Reduced Course Load Application


These instructions are for students requesting a reduced course load after the second week of instruction.

See different instructions if you are requesting a requesting a reduced course load before the third week of instruction.

View most recent RCL webinar!

General information and eligibility

F-1 and J-1 students must enroll as full-time students during every quarter of their program of study at UCSD. In some cases, students are eligible to enroll in less than 12 units for specific academic or medical reasons. However, students must receive prior authorization from the UCSD International Students & Programs Office before enrolling on a part-time basis.


Reasons for a Reduced Course Load Request:

  • It is your final quarter to graduate with your Bachelor's Degree (undergraduate students). See instructions for RCL before 2nd week.
  • You are finishing your final coursework before your thesis/exams or it is your final quarter (graduate students). See instructions for RCL before 2nd week.
  • You have a valid medical reason for taking less than 12 units (medical statement required)
  • You are having initial difficulties with the English language and/or with reading requirements
  • You are experiencing unfamiliarity with American teaching methods
  • You have been improperly placed in a course level that is too high

Academic Reduced Course Load Requests:

  • Students requesting a reduced course load due to academic reasons must maintain a minimum of 6 units
  • A reduced course load can be approved on an academic difficulty basis 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 a reduced course load. If you are ineligible for a reduced course load, 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

Medical Reduced Course Load Requests:

  • A reduced course load for medical reasons (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. A reduced course load for medical reasons must be submitted and approved on a quarter-by-quarter basis.
  • You must provide medical documentation and recommendation for a reduced course load from the UCSD Student Health Center, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), a licensed medical physician or licensed clinical psychologist.
  • Regarding pregnancy: A normal pregnancy/delivery is not considered a medical condition warranting a reduced course load.  ISPO will review reduced course load requests for women who are pregnant after receiving a letter from a licensed medical doctor recommending the reduced course load and substantiating the illness or medical condition. 

To obtain approval:

  • Download the Application for Reduced Course Load Form (PDF).
  • Meet with your academic advisor to discuss your plans:
    • Graduate students: Meet with the Graduate Coordinator in your academic department.
    • Undergraduate and EAP students: Meet with the Academic Advisor in your college.
    • Students requesting a Reduced Course Load must still be enrolled in at least 6 units, unless:
      • Fewer than 6 units are required to complete your program
      • You have a valid medical reason for taking less than 6 units
  • Obtain Academic Advisor’s signature on Reduced Course Load Form.
  • Print your academic history from TritonLink and attach it to your application.
  • Come to the International Students & Programs Office during walk-in advising to meet with the International Student Advisor. Bring your complete application package to the meeting.
  • If it is approved, you will receive your approved Reduced Course Load Form.
  • Drop courses on TritonLink once you obtain necessary approvals.

Contact Us

International Students & Programs Office (ISPO)
Phone: (858) 534-3730
Email: Visit our Contact Us page

Monday through Friday
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.