Full Course of Study Requirement

International students are required to take a minimum amount of credits or participate in a minimum amount of classroom instruction or lab hours to maintain their F-1 or J-1 status. The following are general guidelines for both degree-seeking and non-degree seeking students.

A full course of study for programs offering credit is defined as:

  • Undergraduate students: 12 credits minimum (see below for summer/winter semester guidelines)
  • Graduate students: 9 credits minimum (see below for summer/winter semester guidelines)

A full course of study for non-degree programs that do not offer credit is defined as:

  • 18 clock hours if mostly classroom work
  • 22 clock hours per week if mostly laboratory work

A full course of study for non-degree programs offering a combination of credit and non-credit study (such as a program with a combination of for-credit academic coursework and non-credit language education) is calculated as a percentage, adding up to 100 percent: 

  • For undergraduates, each credit is worth 8.333 percent; each hour of classroom instruction if 5.555 percent; and each hour of laboratory work is 4.545 percent. Using these figures, you will see that a combined program of nine clock hours of instruction and six credits of academic coursework will equal 100 percent.
  • For graduates, each credit is worth 11.1 percent of the 100 percent total; each hour of classroom instruction if 5.555 percent; and each hour of laboratory work is 4.545 percent. Using these figures, you will see that a combined program of six clock hours of instruction and six credits of academic coursework will equal 100 percent. 

There are certain circumstances when a student can maintain legal status even if you are not registered for a full course of study as defined above. To be approved for a reduced credit load, review and follow the reduced credit load procedure.
 

Online Course Guidelines

  • F-1 students are allowed to take only one online course (or 3 credits) per semester.
  • J-1 students are only permitted to take an online course if this course is an addition to the required 12 credits or 9 credits for a student’s full course of study.
  • You cannot take an online class if you have only one more class before completing your degree in your final semester.

Summer and Winter Registration Guidelines

  • Continuing degree-seeking students and students transferring in to Rutgers from another U.S. academic institution who intend to register for the next academic semester are not required to register for the summer and winter sessions. Registration during this period is optional.
  • New and readmitted degree-seeking students starting their program during the summer (excluding transfer students) are required to pursue a full course of study—generally 6 credits—during their first summer. Exceptions to the required 6 credits may be made if the student is considered to be pursuing a full course of study by the academic program.
  • All non-degree summer students are required to pursue a full course of study, following the requirements outlined above.
  • Visiting summer students with a non-Rutgers I-20 or DS-2019 (excluding transfer students) may choose to enroll full-time or part-time during the summer semester, provided they gain permission from the school sponsoring their visa.