a reduced course load. An F-1 international student must still be enrolled for 6 credits during the term that they are having academic difficulties. Additionally, this reason for a reduced course load may only be used once during the course a degree program.
This refers to any accident or illness that will prevent you from completing a full course of study. Illness of a family member is not a recognized reason by DHS.
The DSO must receive a letter from a medical doctor, clinical psychologist or doctor of osteopathy that states that the student is medically unable to maintain a full-time course load.
If you need less than a full course load to complete your program during the final semester, then you are allowed to drop below a full course load.
The DSO will need a letter from your academic advisor stating that you need less than a full course load to complete your program of study during your final semester.
Reasons Not Accepted for a Reduced Course Load
- Financial difficulties
- Illness of a family member
- Academic suspension
- Study for the GRE, GMAT, PRAXIS or any other exam.