Reduced Course Load Application

A reduced course load (RCL) is authorization for F-1 or J-1 students who are eligible to enroll in less than 12 units during a Fall, Winter, or Spring quarter. Students must apply and receive RCL authorization from the UC San Diego International Students & Programs Office (ISPO) before dropping to less than 12 units.

View the most recent RCL webinar!


Types of Reduced Course Load (RCL):

  • Academic
  • Medical
  • Final Quarter

Academic Reduced Course Load

Students may qualify for an academic reduced course load (RCL) based on one of the following situations:

  • Initial difficulty with the English language and/or with reading requirements (during student's first academic year); OR
  • Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods (during student's first academic year); OR
  • Withdrawal from a course due to improper course level placement

Eligibility:

  • In order to be approved for an academic RCL, students must maintain a minimum of 6 units.
  • Academic RCLs can be approved only once while pursuing a course of study at a particular program level. 
  • Getting a bad grade on an exam or on an assignment does NOT necessarily make you eligible for an academic RCL. If you are ineligible for an academic RCL, you might want to choose the P/NP (Pass/Not Pass) grade option when you are uncertain how well you are going to do in a class or when you do not want a class to count toward your GPA. Read more about the P/NP option. You must change grading options by the end of Week 4.

How to Request:

  • You are strongly encouraged to meet with your College Advisor (undergraduate students) or Graduate Coordinator (graduate students) before submitting your request.
  • Log in to iportal.ucsd.edu 
  • Go to "Services" tab
  • Select "Reduced Course Load Request"
  • If you qualify for reduced tuition, you can also submit the Part-Time e-Form (undergraduate students) or Half-Time e-Form (graduate students).

Approval:

  • If your academic RCL is approved, F-1 students can expect a new I-20 to be ready within 5 business days.
  • J-1 students will not receive a new DS-2019 but will receive an approval email which should be saved for their records.

Medical Reduced Course Load

A medical reduced course load (RCL) for enrollment below 12 units or, if necessary, no units at all can be granted for up to 12 months due to illness or medical condition at a particular program level.


Eligibility:

  • Medical RCLs must be submitted and approved on a quarter-by-quarter basis.
  • You must provide medical documentation from a UCSD Student Health Services medical physician or a UCSD Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) clinical psychologist (preferred). Students seeing a U.S. medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy or licensed clinical psychologist outside of UCSD SHS/CAPS should attach documentation for review by ISPO. We are unable to accept medical documentation from an acupuncturist or a Doctor of Oriental Medicine.
  • Regarding pregnancy: A normal pregnancy/delivery is not considered a medical condition warranting a medical RCL. ISPO will review medical RCL requests for pregnant students after receiving a letter from a licensed medical doctor recommending the reduced course load and substantiating the illness or medical condition.

How to Request:

  • Discuss your medical RCL with an International Student Advisor at ISPO BEFORE submitting your request.
  • Log in to iportal.ucsd.edu 
  • Go to "Services" tab
  • Select "Reduced Course Load Request"
    • Upload a copy of a doctor’s note.
  • If you qualify for reduced tuition, you can also submit the Part-Time e-Form (undergraduate students) or Half-Time e-Form (graduate students).

 


Approval:

  • If your medical RCL is approved, F-1 students can expect a new I-20 to be ready within 5 business days.
  • J-1 students will not receive a new DS-2019 but will receive an approval email which should be saved for their records.

Final Quarter Reduced Course Load

If you are in your final, graduating quarter and are enrolling in anything below 12 units, you are eligible for a Final Quarter Reduced Course Load (RCL).


Eligibility:

The final quarter RCL may also correspond with a part-time study (undergraduate students) or half-time study (graduate students) application depending on when the student is applying and number of units enrolled:

  • Undergraduate students are eligible for part-time status if they enroll in 10 or fewer units AND are applying before the end of Week 2.
  • Graduate students are eligible for half-time status if they enroll in 6 or fewer units and are applying before the end of Week 2.

How to Request:


Approval:

  • F-1 Students
    • If your RCL is approved, you can expect your new I-20 to be ready within 5 business days.
    • If you are unable to complete your program by the end date on your I-20, please inform ISPO prior to this date so we can extend if possible. Learn more here: Extending Your Program of Study .
    • At the completion of your program, you have a 60-day grace period (which begins on the last day of the quarter, not necessarily the end date indicated on the I-20) to:
  • J-1 Students
    • If your RCL is approved, you may receive a new DS-2019 if your program end date was shortened. If your DS-2019 did not need to be shortened, you will receive an email which you should save for your records.
    • If you are unable to complete your program by the end date on your DS-2019, please inform ISPO prior to this date so we can extend if possible. Learn more here: Extending Your Program of Study .
    • At the completion of your program, you have a 30 day grace period (which begins on the last day of the quarter, not necessarily the end date indicated on the DS-2019) to:
      • Prepare to depart the U.S.
      • Apply for Academic Training. Learn more here: at.ucsd.edu .
      • Transfer to another institution. Learn more here: Transferring J-1 SEVIS Record .
      • Apply to change your visa status.

Intent to Pay Filing Fee: Graduate Students

Graduate international students in their final, graduating quarter and enrolling in 0 units based on filing fee in lieu of registration status are eligible for another type of Final Quarter Reduced Course Load (RCL).


Eligibility:

  • You must be defending your thesis or dissertation or taking a comprehensive exam during your final quarter.
  • You must meet with your Graduate Coordinator for the General Petition form to determine eligibility to pay the filing fee instead of registering in any units.
  • You must submit your iPortal request by end of the 2nd week of the quarter.
  • You must apply for Optional Practical Training (F-1 students) or Academic Training (J-1 students) by the end of the 2nd week of the quarter.
  • Filing fee status is limited to one quarter only. If unable to complete degree during the filing fee status, you must register during the following quarter.
  • You will NOT be eligible for on campus employment, including GSR and TAs.
  • You will NOT be eligible for off campus employment, including CPT (F-1 students) or Academic Training (J-1 students).
  • You will NOT be eligible for on campus housing.
  • You must contact Student Health Services regarding eligibility for voluntary student health insurance.

How to Request:

  • Log in to iportal.ucsd.edu 
  • Go to "Services" tab
  • Select "Reduced Course Load Request"

Approval:

  • If your RCL is approved, you can expect your new I-20 or DS-2019 to be ready within 5 business days.
  • Your I-20 or DS-2019 end date will be shortened to the date of your defense or comprehensive exam.
  • If you are unable to complete your program end date on your I-20 or DS-2019, please inform ISPO prior to this date so we can extend if possible. Learn more here: Extending Your Program of Study .
  • Submit your OPT (F-1) or Academic Training (J-1) request no later than the Friday of Week 2 of the final quarter