Reduced Course Load Authorization Types & Examples

There are four situations in which a Reduced Course Load (RCL) may be authorized. Please review these RCL types below.

last-semester-RCL1. Last Semester

Example: A student is about to enter into their last semester and will not be able to fulfill the full-time course load requirement because the student only needs one more course to complete their degree.

Undergraduate and Master’s students in their last semester may enroll in a less than full-time course load for the completion of their degree. Students are only permitted to be on Last Semester Reduced Course Load one time. An additional rule to this type of RCL is that students cannot complete their degree by enrolling in only online courses. The RCL e-form for last semester RCL is due to the International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO) by the first day of the semester.

2. Doctoral Students at Dissertation Stage

Example: A doctoral student has completed their coursework requirements and research credits and will be registered for a one-credit dissertation course.

Doctoral students are permitted to go onto RCL status as soon as they have passed qualifying exam and completed all required coursework and research requirements.

Doctoral students may take 2-3 semesters with RCL to finish writing their dissertation. Dissertation students requesting RCL beyond the above mentioned will be referred to the Office of Graduate Student Services for additional review. The RCL e-form for doctoral students at dissertation stage is due at ISSO by the first day of the semester.

*Any doctoral student with an RA/TA while on an RCL must obtain approval to be on RCL while still receiving full RA/TA benefits. You may request approval through this Online Request Approval Form located under the "Student Services" heading.

3. Academic Difficulties

Example: A student is struggling academically due to difficulty with English-language requirements, unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods, or improper course placement.

International students are only permitted to be on RCL once per academic level. In danger of failing a class is not a permissible reason unless it meets one of the below criteria, which must also be supported by the student's academic advisor. The ISSO is only able to authorize an academic RCL for:

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

All students must remain registered for at least six credits. After review of your approved academic documentation the ISSO may authorize the course withdrawal request.

4. Illness or Medical Conditions

IMPORTANT: Requests for a Medical Reduced Corse load must be submitted and approved within or before the academic semester dates of required full time enrollment. 

Example: A student needs to take a medical leave or reduce their course load due to medical concerns.

  1. STEP 1Set up an appointment with your ISSO Advisor to review eligibility as it applies to your F-1 or J-1 immigration compliance. Upon review, the ISSO office will provide you with the Request for Reduced Course Load or No Course Load for Illness or Medical Conditions form. This form must be signed by a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy or clinical psychologist and be included with all other required Wellness Center forms.
  2. STEP 2: Review the International Student Medical Reduction of Course Load (RCL) No Course Load (NCL) Policy and Procedure. Download and complete the International Student Request for Medical Reduced or No Course Load form.
  3. STEP 3: Submit all required completed documents by email to: