F-1 Academics

Full-Time Requirement

As an international student on an F-1 visa you are required to maintain full-time status during the regular semester (fall/spring).  Full-time status is equivalent to the following:


Minimum Required Units to Maintain Status
Status Number of Units
Undergraduate Students 12
Graduate Students 9
Doctoral Students 6


The only exception to the full-time requirement may occur only in your final semester on campus, if you require less than full-time loading to complete the final requirements or your degree. 

Reduced Course Load Due to Medical Exemption/Initial Adjustment

You may request to be authorized to reduce course load on a semester basis (with a maximum of 2 semesters).  A reduction of course load may be authorized due to compelling medical reasons; you must present a letter provided by your physician/medical provider stating your diagnosis, treatment plan, and why a reduction in course load is being recommended. 

A reduction in course load may also be authorized if you present a well-documented case for initial adjustment issues that may result from either language adjustment or a lack of familiarity with the American educational system (or both).

Discipline Issues /Academic Probation / Disqualification

As a Student please be reminded that disciplinary issues, academic probation, or disqualification will impact your immigration standing.  For instance, an F-1 student who is disqualified for academic reasons will not be eligible to keep their I-20 record active; in this case, the your F-1 record will be terminated and the you will have to depart the United States immediately.  The F-1 record termination therefore invalidates both your I-20 and F-1 visa stamp, and the you may no longer use either document for travel.  The example is used to illustrate that it is critical for you as an F-1 student to seek advising in matters relating to your immigration status if you find yourself in a situation such as those indicated at the beginning of this section.

Leave of Absence/Withdrawal

A withdrawal or leave of absence (LOA) has direct consequences on your F-1 status.  Students who wish to withdraw from the University or file for a Leave of Absence are advised to do so in a timely manner with USD’s Center for Student Success or CSS (applicable to undergraduate students).  Graduate students will need to notify and file for a withdrawal or LOA with their respective program administrators.  In any case, we recommend that you meet with meet with our office if you wish to file for either a leave of absence or withdrawal, prior to visiting CSS or you program administrators so that you can be advised on immigration matters accordingly, as information required may vary from one case to another.

Concurrent Enrollment Policy

As an F-1 student you may request to take classes at another university during the regular semester only upon registering full-time at USD.  (In other words, if you are an undergraduate student, you must first be registered for 12 credits at USD during the fall or spring semester in order to receive permission to take classes at another institution within the same semester.)  If you have satisfied the full time load requirement and are interested in taking a class off-campus may request for a permission letter via iTorero.  (Note: If you wish to take summer or intersession classes off-campus you are not required to be registered full-time at USD for either summer or intersession.)

If you interested in taking a class at another school or institution must take all measures to ensure that the class you are taking off-campus will be credited back to their degree at USD, either by confirming it with USD’s Articulation Agreement or with you respective academic adviser.  You should consult with your academic department on the current process for requesting a transfer of credits to your degree. 

Embassy-sponsored students: You are responsible for ensuring that classes taken off campus are approved and acknowledged by your respective embassies.