Academic Objectives

International students must uphold certain academic program objectives:

  • Attend the institution listed on your Form I-20/DS-2019
  • Maintain full-time enrollment each term

Attend the institution listed on your Form I-20/DS-2019

Northwestern University should be listed on your Form I-20 or DS-2019. If that becomes inaccurate, follow the instructions below:

  • Concurrent enrollment at another institution: Contact the International Office for approval.
  • Transfer to another institution: Complete the Transfer Out form and have your SEVIS record transferred.
  • Withdrawl from Northwestern: You must report to the International Office any plans to leave the university. If you are dismissed from the university or plan to take a temporary leave of absence, you must complete a Notice of Withdrawl or Leave of Absence Form to withdraw your SEVIS record.

See our Transfers, Withdrawls and Your SEVIS Records page for detailed instructions.

Maintain full-time enrollment each term

At Northwestern, full-time enrollment is defined as 3 or more credits per quarter.

Qualifications for reduced course load

In certain situations, students may drop below a full course load.

  • Academic difficulties due to initial difficulty with the English language or reading requirements, unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods, or improper course level placement. This is only applicable during the first quarter; student must resume a full course load at the next academic term. 
  • Medical conditions based on a medical condition diagnosed and documented by a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist. Please note:
    • Additional documentation is required. It must be specific and include recommendations from the physician or psychologist on whether the student should have part-time or no enrollment, as well as indicating the term for which the reduced course load is applicable.
    • A reduced course load for medical reasons may be recommended for more than one term, but cannot exceed 12-months. The student must reapply for a reduced course load each quarter/semester.
  • A final-term student completing his or her course of study does not require a full course load to do so. 
  • Concurrent enrollment at another approved institution. Between both schools, enrollment equates to a full course of study. Please note:
    • More than half of the units must be at Northwestern.
    • The student must have prior approval from their department and the Registrar's Office verifying the courses taken at another institution will be counted toward the degree program.

How to apply for a reduced course load

If you qualify for one of the circumstances listed above, download, complete, and submit the Reduced Course Load Form and submit it during walk-in advising hours or via email to your IO Advisor. A new I-20 is generated as a result of this action and is available 7 calendar days from successful and complete submission.