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Enrollment guidelines

International students in F-1 or J-1 nonimmigrant status must take enough credits each semester to maintain full-time enrollment.

Minimum credit hours each fall and spring semester

  • Undergraduate students: 12
  • Graduate students without assistantship: 9
  • Graduate students with assistantship: 6
  • Doctoral students who have passed comprehensive exams: Maintain continual doctoral enrollment (at least 2 credits in the fall and spring semesters and 1 credit in the summer sessions)

Online courses

Only three online credits may be counted toward a student’s full-time enrollment requirements. Each student is required to have a minimum number of credit hours taken in the classroom, as shown below:

  Total credits needed Maximum online credits Minimum classroom credits
Undergraduate 12 3 9
Graduate (without assistantship) 9 3 6
Graduate (with assistantship) 6 3 3

Exceptions to full course of study

  • Individual departments and/or the Graduate School may require students to take more credits.
  • Enrollment as an auditor or hearer does not count toward full-time enrollment.
  • Enrollment in "exam credit" does not count toward full-time enrollment.
  • Incomplete courses continued into the following semester don't count toward full-time enrollment.

Immigration regulations allow for a reduced course load in the following situations:

  • Initial academic difficulties in a student’s first or second semester (one semester only).
  • Temporary illness or medical condition (one semester at a time, no longer than one year).
  • Final semester, if fewer courses are required to complete the degree.
  • After completion of required coursework for graduate students.

To request a reduced course load, submit a Reduced Course Load form to the International Center before dropping below the minimum credit requirements. Please refer to the enrollment guidelines chart for more information.

Summer session enrollment

  • International students who were enrolled at MU during the spring semester are not required to enroll during the summer semester unless it is their final semester.
  • MU requires that doctoral students who have passed comprehensive exams take at least one credit during the summer. Refer to the Graduate School for more information.
  • If the summer session is a student’s first session at MU, the student must be enrolled full time during the summer semester:
    • A new graduate student must register for four credits during the summer.
    • A new undergraduate must enroll for six credits during the summer.
  • If the summer session is a student's final session at MU, the student must be enrolled during the summer semester in at least one credit hour:
    • Credit must be offered on MU's campus as face-to-face credit hours.
    • Student cannot be enrolled in only online credits.
    • Course enrollment must appear on summer semester transcript.
    • If student is concurrently enrolled in another institution, at least one credit hour must be at MU.

Concurrent enrollment

  • Students may take classes at other schools while taking classes at MU.
  • At least 50 percent of a student’s classes must be at MU.

The classes a student takes at another school will count toward the full-time enrollment requirement at MU as long as the student submits a Reduced Course Load form with confirmation of enrollment at the other school.

Process for dropping or withdrawing from a course

If you are dropping or withdrawing from a course during the semester, you must first receive permission from the International Center if the drop or withdrawal causes you to fall below a full course load. To drop or withdraw, follow these additional steps:

  1. Find out if your are eligible for a reduced course load by reviewing the enrollment guidelines. If you need a reduced course load form to drop below full-time enrollment, complete the form with your academic adviser. (If you withdraw from a course after the last day to drop, you will also need to complete a course withdrawal form with your academic department.)
  2. Bring the reduced course load form* to the International Center during walk-in advising.
  3. If you are eligible to drop or withdraw from the course, the international student adviser will give you a dropping a course form. You will need to take this form to the University Registrar's office, where your course will be officially dropped.

*Graduate students with assistantships or graduate students who have passed their comprehensive exams may not be required to have the reduced course load form, but will still need to come to walk-in advising to get the dropping a course form if they will be dropping below nine credit hours for the semester.