Reduced Course Load (RCL)

A student with an F-1 visa is required by the United States Code of Federal Regulations to enroll in a full course of study each fall and spring semesters: 12 credit hours for undergraduates and 9 credit hours for graduate students.

Immigration Regulations allow the specific reasons below for a Reduced Course Load:

  • Initial difficulties with the English language * #
  • Initial difficulties with reading requirements * #
  • Unfamiliarity with United States teaching methods * #
  • Improper course level placement *

# Applicable only during the first semester in the program
* You must maintain at least six credit hours

An International Student Advisor (ISA) must authorize an RCL and update SEVIS prior to the student reducing his or her course load. If you drop below a full course of study without the prior approval of your ISA, you will be considered out of status. You may only be approved for an RCL once per degree level for academic reasons.

NOTE: If you are in your FINAL GRADUATING SEMESTER, you are automatically allowed to register less than full time as indicated in the table below. No special authorization is required in this situation.

Final Semester Minimum Registration Requirements Undergraduate Students Graduate Students
Fall 1 credit 3 credits
Spring 1 credit 3 credits
Summer 1 credit 2 credits

Medical Reduced Course Load

A student’s temporary illness or medical condition can be reason for a reduced course load (or, if necessary, no course load) for a period of time not to exceed an aggregate of 12 months. Student must provide a letter on letterhead signed by an appropriate medical official in order to request an RCL for medical reasons.

This letter must:

  • Include the student’s full name and date of birth
  • Recommend the student take a reduced course load due to medical reasons
  • Be signed by a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy or licensed clinical psychologist
  • Be dated and specify for which semester the reduced course load (or, if necessary, no course load) is being recommended