International students on F-1 status are required to maintain full-time enrollment (12 units) during the school year. Some students may be eligible to request a “reduced course load” or RCL for any of the reasons outlined below. Federal immigration regulations limit a student’s ability to be less than full-time (less than 12 units), but it may be allowed in some circumstances (see information below). If you drop below full-time enrollment without authorization, the Office of International Programs is required to report this to SEVP as a violation of your F-1 status. A student who wishes to drop below full-time must obtain approval from a DSO in advance, regardless of the reason.

RCL must be requested online (using the forms in the sidebar) at the beginning of the semester, no later than the end of the second week of the semester. A student who drops below 12 units after the deadline without prior approval of a DSO will be considered out of status.

Note: if you are approved for RCL and decide to drop some courses that you were already registered for before the RCL approval, it is your responsibility as a student to drop the class(es) before the refund deadline. 

Types of Reduced Course Load (RCL)

Final Semester RCL (completion of program)

A student may apply for RCL in their final semester if fewer courses (i.e. less than full-time) are needed and required to complete the course of study, such as a Certificate Program, Associate Degree Program, or Transfer Requirements.

You must first see a counselor in MUB 39 or MUB 101 to verify that the current term will be your final term. If it is indeed your final semester, please ask your academic counselor to update your educational plan and to fill out the online Final Semester RCL form. Note: the Final Semester RCL form can only be completed by an academic counselor. To meet with an academic counselor, please visit our counseling webpage.

When completing a Certificate and/or an Associate Degree, you must also fill out a petition form and submit it to the Admissions & Records Office. Submitting the petition form is a completely separate process from the RCL. Your counselor can help you with the graduation and/or Certificate petition form. 

Students completing their program who are eligible for a final semester RCL must enroll in a minimum of one in-person or hybrid course; your one course cannot be online. The only case in which your course may be online is if there are no in-person or hybrid options being offered at CCSF for that course.

Internship courses for credit that are in-person do count towards the in-person requirement.

If the course you need to complete your program is unavailable or not offered at CCSF during your final semester, you may submit a Concurrent Enrollment Request form to take those courses at another institution. In this case, 0 units may be taken at CCSF if none of those courses are offered at CCSF. If available, courses taken at the other institution will need to be in-person or hybrid. If they are not available in-person or hybrid, they may be taken online.

If you have already completed all program requirements for your degree and/or certificate, you are ineligible for a final semester reduced course load as the government views your program as already completed. If you find yourself in this situation, please get in contact with a DSO in our office immediately.

Medical RCL

A student may apply for RCL if, due to a temporary illness or medical condition, they are unable to be enrolled full-time (or, if necessary as recommended by a medical professional, no course load at all). 

  • A reduced course load for a medical condition can be granted for a period of time not to exceed an aggregate of 12 months while the student is pursuing a course of study at a particular program level.
  • The student must provide medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist to the Office of International Programs to substantiate the illness or medical condition.
  • The letter requirements are listed below. Please share these with your doctor:
    • Written on official letterhead
    • Include the date the letter was written
    • Include the full name of the student/patient
    • Explain why it is recommended that the student take a reduced course load or no courses at all due to a medical condition
    • Include the specific semester or start and end date for which the licensed medical professional recommends a reduced or no course load due to this condition
    • If the student is pregnant and is experiencing a medical complication or condition outside of normal pregnancy or delivery, the medical professional should explain the medical condition and how it prevents the student from studying full-time
    • Have an original signature of the licensed medical professional
    • Include the address and phone number of the practice/hospital/other medical center as well as the license number of the medical professional.
  • To officially request the medical RCL, the student must complete the online Medical RCL Request Form

Academic Difficulty RCL

A student may apply for a reduced course load if, due to academic difficulties during the first semester at CCSF, they are unable to be enrolled full-time due to any of the 4 reasons listed below. Please note that this type of RCL can be used only once and during the first academic term only (no exceptions). 

A reduced course load for academic difficulties must consist of at least 6 unit credit hours.

All 6 of those units must be in-person (or hybrid that requires students to meet at least one time on campus) .

Immigration regulations specify four academic difficulty reasons for which a reduced course load may be approved:

  • Initial difficulties with the English language
  • Initial difficulties with reading requirements
  • Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods
  • Improper course level placement

To apply for an Academic Difficulty RCL, please email for more information or to request an appointment with a DSO.