When is a Reduced Course Load (RCL) Permitted?

The limited exceptions to full-time enrollment include: 

  • Medical Conditions* 
  • Academic Difficulties* 
  • Final Academic Term of Study 

*Students must obtain approval from the Office of Global Services before dropping below full-time enrollment due to Medical Conditions or Academic Difficulties. Failure to do so will result in a violation of status and may require the termination of your SEVIS record. 

Enrollment must span the entire academic term. Full time enrollment is defined as: 

  • Undergraduate Students: Minimum of 12 credit hours per term
  • Graduate Students: Minimum of 8 credit hours per term 
  • Graduate Students who hold an Assistantship: Minimum of 6 credit hours per term 

Medical Conditions

At Northeastern, students must work with The Office of Global Services and University Health & Counseling Services (UHCS) to request a Medical Leave of Absence (this is referred to as a Medical RCL in SEVIS). Please see the Medical Leave of Absence page for more information.

Academic Difficulties

Students who are experiencing certain types of academic difficulties, as allowed by U.S. federal government regulations, may be eligible for an RCL in their first academic term. 

The reasons allowed for an academic difficulty RCL include: 

  • Improper course placement (e.g. you registered for a course and then you and/or the professor discover that a prerequisite requirement is needed) 
  • Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods 
  • Initial difficulty with English language 
  • Initial difficulty with reading requirements 

Please note for an Academic RCL: 

  • Failing a class is not a sufficient reason to apply for a reduced course load
  • Students must apply to OGS for a reduced course load before dropping below full-time status or before registering for a reduced number of courses 
  • Students must still be enrolled in at least 50% of a full-time course load and must continue to maintain on-ground presence
  • A reduced course load for academic difficulties may be taken only once per academic degree level 

Requesting Authorization for an Academic RCL

  1. Student must complete Part 1 of the “Recommendation for Reduced Course Load” form 
  2. Academic Advisor (for undergraduate students excluding CPS) or Authorized Secondary Approver: General Request (for graduate students and all CPS students) must complete Part 2 of the “Recommendation for Reduced Course Load” form 
  3. Student must submit the completed RCL e-form to the Office of Global Services.
    • If the e-form does not include a completed Recommendation for Reduced Course Load form, it will be denied. 
  4. Wait for OGS approval. Students must not drop their courses until OGS has confirmed that the RCL has been authorized. Confirmation will be sent via email to the student and registrar. 

Final Academic Term

Students who are in their final academic term of their program of study may not need a full-time course load to complete the requirements for their degree. No authorization from OGS is needed in this situation, though we do advise students to confirm with their academic advisor that all graduation requirements have been met. Please see the Final Term page for more information. 

Key Resources

Recommendation for Reduced Course Load »

Use this to request a Reduced Course Load due to academic difficulties