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.

“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 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)(3)

1. Bona Fide Academic Reason


OIPS may authorize a reduced course load on account of a student’s initial difficulty with the English language or reading requirements, unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods, or improper course level placement. The student must resume a full course of study at the next available term, session, or semester, excluding a summer session, in order to maintain student status. A student previously authorized to drop below a full course of study due to academic difficulties is not eligible for a second authorization due to academic difficulties while pursuing a course of study at that program level.

2. Illness or Medical Condition


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

3. Final Semester to Complete Course of Study


The J-1 advisor may authorize a reduced course load in the student’s final term, semester, or session if fewer courses are needed to complete the course of study.

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. Drop off request in OIPS during walk-in hours

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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