Academic Concerns

The following information answers many of the common questions international students ask about academics at Pacific University.


Reducing Your Course load

All international students and exchange visitors in student status are required to be enrolled full-time by the U.S. government.

Undergraduates are required to be enrolled for at least 12 credits to meet this requirement, while graduate/professional students must meet the standard set by their college or program.

There are some circumstances when this requirement can be waived.

Academic Difficulties

  • Student has initial difficulties with English and/or reading requirements. (First semester/term of degree-seeking study only)
  • Student is unfamiliar with US teaching methods. (First semester/term of study only)
  • Student was improperly placed in a course, and it is now too late in the current term to add another course.

Final Term

  • It is the final semester before the student completes his/her degree, and full-time enrollment is not required in order for the student to earn enough credits to graduate.

Medical Condition

  • Student has an illness or medical condition that forces a reduced or interrupted course of study. Documentation from a medical doctor (M.D.), osteopath (D.O.), or licensed clinical psychologist will be required.
  • The illness or medical condition must be affecting the student personally. An illness or medical condition affecting a family member is not a valid reason under U.S. law for reducing an international student's course load.

Concurrent Enrollment

In some situations, international students may want to take a class at a different school without leaving their current school.

In some circumstances, you may be given special permission to take less than a full-time course load at Pacific as long as you are taking enough credits at another school to meet the full-time enrollment standard. This is called "concurrent enrollment."

Concurrent enrollment must be approved by your international student advisor before to the end of your program's add/drop period. Please contact the Office of International Programs for more information.

Special Graduate Student Issues

  • If, after completing all required coursework, you will work full-time on a thesis, dissertation, project, or preparation for comprehensive exams, you may in some circumstances not need to enroll for credit.
  • If, as a condition of your Graduate Assistantship or Teaching Assistantship, your enrollment is limited to a number of credits that falls below your program/college's full-time standard, you may still meet the government's standard for full-time enrollment.

Before making any changes to your registration, please contact the Office of International Programs for a required form and advising on your situation.


Changing Your Major

Undergraduate (BA/BS) students at U.S. universities frequently change their majors. That is why Pacific University does not require students to declare their major until the end of their second year in the undergraduate program.

The U.S. government does require that international students inform them of their major, and inform them if it changes. Your international student advisor can update that information through the SEVIS system for you.

When you first declare your major, please make sure to inform the Office of International Programs so that we can update your SEVIS record.

If, after you have declared your major, you want to make a change, that is perfectly all right. Please inform us that you want to change your major. Sometimes changing your major will make it so that you need to study for an extra semester or two. If this is the case, you may be able to get an extension to the time you have been given to study at Pacific. Please contact your international student advisor for assistance.


Online or Distance Education

An online or distance education course is a course that is offered principally through the use of television, audio, or computer transmission.

Your program or college may allow you to apply a large number of online or distance education credits to your degree requirements, but no more than three (3) online or distance education credits can be used each semester or term to meet your government full-time enrollment requirement.


Enrolling at Another School

U.S. government regulations require that international students attend school full-time at the school named on their I-20 Certificate of Eligibility.

As long as you stay enrolled full-time at your I-20 school, you are free to take classes at any other school that will allow you to enroll. If you remain a full-time student at Pacific, you do not need to get a new I-20 from that school.

Study During Vacation Periods

During your program or college's regular vacation periods (i.e., summer vacation, Winter III), you are not required to enroll at any school. If you would like to take classes during a vacation period, you are free to do so at any school that will allow you to enroll. You do not need to get a new I-20 from that school -- remain on your Pacific I-20.

Concurrent Enrollment

In some situations, international students may want to take a class at a different school without leaving their current school.

In some circumstances, you may be given special permission to take less than a full-time courseload at Pacific as long as you are taking enough credits at another school to meet the full-time enrollment standard. This is called "concurrent enrollment."

Concurrent enrollment must be approved by your international student advisor before to the end of your program's add/drop period. Please contact the Office of International Programs for more information.


Academic Success

All F-1 International Students are required by the U.S. government to make normal progress towards completing their program of study.

If poor academic performance or other academic problems result in academic suspension or a mandatory reduction in course load, you will be considered to have failed to make normal progress towards completing your program of study. Your I-20 Certificate of Eligibility from Pacific will be terminated, and you will not be able to remain in the United States on Pacific's sponsorship.

If you receive a letter from your school or college notifying you that you have been put on academic warning or probation, you need to immediately make an advising appointment with an international student advisor.


Waiving the Undergraduate Foreign Language Core Requirement

A student whose native tongue is not English may be exempted from the Foreign Language Core requirement by obtaining approval from his or her academic advisor and the Chair of the World Languages & Literatures department.

To request this waiver, please follow these steps.

1) Contact your academic advisor.

2) Explain the waiver policy, and request that your advisor send an e-mail to the Chair of the World Languages & Literatures department with the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your student ID
  • Your native language
  • A statement that the faculty member is your academic advisor
  • A request that the Foreign Language Core requirement be waived

3) If the Chair of the World Languages & Literatures approves your request, he/she will contact the Registrar's Office to have the waiver granted.