Full-Time Enrollment Requirement for Visiting International Students

What is a credit?

At UW-Madison each course (e.g. Math 221- Calculus) listed in the Schedule of Classes is a given a specific number of “credits” or “units.” Some classes are variable credit courses and can be taken for a range of credits (Examples: Math 221 - Calculus is a 5-unit course; History 307 is a variable 3-4 unit course). Generally the higher the course number (221 for Math 221), the more advanced the class.

Minimum Number of Credits for Full-Time Status by Level

All international students who enter the United States on F-1 or J-1 student visas are required to be full-time students while studying in the U.S. The minimum credit load you must take depends on your current level of education and the semester you choose to study in the U.S. (summer, fall or spring).

This minimum credit load is used to calculate the amount listed on the Financial Requirements for Visiting International Students website. If you choose to take more than the minimum amount of credits, you may be required to pay for additional credits.

Undergraduate Level

You are considered an undergraduate level student if you have not completed your undergraduate degree by the time you start studying on our campus. Undergraduates take courses numbered 100 to 699.

Full-time Status by term Fall Term Spring Term Summer Term
Undergraduate 12 credits 12 credits 6 credits*

*Undergraduate level students may be able to participate in the second 4-week summer session (mid-July to early August) in which case your full-time load for this 4-week block will be 3 credits.  See Information About Summer Study and Credit Loads below for additional information.

Graduate Level

You are considered a graduate level student if you have already completed an undergraduate degree. Graduate students take courses numbered 300 to 999.

Full-time Status by term Fall Term Spring Term Summer Term
Graduate 8 credits 8 Credits 4 credits

Dissertator Level

You are a dissertator level student if you are currently working on your dissertation at your home university or if you have already completed your PhD.

Full-time Status by term Fall Term Spring Term Summer Term
Dissertator Level Student 3 credits 3 credits 3 credits

Calendar Year Students (January – December)

If you are a student who wishes to study for the calendar year, you will be required to enroll full-time for the spring (Jan - May) and fall (Sept – Dec) semesters. You would not, however, be required to enroll over the summer (May-Aug).

Information About Summer Study and Credit Loads

UW-Madison offers a variety of course sessions to allow students to customize their learning experience: Courses last as little as 1 week, and as long as 13 weeks in length.

Most students will want to come for the general 8-week session, which runs from mid-June to early August. This is when the majority of courses are offered. Pay close attention to the start and end dates listed in the summer class search schedule. Read more about summer course offerings.

As a general rule, you cannot take more than one credit per week of study during the summer (i.e. for undergraduates, 6 credits during an 8-week term = OK; 8 credits during a 4-week term = Not OK), so check the start and end dates of your courses prior to registering.
Confused about summer enrollment? See example summer registrations below for an undergraduate level student (minimum enrollment of 6 credits for summer):

Course Credits Term
Math 221 – Calculus 5 credits DHH  (06/16 – 08/10)
Geography 318 – Intro to Geopolitics 3 credits DDD  (06/16 - 07/12)

Total credit load = 8 Credits
Total weeks of study  (earliest start date to latest end date)=  8 weeks
= OK!

Course Credits Term
Int’l Studies 335 – Globalization and Education 3 credits ACC  (05/27 – 06/13)
Geography 318 – Intro to Geopolitics 3 credits DDD  (06/16 - 07/12)

Total credit load = 6 Credits
Total weeks of study = 7 weeks
= OK!

Course Credits Term
Int’l Studies 335 – Globalization and Education 3 credits ACC  (05/27 – 06/13)
Finance 300 – Intro to Finance 3 credits ACC  (05/27 – 06/13)

Total credit load = 6 Credits
Total weeks of study = 3 weeks
= Not OK!