Open Menu Close Menu Open Search Close Search

J-1 Reduced Course Load Options

As an J-1 student, you are required to register as a full-time student (a minimum of 12 SHUs for undergraduate students, 9 SHUs for graduate students) every fall and spring term. (Note: the full-time requirement applies to both degree-seeking and non-degree exchange students participating in a Tufts exchange program.) However, in certain situations you can request authorization for a reduced course load. You must get authorization from the International Center BEFORE you drop below full-time enrollment.

The following are situations in which you may be eligible for a reduced course load (part-time enrollment or no enrollment) at Tufts:

1. Annual Vacation

  • You are allowed an annual summer vacation as long as you have completed two semesters (fall and spring) of full-time study and will continue full-time studies in the fall semester after the summer is over
    • Graduate students who begin their programs during the summer must register full-time for the summer
  • During the summer vacation you are not required to take any classes at all
  • You do not need to request authorization from the International Center to take a summer vacation as long as you were full-time during the previous fall and spring semesters

2. Medical Condition or Illness

  • You can request permission to drop some or all of your classes if you have a medical illness or condition that prevents you from maintaining full-time enrollment
    • To qualify, you must provide the International Center a written letter from a US medical doctor that recommends a reduced course load for medical reasons
  • You must request International Center authorization for a medical reduced course load even if you are approved to drop below full-time by your academic advisor or Dean

3. Bona Fide Academic Reason

  • In limited and specific situations, you may be authorized to take a reduced course load if a reduced course load is needed for bona fide academic reasons
  • Examples of bona fide academic reasons include initial difficulties with academic adjustment or improper course placement
  • In most cases, a reduced course load for bona fide academic reasons requires you to maintain at least half-time enrollment (9 SHUs for undergraduate students and 5 SHUs for graduate students)
  • To qualify, you must provide a written letter of recommendation from your academic dean explaining the academic reasons necessitating a reduced course load

Procedure to Request a Reduced Course Load

To request a reduced course load for either medical reasons or for bona fide academic reasons, obtain the required documentation indicated for each category, and meet with an International Center advisor. The advisor will review your documentation and grant you written authorization if you meet the requirements for a reduced course load.

Leave of Absence

If you need to take a leave of absence from your J-1 program for personal reasons, you must contact the International Center or your J-1 sponsor. In most situations, a leave of absence requires you to leave the US, unless you qualify for one of the reduced course load options indicated above. In addition, if the leave of absence is of extended duration your J-1 status may need to be shortened or terminated if you are unable to continue working toward your original J-1 program objectives.