Academic Career

You are in control of your academic career at Notre Dame.

Many professionals at the University are available to assist you, but the ultimate responsibility to take advantage of the opportunities offered is yours. It is important that you familiarize yourself with Notre Dame's policies online and in the Student Handbook, in addition to the the course/degree requirements for your academic program.

Register for Classes

Students must register for classes every semester. If you do not register, you will automatically lose your legal, F-1 status.

Additionally, you are expected to carry a full course load each semester. Please refer to the table below to determine your required course load.

Type of Study Credits Needed for Full-Time Status
Undergraduate student 12 credit hours
Graduate Student 9 credit hours

Note: You are not required to register when school is not in session or during the summer.

Online or Distance Learning Courses 

Under current regulations, only three credits of online or distance learning can be counted toward the full course load. This does not mean that you cannot take more courses. It simply means that only three credits will count toward determining your full-time course load.

Language students are not able to count any online or distance learning credits toward the determination of full-time status.

Concurrent Enrollment at Another Institution

Notre Dame students pursue coursework at Notre Dame while pursuing their degree. Courses taken at other consortium schools count toward determining whether or not you are carrying a full course load provided these courses have been determined by your school to be part of your academic program.

Please note that if Notre Dame does not offer enough courses in your academic program in any given semester, you are still required to take a full load even if this means taking courses outside of your discipline or taking courses at a consortium school.

Dropping/Withdrawing from Classes

Prior to withdrawing from a class, it is important that you consult both of the following individuals:

  • Academic Advisor
  • International Student Advisor

Your academic advisor will advise you on the impact of the withdrawal on your academic plan. The international student advisor, however, will advise you on how the withdrawal from the course may impact your ability to remain in the United States legally.

Additionally, the international student advisor will determine whether the circumstances surrounding your withdrawal from the class fit into one of the acceptable reasons for falling below a full course of study.

Auditing Classes

Auditing classes can be an excellent way of enhancing your educational experience. Unfortunately, audited classes do not count toward determining whether you meet the legal definition of a fulltime F-1 student.

Please consult with your international student advisor before auditing courses.

Reduced Course Load

The regulations allow students to take a reduced course load under limited, very specific circumstances. The international student advisor must authorize in advance any reductions in your course load for any of the reasons described below.

The Office of International Programs must report to the Department of Homeland Security those students who have been authorized to take a reduced course load. Likewise, the Office of International Programs is required to report your return to full time study.

Even under the provisions for a reduced course load, you are required to take a certain number of credits. Undergraduates must take at least 6 credit hours while graduate students must take 5 credits. English language students must take half the clock hours required for a full course of study.

In severe circumstances due to medical conditions, it is possible to take no courses at all.

Academic Difficulties

Your international student advisor may authorize a reduced course load if you experience:

  • Initial difficulties with the English language or reading requirements; or
  • Unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods or improper course placement.

This reason for a reduced course load is only available to you during your first semester at Notre Dame. If you take a reduced course load your first semester due to academic difficulties, you must take a full course load the following semester.

A student who has generally maintained or exceeded the minimum number of credit hours over a period of time, but who does not complete the minimum required number of credit hours in a particular term because of dropping a course due to imminent failure in the course, might be held to be carrying a full course of study during the term.

Request a Reducted Course Load

  1. A statement from the academic adviser requiring or recommending the interruption or reduction of studies should be brought to the Office of International Programs.
  2. The Associate Dean of International Programs, after receiving the adviser's recommendation and in consultation with the adviser will recommend a reduced course load to the Assistant Academic Dean.
  3. The Assistant Academic Dean gives approval for the request.