Students must have approval from the Office of Global Services and the academic department/academic adviser before taking a reduced course load. There are only a few reasons that the United States government has approved for students in F-1/J-1 status to be enrolled less than full-time, which are explained below.

To apply for a reduced course load, an "F-1 Reduced Course Load" or "J-1 Reduced Course Load" request must be submitted within the ISSS Portal. As part of your request, you will be asked to provide your Academic Advisor's details for them to complete an electronic confirmation.

  • For Reasons 1–2 listed below, the request is due by the add/drop deadline.
  • For Reasons 3–4 listed below, you must consult with an international student adviser before dropping or withdrawing from course(s). 

Failure to follow these instructions may result in a violation of status!

Unacceptable Reasons to Drop Below Full-Time

  • Impending failure in a course
  • Academic probation
  • Financial hardship
  • Intent to delay graduation

Acceptable Reasons to Drop Below Full-Time

You do not need to make an appointment to discuss your situation with an International Student Adviser for the reasons listed below:

1. Completion of Program

You do not need to be enrolled full-time for the term that you are graduating. You must submit a completed Reduced Course Load form signed by your academic adviser by the first day of the semester in which you are graduating. 


  • Your last and only course cannot be an online course. Co-op and internship enrollment are considered live courses.
  • You will receive a new DS-2019 or I-20 with a new end date reflecting the end of the term.

2. Graduate Students Taking Qualifying/Comprehensive Exam

If you are taking the qualifying/comprehensive examination during the semester and will only be registered for six credits; this may be used only one time! You must enroll full-time during all subsequent semesters of coursework, even if the exams need to be repeated.


You must make an appointment to discuss your situation with an International Student adviser for the reasons listed below:

3. Academic Difficulties

This reason may only be used one time! You must be enrolled for a minimum of six credits. The following circumstances apply:

  • Difficulties with the English language or reading requirements in the first term of study in the United States
  • Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods in the first term of study in the U.S.
  • Improper course level placement—you are allowed to drop a course only when your adviser recommended a course for which you were not academically prepared

4. Medical Condition

You have shown proof from a licensed medical doctor, psychiatrist, doctor of osteopathy, licensed psychologist, or clinical psychologist that you should take a reduced course load or refrain from taking courses during the current term. You cannot accumulate more than 12 months of Reduced Course Load exemption for this reason per academic program.