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Reduced Course Load (RCL)


According to Federal Regulation (8 CRF 214.2(F)(6)(iii)) international students on the F-1 visa are permitted to take a reduced course load (be part-time) only under a few special permitted circumstances. Students must be certain they meet the proper criteria for a reduced course load according to federal regulations.

A student may not be enrolled less than full-time, or drop/withdraw from a course, until authorized to do so by International Programs, as this may affect a student’s immigration status. 

RCL in Final Semester:
  • Students may request a reduced course load “to complete course of study in the final semester”, ONLY during their final semester at UT and if they need less than full-time amount of credits in order to complete degree requirements.
  • Students must be enrolled in at least one in-person class in their final semester.
  • Students may request an RCL in the final semester only once per degree level.

RCL for Medical Condition or Illness:
Students may request an RCL due to a temporary illness or medical condition, which makes you unable to be enrolled full-time (or, if necessary, no course load). You must provide a letter from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist to substantiate the illness or medical condition. The official letter must:
  • Be on a hospital or doctor's letterhead with a signature in blue.
  • Cannot be dated more than 30 days before the start of the term for which the RCL is requested.
  • Recommend that you be either part time or not enrolled due to medical circumstances.
  • The medical professional's signature, title, name printed.
  • Click here for a Sample Letter for Medical RCL.
A reduced course load for a medical conditions can be granted for a period of time not to exceed an aggregate of 12 months (3 semesters) while the student is pursuing a course of study at a particular program level. A new RCL form must be submitted each semester of less than full-time enrollment.

An RCL for medical reasons cannot be used for a previous semester. If dropping or withdrawing from a course or courses from previous semesters will put you below full-time, do NOT do so without first speaking to your International Student Advisor. Retroactively withdrawing will have serious consequences for your immigration status.

RCL for Academic Difficulty:
  • Students may request a reduced course load based on “academic difficulties”, IF they are unable to be enrolled full time.
  • Students may request an RCL due to academic difficulty only during their first semester at UT.
  • Students may request an RCL due to academic difficulty only once per degree level.
  • If approved for a reduced course load, students are required to take a minimum of half the credit hours required for full-time (6 credits undergraduate, 4 credits graduate).
  • RCL should be submitted prior to dropping below full-time. A student who drops below a full course of study without the prior approval of the DSO will be considered out of status.
  • A new RCL form must be submitted each semester of less than full-time enrollment.
  • Students authorized for a RCL Academic Difficulty are not eligible for on-campus employment.
  • Students who receive an academic difficulty RCL must resume a full course of study in the next available semester in order to maintain status.

Application Instructions:
  • Submit online Reduced Course Load (RCL) request.
    • If you are requesting an academic RCL, as a part of the application you will send an electronic recommendation to you academic advisor to verify your eligibility. The verification must be completed before you submit the request to IPO. RCLs for final semester should be submitted no later than the first day of classes.
    • If you are requesting an medical RCL, as a part of the application you will be required to attach a copy of your official doctor's letter.
  • If approved, you will be issued a new I-20 with the RCL information listed on page 2.
  • A student may not be enrolled less than full-time, or drop/withdraw from a course until authorized to do so by International Programs, as this may affect a student’s immigration status. 
Important Notes:
  • Submission of an RCL request to IPO does not automatically grant approval. If additional information is needed, your International Student Advisor will contact you and/or your advisor for clarification.
  • Registration and RCL forms are not required in summer semesters, unless it is the student’s first semester.
  • If you instead will be taking a semester break from UT outside the the US, you should instead request the SEVIS Leave of Absence/Withdrawal request.
  • J-1 students not sponsored by UT do not need to submit the RCL request to IPO (For example: IIE, etc). The RCL should be submitted directly to your program sponsor.