Academic Advising Resource Center

Course Underload

In the College of Arts and Sciences, a student must be registered for no fewer than 3.5 courses (14 credits) to meet academic standing requirements. Students in the College of Arts and Sciences who wish to register in any semester for fewer than 3.5 courses/14 credits must obtain permission to underload from the Academic Advising Resource Center.

In the Conservatory and the Double Degree program, a student must be registered for a minimum of 16 credits to meet academic standing requirements. Students in the Conservatory who wish to register in any semester for fewer than 16 credits must obtain permission to underload from an associate dean in the Conservatory.

Students who register for an underload without approval will be charged full tuition and will be subject to academic standing review and sanctions. For students with permission to underload, the semester’s tuition is based on the number of courses/credits for which a student is registered at the end of the add/drop period for semester courses, which is the eighth class day of the semester. For further information regarding tuition and fees, see the Expenses Section of the catalog. Review academic standing information for the College of Arts and Sciences and the Conservatory

Students who need to reduce the number of courses and or credit hours during a semester must first get authorization from the Academic Advising Resource Center (AARC).

The complete policy on underloads is located in the Catalog.


Degree Program Requirements

Bachelor of Arts

Min. credits/courses to meet academic standing requirements: 14 credits/3 and one-half courses
Max. credits allowed without permission: 18
Fees charged for credits over: 20

Bachelor of Music

Min. credits to meet academic standing requirements: 16 
Max. credits allowed without permission: 24
Fees charged for credits over: 24

Double Degree

Min. credits to meet academic standing requirements: 16 
Max. credits allowed without permission: 26
Fees charged for credits over: 26

If you are requesting an underload for medical reasons or on the basis of disability, schedule an appointment with Student Accessibility Services at the Center for Student Success for required documentation. All underload arrangements must be requested by 4:30pm on the first Friday of add/drop in the semester for which you are requesting an underload.

Students in the College of Arts and Sciences who wish to register in any semester for fewer than three and one-half courses/14 credits must obtain permission from the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar. All underload arrangements must be requested by 4:30pm on the first Friday of add/drop in the semester for which you are requesting an underload. Normally, requests to register an underload will only be considered from students entering their final semester.

Prior to submitting the Course Underload Request, students are encouraged to complete the following steps. You should begin this process the semester before you plan to study part time. If you plan to study part time during your final semester at Oberlin:

  1. Contact the Office of Financial Aid, if applicable.
  2. Ensure your academic record is up-to-date. Check with the Office of the Registrar to make sure all courses and transfer credit have been applied accurately.
  3. You should have submitted an application to graduate to the Office of the Registrar.
  4. Use Degree Works to check your progress toward the degree requirements.
  5. Confirm your progress toward degree requirements with your academic advisor or an assistant dean in the Academic Advising Resource Center. Determine how many courses/credits you need to graduate. Part-time approval is granted for a specific number of credits.
  6. If you have questions about your academic record, contact registrar@oberlin.edu. Only the Office of the Registrar can provide an official degree audit.
  7. When registering for courses prior to an approval for part-time status, you can select the courses you expect to take or register for 3.5 courses/14 credits and adjust your registration during add/drop.
  8. If necessary, meet with an assistant dean in the Academic Advising Resource Center during the first week of classes. All underload arrangements must be requested by 4:30pm on the first Friday of add/drop in the semester for which you are requesting an underload.
  9. Pass all your courses—very important!

Submit Part-Time Status Request

A Bachelor of Music or Double Degree Program student may be approved for a course underload with permission of the Office of the Associate Deans in the Conservatory. Students are required to complete the following form and submit to the Conservatory located in Bibbins 113.

Course Over-Underload Permission form 

Who is eligible for a course underload?

Normally, requests to register for an underload will only be considered from students entering their final semester. Those students generally need fewer credits than 3.5 courses (14 credits) in their last semester to complete their degree requirements, thus can be considered for a course underload. Students seeking an underload for medical reasons or on the basis of disability should call the Student Accessibility Services at the Center for Student Success to inquire about the accommodation process.

How do I know if a course underload will be financially advantageous for me?

If you are receiving financial aid, contact the Office of Financial Aid to discuss the impact of a course underload on your financial aid package before you submit your underload request. Each student’s disbursement of grants, fellowships, and loans is different. Also, read Enrollment Status under Policies in the Returning Students section of the Office of Financial Aid’s website for more information. You should speak with your parent(s) or guardian(s) before you make this decision since there may be other factors to consider before you change your enrollment status.

What should I do if I am studying on an F-1 Visa?

If you are studying on an F-1 Visa you must meet with the director of the International Student Resource Center before you submit your part-time request.

When will I find out if my course underload request is approved?

Students will receive the decision for their course underload request in January for the spring semester and July for the fall semester. The assistant deans in the Academic Advising Resource Center need to review your grades from the prior semester to ensure that you are eligible for an underload. Course underload requests for medical accommodations will be reviewed and processed upon receipt.

How can I tell if my request has been processed?

You will receive an email from the Academic Advising Resource Center (aarc@oberlin.edu) with the decision regarding your underload request. In Banner Self Service, any adjustments to your tuition will appear in the “Accounts Receivable” tab and Student Accounts will reimburse your loan providers, your parents, or you, as applicable.

Can I audit a course while I am doing an underload?

Yes, up to two audits are possible, with applicable fees, for students registered for one or more courses (four or more credits). Audits are arranged through the Office of the Registrar.

What is the difference between taking a course for credit and auditing a course?

Courses taken for credit appear on your transcript with a grade. If you are taking a course for a letter grade, the grade is calculated into your GPA. Courses taken for official audit appear on your transcript as the following: a successful audit results in the grade of AU (for “audit”) and an unsuccessful audit results in the grade of F.