International students holding F-1 and J-1 status are required to maintain continuous, full-time enrollments during the time they hold F and J nonimmigrant status. Federal regulations specify the enrollment requirements for those involved in English language and in undergraduate studies, but defers to the universities to define full time study for graduate students.

Type of Study What constitutes "full course load"

Undergraduate student

12 credit hours

Graduate Student

8 credit hours

Law Student

12 credit hours

English language study

18 clock hours of instruction per week


On-campus employment pursuant to the terms of a fellowship or assistantship is deemed to be part of the academic program of a student. Therefore, graduate students who have received a research assistantship or a teaching assistantship may be eligible to take fewer classes and still be considered to be full-time students in the eyes of the government. Details regarding this can be found in the Graduate Announcements.

On-line or distance learning courses

Under current regulations, only three credits of on-line or distance learning can be counted towards the full course load. This does not mean that you cannot take more courses. It means simply that only three credits will count towards determining your full-time course load. Language students are not able to count any on-line or distance learning credits towards the determination of full-time status.

Auditing Classes

Audited classes do not count towards fulfilling the full-time enrollment requirement.

Concurrent Enrollment at another Institution

Catholic University students occasionally take courses at another University at the same time they pursue coursework at Catholic University while pursuing their degree. Courses taken at other consortium schools count towards determining whether or not you are carrying a full course load provided these courses have been determined by your school to be part of your academic program.

Please note that if Catholic University does not offer enough courses in your academic program in any given semester, you are still required to take a full load even if this means taking courses outside of your discipline or taking courses at a consortium school.