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.

*Online enrollment does not count towards full-time enrollment for J-1 students.

  • English as a Second Language Students: 6 credits.
  • Undergraduate Students: 12 credits.
  • Graduate Students:  8 credits
    • 6 credits for graduates with a 33.3% Teaching Assistantships (TA) / Project Assistantships (PA)
    • 4 credits for graduates with a 50% TA/PA
    • 3 credits for dissertators
    • Please also check department requirements

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

  • Professional Students: varies by school/college; students must confirm with their departments.
  • Visiting International Student Program (VISP) and Exchange Students:
    • Undergraduates: 12
    • Graduates: 8
    • Dissertators: 3

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.

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. 

  • English as a Second Language: 4 credits.

  • Undergraduates: 12 credits. We currently cannot support undergraduate summer start dates. Immigration regulations currently require undergraduate students to enroll in 12 credits, which is not possible at UW-Madison.

  • Graduate Students: 4 credits.

    • The Graduate School does set lower minimum enrollment levels for some assistantships. Students should confirm minimum enrollment loads with their employing department.
  • Professional Students: varies by school/college; students must confirm with their departments.

  • Visiting International Student Program (VISP) and Exchange Students: unless otherwise noted in your admission letter, 6 credits is the typical minimum for those studying at the undergraduate level. Those studying at the graduate level will be full-time at 4 credits and dissertators at 3 credits as indicated in the admissions letter.

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

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.