International Student Services

Reduced Course Load for International Students

The US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) requires that an international student entering the U.S. on an F-1 or J-1 visa, issued by a U.S. consulate or embassy for attendance at Goodwin College must be enrolled as a full-time student. Full-time enrollment at Goodwin College is considered at least 12 credit hours per semester.

F-1 students are required to maintain full-time student status every semester they are in the United States. Undergraduate students are expected to complete 12 credits of course work during each academic semester to be considered full-time. Students may have additional hours that are academically required by their department.

The RCL Form must be completed and delivered for approval to the International Programs Office and the Office of the Registrar before reducing your course load for less than the required 12 credit full-time hours.

Students may request approval to drop below the full-time enrollment requirement in one of these three cases:

  1. Academic Difficulties (allowed only in one semester during an entire degree program) Students who are struggling to adapt to the academic setting (i.e. difficulties with the English language). This RCL may ONLY take place in a student’s first semester at Goodwin.
  2. Medical Condition (allowed for a maximum of 1 year during an entire degree program and only with supporting medical documentation) A temporary medical condition that hinders a student’s ability to maintain a full course load.
  3. Final semester (If you fail to graduate, you may need to apply for reinstatement) If a full course load is not needed to complete a degree. For example, if you only need one or two courses to complete your course of study because all other requirements have been filled.

Academic Difficulty RCL

An academic difficulty RCL is only applicable in the first semester of study. Enrollment in 6 credits is still required, and you must return to a full course of study in the following semester. If you wish to pursue a RCL due to academic difficulty, set up an appointment to talk with the International Programs Team about your concerns and possible support services. In order to move forward with the RCL, you must have documentation from your academic adviser that confirms you’ve experienced academic difficulties with one of the following:

  • English Language/Reading Requirements
  • Unfamiliarity with U.S. Teaching Methods
  • Improper Course Level Placement

Once documentation from your academic adviser has been received by the ISS office, we will process your one-time reduced course load.

Medical Condition RCL

In the case of a medical condition or academic difficulty, students must be approved by the International Programs Office and the Mental Health Student Services Team prior to dropping the course(s) before the class withdrawal deadline at the beginning of the semester.

If you wish to apply for a medical condition RCL, you must receive a letter from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist. This letter should state that a specific illness or medical condition compelled the student to reduce their full course of study. An F-1 student may receive a Medical Condition RCL for a maximum aggregate of 12 months per degree level. The letter must be submitted with your Request for RCL form to the International Programs Team.

For medical officials, your signed letter could include something similar to the following: "As a [licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist], I recommend [Student’s full name] reduce their course load due to a temporary illness or medical condition for the [Fall/Spring year] semester."

Final Semester RCL

A student must apply for RCL in their final term of study if fewer courses (i.e. less than 12 credits full time) are needed and required to complete the course of study. The student must obtain a signature from their academic advisor to verify that the current term will be the final term for the student to complete academic program.

The most reliable source on Reduced Course Load requirements for F-1 visa holders can be found at the Department of Homeland Security's website.