Maintaining a Full Time Course Load

Overview and Requirements

Federal immigration regulations require you to be enrolled full-time for the duration of your program at UCSC to maintain F-1 status.

“Full time” means a minimum of:

  • Undergraduate (Bachelor) students - 12 credits each quarter (typically three or more courses)
  • Graduate (Masters/Doctorate) students - 10 credits each quarter
    • Doctorate students who have advanced to candidacy - 5 credits each quarter

Note: In summer, full time is defined as 5 units for all degree levels.

Note: Graduate students on Filing Fee status approved by the Graduate Division are not considered to be enrolled full-time. Students should consider meeting with an ISSS Advisor before the Filing Fee quarter to discuss their plans.

In very specific circumstances (outlined below), you can be authorized by ISSS to drop below full-time enrollment. Any drop below full-time for your program requires an application.

You are not authorized to drop below full-time enrollment unless you have received a Reduced Course Load Authorization (RCL) approval from ISSS. If you are under-enrolled and do not have an approved RCL from ISSS, you cannot maintain F-1/J-1 status, your immigration status will be terminated, and you will be required to depart the U.S. immediately.

Completion Date

The completion date on your I-20 is an estimate of how long it will take you to complete your program. The actual date may change based on the time needed to complete your degree. Each term, you must make progress toward your degree. Summer term is not required unless it is your final term.