Yale College students planning to enroll for the spring term 2021 are required to submit a preliminary course schedule by no later than 5 p.m. (EST) on Monday, December 21 (extended from the previously announced deadline of Friday, December 18). A two-week “add/drop” period will begin on Monday, January 25 and will run through the end of first week of spring classes, ending on Friday, February 5. This page provides additional information about each stage of the course enrollment process, and the implications and expectations for students. It is arranged as frequently asked questions and will be updated regularly as needed. If you have a question that is not addressed here, please contact your residential college dean. Please note that all deadlines are Eastern Standard Time (EST).

Why is a preliminary schedule for spring term due by the end of the fall term?

A two-stage registration process—with a preliminary schedule due by the end of the fall term, and a final schedule due at the end of the first week of classes in the spring term—is designed to reduce the uncertainty of course selection by providing you with advance information about the availability of courses you might want to take, particularly limited-enrollment courses. It also provides departments and instructors with more time to plan courses and to ensure that adequate resources are in place for the best possible learning environment. Conducting the first stage of course registration during the academic term is necessary because faculty advisers and departmental administrators are not readily available during winter recess.

It is important to keep in mind that you will have an opportunity to visit classes before committing to them and to adjust your schedule during the add/drop period.  

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What is the academic calendar for spring term 2021?

The academic calendar and a summary of pertinent deadlines for spring 2021 can be found on the YCPS.

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What is the timeline for spring term 2021 course registration?

All times below are Eastern Standard Time (EST).

  • Monday, Nov 30, 5:00 p.m. Deadline for instructors to post expanded course descriptions on Canvas.
  • Monday, Nov 30, to Friday, Dec 18. Students meet with college advisers or departmental advisers for consultations about their academic plans for the spring term.
  • Tuesday, Dec 1, to Wednesday, Dec 9. Students apply to limited-enrollment courses. (Note: first-year seminars have an earlier deadline of Wednesday, Dec 2, at 5:00 p.m.)
  • Thursday, Dec 10, to Monday, Dec 14, 12:00 p.m. Applications for limited-enrollment courses are reviewed by department administrators or individual instructors, and results are announced.
  • Monday, Dec 14, 12:00 p.m. The Online Course Selection (OCS) system opens for students to begin building a preliminary schedule worksheet.
  • Monday, Dec, 21, 5:00 p.m. Deadline for students to submit a preliminary course schedule in OCS; students are prompted to forward a copy of their preliminary schedule to their college or departmental adviser.  
  • Monday, Dec, 21, 5:00 p.m. to Monday, Jan 25, 12:00 p.m. OCS is closed; students cannot make changes to their OCS preliminary schedule worksheet during this period.
  • Monday, Jan 25, 12:00 p.m. OCS reopens for the Add/Drop period; advising resumes as needed.
  • Monday, Feb 1. Classes begin.
  • Friday, Feb 5, 5:00 p.m. Add/Drop period ends; deadline for students to submit their final schedule in OCS.

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What steps are involved in submitting a preliminary course schedule?

Below is a description of the main steps involved in submitting a preliminary course schedule. For more information from the University Registrar’s Office about submitting course schedules, visit the Registrar's website.  

  • Review course offerings in Yale Course Search, available now.
  • Review expanded course descriptions (and course syllabi if available) in the relevant Canvas course sites, posted for some classes now and for all courses by Monday, November 30.
  • Arrange to speak with your college adviser (if you have not yet declared a major) or your departmental adviser (if you have declared a major) to discuss your academic plans for the spring term.
  • Determine if any of your desired courses have limited enrollment, and if they do what the application process is (this information should be included in the expanded course description in Canvas).
  • First-year students should apply to first-year seminars of interest by Wednesday, December 2, at 5:00 p.m.
  • Apply to limited-enrollment courses by Wednesday, December 9, according to the process outlined by the instructor or department.
  • Determine if any lecture courses you plan to take have required sections so that you are ready to select a section time when OCS opens on Monday, December 14.
  • Review which limited-enrollment courses have given you permission to enroll; that information should be announced by the department or instructor on or before Monday,  December 14.
  • When OCS opens on Monday, December 14, begin to create a course schedule worksheet and, for lecture courses with required sections, sign up for a desired section within Section Management.
  • Submit a preliminary course schedule within OCS, including no fewer than 3 credits and no more than 7.5 credits, by Monday, December 21, at 5:00 p.m.; please include only the courses that you are seriously considering.
  • After submitting a preliminary course schedule in OCS, send your schedule to your college adviser (if you have not declared a major) or your departmental adviser (if you have declared a major) by clicking the link that appears in the window showing your schedule.
  • OCS will reopen on Monday, January 25, and you can add and drop courses until Friday, February 5.
  • Submit a final schedule in OCS by Friday, February 5, at 5:00 p.m. even if you make no changes to your preliminary schedule.

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What is an “expanded course description,” and how is it useful?

Expanded course descriptions, which may be found on the “Syllabus” page of each course’s Canvas site, are designed to help you make informed decisions about applying to limited-enrollment courses and about which courses to include on your preliminary schedule, especially when a week-by-week syllabus is not available. They provide more information than appears in the Yale Course Search descriptions, including: the primary texts; the major assignments; the approximate due date of major assignments; and the weight of assignments in the final course grade. In the case of limited-enrollment courses, the instructor is also asked to provide information about the application process.

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What are limited-enrollment courses, and how do I apply to them?

A limited-enrollment course is any course in which enrollment is capped and in which students must receive permission to enroll. The most common examples are seminars, labs, studio art courses, and courses with multiple sections, such as introductory English, math, and language courses. But some lecture courses are also capped.

