Full Course of Study for F-1 Students

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. You will lose your legal status if you take less than a full course of study without approval from ISSS.

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 you are enrolled in a program where your department enrolls you in your courses, you need to make sure your enrollment is completed 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.

Expand all

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

Can I take courses online?

International students are required to take a certain number of their credits as in-person. 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 are only allowed to 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.


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 starting at the UMN for the first time during the summer MUST enroll full-time (the amounts listed above). If you wish to start your program in the summer, you should carefully review the available course options with your academic advisor/department to ensure you can enroll in enough courses to fulfill your enrollment requirements

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. You cannot, therefore, count an extended-term course and an incomplete course toward your 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.

Last updated: August 14, 2023