Change of Major and Change of Program Level

F-1 and J-1 students are admitted to the U.S. to work towards “the attainment of a specific education or professional objective,” as stated in U.S. Federal Regulations.

F-1 students are permitted to change their majors. While there is no U.S. government regulation required to change or add an academic major, it’s the responsibility of the F-1 visa holder to maintain an accurate updated SEVIS I-20. This is necessary as the major noted on the I-20 has implications for subsequent employment authorization. The International Student Advisor must be notified of a change of major so that a new I-20 may be processed and printed.

F-1 students only:
  • Follow all St. Thomas University academic requirements and procedures for a change of major.
  • Notify the International Student Advisor of the change of major, and submit a copy of the official change of major form to ISSS office.
  • Complete and submit the I-20/DS-2019 Program Extension Form to the ISSS office.
  • The International Student Advisor will review the application for approval and issue a new SEVIS I-20 document.
  • J-1 students are not permitted to change academic majors in the U.S.


Change of Program Level Procedures
An international student has the option to pursue a different or subsequent major program of study at St. Thomas University, and must follow procedures to maintain status while transitioning to another degree level. A change of level may be from B.S. to M.S., M.A. to PhD, or other. This may also include a reduction in the academic level, such as PhD to M.S., and same-level degree changes, such as one M.A. to a different M.A.

As with the change of major, there is no government regulation required to a new academic degree level. It is the responsibility of F-1 visa holder to maintain an accurate updated SEVIS I-20. This is necessary as the major noted on the I-20 has implications for subsequent employment authorization. The International Student Advisor must be notified of the change of academic program level so that a new I-20 may be processed and printed.

F-1 and J-1 students:
  • Follow all St. Thomas University academic requirements and procedures for a change of academic program of level.
  • Before ending the prior/current program, inform the International Student Advisor of the program change. Note: When moving up a degree level (e.g. M.S. to PhD), you must initiate the change of level either before ending the prior program or before the post-completion “grace period” is reached (30-day grace period for J-1 students; 60-day grace period for F-1 students).
  • If you are moving up a degree level, you must have completed (or be nearing completion of) the prior degree level and have been admitted to the higher degree level. ISSS office must receive a copy of your admission letter (provided by the Office of Graduate Admissions).
  • If you are moving down a degree level (e.g. PhD to M.S.), you must submit to ISSS office an authorization letter on departmental letterhead, written and signed by your Academic Advisor or Dean.
  • If moving between two academic degree programs at the same academic level, the International Student Advisor will advise you as to how you will proceed as this change may be considered as a change of program level or as a change of major.
  • Submit the I-20/DS-2019 Program Extension Form.
  • Your International Student Advisor will review your application for approval and issue you a new document (I-20/DS-2019).