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

Please see our Online Course Enrollment page for details before you take online courses.