Frequently Asked Questions for International Students

Welcome to Seattle Pacific University! The School of Business, Government, and Economics (SBGE) is proud of its international and cultural diversity. The important information that follows reviews the required I-20 form and certification; enrollment requirements; and campus resources of interest to international students. We are committed to providing the assistance you need to understand SPU and SBGE policies and program requirements.

It is your responsibility to understand and comply with the terms of your immigration status during your stay in the United States. If you fail to comply with your immigration responsibilities (for example, maintain a full-time credit load), you could jeopardize your F-1 status and legal stay in the U.S. Please review this information carefully and contact our International Student Services office if you have any questions.


Full-time Status

What is considered full-time registration?

Generally, F-1 students are required to maintain full-time status every quarter. Full-time status is considered six or more credits each quarter for SBGE graduate students.

Course offerings can be found in the Time Schedule. Do not register for fewer than the required number of credits without first receiving written permission from the Graduate Advisor and International Student Services. Students who reduce their studies to part-time without written approval will be “out of status” and could jeopardize their stay in the U.S.; and this could make them ineligible for F-1 benefits.

Reduced course load: Can an F1 student study less than full-time at SPU?

International students can be approved for less than full-time study in the following cases:

  • During an approved vacation quarter
  • Due to a medical issue
  • In the final quarter of your degree program

Exceptions to full-time registration must be approved by International Student Services before the last day of the quarter registration add period. For information about reduced course load guidelines, contact International Student Services.

Do I need to maintain full-time status in my final quarter?

Students in their final quarter of degree completion may also qualify for a reduced course load as long as at least one credit is registered at SPU. Students must complete a Reduced Course Load (RCL) request through International Student Services.

Alternative Study Options

Independent Study agreements

Independent study courses are those in which you do specific work independently under the direction of an instructor, as outlined in an approved Independent Study Agreement. Work for an independent study course occurs outside the classroom setting. SBGE faculty are not required to take on these independent study courses, but will often make accommodations for students.  

The independent study option should be sought only when a needed class is not available for a particular quarter, when your schedule cannot accommodate a course that is offered, or when you want to study a topic that is not normally offered. 

Only matriculated students at SPU may register for independent study courses. You must complete the Independent Study Agreement and have it signed by your instructor and by the Graduate Director. You and your instructor then must meet on a regular basis for the number of consultations noted in the agreement.

Registration for an independent study must be submitted to Student Academic Services no later than the 10th day of the quarter (see the University Academic Calendar for specific dates). SAS will create the course as noted on the agreement. Copies of the agreement will be forwarded to you and the instructor.

Concurrent Enrollment: How does concurrent enrollment at SPU and another University apply to me?

As an SBGE graduate student, you may, with prior permission from International Student Services, the SBGE Graduate Program Coordinator and the Office of the Registrar, take courses concurrently at another four-year university, provided your combined load does not total more than the number of credits permitted as a normal graduate load for the registration period. To concurrently enroll, you must take the majority of your course load at SPU. The credits should count toward your SBGE degree. The requirement for full-time study may be met with concurrent enrollment. Consult International Student Services for further details.

Academic Records

How do I get verification of enrollment?

There are several options to obtain a status verification letter. Your Graduate Program Advisor can provide a status verification letter. The Office of the Registrar can also provide a Enrollment Verification.

Registration holds

Registration holds will prevent a student from adding classes to their schedule. All holds must be removed prior to the start of advanced registration in order to register. It is the student’s responsibility to pursue the successful resolution of these holds.

Common holds include:

To view your holds:

  • In Banner, Go to Student Menu > Class Registration and Planning > Prepare to Register.
  • Any holds on your account will be listed, along with the department initiating the hold. Only the department initiating the hold can remove it from your account.

Why do I have a registration hold from Health Services? Who should I contact?

If Health Services has not received the required health related documents provided to you, you will have a registration hold placed on your account. You should contact Health Services at 206- 281-2231 to find out specifically what you are missing.

How do I request an official copy of my SPU transcript? 

To request an official copy of your transcript, please complete the transcript request form and submit it to the Office of the Registrar.

Student Financial Services (SFS)

I have questions about my tuition bill, who should I contact?

For questions relating to tuition fees and payments, contact Student Financial Services.

Can I pay my tuition through a payment-plan option?

Yes. For questions relating to tuition fees and payments, contact Student Financial Services.

Employment Authorization

May I work while maintaining full-time status?

F-1 students are authorized to work on campus at SPU. The Student Employment website will help you get started with on-campus employment. F-1 students may also participate in Curricular Practical Training (CPT). If you have additional employment questions, contact International Student Services.

International Student Services can assist you with questions related to employment authorization. Please pursue CPT approval at least two weeks in advance of your employment start date.

Who qualifies for Curricular Practical Training (CPT)? 

Curricular Practical Training is available to MS-IS and MS-DAB students on an F-1 visa who have completed one academic year (three quarters). If you intend to pursue CPT, you are strongly encouraged to register for ISM 6930: ISM Consulting Practicum or BUS 6969: Practice of Business to support your internship. In either ISM 6930 or BUS 6959, you will complete a project related to your degree program in cooperation with an enterprise, under the sponsorship of a faculty member. Students have an opportunity to apply the knowledge gained from their prior coursework to a meaningful project with a business. This constitutes a valuable opportunity for international students to familiarize themselves with U.S. business practices and meets the criteria for Curricular Practical Training. (This is the equivalent of an "internship.")

How do I register for CPT credits?

F-1 students must apply for CPT through International Student Services. Then, you must work with a faculty sponsor and the SBGE Graduate Advisor to arrange registration for the practicum section.

Do I need a job before I register for CPT credits?

Yes. You must have been offered an employment or internship opportunity before CPT can be arranged.  

What is the maximum number of CPT credits allowed in my program? 

Students in the MS-IS and MS-DAB programs are allowed a maximum of six CPT credits. There are no exceptions to this rule. 

What is OPT?

OPT (Optional Practical Training) is work authorization granted by USCIS to F-1 students after graduation. You do not need a job to apply for OPT. MS-IS and MS-DAB students are eligible to apply for OPT. OPT is arranged through International Student Services. It can take around two months to obtain OPT approval from USCIS. We recommend you reach out to International Student Services at the end of your second to last quarter, or the beginning of your last/graduation quarter to allow sufficient processing time for your OPT application.

I-20 Program Extension

Can I have an I-20 extension?

SBGE students are eligible for an I-20 extension if they have maintained full-time status, as defined by their scholarship and/or their F-1, while showing normal academic progress. Students must apply for an I-20 extension through International Student Services.

More Questions?

I have more questions about my program of study, who should I contact?

To create, review, and/or revise your program of study, contact the SBGE Graduate Program Advisor/Coordinator to schedule an advising meeting.