J-1 Reduced Course Load

Full Course of Study Requirement

J-1 students are required to register for a “full course of study” every fall and spring semester. A full course of study (22 CFR 62.2) consists of full-time enrollment in an academic program of classroom participation and study and/ or doctoral thesis research at an accredited academic institution.

“Full course of study” is usually the same as “full-time” as defined by the Office of the Registrar:

  • Undergraduates: 12 credits
  • Graduate students: 9 credits
  • Graduate students on half-time assistantship: 6 credits
  • Graduate students in proposal/dissertation stage: Consult University Catalog

Important: J-1 students are not allowed to include any online courses to count towards their full-time requirement.

Exceptions to the Full Course of Study Requirement

A student who wishes to drop below a full course of study may request to do so only if he or she meets one of the three conditions listed in federal J-1 regulations:

Code of Federal Regulations: 22 CFR 62.23(e)

1. Final Semester


If the student needs less than a full course of study to complete the academic requirements in his or her final term.

2. Illness or Medical Condition


If the student is compelled to reduce or interrupt a full course of study due to an illness or medical condition. A written statement from a physician requiring or recommending an interruption or reduction in studies is required.

3. Bona Fide Academic Reason


If the student is compelled to pursue less than a full course of study for a term and the student presents to the responsible officer a written statement from the academic dean or advisor recommending the student to reduce his or her academic load to less than a full course of study due to an academic reason. Students and academic advisors should note that this option is only available for one semester during their program.

How to Request an RCL Authorization


If you would like to request a Reduced Course Load, please complete the following steps:

  1. Go to the OIPS Self-Service Center
  2. Enter "Reduced Course Load for J-1 Students" in the search box (above table)
  3. Download and print the packet "Authorization for Reduced Course Load for J-1 Students"
  4. Complete section A
  5. Ask your academic advisor to complete section B
  6. Gather supporting documents (if required)
  7. Submit required documents securely using the J-1 Dynamic Form BEFORE the first day of classes.

Medical RCL requests are processed as temporary disability accommodations. We recommend that you schedule an appointment with the OIPS Director to discuss a medical RCL request. You may also visit the Office of Disability Services (SUB I, Room 2500) to begin the process. Instead of the Reduced Course Load Form, you will need to provide the Office of Disability Services and OIPS with a letter from a physician requiring or recommending an interruption or reduction in studies.

Reminders: Do NOT drop below a full course of study until you have been approved by OIPS.

Useful Links

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