Both F-1 and J-1 students must maintain full-time academic status.
Note: Only one 3-credit course in distance education (Independent Learning, World Campus, web) or on-line course may be used toward full-time enrollment each semester for F-1 students. J-1 degree students must enroll full-time in resident instruction classes. Full-time enrollment in World Campus is a violation of F-1 and J-1 status. If you have been approved for a reduced course load or your last enrollment is in summer session, please note that you cannot be enrolled for only distance education courses. Whether you are a full-time or part-time student, you must have resident instruction classes because you, otherwise, do not need to be in F-1 status.
Undergraduate students in F-1 or J-1 status should enroll for a minimum of twelve (12) credits to fulfill Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requirements. Generally students will enroll for fourteen (14) to nineteen (19) credits per semester to complete an undergraduate degree in four years. Students beginning in Summer I must be registered for 12 credits; students beginning in Summer II must be registered for 6 credits.
Graduate students will enroll for variable credits up to fifteen (15), with nine (9) credits being the minimum required to fulfill DHS visa requirements for full-time enrollment. Students beginning in summer must be registered for 5 credits in summer unless they have a 1/2-time assistantship which requires only 4 credits.
Students who intend to graduate or complete their program in summer, must enroll in the summer. Summer is not a vacation period if you are not going to be enrolled for classes in the subsequent fall semester. Enrollment must be for a resident credit (not web-based), although 3 credits of online course (Penn State World Campus) is allowed, a resident class must also be taken. Full-time enrollment must be maintained at Penn State.
Students for whom summer is not their last semester and who plan to return in the subsequent fall semester, are not required to enroll in summer, it is viewed as vacation.
Exceptions to full-time study must be cleared through the International Student Adviser in advance by completing the Reduced Course Load eForm in iStart. All exceptions granted by the International Student Adviser must be reported to DHS within 21 days as well as the return to full-time status. Note: Exceptions to full-time study due to academic difficulties are limited to one semester during the entire program of study; documented medical illnesses are limited to one year during the program of study. Failure to enroll for full-time study or to obtain approval from the International Student Adviser in advance is automatically out-of-status.
Students are not allowed to enroll at Penn State and another institution at the same time without prior permission. Courses taken concurrently at another institution typically do not count toward the full-time requirement for international students.