University of Houston-Victoria

International Programs

Requesting a Reduced Course Load

A student may request a Reduced Course Load (RCL) if the reason meets the criteria outlined by immigration regulations. Acceptable reasons are listed below. A request must be supported by a student's academic adviser and pre-approved by the International Programs Office (IPO).  Dropping below a full course of study without PRIOR approval from IPO results in a loss of legal status and the loss of both on- and off-campus employment eligibility.

Acceptable Reasons for a Reduced Course Load

  • It is your final semester, but less than a full course load is needed to complete your program of study.
    • Only for undergraduate and graduate level students who will complete their degree at the end of the semester for which the reduced course load is requested.
    • Students must be registered for at least one in-person course during their final semester.
  • You have academic difficulty due to:
    • Improper course level placement
    • Initial difficulty with English language or reading requirements
    • Unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods
      • If a student fears the possibility of doing poorly in a course but their situation is not reflected by one of the 3 reasons listed above, they are not eligible for an RCL based on academic difficulty.
      • Academic difficulty may be used only one semester per degree level
      • Students must maintain half-time enrollment (at least 6 for undergraduate students and at least 3 credits for graduate) during the semester of reduced course load.  
  • Documented Medical Reasons
    • This reason requires a supporting letter from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or clinical psychologist. The letter does not need to state the specific medical condition but must indicate that the condition requires less than full-time enrollment.
    • This reason is limited to 12 months of reduced course load per degree level.
  • You are either working on a thesis or dissertation or preparing for preliminary examinations.
    • This is only for graduate students who have completed all required coursework.

Reasons Unacceptable for a Reduced Course Load

  • Financial difficulties
  • Medical illness of family member
  • Child care issues
  • Preparing for GMAT, GRE, CPA, or similar exams
  • Suspension from academic program
  • Working on incomplete courses from a previous semester
  • Auditing courses

Steps for Requesting an RCL

  1. First meet with an International Programs Office advisor to check your eligibility for a Reduced Course Load (RCL) application.
  2. You must meet with your academic adviser to discuss your situation BEFORE submitting an RCL. Your academic adviser cannot approve your request before having this discussion. Failure to meet with your adviser may cause serious delays in processing your request.
  3. Based on your adviser's recommendation, IPO will either approve or deny your request. You will receive an email notifying you of the decision.
  4. If you select reason #3 below (Medical Reason), a recommendation from your academic adviser is not required. Instead, submit a letter from you doctor to IPO along with the RCL form. Allow 2-3 business days for IPO to review your RCL.