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Minimum Credit Loads: Maintaining Your Status

Important Information

F-1 and J-1 international students must maintain a specific minimum credit load each semester in order to maintain immigration status. Falling below these minimum requirements can lead to a student falling out of status and the termination of their I-20. Students in other visa statuses have no minimum number of credits to maintain status - however, please note students in F-2 status must only be enrolled part-time. For questions regarding this, please consult with your international student advisor in the ISSAS office.


All undergraduate international students are required to take a minimum of 12 credits per term. If you are a degree-seeking student and it is your last semester before graduating, you may enroll half-time during your final term, however you must contact your international student advisor in advance and request an authorized Reduced Course Load for your final semester. After completing the form, please email this form back to your advisor or drop it off at the main desk of the ISSAS office. Please note: If you are an F-1 student who is eligible for and the Academic and Cultural Sharing Scholarship, and you are taking less than 12 credits in your final semester and have been authorized for the reduced course load, you can still receive the scholarship for this final semester but please let your international student advisor know so we can apply the award to your account.

Graduate Students

Graduate students without an assistantship are required to take a minimum of 9 credits per semester. Graduate students with an assistantship may take a minimum of 6 credits. If you are a graduate student who has questions about how many credits to take when you are done with your coursework, please consult with your international student advisor as all graduate programs may be structured differently.

Special notes for all students

  • Dropping/withdrawing from courses:

    • Failing or not doing well in a course is not an acceptable reason to drop or withdraw from a course if this drop would take the student below the minimum required (see above). Dropping below the minimum course load required can lead to serious immigration problems. 

  • Online courses:

    • Only one online course counts towards the minimum credit load needed for your status, for both F-1 and J-1 students.
    • During your last semester, before graduation, you can not take one online course as your only course because this does not fulfill the immigration requirement to be considered physically present on campus. You must take a lecture-based course in addition.
    • General notes about online classes: According to 8 C.F.R §214.2 (f)(6)(i)(G), for F–1 students enrolled in classes for credit or classroom hours, no more than the equivalent of one class or three credits per session, term, semester, trimester, or quarter may be counted toward the full course of study requirement if the class is taken on-line or through distance education and does not require the student's physical attendance for classes, examination or other purposes integral to completion of the class. An on-line or distance education course is a course that is offered principally through the use of television, audio, or computer transmission including open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, or satellite, audio conferencing, or computer conferencing. If the F–1 student's course of study is in a language study program, no on-line or distance education classes may be considered to count toward a student's full course of study requirement.

  • Summer registration:

    • Not required for immigration purposes unless 1) you are a new F-1 student coming for the Summer term, 2) a former student returning to NDSU during the summer after a temporary leave of absence, or 3) if you are graduating in August. If you find yourself in one of these categories who are required to register during summer, you must register for a minimum of 6 credits. Please check with your international student advisor if you have any doubts about whether or not you should register for summer.

  • Credits F-1 students are enrolled in for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) may count towards the minimum credit load required. However, a student may not do only CPT during their final semester because this does not meet the immigration requirement for your physical presence on campus. More information on CPT can be found here.

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Office of International Student and Study Abroad Services
North Dakota State University
Phone: +1 (701) 231-7895 - Fax: +1 (701) 231-1014
Campus address: Memorial Union 116
Physical/delivery address: 1401 Administration Ave / Memorial Union 116, Fargo, ND  58102
Page manager: International Student and Study Abroad Services

Last Updated: Friday, November 20, 2015 4:14:12 PM