Below are situations upon which you could be eligible for a Reduced Course Load (RCL)


Completion of Course of Study

  • In some cases, an F-1 student may not need a full course load in their final term to have enough credits to graduate 
  • If an F-1 student has only 1 (one) course left to complete in their final term, they may enroll in only that course if the course is executive format.  On campus class is required for F-1 status
    • If the final course needed is only offered in online format, the student will be required to enroll in an additional class that is executive format to maintain F-1 status
  • F-1 students are in their final term and have enrolled in the one executive format course left needed to complete the degree requirements are considered full-time students by SEVP
  • If a student fails a course during the last term consisting of a reduced course load, the student may again have a final session with a less than full course load.  If the student does not finish the program of study after a second final term with reduced course load, the student is not eligible for a third reduced course load. 



Academic Difficulties 


You may qualify for this option only if one of the following applies to you:


1) Initial difficulties during the first year of academic program with the English language, reading requirements, or unfamiliarity with American teaching methods


2) Improper course-level placement during your academic program


Please Note:


An RCL for academic difficulties can only be used once per degree level. This option only covers a single semester during any one course of study at a particular program level and you must resume full-time enrollment at the next available semester


If you qualify for Academic Difficulties RCL you must still maintain at least 2 courses per semester for undergraduates; and at least 1 course per semester for graduate students.



Medical Conditions


If, due to a serious illness or medical condition, you are unable to be enrolled full-time (or, if necessary, no course load), you may apply for this RCL. To apply for this option you must provide:


  • Medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist to the P/DSO to substantiate the illness or medical condition
  • A letter from your doctor. Please show the following details to your doctor so that the letter includes the required information. If not, we might have to ask you to obtain a new letter from your doctor. The letter must be prepared on official letter head and signed by the doctor. The letter must contain:
    • In your doctor's medical opinion, it is advised that you take a reduced course load or not take any classes because of your current illness
    • Duration of time, including a beginning and end date (or indicate for the semester), that your doctor advises you reduce your course load or suspend your study due to medical reasons affecting you personally
    • If a reduction of your course load is advised, the doctor must specify whether he or she advises you to take 3/4 load, 1/2 load or 1/4 load for medical reasons

Please note:

  • Reduced Course Load for a medical condition can be granted for a period of time not to exceed a total of 12 months while the student is pursuing a course of study at the particular program level
  • A DSO must authorize the drop below full time for each new semester



Master's & Doctoral Students on Thesis / Dissertation Track


  • RCL can be provided for one semester only
  • If this is your final semester of coursework before the start of your thesis or dissertation (only) status, a P/DSO could approve you to register for a course or courses left for completion
  • Once you have completed your coursework and begin working full-time on your thesis or dissertation, you are required to continue to register for master's thesis or doctoral dissertation tuition (or registration) during each semester until you graduate