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Semester & Annual RequirementsInternational Students

Frequently Asked Questions


International students must be enrolled in a full time course load of at least 12 credit hours each semester. Of those 12 credit hours, nine must be taken in the face-to-face or hybrid format.
You could lose their F-1 status if you drops below full time during the course of a semester. COA offers tutoring to all students at no cost. If you’re enrolled in a class and find you’re having difficulty, go to the tutoring lab (ask for directions to the lab at the Information Desk at the campus you attend). We also offer Tutor, which is available 24 hours a day. Never drop below full time without first consulting the Designated School Official (DSO) on your campus.
Per federal regulations, there’re three circumstances where an F-1 student can be authorized to take less than a full-time course load:

  • Academic difficulties
  • Medical conditions
  • Completion of a course of study

You must meet with your PDSO/DSO to discuss your situation and explore your options before you drop below full time. If it becomes necessary to drop below a full course load, you need prior approval from a DSO and must complete a Reduced Course Load form.

You’re allowed to take three credit hours online toward full-time enrollment each semester. COA does offer hybrid and Webx classes. Hybrid classes are considered to be face-to-face classes since they require attendance in the classroom at least once a week. Webx classes are considered to be internet classes since they don’t require attendance on campus and can be taken at home on your computer at a specific day and time. You must take and maintain at least 12 hours each semester, nine of these hours must be face-to-face or hybrid courses. International students can take more than three hours of online courses but must maintain nine hours of face-to-face or hybrid classes. Any additional online courses will be above and beyond the required 12 credit hours.
You’re given two years to obtain an associate degree. If there’re extenuating circumstances, your F-1 visa can be extended by one year, making a total of three years.
You must attend at least 90 percent of each class. If you miss more than 10 percent of a class, you’ll be dropped or withdrawn from the class, including internet classes. Please speak with a DSO before dropping or withdrawing from a class.
You’re required to attend at least one Check-In Meeting each semester, more if your DSO schedules it. This is a requirement in order for you to be registered in SEVIS. This lets SEVIS know that you are attending classes as expected and on track to obtain your degree at COA in a timely manner.
I-20s are generally provided for two years. In certain situations, you can get an extension to your I-20 thus granting you additional time to complete your degree. In order to be eligible for an I-20 extension international, you must have at least a 2.0 grade-point average, be making progress toward completing your degree and be able to graduate within the year.