University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

F – 1 Students

F-1 Legal Status

Full Course of Study



Full Course of Student Requirement

Immigration regulations require that all F-1 students register for and complete a full course of study every term. If you enroll for less than a full course of study, you must have approval from ISSS before the semester begins. If you take less than a full course of study without approval from ISSS, you will lose your legal status.

As an international student, you are responsible for ensuring you are in compliance with the following visa regulations regarding courses at all times during your course of study. If your department will enroll you in your course, make sure your enrollment occurs before the drop/add deadline of the term.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to some of the questions we get from students about their credit requirements. Contact an ISSS advisor if you have any questions about these or other issues.

What is the minimum number of credits I must take each semester?

As an international student on an F-1 visa, you must always be enrolled in the required minimum number of credits at all points during the semester unless you receive permission from ISSS to take a Reduced Course Load.
  • Undergraduate Students: 12 credits per semester
  • Non-degree seeking students: 12 credits per semester
  • Graduate School Students: 6 credits per semester
  • Professional School Students: between 6 and 12 credits, depending on your program

Undergraduates: Please be aware that the ISSS Reduced Course Load process is separate from the University’s 13-credit policy. The University 13-credit policy impacts your tuition rates. The ISSS Reduced Course Load application allows a student to keep their legal status while registering for a reduced course load. You will need to submit both applications separately.

Can I take courses online?

International students are required to take a certain number of their credits as in-person, and this means there are limitations on the number of online credits you can count towards your full-course requirement.

If you are only enrolling in the minimum number of credits required to maintain your status (the amount listed above), you may only enroll in up to 3 online credits.

If you enroll in more than your minimum credit requirement, you MAY enroll in more than 3 online credits, but:

  • Undergraduate Students: You must be enrolled in at least 9 in-person credits.
  • Graduate Students: You must be enrolled in at least 3 in-person credits.

Are You Considering Dropping In-Person Credits?

If you choose to enroll in more than 3 online credits during a semester, you should be cautious if you decide to drop any in-person credits later in the term. Carefully review this policy and consult with an ISSS advisor to ensure you will continue to be in compliance with this requirement after the credits are dropped.


Undergraduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits every semester. At the start of the semester, Maria registers for the following courses equalling 15 total credits:

  • Three in-person courses that are 3 credits (9 credits total)
  • Two online courses that are 3 credits each (6 credits total)

Part of the way through the semester, Marisa realizes she cannot complete all of her homework, and she wishes to drop one in-person course. This is not allowed, however, because she would not have enough in-person credits to remain in status. Maria must continue to attend both of her in-person courses and drop one of the 3-credit online courses if she wishes to reduce her courseload.

Can I enroll in classes that are not a full-semester in length?

Yes, you should enroll for all of your credits at the beginning of the term. If you split your enrollment between the first and second half of the semester, you must enroll for ALL courses at the beginning of the term.

Am I required to be a full-time student during the summer?

  • Continuing students are not required to enroll during summer, and there is no full course of study minimum for the summer session.
  • Students who are new to the UMN who begin their program during the summer MUST enroll full-time (as listed above).

I needed an extension to complete a course last semester. Will those credits be counted this semester?

International students are expected to complete all courses, including those taken online, during the semester for which they are registered. An extended-term course and an incomplete course does not count toward the full course of study credit minimum in any semester other than the one in which you registered for it, as indicated by your transcript.

Can I audit a class?

Audited courses do NOT count toward your full course of study requirement. You may only audit a class if you are already enrolled in your required minimum number of credits (listed above).

Are there additional rules for Graduate Students?

You do not need to submit a Reduced Course Load request if you are enrolled in either of the following:

  • 6 or more Thesis credits
  • Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) courses (for example, 8444 for PhD and 8333 for Master’s students)
Grad0999 enrollment does NOT satisfy the full course requirement, so you must submit a Reduced Course Load request when you enroll in Grad0999.