All F-1 and J-1 international students must register full-time every semester or receive permission from OGS for a reduced course load (RCL), which is anything less than full-time registration. If you register or drop below full-time without OGS permission AND the support of your academic department, you will lose the benefits of F-1 and J-1 status and you will be unable to stay and study in the US, and this may impact your eligibility for F-1 CPT or OPT or J-1 Academic Training.

If you have concerns about course enrollment during your final semester, speak with an OGS advisor before your course registration is complete.

Who is eligible?

You are eligible for a reduced course load if:

  • it is your last semester before you graduate and you have fewer than full-time credits left to finish your degree or program. [For undergraduate students a minimum of 12 credits is considered full-time enrollment; for graduate students, typically a minimum of 9 credits is considered full-time enrollment, but confirm with your academic department as to what full-time enrollment is for your academic program.]
  • it is your first semester in the US, and your department recommends English-language courses in addition to your studies.
  • you have a medical condition requiring you to take a leave of absence or a reduced course load. For permission to register less than full-time due to a medical reason, please follow the instructions for Medical Leave of Absence or Reduced Course Load.

If you have any other reason that prevents you from registering full-time, please speak to an OGS advisor during our advising hours.  

How to Apply

Step 1

Contact Your Academic Department

Contact your academic department to learn more about factors to consider and understand before registering for anything less than full-time. These factors could include:

  • graduation filing requirements, 
  • scholarship eligibility, and
  • other steps you need to take to get academic department approval for registering below full-time.

Once you've confirmed with your academic department, register for the classes you intend/need to take, even if that means you will register below what is considered full-time for your academic program. You will then seek permission from OGS for that reduced course load amount as indicated in Step 2.

Tandon School of Engineering Master’s and Doctoral Students:

OGS cannot authorize a zero-credit reduced course load without confirmation that you are eligible to return to continue your studies after your leave. Before withdrawing from courses, please contact Graduate Academics and the Office of Student Advocacy to confirm your eligibility to continue in your program and to request an academic medical leave of absence.

Step 2

Submit Your Reduced Course Load Permission Request to OGS

If you experience difficulty with the online request form, review our troubleshooting tips.

If Your Request is Approved

You will be notified by email within 5-7 business days.

If Your Request is Not Approved

You must register full-time. If you register or drop to below full-time without OGS permission, you will lose the benefits of lawful student status and be unable to stay and study in the US.