Course Registration Requirements

International students must be full time and appropriately registered in order to maintain status and be eligible for certain benefits.  The below outlines what is permissible for course load/registration, online courses, and concurrent enrollment at another school. 

Full Time Status

All F-1 and J-1 visa holders are required to enroll for full-time registration every fall and spring semester. Currently, the University considers 12 credits to be full-time for undergraduate students and 9 credits to be full-time for graduate students.

Violating the full course of study requirement can jeopardize your status and eligibility for benefits and could 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.

For exceptions to the full-time registration requirement, please see the section on Reduced Course Load Authorizations.

Download a Reduced Course Load Authorization form.  RCLS are approved on a per semester basis. If this request is for the current semester please allow 5-7 business days for processing. If this request is for an upcoming semester it will not be processed until the current semester is completed.

Online/Distance Education Course Requirements

*Please note: the below section refers to the regulatory requirements under normal conditions. During the COVID-19 pandemic DHS has made special exceptions to the normal online course requirements.  For information on the latest DHS COVID-19 requirements, particularly as these relate to online/distance education requirements, please see our COVID-19 FAQ page.


Online classes have become increasingly popular for students. However, U.S. federal government regulations limit the number of online courses international students can count towards their full-time course load requirement.

For F-1 and J-1 students, no more than one online or distance education course (or 3 credits) may count toward the minimum number of credits needed for full-time enrollment during the semester. If the student only needs one course to complete the program of study, that course cannot be fully online.

Undergraduate Students
Undergraduate students are required to remain registered for at least 12 credits every fall and spring semester. If you wish to enroll in an online course, no more than one online or distance education course (or 3 credits) may count towards your required credits to be full-time. The remaining 9 credits must be either in-person or hybrid classes.  Please see the chart below:

If you registration does not fit into any of these categories (or if you are on an authorized reduced course load), please contact the ISSS office prior to enrolling in any fully online classes.

Graduate Students
Graduate students are required to remain registered for at least 9 credits every fall and spring semester. If you wish to enroll in an online course, no more than one online or distance education course (or 3 credits) may count towards your required credits to be full-time. The remaining 6 credits must be either in-person or hybrid classes. Please see the chart below:

If you registration does not fit into any of these categories (or if you are on an authorized reduced course load), please contact the ISSS office prior to enrolling in any fully online classes.

Courses at Other Institutions/Concurrent Enrollment
International students may be eligible for concurrent enrollment at another institution (i.e. enrolling for a course or courses at another school). However, at least 50% of a student's credits must be taken at the University at Albany, and the courses taken at UAlbany cannot be online only courses.  If any credits at the other institution are needed to meet the  full-time requirement of 12 credits, the student must provide proof of enrollment to ISSS prior to matriculation at the other institution. Additionally, the student needs to consult her or his academic advisor regarding approval of transfer credits to UAlbany. These requirements only apply to fall and spring semesters when full-time enrollment is required, not the summer term period.

 

Wintersession and Summer Sessions

Wintersession and summer session are considered annual vacation terms if a F-1 or J-1 student will be continuing full-time study at the University at Albany the subsequent semester (if you plan to graduate, see the paragraph below).  In other words, summer session is considered to be a vacation term if a student is continuing study during the subsequent Fall semester, and wintersession is considered to be a vacation term if the student is returning for the subsequent Spring semester.  During vacation terms students are not required to enroll in coursework, though they may choose to enroll in any combination of courses during those vacation periods (as long as their registration meets all other University requirements).

When a student plans to graduate at the end of Wintersession or Summer session, those terms are then considered a regular semester (they are not considered to be an annual break term). To maintain F1 or J1 status and stay in the US (including applying for OPT) a student must follow the same registration requirements they normally would during the fall and spring semesters. This includes full-time registration (with at least 50% or more of the coursework taken at UAlbany) and a limitation on the number of fully online classes.

It is not possible during Wintersession for bachelor’s or master’s degree students to fulfill these registration requirements. Therefore, any bachelor’s or master’s degree student who would like to complete their degree by taking their final courses during Wintersession must do so from outside the U.S. Additionally, bachelor's and master's students who graduate after Wintersession are not eligible for OPT. PhD students enrolled in 899 course registration during the preceding Fall term should contact ISSS for case-by-case assistance.

If a student plans to graduate at the end of Summer Sessions, the student must be enrolled full-time and not exceed the online course limitations.  Fifty percent (50%) or more of the coursework must be taken at the University at Albany.  PhD students enrolled in 899 course registration during the preceding Spring term should contact ISSS for case-by-case assistance.

Please contact the ISSS office if you have any questions regarding Wintersession or Summer session registration or graduation.

 

Disclaimer:

The information contained in this web site/form is provided as a service to international students, faculty and staff at the University at Albany. It does not constitute legal advice. We try to provide useful information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this web site or any associated site or form. Neither the University at Albany nor ISSS is responsible for any errors or omissions contained in this website, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. Nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel; students may wish to consult an immigration attorney on the specifics of their case as needed.