Reduced Course Load Application

View the most recent RCL webinar!

What is a Reduced Course Load?

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 UCSD International Students & Programs Office before dropping to less than 12 units.

There are 3 types of RCLs: Academic, Medical, and Final Quarter. See below for more information on each type, eligibility, as well as how to apply for undergraduates and graduate students.

Academic Reduced Course Loads: Graduate and Undergraduate Students

Students may qualify for an academic reduced course load based on either:

  • Initial difficulty with the English language and/or with reading requirements (during student's first academic year);
  • 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.
  • Your academic advisor (College Advisor for undergraduate students or Graduate coordinator for graduate students) must approve and sign the paper Reduced Course Load Request
  • 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 reduced course load (RCL). If you are ineligible for an RCL, you might want to choose the P/NP (Pass/Not Pass) grade option when you’re uncertain how well you’re going to do in a class or when you don’t 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 Apply for Academic RCL: Graduate and Undergraduate Students


 book icon

  When: Weeks 0–9
  Units:  At least 6 units

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  How to Apply:

 rcl-round-ispo-form.png rcl-round-advisor.png
 • ISPO RCL paper form (signed by academic advisor)
 • Meet with ISPO Advisor

Medical Reduced Course Loads: Graduate Students

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

Eligibility:

  • Medical reduced course loads must be submitted and approved on a quarter-by-quarter basis.
  • You must provide medical documentation and recommendation for a medical RCL from the UCSD Student Health Center (signed by a licensed medical physical or clinical psychologist), Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS), a licensed medical physician, or a licensed clinical psychologist. We do not 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 Apply for Medical RCL: Graduate International Students


doctor icon

  When: Weeks 0–2
  Units:  
1-6 units

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 How to Apply:

 rx advisor eform

 

  When: Weeks 0–9
  Units:  0 or 7-11 units

  OR

  When: Weeks 3–9
  Units:  1-6 units

 

 blue arrow pointing right 

 How to Apply:

 rcl-round-ispo-form.png rx rcl-round-advisor.png

Medical Reduced Course Loads: Undergraduate Students

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

Eligibility:

  • Medical reduced course loads must be submitted and approved on a quarter-by-quarter basis.
  • You must provide medical documentation and recommendation for a medical RCL from the UCSD Student Health Center (signed by a licensed medical physical or clinical psychologist), Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS), a licensed medical physician, or a licensed clinical psychologist. We do not 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 Apply for Medical RCL: Undergraduate International Students

rcl-round-doctor.png   When: Weeks 0–2
  Units:  
1-10 units
 blue arrow pointing right 

 How to Apply:

rx rcl-round-advisor.png eform

 

  When: Weeks 3–9
  Units:  1-10 units

  OR

  When: Weeks 0–9
  Units:  0 or 11 units

 blue arrow pointing right 

 How to Apply:

 rcl-round-ispo-form.png rx rcl-round-advisor.png

Final Quarter Reduced Course Loads: Graduate Students

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.

Eligibility:

The final quarter RCL may also correspond with a half-time study application depending on when the student is applying and number of units enrolled:

  • 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 Apply for Final Quarter RCL: Graduate Students


graduation cap icon

  When: Weeks 0–2
  Units:  1-6 units

   blue arrow pointing right   

 How to Apply:

 jl

 

  When: Weeks 0–9
  Units:  7-11 units

  OR

  When: Weeks 3–9
  Units:  1-6 units

 

  blue arrow pointing right  

 How to Apply:

 rcl-round-ispo-form.png

Final Quarter Reduced Course Loads: Undergraduate Students

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.

Eligibility:

The final quarter RCL may also correspond with a part-time study (undergraduate 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

How to Apply for Final Quarter RCL: Undergraduate Students

final   When: Weeks 0–2
  Units:  1-10 units
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 How to Apply:

 eform

  When: Weeks 3–9
  Units:  1-10 units

  OR

  When: Weeks 0–9
  Units:  11 units

 blue arrow pointing right 

 How to Apply:

 rcl-round-ispo-form.png

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.

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 the ISPO Filing Fee Intent Form and paper Reduced Course Load Request form by end of the 2nd week of the quarter
  • You must apply for Optional Practical Training (for F-1 students) or Academic Training (for 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.

How to Apply for Final Quarter RCL: Filing Fee for Graduate Students

filing fee   When: Weeks 0–2
  Units:  0 units
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 How to Apply:

 rcl-round-ispo-form.png fee rcl-round-advisor.png