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 at Rutgers- New Brunswick: 12 credits minimum (see below for summer/winter semester guidelines)
- Graduate students at Rutgers- New Brunswick: 9 credits minimum (see below for summer/winter semester guidelines)
- For RBHS programs in Piscataway, Newark, and Scotch Plains, please see this chart for full course of study requirement.
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
Online course enrollment is restricted for F-1 and J-1 students. Please read below for full details.
J-1 students must enroll in traditional on-campus courses to fulfill their minimum credit load for all required semesters.
Fall and Spring Semester Enrollment
F-1 students - Only one online (3-credit maximum) course will count toward your enrollment requirement during fall and spring semesters. E.g. You need to register in at least 9 credits of traditional, on-campus courses for undergraduate students, or 6 credits of traditional, on-campus courses for Rutgers–New Brunswick graduate students.
J-1 students- You are only permitted to take an online course if this course is an addition to the credits required for a full course of study. If a J-1 student has a required online course for their academic program, that student still must enroll in on-campus courses to meet the full-time enrollment requirement.
F-1 and J-1 students can enroll in online courses during summer IF:
- The student has been enrolled in at least the preceding spring semester full-time at Rutgers University
- The student will be enrolled in courses during the next fall semester full-time at Rutgers University
Summer term is a vacation period, and therefore it is optional for most continuing students.
Final term of Study (Fall, Spring, and Summer)
If an F-1 or J-1 student needs only one course to complete the program of study and the student intends to remain in the US, that course must be in a traditional on-campus format. This will allow the student to maintain their visa status and be eligible to apply for post-degree work opportunities if they choose to do so.
If an F-1 or J-1 student chooses to take online courses during their final semester, that student must contact Rutgers Global - ISSS, complete the leave of absence procedure specific to their school/department, and depart the US. In this case, a student will no longer be eligible for work authorizations such as Optional Practical Training (F-1) or Academic Training (J-1).
Impact on Post-degree Work Authorization (OPT and AT)
If an F-1 or J-1 student wants to be eligible to participate in post-degree completion work opportunities such as Optional Practical Training (F-1) or Academic Training (J-1), the student’s final degree requirements must be taken in an traditional on-campus course.
Summer and Winter Registration Guidelines
Continuing students are not required to enroll during summer, and there is no full course of study minimum for the summer session.
New and readmitted degree-seeking students starting their program during the summer MUST enroll full-time (as determined by their academic program/school).
Rutgers has three summer sessions, and the full course of study requirement is calculated based on the student's program start date. The final determination of how many credits meets the full time requirement based on the student's start date is made by the academic program/school in consultation with ISSS (e.g. a student starting their program in the second summer session in July, may require 3 credits to meet the full course of study requirement). Non-coursework degree requirements such as projects or research may also be considered in determining the full course of study requirement.
All non-degree summer students are required to pursue a full course of study. Students are required to register for a minimum of one credit per week or follow the full time 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.