Registration information for international students at Cal Poly
All course registration, fee payment, access to library contents, Canvas class assignments, grades, and a wealth of other information is conducted through the Cal Poly Portal.
Minimum Required Study Load
Students attending Cal Poly on F-1 or J-1 visa standing must carry a minimum number of units per quarter. Undergraduate students are required to carry at least 12 units per quarter and graduate students a minimum of 8 units of 400- or 500-level coursework per quarter. Students who encounter difficulty in carrying the minimum load, whether for academic, health, or personal reasons, should immediately contact the International Center. Before dropping below full-time enrollment, you must contact the International Student Advisor at firstname.lastname@example.org. Less than full-time enrollment is allowed for summer quarter for Cal Poly degree-seeking students who enrolled full time in the preceding fall, winter, and spring terms.
Students will be blocked from dropping below full-time enrollment during the last 4 days of open registration when the quarter has begun. If you need to drop a class to add another one, add the new class first or use the swap class function in the Student Center.
F-1 students must be approved for less than full-time enrollment for their final quarter at Cal Poly by submitting a Request for Reduced Course Load for Final Quarter found on the International Student Hub.
Online and In-Person Classes
A class is considered in-person if the entire class is required to meet in person at least once during the quarter, such as an in-person class meeting or to take exams in person. If you are unsure whether your classes will have a required in-person component, please reach out to your instructor(s) directly.
F-1 visa students:
- Online unit restriction for new F-1 students: Beginning fall quarter 2022, if you enroll in at least 9 units of in-person classes, you may enroll in more than 3 units of online-only classes. If your online-only class is 4 units or more, you may only count 3 of those units toward your 12-unit minimum for undergraduates or 8-units for graduates. For example, if you have 3 classes of 4 units each, and one is online-only, an undergraduate student will need to enroll in at least one more unit of an in-person class.
- Students with a Transfer Pending I-20 are subject to the restriction above if they were not continuously maintaining status on or before March 9, 2020. If they have been continuously in status since March 9, 2020, then they need to have at least one in-person class to maintain F-1 visa status.
- Continuing F-1 students who want to keep their F-1 visa status active will need to be enrolled full-time, whether in the U.S. or outside the U.S., to maintain eligibility for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and/or Optional Practical Training (OPT) in the future.
- F-1 visa students in their final quarter do not need to be enrolled full-time, but if they are enrolled in only one class, it must be an in-person class.
- Students wanting to apply for OPT must apply from within the U.S.
J-1 exchange students:
Undergraduate students must take at least 12 units of in-person classes and graduate students must have at least 8 units of in-person classes, and then they can enroll in extra virtual classes. They should not use fully online classes to fulfill the full-time enrollment requirement.
When to Register
Enrollment Appointment Schedule
The Enrollment Appointment Schedule tells you when you will be allowed to register for the current term. Important information about Cal Poly registration is available online at the Office of the Registrar.
Please become familiar with these instructions and policies. Be sure to read announcements .
How to Register
Degree-seeking F-1 students
The Office of the Registrar has detailed information about how to use Degree Planner as well as instructions for Schedule Builder. Be sure to review these resources ahead of your registration appointment. If you have questions about the classes that you should register for, please contact your academic advisor.
J-1 exchange students
Exchange students register earlier than other Cal Poly students under Special Exceptions, however, exchange students are not granted access to Degree Planner and are therefore exempt from the compliance requirement.
Exchange Students will need Permission Numbers to Over-Ride Prerequisite Requirements
If you see in Schedule Builder that the course you want to take has a prerequisite requirement that you have not taken at Cal Poly, you must show you have taken an equivalent course at another school. You may have to provide copies of course syllabi from these past courses and transcripts. For help clearing any prerequisite holds, consult the Advising Center for your College or the Department Office offering the course. You may find contact information for department offices on the My Cal Poly Portal on the Home tab in the Directory Information Portlet by using the Depts/Clubs/Units filter. If you are granted permission to enroll in the course, you will be given a permission number by the department office or instructor. Enter this permission number on the registration screen in the Student Center where shown in the Permission Number Instruction Sheet (PDF). It is recommended that you begin the process to clear prerequisite holds as soon as you know your desired class schedule for the quarter. Permission numbers become available to the department offices as soon as courses appear in Schedule Builder.