Full Course of Study and Reduced Credit Load

F-1 and J-1 students are required to pursue a full course of study every fall and spring semester. For most students, full time credit load is defined as:

  • Undergraduate Students–12 credits minimum
  • Graduate Students–9 credits minimum

Registration over the summer and winter semesters is optional and not required.

Online Course Guidelines

  • F-1 students are allowed to take only one online course (or three credits) per semester
  • J-1 students are not allowed to take any online classes
  • You cannot take an online class if you have only one more class before completing your degree in your final semester

Reduced Credit Load

There are cases when regulations consider a student to be pursuing a full course of study even though student is not actually registered for a full-time credit load. Regulations define four broad circumstances in which F-1 or J-1 students who are registered for less than a full-time credit load are considered to be maintaining legal status by meeting the "full course of study" requirement. Those circumstances are:

  • Fewer than full time credit load remaining in final semester before graduation
  • Certain general academic reasons
  • Certain Rutgers-specific academic policies that define part time registration as a "full course of study"
  • Documented medical conditions necessitating reduced credits or leave of absence

Reduced Credit Load Procedure

F-1 and J-1 students must obtain approval from Center for Global Services prior to registering for less than 12 (undergraduates) or nine (graduates) credits in order to meet the “full course of study” requirement. Students must seek approval to drop below full time every semester in which the student registers for less than a full time credit load.

Requests for such approvals must be made by submitting to the center one of the following forms, as appropriate for student’s situation.

  • Reduced Credit/Course Load Form
    This form must be completed and signed by the academic dean (undergraduate students) or program director (graduate students).
  • Confirmation of Less Than Full Time Form
    This form is only for graduate students who have already submitted a "Reduced Credit/Course Load" form confirming they have completed all course work and are engaging in thesis/dissertation research. This does not require a graduate program director signature.

If the reason noted on these forms meets regulatory exceptions to the full-time requirement and complies with university policies, the center will approve the request. Students who do not obtain prior approval from the center before registering for or dropping below full time are automatically considered "out of status."