Reduced Course Load and Concurrent Enrollment

Reduced Course Load

U.S. government immigration regulations require that F-1 and J-1 international students study full time each Fall and Spring semester. Full-time enrollment is 12 credit units for undergraduates, or 9 credit units for graduates.  There are limited scenarios in which an exception can be granted. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) allows the ISSS to authorize a reduced course load exclusively for the reasons listed below. Please note that DHS does not consider financial difficulties or the unavailability of certain courses as valid reasons for enrolling in less than a full course of study.

Approval from an ISSS Advisor must be granted PRIOR to engaging in a reduced course load. A student who drops below full time enrollment without PRIOR approval from an ISSS Advisor will be considered to be in violation of their immigration status.

Course Types 

  • In-person: You are required to meet regularly with a faculty member to complete the course requirements and attend lectures or other in-person interactive activities. 
  • Hybrid: You are required to meet both in-person and online. The majority of course work may take place online, but students may be required to complete specific projects, tests, or orientations on the physical campus.This includes courses that require only a one-time meeting with your faculty member. Hybrid courses can be counted towards your F-1 full-time enrollment requirement as in-person courses.
  • On-line: You are required to complete ALL course requirements, lectures, or other activities online. There are no required in-person meetings. A maximum of 3 online units per semester can be counted towards your F-1 full-time enrollment requirement out of a full-time schedule. However, this does not account for extra units, or more than 12 units for undergraduates and 9 units for graduates.  


Reason Documentation Required Notes

Concurrent Enrollment: I am enrolling in classes at another institution this semester to maintain my full course load.

Documentation proving registration at another institution including your name, institution name, term of registration, units, in person or online units, the duration of the course, and course title.

A full course load is at least 12 units total for undergraduate students and at least 9 units total for graduate students. Of this minimum, ONLY 3 units of online coursework may be counted towards the full-time enrollment immigration requirement. You must also be enrolled in at least 6 units at SJSU.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page to read more about the Conurrent Enrollment requirements and application process.

Medical: I have an illness or medical condition that prevents me from being enrolled full time.

Healthcare Provider Verification of Medical Condition Form


A recent letter from an M.D. licensed in the U.S. in one of the specific categories noted: (Medical Doctor), D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathy), or Licensed Clinical Psychologist recommending that you take a reduced course load for this semester. The letter must be on letterhead, have a handwritten signature, and include the following information:

  1. A description of how the medical condition affects your ability to study
  2. A recommendation of when you may resume full-time enrollment
  3. The licensed physician’s contact information and State License Number

Authorizations for this type of RCL may not exceed an aggregate of 12 months (3 semesters total) per program level and must be filed for each semester.

The Healthcare Provider Verification of Medical Condition Form must be completed by a M.D. (Medical Doctor), D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathy), or Licensed Clinical Psychologist within the U.S.

*Being on a medical RCL may impact your ability to apply for or be granted work authorization. Please speak to ISSS regarding this matter.

Academic: It is my first semester studying at SJSU AND I am having difficulty with English language or reading requirements and/or adjusting to U.S. teaching methods.

Your academic advisor, department chair, or dean must authorize Academic RCL.

You must be enrolled in at least 6 units at SJSU. Of these 6 units ONLY 3 units can be online.

This type of RCL can only be authorized on ONE occasion per program level.

Last Semester of Coursework / Program: This is my last semester of coursework before starting my project/thesis/comp exam, and I don’t need to register for a full course load. OR I will be completing my program this semester and I don’t need to register for a full course load.

Your academic advisor, department chair, or dean must authorize the last semester RCL 

This type of RCL can only be authorized once and it can only be used in the student's last semester of study.

Working on Project / Thesis / Comprehensive Exam: I am working on my Project/Thesis/ Comprehensive exam ONLY, and I will have no remaining classes to take or program requirements to complete after this semester other than additional units of project/thesis


I will be enrolled in my project/thesis/comp exam AND additional required coursework (option 2 under "Culminating Experience" on RCL form)

Your academic advisor, department chair, or dean must authorize the culminating experience RCL

This type of RCL can be authorized more than once for students who have multiple parts to their project/thesis, or who are required to extend their project / thesis / comprehensive exam.

You may NOT be authorized for CPT while you are on an extension of your project / thesis.

Concurrent Enrollment

As long as you are enrolled in at least 6 units at SJSU, additional units can be taken at another local university, college or community college.

  • To apply for Concurrent Enrollment, you will need to fill out the Concurrent Enrollment Form and submit it to the ISSS office along with proof of your enrollment at the other school.
  • You must submit your Concurrent Enrollment applicationby the last date to add classes for the semester.
  • You must be able to enroll at the other college before the last date to add classes for the semester at SJSU. If you won’t be able to add your concurrent enrollment classes until later in the semester, then you are not eligible for a Reduced Course Load.
  • The front desk attendant at the ISSS department can give you a letter that will allow you to enroll in any local community college.
  • The course(s) you will be concurrently enrolled in must be at least 6 weeks in duration.