Student Enrollment

Drop, Add, Withdraw

Students are allowed five weekdays at the beginning of the term to attend courses in which they are considering enrolling. Students officially enroll through my.Harvard.

No undergraduate may drop or add a course or change grading status in a course after the fifth Monday of the term. Undergraduates have until the seventh Monday of the term to withdraw from a course. Exceptions to these rules may be granted only by the Administrative Board. Any course that a student drops by the deadline is removed from the student’s transcript. If a student withdraws from a course, that course remains on the transcript with the notation “WD.” Deadlines for graduate students are indicated in the Academic Calendar.

Instructor’s Permission and Petitions

Students wishing to enroll in courses that require the permission of the instructor will not be able to do so until the instructor admits them into the course via the permissions tool of my.harvard.  The instructor’s permission must be obtained for all undergraduate enrollments in graduate-level courses and for those that require the permission of the instructor.

Undergraduates adding a course after the Course Registration deadline or changing grading status to Pass/Fail must request permission via my.harvard. Permission is not required for dropping or withdrawing from a course. For graduate students, the instructor’s permission is required for adding or withdrawing from a course and is not required for dropping a course.

Instructors may not delegate their responsibility for approving course enrollments, change-of-course petitions, or submitting grades. Instructors are therefore asked to be available to students to discuss their course enrollment status and, when necessary, to grant permissions.

Limiting Enrollment in Courses at the 100- or 1000-Level and Below

As a general principle, students should be able to study the topics they want and for which they have the appropriate background, with the exception that concentration tutorials, including junior seminar programs, are ordinarily limited to concentrators. Nevertheless, there may be courses in which enrollment must be limited because of resource constraints or special instructional needs. The decision to limit enrollment for either or both of these reasons, as well as decisions about appropriate prerequisites, should be made by the instructional unit’s curriculum committee. The committee should be mindful of the general principle stated above, perhaps creating other venues where interested students can study the material in question.

When enrollment in a non-tutorial course is to be limited, the reason for the limitation should be reported to the Office of Undergraduate Education and the enrollment ceiling should be noted in the course catalog. The criteria for selecting among appropriately-qualified students for space in limited enrollment courses should be based on the curricular needs and interests of the students and on whether a student will have other opportunities to take the course. Selection on the basis of other criteria is inappropriate.

Enrollment of Non-FAS Students

Cross Registration

Students cross-registering from other Faculties or other institutions are allowed to enroll in FAS courses if they have obtained the instructor’s permission via the online cross-registration system. Instructors will be e-mailed with instructions when there are cross-registration requests awaiting your attention. Students registering from other Faculties or other institutions are subject to all of the FAS regulations and deadlines, including the examination schedule, and are graded according to the FAS system. The Pass/Fail option is not available to cross-registered students. The graduate student option to enroll in certain language courses on a SAT/UNS basis is also not available to cross-registered students.

Employees (Tuition Assistance Plan)

Employees of Harvard University may enroll in FAS courses through the Tuition Assistance Plan (TAP) administered by the Office of Human Resources. Employees are subject to all of the FAS regulations and deadlines, including the examination schedule, and are graded according to the FAS system. Employees are permitted to add or change a course once TAP and enrollment forms have been filed with the Office of the Registrar (Smith Center, 1350 Mass Ave) by the appropriate deadlines. The Pass/Fail option is not available to TAP students.


Auditors are allowed in courses offered by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences only with an instructor’s permission. The following may be admitted as auditors: students enrolled in any Faculty of the University, individuals holding teaching appointments in the FAS, and their spouses. No official record is maintained for auditors.

Simultaneous Enrollment/Courses with Overlapping Meeting Times

A student may not enroll in courses that meet at the same time or overlapping times. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that there is no overlap in the meeting times of his or her courses. Exceptions to this rule may be granted only by the Administrative Board and will be considered only if the instructors in both overlapping courses agree and only in one or more of the following circumstances:

When the head of the course where class time is being missed and the person(s) providing the instruction during the regular class meeting agree to provide hour-for-hour direct and personal compensatory instruction. Availability during regular office hours or time with a different person does not satisfy the requirement for direct and personal contact.

When instruction in one of the courses is available on videotape, provided that (1) the course head agrees that the videotapes may be used for this purpose; (2) the lectures that are videotaped ordinarily do not provide opportunities for classroom discussion; (3) the videotapes will be available in a timely fashion so that they can be viewed before the next class period; (4) the student will miss attending part or all of no more than 1/3 of the instructional periods in the course (not including sections or labs) [N.B. if a student will miss any part of a day’s lecture, it is as though he or she will miss all of it]; and (5) the instructor in the course in which the lectures are videotaped agrees to offer any hour examinations or other in-class exercises at a time that will not preclude the student from attending the second course. In those courses that do not use the blackboard or other visual aids, course-provided audiotapes may be substituted for videotapes.

When a senior can meet degree requirements only by taking the two particular courses in question and will have no other opportunity to enroll in the courses before graduation. In such circumstances, the Administrative Board may approve reasonable accommodations in consultation with the instructors of the courses involved.

Undergraduates in Courses Designated "Primarily for Graduates"

Undergraduates may not enroll in courses numbered in the 300s or 3000s (Graduate Courses of Reading and Research). The only exceptions to the latter rule are fourth-year Advanced Standing students who are candidates for the master’s degree and who may enroll in such upper-level courses with the instructor’s permission. Incomplete (INC) cannot under any circumstances be given to undergraduates.

Pass/Fail Grading Status (Undergraduates Only)

In 1967 the Faculty extended the use of Pass/Fail in order to permit students to enrich their educational experience by enrolling in courses they might otherwise avoid because of material that was too advanced or too unfamiliar. Consequently, with an instructor’s permission any undergraduate may enroll in a course on a Pass/Fail rather than a letter-graded basis. After the fifth Monday of the term students are not allowed to add Pass/Fail courses or to change their grading status in courses from or to Pass/Fail. Students enrolled in courses on a Pass/Fail basis are so identified on the course lists and grade sheets.

Instructors may not request that students enroll in a course on a Pass/Fail basis. The Pass/Fail option is not available to graduate, cross-registered, or TAP students.