The Department of Homeland Security requires F-1 international students to maintain a full course of study and that the course of study must lead to the attainment of a specific educational or professional objective. At the University of Hartford a full course of study is defined as: 12 credit hours for undergraduate and 9 credit hours for graduate students (Ph.D. and AD students must maintain a minimum of 6 credits).
Federal regulations state “For F-1 students enrolled in classes for credit or classroom hours, no more than the equivalent of one class or three credits per session, term, semester, trimester, or quarter may be counted if taken online or through distance education in a course that does not require the students physical attendance for classes, examinations or other purposes integral to completion of class.”
Therefore, F-1 students who are taking online/distance learning classes that do not require physical presence on campus for an exam, class meeting or other purposes relating to the class can count only one online/distance learning class or three credits of online/distance learning per semester toward the full course of study requirement.
This provision does not limit the number of online/distance education credits that can be used toward degree requirements, but rather the number of such credits that can be used to satisfy the full course of study requirement.
For example, an undergraduate that is required to register for 12 credits per semester to maintain a full course of study could take 3 of those credits through an online class each semester. If the student chose to take an overload of 15 credits, 6 of which were done online, all 6 credits might be counted towards the student's degree requirements, as only 3 of those credits are actually serving to maintain the student's F-1 full course of study. On the other hand, an undergraduate student who is registered only for 12 total credits, 6 of which are done online, would be considered as being below a full course of study, since only 9 of the total credits would count towards the full course of study requirement.
1) What if the "one class" is more than 3 credits? What if a student wants to take two classes of 1 credit each?
A student cannot take a 4 credit course online unless that course is in addition to the normal minimum in-class full time load. Students can however take multiple online courses (one or two credits) so long as the 3 credit limit is not passed.
2) Can a student take an online course as the only course in the final semester of study?
If a student needs only one course to finish his or her program of study, it cannot be taken through online/distance education. There must be a physical presence requirement for the course. If a student remains in the United States without reporting to any class.
3) Summer and Winter term enrollment.
Students enrolled in either summer or winter term courses are not subject to the “one-class, three-credit” rule based on the fact that DHS does not require international students to be enrolled in class during these terms.
4) Students residing either temporarily or permanently outside the U.S.
A non-matriculated student residing outside the U.S. may enroll in as many online/distance courses during any semester as allowed by the internal registration policies of each college or school. A matriculated student who may be physically outside the U.S. for either the summer or winter term may take as many online/distance courses as allowed by the internal course registration policies of each college or school
5) English Language Study
If the F-1 student's course of study is in a language study program, no online/distance education classes may be considered to count toward a student's full course of study requirement.