The application process for limited-enrollment courses is largely determined by individual departments or instructors. Some large departments run a centralized process using a tool such as Preference Selection or a customized application, but in most departments, students apply to a course by contacting the instructor directly. In many cases, admission is determined simply by the student’s major and class year, but instructors might also take into consideration a student’s previous courses, or seek to balance the class roster with students from a range of academic backgrounds, or request a brief statement of interest.

Application instructions for limited-enrollment courses should be found in the expanded course description in Canvas for each course. In recognition that students will be applying to these courses during Reading Period, a busy time for both students and faculty, instructors have been asked to keep these application procedures simple. In turn, students should only apply to courses that they are seriously considering. 

Regardless of the application process, all instructors have been asked to follow a common timeline: applications will be due on Wednesday, December 9, and results will be released no later than Monday, December 14. If you gain admission to a limited-enrollment courses but decide not to enroll in it, please inform the instructor, as a courtesy both to the instructor and to other students seeking to join the class off a waitlist. Most courses will have places to offer to waitlisted students. 

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What is a preliminary course schedule, and what is its purpose?

The preliminary course schedule that you submit on or before Monday, December 21, should include the classes that you are most interested in taking, especially any limited-enrollment courses that have offered you a spot and that you plan to take.  Although there will be an opportunity to add new courses during the add/drop period, students who do not include a limited-enrollment course on their preliminary course schedule may enroll in it later only if space becomes available. This applies not only to all seminars and lab courses, but also to any capped lecture courses. You should therefore make your selections carefully. 

Submitting a preliminary schedule both secures you a spot in a course and it also provides helpful information to departments, so that they can plan for the effective and responsible allocation of teaching resources, and to instructors, so that they can make any needed adjustments to the course before the term begins.

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How many courses may I include on my preliminary course schedule?

Students must include at least 3 credits, but no more than 7.5 credits, on their preliminary schedule. For the sake of course planning, students are urged to include only those courses they are seriously considering. If you have been offered a spot in a course with limited enrollment but do not plan to take it, please do not include the course on your preliminary course schedule so that the instructor may offer the spot to another student. 

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When should I consult my adviser regarding course selection?

You should plan to consult your adviser during the three-week period from Monday, November 30 to Friday, December 18.

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Who is my adviser?

If you have not declared a major, your adviser is the college adviser your residential college dean assigned to you or that you subsequently selected. If you have declared a major, your adviser is the DUS or a faculty member in the department, either designated by the DUS or selected by the student. Note that, in some large majors such as Economics, History, and MCDB, among others, the DUS does not function as the primary adviser for students but, rather, advising is shared among members of the department and the DUS does not function as the primary adviser for students. If you have declared a major but are not sure who your adviser is, check the website of your major for guidance. 

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Does my adviser need to approve my preliminary schedule before I submit it by Monday, December 21?

No. The purpose of meeting with your adviser is, more generally, to provide you with an opportunity to reflect on the current term and discuss your academic plans for the coming term. After you submit your preliminary schedule in OCS, you will be prompted to send a copy of your preliminary schedule to your adviser through the Dynamic Form system. Advisers are then asked to review your preliminary schedule and indicate in Dynamic Forms if you consulted them.

If you have not declared a major, your college adviser’s name will automatically appear on the Dynamic Form, and your adviser will receive a link by email after you submit it. If you have declared a major, your DUS’s name will appear on the form. But, as noted above, in some large majors, your primary adviser may not be the DUS; in that case, you will be able to send your designated adviser a link to your preliminary schedule by entering that person’s name and email address in Dynamic Forms.

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Does my adviser need to approve my final schedule before I submit it by Friday, February 5?

No. While you are welcome to contact your adviser again during the add/drop period for guidance, especially if something has changed and some majors might require their students to contact the DUS office before submitting a final schedule that is separate from the course registration process in OCS.

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What happens during the add/drop period, and how is it different from the old “shopping period”?

In many ways, the add/drop period, which runs from Monday, January 25 to Friday, February 5, is like the old “shopping period,” in that you will have an opportunity to visit classes before committing to them. But because initial admission decisions for limited-enrollment courses will have been announced before the term begins, it should be less hectic and less uncertain for you. Most students will be deciding which courses from their preliminary schedules to retain and which to drop, but there will also be an opportunity to add new courses. If you seek to add a new, limited-enrollment course, it will be important to contact the instructor to inquire about the availability of seats or the waitlist policy.

When OCS reopens on Monday, January 25, you will again be able to add or remove courses in your OCS schedule worksheet and rejoin a waitlist for oversubscribed sections of lecture courses in Section Management. If you have a course on your worksheet during add/drop period, you should have access to that course’s Canvas site for announcements and access to the Zoom link, but for limited-enrollment courses, you should still ask the instructor for permission to visit class meetings during the first week of classes.

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Will I be able to make changes to my schedule after add/drop period?

Yes. You may request permission to add a course after final schedules are submitted, but doing so requires the permission of the instructor and the authorization of your college dean. Timely requests for adding a course after the deadline are routinely approved when, for example, a student on a waitlist for a limited-enrollment course is informed after schedules were due that a space has become available, or when an adviser identifies a problem with a student’s final schedule. Requests to add a course after the second week of classes will require exceptional permission and will be granted only for limited reasons. As has always been the case, you may drop a course until the last day of classes.

Please note that a fee of $20 will be charged for the processing of any approved course change notice after add/drop period.

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