F-1 and J-1 student visa holders are required to enroll full-time on the campus which issued their I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1). There are restrictions on how many online credits can count toward minimum full-time enrollment requirements. Students studying only online are not able to enter or remain in the U.S. as an F-1 or J-1 student.

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Fall and Spring Semester Enrollment

Full-time enrollment during the Fall and Spring Semesters is required. The minimum full-time credit load by program of study are listed below, including federal limitations on online enrollment.

Fall/Spring Semester Enrollment Requirements

wdt_ID Student Classification Minimum total credits Minimum "in-person" or "hybrid" credits Maximum online/remote credits to count toward full-time enrollment
1 Undergraduate 12 9 3
3 Graduate 8 5 3
4 Graduate w/ TA/PA 33.3% 6 3 3
5 Graduate w/ TA/PA50% 4 1 3
6 Graduate w/ RA 33-50% 8 5 3
7 Dissertator 3 3 0
Student Classification Minimum total credits Minimum "in-person" or "hybrid" credits Maximum online/remote credits to count toward full-time enrollment

Graduate students should get familiar with Graduate School policies as listed on the website.

Professional program full-time enrollment requirements may vary. Students in a professional program should confirm the minimum full-time enrollment requirement each semester with their program coordinator.

For J-1 Students: One online course can count towards full-time enrollment.

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 UW-Madison in the summer, you must enroll full-time during that semester. This includes students who are returning from a break in their studies and returning to resume studies during summer. In-person/hybrid course enrollment is required. 

Summer 2023 Approved Start Dates

Start Date Program Session Code* Session Dates #Wks Minimum Full-time Credits 
May 22 Accelerated BS Nursing ZNN 5/22–8/27 14 13 credits (Undergraduate only)
June 5 Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies BBB+


1 (BBB) + 7 (DHH) = 8 (Graduate only)
June 5 Occupational Therapy Doctorate BII 6/5–8/6 10 9 (Graduate only)
June 5 MS Curriculum & Instruction BLL 6/5–8/27 13 4 (Graduate only)
June 12 MS Athletic Training CHH 6/12–8/6 8 8 (Graduate only)
June 19 Any DHH 6/19–8/13 7 6 (Undergraduate) 

4 (Graduate)

July 17 ITA Training

VISP cohorts





4 2 (Graduate only)
July 31 International Student Summer Institute (ISSI)

Mechanical Engineering Summer Launch

Electrical & Computer Engineering Summer Launch

JDD 7/31–8/27 4 3 (Undergraduate only) 

2. Summer program end date: If you will complete your enrollment requirements during the summer term, you must enroll in UW-Madison in-person/hybrid credits. During summer, you must take the course(s) that are required to complete your program of study. If your required credits are less than the full-time enrollment minimum, you must submit a Reduced Course Load for final semester.

Students considering completion of final work while abroad or through another institution must discuss this matter with ISS as there are serious consequences for F-1 and J-1 status and benefits.

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

  • Your academic program requires summer enrollment.
  • Your award (such as a fellowship) or employment (such as a graduate assistantship) requires summer enrollment.

Online Course Enrollment

J-1 students are permitted to enroll in one online course per semester. The number of online credits is not specified but limited to one class. These credits count towards maintaining full time status.

F-1 students are limited to 3 online credits counting towards full time status.