Enrolling in Courses

Students register for courses on the student portal in my.Harvard.  As you begin making informed choices about the course you’re considering, and checking out different classes during course selection week, you may want to keep a running list of the classes you’re considering by adding them to your Crimson Cart.  Before finalizing your registration, you will need to meet with your freshman, sophomore, or concentration adviser to discuss your plans for the term.  Your adviser will assist you in crafting a schedule that accords with your short- and long-term academic goals. After you meet with them, they will lift an advising hold on your registration which will allow you to complete the course enrollment process.

For more information about the course enrollment process, click here.


The word “section” refers to small-group instruction. Different types of courses will have different types of sections. In some courses, you will have lecture several times a week with an additional discussion section, e.g., Government 20 and many General Education courses. Other courses are taught entirely “in section” with the same  material for the course taught by different instructors at different meeting times, e.g., many introductory Math and language courses. Economics 10 is a hybrid, with students meeting primarily in section coming together on occasion throughout the term for lectures on given topics. Expos meets entirely in section, with each instructor teaching different content.

Just as there are many types of sections, there are many different ways to section. Your best source of information is the course website or the course syllabus, which you can find on the course website or pick up at the first meeting of the course.

Students generally do not “shop” the courses that meet entirely in section; rather, the meeting time and location are provided to students through the online sectioning program for that particular course.

Please visit the my.harvard.edu Knowledge Center for more information about sectioning through my.harvard.

Course Lotteries

Courses with limited enrollment will often run lotteries in order to ensure equity in the enrollment process. Students who want to lottery for a course will do so by requesting instructor permission using the Study Card tool on my.harvard. Instructors will contact students of acceptance or any additional steps needed via my.harvard. Instructors should announce lottery results before Study Card Day. Visit the my.harvard Knowledge Center for more information on requesting instructor permission.


Cross-registration offers students the opportunity to enhance their undergraduate program by taking courses in subjects that are not otherwise available in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. If you are considering cross-registration, it is important that you consult with your advisors{link to advisor page} about how a course might fit into your academic program.

If you wish to enroll in courses offered by Harvard’s professional schools or MIT, you may start the online petition process on the cross-registration website. Here you can explore the Cross-Registration Course Catalog for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, all of Harvard’s professional schools, and MIT. The Harvard Business School does not ordinarily allow undergraduates to cross-register in its courses. Under special conditions students may earn degree credit for courses taken at another local institution provided those courses contribute to a compelling academic plan tied to the student’s concentration; see Study at Other Boston-Area Institutions.

Courses taken through cross-registration must cover subjects not available in FAS.

Note that if you are a first-year student, in addition to creating and submitting a cross-registration petition online, you must submit via e-mail a written request to your Resident Dean explaining why you want to cross-register, how the course fits into your curricular plans, and why no other courses within the Faculty of Arts & Sciences will meet those needs. Your Resident Dean will not approve your cross-registration petition online until s/he receives your written statement. Approval is not automatic. Each petition is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Only courses counted for concentration credit will be calculated in the GPA and {letter-graded requirement}. Students can retroactively request concentration credit after they have declared their concentration by first consulting with concentration advisors and then using this petition form. This retroactive petition must be filed in the Registrar’s Office on the fourth floor of the Smith Campus Center by the fifth Monday of their fourth term in residence.

Courses taken by cross-registration should NOT be listed on the study card. Instead, students should complete the online cross-registration petition. Once all approvals have been obtained, the Cross Registration system will notify you of your acceptance. Successful petitions will be communicated to the my.harvard team who will then load them into the system. There may be a delay of several days from receiving the notification of your successful petition until the enrollment appears in my.harvard. Students are not officially enrolled in the course(s) until it appears on their record on my.harvard and are responsible for ensuring that the appropriate approvals are obtained.

Please visit the cross-registration website for more information on general policies, FAS-specific cross-registration policies, and credit conversion.

Course Changes: Add/Drop/Swap

Occasionally students will decide to make changes to their course enrollment after the course enrollment deadline. Students may add, edit, drop, or swap courses in accordance with College policy up to the fifth Monday of the term through my.harvard. Courses dropped before this date do not appear on a student’s transcript.

Beginning with the second Monday of the term, an advising hold will be placed on the course enrollment of students who have not yet declared a concentration. Pre-concentrators wishing to add, drop, or swap courses after the second Monday but before the fifth Monday must consult with their advisor to have this hold lifted. Students who have already declared a concentration do not need to have an advising hold lifted but are still strongly encouraged to consult concentration advisors before making changes to their schedule in order to ensure that students will remain on track to complete degree requirements.

Students may add, drop, and swap courses without a fee up to the third Monday of the term.

Between the third Monday and the fifth Monday, students will be charged a $10 fee for adding, dropping, and swapping courses. The fifth Monday is the last day for students to add, drop, or swap courses.

Course Changes: Changing the grading status of a course

With instructor permission, students may opt to take a course graded Pass/Fail. Pass covers the range from A to D-minus. Students do not receive credit for a course graded Fail, which is equivalent to the letter grade E. Students may request to change the grading status of a course (from letter-graded to Pass/Fail or vice versa) through my.harvard up to the fifth Monday of the term. There is no fee for changing the grading status of a course.

Course Changes: Withdrawing from a course

Between the fifth Monday and the seventh Monday, students may withdraw from a course using the withdrawal request form. Such courses appear on a student’s transcript with the notation WD, which indicates that a student was able to withdraw form a course without completing its requirements or receiving credit. There is a $10 fee to withdraw from a course. After the seventh Monday, students are expected to complete all of the courses they are enrolled in. Students may petition the Administrative Board for exceptions, which are granted only in extraordinary circumstances. Please consult with your Resident Dean of Freshmen or Allston Burr Assistant Dean if you wish to pursue a late withdrawal.

Simultaneous Enrollment

The Faculty believes that full participation in a classroom setting is essential. Therefore, a student may not enroll in courses that meet at the same time or overlapping times. The only exception is Computer Science 50. Other exceptions to this rule may be granted only by the Administrative Board. Please be in touch with your Resident Dean of Freshmen or your Allston Burr Assistant Dean if you would like to petition for an exception. Visit the Handbook for Students to review the circumstances under which an exception may be granted.