Course Load Reduction

There are some exceptions to the full time study rule. However, you must obtain special permission from OISS prior to reducing your course load.

Academic Exceptions

If a student encounters academic difficulties due to:

  • initial English language difficulties or reading requirements
  • unfamiliarity with US teaching methods
  • improper course level placement

To reduce your course load based on an academic exception you must have prior approval from your program and from OISS.


Complete the Reduced Course Load based on Academic Exception Request Form with signature by your Academic Dean.


Submit signed Reduced Course Load Request to an OISS advisor.

Terms of Reduced Course Load

  • This benefit can only be approved for a single semester, typically in the first semester, during any one course of study.
  • The student must resume a full course of study in the next available term, excluding summer.  
  • The student must meet school’s registration minimum and/or stay registered at least half time. 

Final Semester

If a student needs less than full-time enrollment in the final semester of program to complete degree requirements. 

This information will flow to OISS through the Student Information System reporting your final semester course load, so prior approval in most cases is not required.  However, remember that once you are registered less than full time based on the final semester exception, no further I-20 extensions will be possible.

Illness or Medical Condition

If a student has a temporary illness or medical condition that prevents full-time enrollment that interferes with full time study.  A student is eligible for no more than an aggregate of 12 months during full course of study at a particular program level.  Prior approval is required.  You must submit the following to OISS:

  • A written statement from a physician requiring or recommending an interruption or reduction in studies
  • Written confirmation from the school or department that the student is dropping below full time due to a temporary illness or medical condition