You must be fully enrolled each academic quarter, except during the annual vacation term or if ISSS has authorized you to drop below full-time status. Failure to maintain full-time enrollment each quarter for the entire quarter is a violation of your status and may result in the termination of your program. Undergraduate students must enroll in at least 12 hours each quarter. Graduate students must enroll in at least 8 hours each quarter.
Audited and Online Courses
Audited courses do not count towards the full-time enrollment requirement since no course credit is received. You may count one course or 3 credits of online course credit towards the full-time enrollment requirement.
Annual Vacation Term
You may take a vacation term after completing one academic year (three quarters) of full-time enrollment. Most students take the vacation term during summer quarter. Students who begin a new period of F-1 status in Winter or Spring quarter may take a vacation term during the summer in order to follow the normal academic cycle. You are not required to enroll during the vacation term, and you may stay in the United States or travel abroad. You must enroll full-time for the following quarter in order for a quarter to be considered a vacation term.
If you are considering taking a non-summer vacation quarter, please refer to our Non-Summer Vacation Request form for important details on the policy and procedures.
Graduate students who have completed all required coursework and who are working in thesis or dissertation work may apply for continuous enrollment. To request continuous enrollment, you must obtain permission from your academic department and the Registrar's Office.
Exceptions to Full-Time Enrollment
Immigration regulations permit an international student advisor to authorize a student to drop below full-time status when medical or certain academic circumstances prevent you from enrolling full-time. In most cases, you must request authorization from an advisor before dropping below full-time status.
An international student advisor may authorize you to drop below full-time status when serious medical circumstances prevent you from enrolling full-time. Medical authorizations require substantiation from the attending physician or psychologist and may be authorized for up to one year per degree level.
Based on the recommendation of your academic advisor, an international student advisor may authorize you to drop below full-time status for academic reasons specifically permitted under immigration regulations. These reasons include:
- Initial difficulties with the English language.
- Difficulties with English reading requirements.
- Unfamiliarity with American teaching practices.
- Improper course level placement.
Academic authorizations may only be given once per degree level and are usually issued during the first term of study. Students who have been in the United States for several quarters are generally ineligible for an academic authorization except in cases of improper course level placement.
Final Quarter of Study
An international student advisor may authorize you to drop below full-time status if you are in your final quarter of study and require fewer hours than the minimum full-time enrollment requirement to complete your program.