Dropping Below Full-Time Course Load

International Students are required to maintain continuous full-time enrollment during the fall and spring semesters. They must enroll in and complete a minimum course load each semester: undergraduate students (12 semester hours); graduate students (9 semester hours).

International students are not allowed to withdraw from classes without the knowledge and consent of the OIA. An OIA signature is required before any request to drop below the required number of hours is processed. It is your responsibility to inform the OIA office if you are having difficulty in classes resulting in the need to decrease the number of hours.

Dropping below the required number of hours without permission from the OIA office will result in significant penalties and could lead to a violation. Exceptions to maintaining full-time enrollment given consideration by the USCIS are listed below:

  • Undergraduate and Graduate (non-thesis) students who are in the final semester of study may take less than 12 credit hours (undergraduates) and less than 9 credit hours (graduate non-thesis) if the lesser course credits are all that are needed to complete the program of study and graduate at the end of that semester.
  • Graduate students who are doing thesis or dissertation research only and are in the final semester of study may take less than 9 credit hours if the lesser is all that is required to graduate at the end of that final semester. Approval for Extension of Stay following the final semester requires the approval of the academic advisor, the department chair, and the dean of the Graduate College.

International students are not required by USCIS to register for 12 credit hours (undergraduate) or 9 credit hours (graduate level) during summer sessions. If, however, students are doing research or thesis work toward the completion of their degree during a summer session and expect to receive academic credit toward the completion of the degree, they must register for the class during the session in which the work is being completed.

Medical Exceptions

Medical illness may prevent full-time studying. These situations require full documentation and approval by OIA. Reference will be made to new USCIS regulations identifying reinstatement procedures before approval can be granted. There are categories of illness that might not meet reinstatement approval status that has in the past (i.e., pregnancy, pregnancy complications, etc.).