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 Etrieve. A request based on a disability must be supported by appropriate documentation and reviewed and endorsed by the Office of Disability Support Services.

For upper-class 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 first-year curriculum requirements.

Students may request reduced credit load provided their plan does not affect their anticipated graduation date or impact any major department requirements. Requests for reduced course load are reviewed by the Academic Standing Committee with limited exceptions. These exceptions include requests that involve accommodations through Disability Support Services, as well as graduating seniors or fifth-year Brown | RISD Dual-Degree students that are in their last year. Seniors and fifth-year students must still follow the Exception to Academic Policy procedure, but once the exception has been approved by the student’s advisor and department head, the student is automatically authorized to enroll in a reduced credit load. Note: International students are not permitted to be on a reduced credit load for more than one (1) semester.

Students on a fully-approved reduced credit load are charged tuition at a per-credit basis. Charges may be adjusted depending on a student’s enrollment changes and will be finalized by the end of the semester’s Add/Drop deadlines. Students that are enrolled in fewer than twelve (12) credits as of the end of the Add/Drop deadline and are not approved for a reduced credit load will be charged full-time tuition and fees and will be subject to academic probation.

Students remain eligible for the same benefits/privileges as students enrolled full-time. However, students seeking a reduced credit load must check with any non-RISD providers (i.e., personal health insurance and any supplemental scholarships that are not sponsored by RISD), as these and other services may be adversely affected by a reduction in semester credit hours. Outside entities are not bound by RISD’s decision to grant a reduced credit load/full-time status designation.

Eligibility for financial aid may be impacted by reduced credit load. Any financial aid recipients that are approved for a reduced credit load should be in contact with Student Financial Services (financial aid includes any RISD-sponsored scholarships, student loans, work-study, outside awards, and grants – such as Pell, etc.) via Student Financial Services can assist students in determining whether their financial aid award(s) will be adversely impacted by a reduced credit load.

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 International Student & Scholar Affairs (ISSA) 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 ISSA for details.