U.S. immigration regulations mandate that students in F-1 immigration status maintain a full course of study for the entirety of the academic program. A full course of study is defined as:

  • 12 credit hours each semester for undergraduates
  • The normative full-time credit load on file with the U.S. government and the Graduate School of record for graduate students
  • Graduate students registered for Thesis Research (or a combination of credit hours and Thesis Research) also meet the full-course-of-study requirement

Using guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), only an IS Advisor may authorize an F-1 student to enroll in less than a full course of study. International F-1 and J-1 students must obtain approval for a reduced courseload before actually dropping below the minimum credit hour requirement. Students who fail to maintain the terms of their status and may lose the benefits associated with that status. 


Please contact your dedicated IS Advisor to learn more about eligibility requirements for part-time enrollment:

Initial Difficulties with the English Language, Reading Requirements, or Teaching Methods

In the first semester of study in the United States, a student may be authorized to reduce one course if they are experiencing difficulties with the English language, with reading requirements, or with American teaching methods. Written justification addressed to OGS is required from the course instructor and the Dean/Program Director.

Completing Program in the Current Term

In the final term of study, a student who needs fewer than 12 credits (undergraduate students) or fewer than the normative full-time credit load (graduate students) to graduate, may be considered to be maintaining status. An academic dean or program advisor must send an email to the IS Advisor stating that the student is registered for all coursework needed to complete the degree in the current term.

Comprehensive Examinations in Course of Program

Graduate students who have completed all formal coursework (or will complete all formal coursework in the current term) and are preparing for comprehensive examinations as a final requirement may meet the full course of study requirement. Decisions will be made on a case by case basis in consultation with the student's IS Advisor and academic advisor.

Illness or Medical Condition

A student who is compelled by illness or other medical conditions to interrupt or reduce a full course of study may be considered to be maintaining status during the illness or other medical condition. The student, however, must receive authorization from the IS Advisor each term and may not be authorized to reduce below a full course of study for more than an aggregate of 12 months. Students must submit documentation to the Academic Resource Center (ARC) from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist outlining the medical condition and the recommended accommodation. Students may only reduce their courseload once the ARC issues a confirmation letter to OGS and the IS Advisor has issued a new Form I-20 approving the courseload reduction.

Students who must withrdaw from their entire courseload due to illness or other medical condition are not eligible to remain in F-1 or J-1 status at Georgetown unless they are hospitalized.


Upon the recommendation of the academic advisor, a student may be authorized by OGS to withdraw from a course and drop below a full course of study if the withdrawal is due to improper course placement. However, imminent failure is not a valid reason to drop below a full course of study.