As the fall semester approaches, the Office of International Services would like to provide the following enrollment information to international students and their academic advisors as they plan for the 2022/2023 academic year.

Full-time Enrollment Requirements for F-1 International Students 

All F-1 international students must enroll full-time and attend in-person classes at USC to maintain their immigration status. Full-time enrollment is 12 units for undergraduate students, 8 units for master’s students, and 6 units for doctoral students.

Reduced Course Load (RCL)

With permission from their academic department, international students may be eligible for a Reduced Course Load (RCL) for the following reasons:

  • Academic Difficulty (AD): only available during a student’s first semester and must include one in-person class as part of half-time enrollment (half-time enrollment is 6 units for undergraduate students, 4 units for master’s students and 3 units for doctoral students). If the AD RCL semester only requires enrollment in one class, that class must be completed in-person.
  • Final Semester (FS): must include one in-person class. If the FS RCL semester only requires enrollment in one class, that class must be completed in-person.
  • Medical: Medical RCLs are available to students with appropriate medical documentation.
  • There is no extra Reduced Course Load (RCL) available to students due to the pandemic.

Flexibility in Mode of Instruction for Academic Year 2022-2023

Although USC is in Phase 5 of the return to campus plan and classes are primarily offered in-person, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended flexibility for schools and departments to enroll F-1 students in online classes. This exception allows online classes to be taken in excess of 3 units per semester through May 12, 2023.

During this period, F-1 students must enroll in a minimum of one in-person academic course that is required for degree completion. At this time, only a small number of graduate level programs at USC intend to offer additional courses in an online format.

For example: A master’s-level student may enroll in one 4-unit in-person course and one 4-unit online course to maintain full-time enrollment.

When the DHS enrollment exception expires on May 12, 2023, academic departments must revert to pre-pandemic rules, which indicates a maximum of 3 units of online coursework per semester for international students to maintain their F-1 status.

International students must be in the U.S. to maintain F-1 status

  • Any students who cannot attend USC in person for the fall 2022 semester must consult their academic department for available options such as a leave of absence.
  • Continuing students may travel internationally while in active F-1 status but must be in the U.S. to meet all the in-person requirements of their courses.