There are very few exeptions to the full time course load rule, and there are strict criteria for each. In every instance, you must obtain PRIOR authorization from the ISSS. Only after this authorization has been received from the ISSS can you drop the course. An F-1 or J-1 student who drops below a full course of study without the prior approval of the Office of International Student and Scholar Services will be considered out of status, and must be reported in SEVIS as having dropped below a full-time course load without authorization.
Requests to register for a reduced course load are submitted via an e-form.
There are three different types of Reduced Course Load requests.
Federal immigration regulations define academic difficulty as:
- Initial difficulty with English language or reading requirements;
- Unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods;
- Improper course level placement.
If approved, the student must be registered for at least six credits.
The student must resume a full course of study in the next available semester in order to maintain student status. A student previously authorized to drop below a full course of study due to academic difficulties will not be eligible for a second authorization due to academic difficulties while pursuing a course of study at that degree level.
A student authorized to drop below a full course of study for academic difficulty while pursuing a course of study at a particular degree level may still be authorized for a reduced course load due to an illness or medical condition, should such a condition arise (see next section).
The Request for Approval to Take a Reduced Course Load form must be downloaded and completed. Approval from your academic advisor is required. The signed form must be uploaded when the e-form is submitted.
The ISSS may authorize a reduced course load (or if necessary, no course load) due to a student's temporary illness or medical condition for a period of time not to exceed an aggregate of 12 months while the student is pursuing a course of study at a particular degree level. To authorize a reduced course load based on a medical condition, the student must provide current medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy or licensed clinical psychologist to the ISSS to substantiate the illness or medical condition. The ISSS must authorize the drop below full time for each new semester.
A student previously authorized to drop below a full course of study due to illness or medical condition for an aggregate of 12 months may not be authorized by the ISSS to reduce his or her course load on subsequent occasions while pursuing a course of study at the same degree level.
A student may be authorized to reduce course load for a reason of illness or medical condition on more than one occasion while pursuing a course of study as long as the aggregate period of the authorization does not exceed 12 months.
Completion of Course of Study
The ISSS may authorize a reduced course load if the student is in his or her final semester and if fewer courses than a full-time course load are needed to complete the course of study. If the reduction is authorized, the student must then be registered for those credits needed to complete the course of study. In addition, the student must have also completed the appropriate certification of degree form in BU BRAIN.
The Request for Approval to Take a Reduced Course Load form must be downloaded and completed. Approval from your academic advisor is required. The signed form must be uploaded when the E-Form is submitted.
A note of warning: Students should be absolutely certain that they will be graduating in the current semester before choosing to register for less than a full-time course load. Failure to graduate after dropping below a full-time course load may result in the student being out-of-status, and the loss of F-1 or J-1 benefits, unless the student's program can state that the student is making satisfactory academic progress.
An F-1 or J-1 student who drops below a full course of study for reasons other than the ones described above will be out of status, and that information will have to be reported to the federal immigration authorities via the SEVIS system. F-1 and J-1 students who fall out of status may be eligible for reinstatement, provided they meet the eligibility requirements as described in U.S. federal regulations, or may have to depart the United States for their home country and re-enter on a new I-20 or DS-2019.