What is a Short Term, Non-Degree Program for International Students?
As the name implies, a short term, non-degree program is one that does not award a degree to the participant upon completion and also is shorter in length than a typical degree granting program. These programs can be exclusively for a group of international students, or they can be programs in which domestic and international students alike participate. There are many different types of short term, non-degree programs, and you read some examples below. Please also read the information below in order to understand the process for departments to host international students in non-degree programs.
Rutgers has hosted a number of non-degree programs for international students recently that follow certain formats. These are described in greater detail below.
Tailored Group Programs
Non-degree programs can be tailored for incoming groups depending on students’ needs, ability level and interest. These programs vary in length, anywhere from a few weeks, to several months or more, and may contain classes for credit, or specially prepared seminars that are not for credit, or a combination of both. They may include language training or laboratory work/research as a part of the overall course. Please discuss with the Center for Global Services (CGS) if you have specific questions.
An example of a tailored program is the Jilin Program run out of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. The program was six months long, and had about 15 participants from Jilin University in China. The students began with intensive language training through PALS, then transitioned to participate in some laboratory training. Throughout, the students were on Rutgers sponsorship through CGS. This was a non-credit program.
Hybrid Language Programs
A hybrid language program hosts international students in PALS or ESL classes as well as in academic classes, depending on the participants’ ability levels. One such program transitioned students over the course of one year from more intensive language training at the start, to a mix of language and academic courses in the middle, to ultimately mostly academic classes, with minimal language support.
An example of a hybrid language program is the year-long Top Universities Preparatory Program (TUPP) run out of the Division of Continuing Studies. This program involved about thirty students affiliated with Renmin University in China. They combined English language study with academic coursework and tutoring, but their program involved a combination of credit and non-credit bearing work.
International students may take classes in summer session for credit through the Office of Summer Session. For more information and registration, refer students to http://summer.rutgers.edu/international. Non-degree seeking international summer students are required to register for a minimum of one credit per week in order to maintain full time enrollment.
Currently we only offer semester abroad for undergraduate students through our student exchange program run by the Center for Global Education. For more information and a list of our exchange partners visit their webpage. Graduate students may participate in a semester abroad by applying to the Graduate School as a non-matriculated student. Such applicants must follow all regulations and deadlines set by the school.
Existing Certificate Programs
Your department may already offer a non-degree program, at the end of which participants are issued a certificate. If you have an international student interested in participating in that program, please get in touch with CGS. In addition to requiring our sponsorship, different programs may have components that could complicate or restrict the involvement of international students.
Rutgers has a well-established student intern program available. Student interns must be enrolled in an academic program overseas, and can come to Rutgers to obtain skills, knowledge and experience in their field of study. These are generally highly individualized programs in which one faculty member supervises the intern for the duration of the program. More information is available on our site.
The Rutgers department, center or institute wishing to enroll international students in a non-degree program must provide the CGS with a detailed syllabus/plan in order for CGS to determine eligibility for visa sponsorship.
A detailed program description should include the following:
1. Program start and end dates.
2. Proof of full time study (which equals either 12 credits for undergraduate students/9 credits for graduate students OR a minimum of 18 clock hours per week OR an acceptable combination of credit and non-credit study. See full time study requirement for more information).
3. Total cost per student broken out by tuition and fees, and living expenses.
4. The manner in which students will be funded for their studies (private funds or government/other third party funds).
5. The number of students who will participate in the program and verification that they will be at least 18 years of age. See minimum age requirement for more information.
6. If the administrators of the non-degree program to host international students at Rutgers are working with an international institution, a contract between Rutgers and the overseas partner should be submitted for review by CGS and General Counsel. Samples of such contracts are available on request.
Once the proposed program is approved to host international visitors, the Rutgers department, center or institute should provide the following to CGS for each student:
7. A completed I-20/DS-2019 Request Form
8. A letter of admission signed by the Dean (or for centers and institutes, the Director).
9. A copy of the passport photo page (actual size)
11. CV or resume (if the program is for professionals or students at the graduate level)
Please note, CGS is not responsible for sourcing appropriate housing for the students enrolling in non-degree programs.
CGS will create an I-20 or DS-2019 for students after complete documentation has been submitted. Along with the original I-20/DS-2019, students will receive a pre-departure packet including a welcome letter that details next steps, including obtaining a visa, DHS SEVIS Fee instructions, and a Traveler’s Advisory (tailored for their group).
Within the first 20 days of the program start date, students must check-in with CGS, and attend a brief orientation about immigration related matters and maintaining legal status in the U.S. The department/center/institute should arrange a time for this meeting with CGS, perhaps as part of a larger orientation for the group.
Non-degree programs can be for credit, not for credit, or can offer a combination of the two. The following are general guidelines for each scenario, however there could be slight differences for programs exclusively hosting J-1 students. More on the difference between F-1 and J-1 in FAQs
For programs offering credit, the minimum number in the fall and spring semesters for undergraduate students is 12, and for graduate students, 9. During the summer, for undergrads and grads, the minimum requirement is one credit per week.
For non-degree programs that do not offer credit, the minimum requirement for full time study is 18 clock hours of instruction per week.
Some non-degree programs can offer a combination of credit and non-credit study. An example might be a program with both a language education component (not for credit) and academic course work (for credit). In these cases, full time study is calculated as a percentage, adding up to 100% For example if the program is for undergraduates, then 12 credits = 100%. Also, 18 clock hours of instruction = 100%. So for a program that would combine the two, we could say 9 clock hours of instruction plus 6 credits of academic coursework = 100%, or full time study. Seek CGS guidance on this for more complicated scenarios.
Different standards of care are required for students who are under 18 years of age. This can potentially lead to complications. Please consult CGS if you intend to involve minors in your program as the completion of certain forms and releases from Health Services and a detailed Risk Management analysis would be required.
The Center for Global Services (CGS) has been officially granted approval by the U.S. federal government to host international students in short term, non-degree programs. Approval was given on Rutgers I-17 after careful review by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, an organization that falls under the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Immigration Enforcement.
The I-17 is the official document created for any institution which sponsors and hosts international students in F-1 status. The I-17 contains a detailed description of the school or university, and stipulates what kind of program offerings it has. Most recently added to the Rutgers I-17 under the heading of “Courses of Study and Time Necessary to Complete” was “Other special courses of study, e.g. English Language Training available and certificate programs are available; short-term non degree programs; time varies from program to program.” This was approved by the SEVP in spring of 2013.
Rutgers can also sponsor students for short term, non-degree programs in J-1 status. The University has had authority to grant sponsorship under J-1 student category ever since Rutgers was approved as a J-1 Exchange Visitor Sponsor. The “student non-degree” category can be used for such purposes.