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overview and definition

A reduced course load can be authorized for academic or medical reasons and for students in their final semester who are not able to meet full-time requirements.  A reduced course load can be for either academic or medical reasons. J-1 students please consult with the J-1 Exchange Team


Medical Reduced Course Load: A student may not drop a course(s) before receiving authorization from ISSS. Students are required to continue maintaining their status by having a full course of study at the start of the fall and spring semester. 


Students are allowed three (3) semesters or twelve (12) months of medical reduced course load per degree level. Each Reduced Course Load authorization applies to a single semester. If a student needs another Medical RCL semester, a new request must be submitted to ISSS, along with a new Medical Reduced Course Load Provider Form from your physician addressing the need for another Medical RCL for the next semester. 

The ISSS office will review the completed medical provider form to evaluate whether continued employment is appropriate or advisable for a student experiencing medical problems.

Upon receiving a COMPLETED application from the student, ISSS will process the application within 10 business days or sooner. 

ISSS is not able to expedite any request as we strive to provide fair and equitable service to all students. It is the student's responsibility to ensure they submit their request in a timely manner.

 Calling and emailing ISSS to request that we process student's requests as soon as possible will only slow down the process. We ask that you patiently wait until a decision is made. 


reduced course load Process

Before submitting an e-form to ISSS, the student must understand what is considered an exception to a full-time course schedule. A reduced course load or "RCL" will be permitted under the following limited exceptions found below:


Any request for a medical reduced course load must be approved by ISSS and a recommendation from a U.S. medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or a licensed clinical psychologist.  The physician must complete and sign the Medical Reduced Course Load Provider Form which will need to be uploaded with their request.

It is required that you meet with an ISSS advisor before submitting the Medical Reduced Course Load e-form request. 

Medical reduced course load provider form

Students who are experiencing certain types of academic difficulties, may be eligible for an RCL in their first academic term. Students must meet or have been in communication with an International Student Advisor. This request will also require verification from your academic advisor which the student will list in the e-form.


The following reasons are allowed for an academic difficulty RCL:

  1.  Improper course placement.
  2.  Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods.
  3.  Initial difficulty with the English language.
  4.  Initial difficulty with reading requirements. 


Failing a class is typically not a valid reason to apply for a reduced course load. Students authorized due to Academic Difficulties must maintain a minimum of 6 credits including having an in-person presence and must begin a full-course of study in the next semester. 

Students who are in their final semester of their program must still have on-campus presence and will not be treated as a vacation semester. 


On-Campus Presence: Students are REQUIRED to reside in Utah in order to maintain a physical presence. Students may not take only online classes in their final semester. If Summer is the final semester, students must still have on-campus presence and it must not be treated as a vacation semester.

Students must update their local U.S. address within 10 days of moving and must report this by submitting the "Address Update" e-form found in UAtlas. 


Applying for a Reduced course load

Students submitting a Medical Reduced Course Load or Academic Reduced Course Load request may not drop a course(s) before receiving authorization from ISSS. Students are required to continue maintaining their status by having a full course of study until the request is approved.

  1. Login to UAtlas and go to "F-1 Maintaining Your Status"

    Complete the "Reduced Course Load" e-form and indicate the specific reason for the Reduced Course Load. 

  1. A Designated School Official (DSO) from ISSS will review the completed application.

    Once the DSO receives the completed application, they will process it within 10 business days. DSOs will review the student's application, course enrollment. Once the application is approved, the student will receive an email from ISSS.

  1. Receiving the I-20

    Once the Reduced Course Load request is approved, the DSO will send the I-20 electronically through UAtlas. Students will receive a second email with instructions on how to retrieve the I-20. Students must immedietly print and sign the I-20.



Additional Topics

Leave of Absence

I-20 Extension

Last Updated: 3/19/24