J-1 Full-Time Study Requirement

J-1 Full-Time Study Requirement

Full-Time Study at Teachers College

J-1 students under U.S. immigration regulations are required to pursue a full course of study while at Teachers College. Failure to comply with this regulation may lead to termination of your status as well as all J-1 employment benefits, including on-campus employment.

You may meet the full course of study requirement in one of two ways.

  1. Full-time Coursework (register for 9 points/credits of coursework): TC defines 9 points of coursework credit as full-time; anything below 9 credits is considered 'half-time' or 'part-time.' If you register for 9 credits you are automatically considered full-time and in compliance with J-1 requirements. Please be advised starting Fall 2021 full time equivalency will be at 9 credits. More information can be found on the Office of the Registrar website here. You are also automatically considered full-time if you register for certain advanced doctoral / dissertation advisement courses, including:
    • Dissertation Advisement 8900 or 8901
    • Clinical Psychology Internship CCPX 6430
    • Counseling Pscyhology Internship CCPX 6460
    • School Psychology Internship HBSK 6480
  2. Full-time Equivalency (register for the equivalent of 9 points by taking courses and obtaining approval for a Certificate of Equivalency, or COE).  If you are taking fewer than 9 points of coursework credit, you may still obtain 'full-time equivalency' if you are also engaged in non-credit academic activities directly related to your degree program.  These activities must be indicated on a Certificate of Equivalency (COE) form from the Office of the Registrar. The COE must be approved by both your academic advisor and the Registrar by the end of the add / drop period (TC Academic Calendar), such that the total number of coursework and equivalency points equals 9.


A COE may be approved for appropriate non-credit academic activities, such as:

  • Preparation for required language or comprehensive examinations
  • Supervised research for the master's thesis or integrative project
  • Supervised research for the doctoral dissertation requirement
  • Required or elective internship / fieldwork / practicum / student teaching
  • Graduate research or teaching assistantship

For the autumn / spring semester the Registrar will grant the equivalent of 1 point for every 3 hours of approved activity. For example, if you are spending 6 hours per week studying for your comprehensive examinations, you would be granted the equivalent of 2 points of coursework. You must have a total of 9 points of coursework or COE-approved activity in order to be considered full-time.


Study During the Summer Vacation Period

You are not required to study during the summer vacation period. If you choose to study, you may study on a part-time or full-time basis according to your own interest.


Reduced Courseload for J-1 Students

In certain circumstances, an J-1 student may request authorization to engage in a reduced courseload (part-time study). A reduced courseload may be granted only in specific situations. You must request pre-approval for a reduced courseload directly from the Office of International Students and Scholars. Please note that authorization for a reduced courseload may be granted only for the following situations:

  • If you are new to U.S. higher education and are having initial difficulty with the English language or with academic adjustment, you may be authorized to reduced from 9 credits to 6 credits (students who have completed previous graduate work in the United States are not eligible for this type of reduced courseload)
  • If you have a documented illness or medical condition, you may be authorized to enroll for fewer than 9 credits (or for no credits at all, if medically warranted). This authorization is granted for one semester at a time and must be re-authorized if the illness or condition persists. A reduced course load for medical conditions can be granted for no more than 12 months in the aggregate during any one course of study.
  • If you are in the final semester of your degree program and do not need 9 points (or the equivalent) to complete the degree.

You may request approval for a reduced courseload by submitting to the OISS a Reduced Courseload Request eForm through TC-Compass.  


A Summary

How an J-1 student maintains a "full course of study" for Immigration purposes:

Fall and Spring Semesters

COE filed by end of Add/Drop Required?

Pre-Approval by OISS or your J-1 Sponsor Required?

9 points of coursework (no more than 1 course/3pts. through on-line/distance ed. may be counted toward full course of study)



Activities directly related to degree program (prep. for exams; thesis, project, or dissertation research; student teaching, internship, etc.)



Internship, Practicum or Fieldwork under Curricular Practical Training provisions


YES(if paid)**

Research, teaching or graduate assistantship (less than 20 hrs/week)


NO if TC, YES if CU***

Reduced course load for initial difficulty with English, unfamiliarity with US teaching methods, improper course level placement, illness or medical condition



Last semester of degree program (fewer than 9 points needed to complete degree requirements)



**For paid internship, practicum or fieldwork, Academic Training (AT) must be authorized by the Office of International Students and Scholars or your J-1 sponsor before employment can begin.

*** Employment paperwork through TC or CU Human Resources must be completed before employment can begin.


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