When considering dropping a course or changing a grading basis to R, P/F, W, or I, please carefully consider the following ramifications that apply to all classes required by your degree program.
Most MS students are full-time students. Reducing to part-time status after admission always requires, at minimum, departmental permission, and other restrictions may hold.
Visa status: If you are a student on an F-1 visa, your visa specifies that you must be enrolled full-time (3 classes or 300 units) and your course choices/activities must be directed to the degree program (your Master's in Statistics). This is a legal requirement, with exception only for serious medical or family reasons. Only during your last quarter—the quarter you plan to graduate—can you apply for a reduced course load through OIA. You can do this only once and it must be both your last quarter and the quarter in which you will graduate.
If you are an F-1 student past the add/drop deadline who cannot add another course, “W” is not an option because a "W" grade is as though you never enrolled in the class in terms of your visa records—it puts your quarter record in illegal visa status.
Only courses with letter grades may count toward your degree and the Department will not accept courses with "P," "F," "R," or "W" grades as part of your degree program. You would have to retake such courses or take other courses in their place to meet degree requirements. Any departmental financial aid given to you at admission carries the expectation that courses are taken for quality/letter grades.
The "R" grade means "registered" and is like auditing the course; it should be requested before taking any exam and certainly before the Final Exam. Courses with an "R" do not receive credit within the University but will not jeopardize visa status.
A "P/F" grade can be obtained only by the student making the request directly to the professor/instructor of the course prior to the Final Exam date, and it is granted at the discretion of the instructor. Courses with "P/F" do not count toward your degree.
Grades of “I” indicate “Incomplete” work. Once the work for an "I"-graded course has been completed, the University Registrar will record the new quality grade but leave the initial "I" as a qualifier, indicating that the work was completed late, e.g. "IA or IB+".
On any and all grading or course performance issues, students should seek out the professor. After the 5th week of a quarter, it is extremely difficult and sometimes impossible to "drop" a course or add another. Speak to your instructors early in the quarter to insure your best performance and success.
Unfortunately, life crises do happen. We always hope such does not happen to our students, but if it does, please talk to us and we will do all we can to be supportive to you and your educational endeavor. However, challenging graduate-level coursework is usual and not a life crisis; thus, efforts at changing to part-time status or pursuing nonstandard grades as a remedy for academic performance are best avoided. It is better to seek help early on before you find yourself falling behind in a class.
Please always consult with your professor/instructor and the department first. The Office of International Affairs (OIA) is a first resource only for matters pertaining to the legal obligations of visa status for all international students. The Department, the Dean of Students, and the Registrar (in that order) are the authorities on academic concerns for all students, but it is expected that concerns be dealt with at the departmental level whenever possible.