Study load (overload and underload)

To complete a course, you need to pass enough units to meet a set number of credit points. We measure your enrolment load in credit points per academic year.

The standard undergraduate study load per year is 48 credit points (24 credit points per semester).

Full-time and part-time

An Equivalent Full-Time Student Load (EFTSL) is 48 credit points. Most units run for a semester and have a value of six credit points (0.125 EFTSL).

Per academic year:

  • a full-time study load is between 36 and 48 credit points
  • a part-time study load is less than 36 credit points (less than 0.75 EFTSL).

Time limits to complete a course

You must complete your course within a set time limit, based on a formula using the course duration. Your course duration is in Find a course. Calculation of the maximum time allowed to complete a course is as follows:

(full-time study course duration × 2) + 2 years = maximum course length

For example:

  • (3 year Bachelor degree × 2) + 2 = 8 years
  • (4 year double Bachelor degree x 2) + 2 = 10 years
  • (2 year Masters program x 2) + 2 = 6 years


Law students have different time limits, see Law time limits and maximum intermission.

Varying your course duration

You can take approved intermission or reduce your intended study load as long as you still complete your course within the maximum time limit. Check with your faculty before you choose to study part-time.

Domestic or international students not on a student visa in Australia, can apply to their managing faculty to take parental or primary carer's leave. If approved, this leave does not count towards the maximum time limit to complete a coursework course.


Domestic students

Domestic students can usually choose to study part-time. The Web Enrolment System (WES) may force you to enrol for the entire year, and in more credit points than you plan to study. If this happens and you believe this requirement doesn't apply to you, contact your faculty for advice.

Alternatively, changing your your intended study load in WES from full-time to part-time allows you to reduce the number of enrolled units. WES won't automatically discontinue you from units - you'll still need to select the units you want to discontinue.

If you choose to change your intended study load below 18 credit points per semester, you may not be eligible for government payments such as Youth Allowance, Austudy or public transport concessions.

International students

If you're on a student visa you must complete your course in the time stated on your Confirmation of Enrolment (COE). To do this, you need to enrol in a full-time study load (24 credit points per semester). The Web Enrolment System (WES) will not allow you to submit your enrolment unless you enrol in enough units to meet your approved study load requirement.

You need to apply for approval to underload under these circumstances:

  • compassionate and compelling circumstances
  • implementation of an intervention strategy due to a risk of unsatisfactory academic progress.

Compassionate and compelling circumstances

Compassionate and compelling circumstances are personal circumstances that:

  • are involuntary and outside your control, such as medical, family, wellbeing, or enrolment circumstances, and
  • present you with limited or no choice but to underload your study.

Examples include:

  • illness or exceptional personal circumstances
  • course structure, progression rules or unit availability that prevents a standard enrolment load.

How to apply

To apply to underload, submit an underload application - international students (pdf, 0.23 mb).

Due date

Submit your application by the census date for that teaching period. Wait for formal approval from your faculty before reducing your study load, as this may affect your visa.

If your application is approved, and you need to extend your course duration, you may need a new Confirmation of Enrolment (COE). See extending your visa.

Approval to underload is not required if you:

  • are in your final semester and will complete your course within the time stated on your eCOE
  • are enrolled in a combination of standard semester and summer or winter units that total 24 credit points per semester
  • have been required to reduce your enrolment load from your faculty Academic Progress Committee.


Overloading is to enrol in more than the standard number of units in each year. It is usually limited to students who have:

  • completed 48 credit points in one calendar year
  • achieved a credit average or higher in the previous year.

Exceptions may apply to high achieving students in approved programs. Some courses may not allow acceleration. This may be due to professional accreditation and/or clinical requirements. The faculties below have more information:

How to apply

Submit a request overload application (pdf, 0.23 mb) as instructed on the form.

Due date

When applying to overload, you should submit your application as early as possible. The deadline is no later than a week before the first day of the semester that you wish to overload. Your faculty will notify you of the outcome within five working days.

For deadlines to change your enrolment load, see add or discontinue units.

Related links

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