Online Course Enrollment

Online course enrollment is restricted for F-1 and J-1 students. Please read below for full details.

J-1 students are permitted to enroll in a maximum of one online course per semester.

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

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Fall and Spring Semester Enrollment

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

For example:

  • Graduate students must enroll in 8 credits, and 5 of these credits must be in traditional, on-campus courses.
  • Undergraduate students must enroll in 12 credits, and 9 of these credits must be in traditional on-campus courses.

F-1 students can take more than 3 online credits as long as they meet the minimum traditional on-campus course requirement for their academic program.

J-1 students must take primarily traditional on-campus courses. One online course is permitted per semester and will count towards full time enrollment.


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 UW-Madison
  • The student will be enrolled in courses during the next fall semester full-time at UW-Madison

Summer term is a vacation period, and therefore it is optional for most continuing students.

Final Term of Study (Fall, Spring and Summer)

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 US, that course must be in a traditional on-campus format. This will allow the student to maintain their visa 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, that student must contact ISS, complete a Leave of Absence form, and depart the US. In this case, a student will no longer be eligible for work authorizations such as Optional Practical Training (F-1) or Academic Training (J-1).

Impact on Post-degree Work Permission (OPT and AT)

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.