UAlbany requires 12 credit hours each semester for full-time status. USCIS requires you to successfully complete a full-time course of study each semester (does not include summer).
If you are an RA or TA or GA, with valid tuition support from your funding source, then you may be allowed to take 9 credit hours of classes plus teaching or research. Graduate students doing research or thesis work after completing coursework can also take reduced credits, as stipulated by your department. Graduate Students receiving fellowships, for which they are not required to work, must enroll in 12 credits to be considered full time.
In certain rare cases, a new student in his/her first semester may be authorized by ISSS to take less than 12 credit hours in order to do remedial English or academic coursework.
Download a Reduced Course Load Authorization form.
Online/Distance Education Course Requirements
The Department of Homeland Security requires F-1 students to maintain a full course of study toward the attainment of a specific educational or professional objective. At the University at Albany, a full course of study, as discussed above, is defined as 12 credit hours for Undergraduate and Graduate students.
F-1 students are permitted to enroll in online/distance education courses on a limited basis. Federal regulations define online/distance education courses as those that do not require the student to be physically present on campus for face to face class meetings, exams or other purposes related to the course. No more than one course or 3 credits of online/distance education per academic term may counted toward the full time enrollment requirement.
Example: An international student is enrolled for 12 credits in spring semester. S/he is permitted to take only one course or 3 credits in the category of online/distance learning. Conversely, if a student is enrolled for 15 credits in spring semester, s/he may take two courses or 6 credits in the online/distance education category, which means the other 9 credits must entail a physical campus, face to face course meeting and/or exam component.
Violating the full course of study requirement jeopardizes and could very well lead to the loss of F-1 immigration status. A student who loses her/his F-1 status must request to regain F-1 status through the process of reinstatement with the Department of Homeland Security. Reinstatement is costly, time consuming and has no guarantee of a positive outcome.
Note: A hybrid course is a combination of physical and non-physical presence on campus for class meetings and/or exams for a given course. Hybrid courses are not considered online/distance education courses for the purposes of the above international student requirement.