Program completion for immigration purposes is deemed to be the final day of the semester for students enrolled in a semester-long course which meets on regularly scheduled, specified days and times for the duration of the semester. Students enrolled in condensed courses are deemed to have completed their programs on the last day of required attendance during their final semester.
Graduate Students with Thesis/Project Requirements
For those students who are enrolled only in graduate thesis or research credits and
who have met all other course requirements in a previous semester, program completion
is calculated from the date of thesis or project defense, not the last day of the
semester. The official program completion date for these students is the earlier of
(1) two months from the defense date OR
(2) Thesis Requirement: the date the academic department chair signs the thesis approval form or
Project Requirement: the date the project approval form is signed by the academic department chair.
CLARIFYING NOTE: Once the thesis is forwarded to the academic dean for review, whether or not the thesis approval form has been signed by the academic department chair and/or committee members, the completion date is the date of forwarding or two-months from defense, whichever is earlier. There is no "early review" provision for the academic deans. It is presumed that once the dean has received the thesis, there will be no further corrections/revisions from the department chair or committee.
You can read the official policy memo here (PDF).
Subsequent enrollment requirements for Graduate Students: Graduate students not meeting Graduate School deadlines for final submission of thesis or project reports are required to register for one credit the following semester (the semester of formal UAF graduation). This is a university policy and is considered enrollment for administrative purposes only. It has no impact on immigration status.
Note for all students:
Following the immigration program completion date, students enter a 60-day grace period during which they may
(1) apply for OPT employment authorization (application must be received by the USCIS service center before day 60);
(2) be accepted into a new academic degree program and receive the new I-20 before day 60; or
(3) leave the country on or before day 60.