Immigration regulations allow a once per degree-level Academic Reduced Course Load (RCL) if a student has a valid academic reason for dropping below full-time.

Acceptable reasons for an Academic RCL as noted in the regulation are:

  • Initial difficulty with the English language or reading requirements;
  • Unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods; or
  • Improper course level placement.

Ph.D. students who have passed their comprehensive exam (D status) are not eligible for an RCL in the semester of the dissertation defense when full-time registration of 5 dissertation hours is required. 

Academic RCL Request Process

Students who feel they meet the requirements for an Academic RCL should schedule an appointment to meet with their academic advisor to discuss their eligibility.

Students requesting an Academic RCL for initial difficulty with English or reading requirements or unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods, must also meet with a tutor from the International Student Academic Success Program (ISASP) to create a plan to increase their English proficiency or increase their familiarity with U.S. teaching methods before ISSS will authorize the Academic RCL.

If it is appropriate, complete the Academic Reduced Course Load Form via DocuSign after the meeting with your advisor and ISASP (if applicable).

  • College of Engineering Graduate Students:

Students should not drop any classes until their academic advisor, ISASP, and an ISSS advisor have approved the Academic RCL.

Enrollment While Authorized for an Academic RCL

Students authorized for an Academic RCL must maintain at least half-time enrollment (minimum of 6 credits for undergraduate students) unless it is their final term and they have less than a half-time course load remaining.

  • Distance Education Limit:
    • No more than the equivalent of one on-line/distance education class or 3 online credits per term may count towards the full-time enrollment requirement.

Enrollment in the Term Following an Academic RCL

Students are eligible for one Academic RCL per degree level and must resume a full course of study (or authorized equivalent) in the next required term.

Once an Academic RCL has been authorized, a student can only be authorized to drop below full-time in a future semester if they qualify for and submit proper documentation for 1) a Medical RCL; or 2) a Last Semester RCL.