International Graduate Student Services

The Viterbi Admission and Student Engagement (VASE) Office works closely with the Office of International Services (OIS) to assist our international students during their time at USC. 

As an international student you will need signatures for various OIS processes include Reduced Course Load (RCL), Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Optional Practical Training (OPT), Program Extensions (PE) and Leave of Absence (LOA). VASE advisors are available to assist you with these processes and serve as the academic verifiers. The department/academic advisors are not authorized to sign these forms for international Viterbi graduate students.

Reduced Course Load (RCL)

International students must be registered for a full course of study during fall and spring semesters. Registration is not required in Summer semesters, unless it is the student’s first or last semester. International students who plan to be enrolled for less than full-time must submit the Reduced Course Load form.

Review the "Request RCL Approval" tab to submit your request.

Resources to understand RCL Policy:

If you are a PhD Student:
Being enrolled less than full-time can negatively impact your funding. Therefore, all PhD students requesting an RCL must email PhD VASE Advisors to set up an appointment discuss their funding status while on RCL.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is a type of work authorization for eligible F-1 international students to participate in paid off-campus internships before graduation. However, it should not prevent the student from making reasonable progress towards the degree. The Office of International Services (OIS) provides additional on their website that all graduate students should also be aware of.

    Optional Practical Training (OPT)

    Optional Practical Training (OPT) is designed for students with F-1 visa status. It is designed to provide students with the opportunity to gain actual employment experiences in their field of study for 12 months. OPT is approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Viterbi Admissions and Student Engagement (VASE) is responsible for completing the Graduation Verification section on the OPT I-20 Request form.

    Before you begin the OPT process, you must understand the OPT policies. You can join a live OPT information session hosted by the Office of International Students (OIS) or review a pre-recorded presentation.

    The OPT form will be available on February 5th on MyViterbi. 

    Program Extension (PE)

    International students are given a specific period of time to complete the academic program requirements. Students who are unable to meet the academic program requirements by that date, a program extension form must be submitted to OIS before the expiration date. Before you apply, review OIS policies and eligibility for program extension.

    Important Dates and Reminders

    • A program extension must be filed at least 3 weeks BEFORE the I-20 expiration date.
    • OIS processing time for program extension is 2 weeks.
    • VGASP will begin reviewing Program Extension requests after the add/drop date.

    Leave of Absence (LOA)

    A leave of absence (LOA) is a temporary break from your academic degree program with no enrollment in courses. International students who are considering taking a LOA or a Medical LOA  should met with a VASE advisor to discuss implications to their academic program. Before meeting with a VASE advisor, review OIS policies and eligibility requirements.

      Published on February 26th, 2021

      Last updated on April 10th, 2024