Index > Student Academic Policies > Full-time Enrollment Requirement for All Students (Fall + Spring)

Full-time Enrollment Requirement for All Students (Fall + Spring)

The college’s resources are designed to serve its full-time students and do not allow for the unrestricted enrollment of part-time students. Students are required to register in no fewer than 12 credit hours each Fall and Spring semester. There are academic (and possibly financial) consequences for students registered less than 12 credits. Failure of an international student to be enrolled full-time in a required term is violation of F-1 status and will result in the student losing their immigration status. The student will be required to leave the U.S immediately. All students must be registered for a minimum of 12 credits by the end of the Add/Drop deadline for the semester. Students completing less than 12 credits for the semester will be subject to academic probation.

Authorization to attend on reduced credit load may be granted by exception to policy only as a needed accommodation for students who are registered with Disability Support Services for appropriate documented medical conditions, and/or for legitimate academic reasons. While it is typically preferable for a student with a disability to be accommodated through methods such as academic advising and academic adjustments, it may in some circumstances be appropriate for the student to seek the accommodation of requesting a reduced credit load. Factors such as inadequate academic preparation, failure to make use of appropriate academic accommodations, poor class attendance, employment, extracurricular activities, or family/personal obligations, are not in themselves acceptable reasons for a reduced credit load.

Authorization to attend on reduced credit load must be requested of the Academic Standing Committee no later than one month prior to the start of the semester for which the reduced credit load is requested. See the Academic Calendar for exact deadline dates for each semester. Plan accordingly as requests for reduced credit load will not be accepted once the deadline passes. Use the ‘Request for Exception to Academic Policy’ form available in the Registrar’s Office. A request based on a disability must be supported by appropriate documentation and reviewed and endorsed by the Office of Disability Support Services.

For upperclass undergraduate students or graduate students, the request must also be accompanied by the student’s coursework plan for the completion of the degree, signed and approved by the student’s department head for undergraduates or graduate program director for graduate students. For first-year undergraduates, the request must be accompanied by the student’s coursework plan for the completion of Foundation year requirements.

Students may request reduced credit load if their plan does not affect their department requirements, nor jeopardize their graduation date. Requests for reduced course load are reviewed by the Academic Standing Committee with the exception of requests as needed accommodation through Disability Support Services. Seniors in their last semester or dual degree students in their last year must follow the exception procedure, but once submitted, are automatically approved for the reduced course load. Note: International students cannot be on reduced academic load for more than one semester.

Students are charged the full-time tuition fee even when authorized to attend on reduced load (fewer than 12 credits). Students are eligible for reduced tuition only if:

  • a student in a 4yr program has already completed and paid full time for 8 semesters (fall/spring)
  • a student in a 5yr program (Arch) has already completed and paid full time for 10 semesters (fall/spring)
  • a transfer student has already completed and paid full time for 6 semesters (fall/spring)
  • a student in their 5th year double major has already completed and paid full time for 8 semesters (fall/spring)
  • Graduate students: depends on program length accordingly (ie: a 2yr program = completed and paid full time for 4 fall/spring semesters, a 3yr program = completed and paid full time for 6 fall/spring semesters, etc.)

Exceptions to this requirement may be made in the case of medical or disability-related reductions.

Students attending on an approved reduced load remain eligible for the same benefits and privileges as students enrolled full time. However, students allowed to attend on reduced load should follow up with Student Financial Services to determine whether their financial aid will be adversely affected. Also, RISD students are not eligible for RISD sponsored student health insurance if enrolling in less than 9 credits for a semester. Reduced load students must check with non-RISD providers (such as personal health insurance and non-college-sponsored scholarships) as these and other services may be adversely affected by the reduction in semester hours.

Outside entities are not bound by the College’s decision to grant a reduced credit load/full-time status designation.

Full-time Enrollment Requirement (Fall/Spring): Supplementary Paragraph for International Students (F-1 Visas)

International students are required by the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal visa regulations to enroll full time and maintain full-time status. There are very limited circumstances in which a reduced load for medical or academic reasons may be granted. An international student who is granted reduced load for medical reasons may be granted such reduction for not more than 12 months, which may or may not be consecutive. A reduced load granted for allowable academic reasons may be granted for only one semester. In order to maintain their immigration status in the United States, an international student must visit the Office of International Student Services (OISS) prior to filing the ‘Request for Exception to Academic Policy’ form seeking a reduced load. International students at RISD who will be studying abroad through one of RISD’s programs must still be enrolled as a full-time student. Please see OISS for details.