ISSO Resources for Academic Advisors

Resources for Academic Advisors

We value the partnership and commitment our campus partners, especially academic advisors, have to our international students and scholars. Here is some basic information related to international students that we hope will be helpful. Case-specific questions can always be emailed to 

F-1 and J-1 students are required by the regulations governing their status to enroll full-time on the campus which issued their I-20 or DS-2019.

Fall 2020/Spring 2021: Due to COVID-19, the number of online/remote credits students could take is relaxed due to COVID-19. Full-time enrollment or an approved Reduced Course Load (RCL) is still required. 

Fall and Spring Enrollment:

Full-time enrollment during the Fall and Spring Semesters is required. A student must have an approved Reduced Course Load (RCL) form to be below full-time any Fall or Spring semester.

The minimum full-time credit load by program of study are:

  • Undergraduate Students: 12 credits
  • Graduate Students:  9 credits
    • Graduate students may receive a full time certification if they have passed their comprehensive exam
    • Please also check department requirements
  • Professional Students: varies by school/college; students must confirm with their departments.

Summer Enrollment:

Summer enrollment is generally not required for continuing students (that is, students who enrolled full-time for the Spring semester and intend to enroll full-time for the Fall semester). However, there are two important exceptions which require summer enrollment.

1. Summer program start date: If you start your academic program at the University of Nebraska-Licoln in the summer, you must enroll full-time during that semester. This includes students who are returning from a break in their studies.

  • Undergraduates: 9 credits

  • Graduate Students: 9 credits

  • Professional Students: varies by school/college; students must confirm with their departments.

2. Summer program end date: If you complete your academic program during the summer term, you must enroll in on-campus credits. During summer, you are permitted to take only the courses that are required to complete your program of study.

You may have institutional obligations that require you to enroll during summer, such as:

  • Your academic program requires summer enrollment.
  • Graduate students may have enrollment requirements for tax purposes. Find more information here.
Online Enrollment

F-1 and J-1 students have restrictions regarding their online course enrollment.

J-1 students must enroll in traditional on-campus courses to fulfill their minimum credit load for all required semesters.

Fall and Spring Enrollment:

F-1 students can count 3 online credits toward their full-time enrollment requirements during fall and spring semesters.

For example:

  • Undergraduate students must enroll in 12 credits, and 9 of these credits must be in traditional on-campus courses.
  • Graduate students must enroll in 9 credits, and 6 of these credits must be in traditional, on-campus courses.

F-1 students can take additional online courses after they meet the minimum traditional on-campus course requirement for their academic program.

J-1 students must take traditional on-campus courses. No online courses may count toward a J-1 student’s full-time enrollment requirement. If a J-1 student has a required online course for their academic program, that student still must enroll in on-campus courses to meet the full-time enrollment requirement.

Summer Enrollment:

F-1 and J-1 students can enroll in online courses during summer IF:

  • The student has been enrolled in at least the preceding spring semester full-time at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
  • The student will be enrolled in courses during the next fall semester full-time at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Summer term is optional for most continuing students.

Final Term of Study:

If an F-1 or J-1 student needs only one course to complete the program of study and the student intends to remain in the U.S. to complete the course, that course must be in a traditional on-campus format. This will allow the student to maintain their immigration status and be eligible to apply for post-degree work opportunities if they choose to do so.

If an F-1 or J-1 student chooses to take online courses during their final semester, they must complete the online course outside of the U.S. These students will no longer be eligible for work authorizations such as Optional Practical Training (F-1) or Academic Training (J-1).

If an F-1 or J-1 student wants to be eligible to participate in post-degree completion work opportunities such as Optional Practical Training (F-1) or Academic Training (J-1), the student’s final degree requirements must be taken in a traditional on-campus course.