East Carolina University
Office of International Affairs

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Full Course of Study


International students must be enrolled full-time during the Fall and Spring semesters of each academic year at ECU. This is a United States immigration requirement for anyone on an F-1 student visa. Twelve (12) credit hours for undergraduate students and nine (9) credit hours for graduate students constitute full-time enrollment at ECU.

Exceptions to Full Course of Study:

Undergraduate students who are in their final semester of study may take less than 12 credit hours, if the lesser course credits are all they need in order to graduate at the end of that semester.

Graduate students must be enrolled during Fall and Spring semesters even when doing thesis or dissertation research. Graduate students who have completed their coursework are considered full-time if they register for a Master's Paper, 7000 (master's thesis) or 9000 (doctoral dissertation) for a minimum of 3 credit hours until they graduate. Registration in a Master’s Paper, 7000, or 9000 alone or in combination with other courses constitutes full-time enrollment. Graduate students are required to enroll for a Master’s Paper, 7000, or 9000 after completion of coursework, including semesters when they are on Optional Practical Training, prior to completion of studies, in order to maintain their visa status.

International students are not required by United States immigration law to be registered during the Summer.

Students who plan to take a leave of absence from ECU or to be outside the United States for more than 5 months should consult with the International Student Advisor as to how these plans will affect their current and future immigration status.