All international students in F-1 status are required to maintain a full course load of study during each semester in order to remain in status. UIS requires a 12 credit hour per semester minimum for undergraduates and a 9 credit hour per semester (or 8 credits if the student has a GA or GPSI) minimum for graduate students for the fall and spring semesters.

Full-time enrollment in summer is 6 credit hours and is only required for students who begin their course of study in the summer semester or are graduating at the end of summer. Of the required minimum enrollment, only 3 credits or 1 class can be online.

If a student has less than a full course load in order to complete their degree program, then they make take only their remaining course(s) during their final term and request a Reduced Course Load (RCL). At least one of these courses must be on-campus.  UIS offers accelerated eight-week courses, which are also called half-term courses.  Thus, it is possible to end your semester at the mid-point (October or March); however, your final semester cannot be the winter intersession (five-week courses) in January.

Additional online courses may be taken once the full-time enrollment criteria is met. A Reduced Course Load must be authorized prior to dropping below full-time status. Dropping below full course of study without prior approval will result in a violation of F-1 status, and in a termination of your SEVIS record.

Students must complete the Reduced Course Load E-Form via iStart. The Reduced Course Load must then be approved by your academic advisor and the Office of International Students prior to dropping the course or starting the semester without meeting the full-time enrollment criteria.

The following reasons are the only acceptable reasons to be enrolled in less than a full course load during a semester. Your academic advisor must select the reason for the reduction.

Academic Exceptions

  • Improper course placement
  • Initial difficulty with the English reading and language requirements (first semester only)
  • Unfamiliar with American teaching methods

Other Exceptions

  • Will graduate this semester and taking the last remaining courses to complete degree
  • Graduate student enrolled in only thesis or dissertation, considered by UIS as in pursuit of a full course of study, and making normal progress toward degree
  • Illness or medical condition, which may not exceed 12 months. Letter from a licensed medical doctor, psychiatrist, doctor of osteopathy, licensed psychologist, or clinical psychologist is required.

Medical RCL requests require documentation from a licensed medical provider. Documentation must:

  • Be from a medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or clinical psychologist licensed in the United States.
  • Be on the doctor’s official letterhead with an original signature.
  • Confirm that in the doctor’s professional medical opinion, it would be unadvisable for you to pursue a full-time course of study for the current term.