Course Registration & Exploration Guide
2023- 2024

Students walking through Harvard Yard

Course registration will occur twice during the Fall 2023 semester: once in August for Fall 2023 and again in November for Spring 2024 courses.

The official academic calendar has a complete list of all dates and deadlines.

Harvard Yard in the Fall

Fall 2023 Registration

Fall 2023 registration takes place from Monday, August 21 until Thursday, August 31, 2023. Add/drop courses without faculty permission is allowed until September 12, 2023. The add/drop period will extend through October 10, 2023, but will require faculty permission.

A small group of students sitting in Harvard Yard

Spring 2024 Registration

Spring 2024 registration will take place during the Fall 2023 semester from Wednesday, November 1, 2023 until Wednesday, November 15, 2023.

  • In May 2022, the FAS faculty voted to shift course enrollment to the semester before courses start, beginning with registration for Spring 2024 courses.

Prior term registration provides an earlier period to register for courses, along with more flexibility to adjust class schedules. Prior term registration will not impact the check-in process – and check-in remains at the beginning of each semester. Courses may be added/dropped freely during the first week of the Spring 2024 semester, and with instructor permission through February 20, 2024. However, course adjustments are not allowed between November 15, 2023, and January 22, 2024.

New for Spring 2024

Beginning with Spring 2024 registration, Faculty will provide basic syllabus information in Canvas ahead of each registration period to help students select their courses. Faculty do not need to provide a full syllabus at the time of registration, but should provide general information about the course that will help students decide to enroll in the course such as: format, assessment type, grading, absence, and late work policies etc. Full syllabi will be posted in Canvas by the start of term.

Student studying in Harvard Yard

Registration Logistics


Spring 2024 sectioning information is coming soon. 


All students must have their advising hold lifted by an academic advisor in order to register for each term. Additional holds are sometimes placed on student accounts by various offices (such as HUHS, Student Financial Services, etc.) for incomplete or missing information. If a student has not completed their language requirement after two terms, a language requirement hold will be placed on their record until discussing with an academic advisor.

Students can view any holds on their records when logged into my.harvard under the 'Student Home' tab. Common types of holds and information about how to remove holds and who to contact for help can be found on the FAS Registrar's Office website.

  • Holds only prevent registering for courses. Students with active holds on their account may still petition for courses and enter course lotteries.

Enrollment Restrictions and Lotteries

Some courses have enrollment caps, requiring a petition to join through my.harvard. If interest exceeds available seats, an enrollment lottery may be conducted. Specific instructions and deadlines vary by course or department, indicated on my.harvard and course websites. It is important to submit petitions to enroll in a course through my.harvard before the advertised lottery deadline.

If accepted through a lottery, students must complete enrollment in my.harvard by the deadline. Contact instructors directly for course-specific lottery questions.

Gen Ed runs a single coordinated, ranked-choice lottery for all enrollment-capped Gen Ed courses for which student interest exceeds available seats. Not all Gen Ed courses have enrollment caps, but those that do are marked clearly in my.harvard and on the Fall 2023 Gen Ed website. Unlike other course lotteries, direct all questions about the Gen Ed lottery to rather than to course instructors.


Some courses require specific preparation, referred to as prerequisites, before enrolling. This information is located within the course notes on my.harvard. In some cases, instructors may waive a prerequisite if they believe a student has the equivalent background. To do so, check directly with the instructors.

A student and professor Dustin Tingley walk and talk through Harvard Yard.
Dustin Tingley has created many educational tools and resources for students, such as the Harvard Syllabus Explorer and Harvard Link.


Harvard's academic advising network facilitates exploration of diverse curricular and co-curricular opportunities.

  • Students should work closely with their assigned first-year, sophomore, or concentration advisor for course selection. Advisor contact information can be found in the my.harvard advising portal under the Advising Network tab. It is a requirement to meet with an academic advisor before the course registration deadline. Utilize advisor meetings to address any questions or concerns related to courses, concentrations, grading, requirements, and to discuss future opportunities such as study abroad, research, or service, etc.
    • A student’s academic advisor must lift the advising hold to be able to register for courses.
  • The Advising Programs Office (APO) offers individual drop-in advising sessions for all undergraduates during the term; signups are via the Crimson Scheduler.
  • Placement Advising: Help is available for questions about the results of any placement exams. Find more information about where to get advice on the placement exams website or send an email to
  • Gateway Courses to Potential Concentrations: for first-year students or sophomores who have not yet decided on a concentration, consider taking one or more gateway (introductory) courses in concentrations of interest. Gateway courses generally assume no prior exposure to the field, and some fulfill Gen Ed requirements. Every Harvard College concentration website provides a list of designated gateway courses for interested students.
Female student working at a laptop in Widener library

Exploring Courses

My.harvard Course Search Tools

My.harvard is the primary site for exploring courses, and it's where to finalize enrollment. Below are the central tools that can help explore course options for the coming term and future.

  • My.harvard Course Search Tool: Browse courses, create a favorites list, and enroll in courses, including those available for cross-registration at other Harvard schools and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Visit the IT Help Center to learn more about how to use the course search tool and get tips for narrowing a course search on my.harvard.
    • Use the "Have you Considered?" tool on the my.harvard course search page as one way to "stumble" onto wonderful courses that are hidden gems.
    • Adding a course to Crimson Cart allows access to the course's Canvas site. Crimson Carts open August 18.
  • Search by my requirements (SBR): Find courses based on the Harvard College academic requirements. The SBR searches for courses that meet: Unsatisfied Harvard College requirements, General Education, and Divisional Distribution requirements.
  • What if? Report: Enables the visualization of potential coursework to fulfill degree requirements within a chosen concentration, offering valuable assistance to first-year Harvard College students exploring concentrations or those contemplating a change in concentration.

Course Canvas Websites

  • Course Canvas websites: Canvas is the platform used for FAS course websites, and is where to access syllabi, assignments, announcements, and messages for courses; exploring Canvas provides insights into the course experience. To access individual course Canvas websites, go to the course descriptions on my.harvard. View the full course website for any courses when added to Crimson Cart, as well as receive all announcements posted via Canvas for courses in Crimson Cart.

Supplementary Tools for Course Information

  • Harvard Syllabus Explorer: Access to course syllabi associated with previous versions of a class.
  • Q Reports and Q Guide: A valuable resource for student feedback on courses and faculty. It collects data on workload, student comments, and teaching staff evaluations. Utilize the Course Selection Tool to access past course evaluations and individual Q reports for specific classes. Course descriptions on my.harvard also provide links to past Q evaluations. Note that new courses will not have a Q score available.
  • Curricle: A tool developed by the metaLAB (at) Harvard to use for exploring the Harvard curriculum through engaging visualizations and plan a semester schedule before registering through my.harvard.
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Syllabus Explorer (BETA): Search, filter, and explore syllabi for diversity, equity, and inclusion related courses.
students at chalk board working on math

Unique Opportunities to Consider

  • Office of International Education – The Office of International Education (OIE) facilitates academic year, semester, and summer study abroad experiences for College students. Harvard views study abroad as an essential part of students’ undergraduate education, and over half of Harvard College students participate in an international experience during their time at Harvard. There is no better opportunity for students to engage in a transformative experience than through spending a significant time abroad. Through studying abroad, students embody the Harvard College mission by contributing to their development as global citizens and citizen-leaders, while also earning academic credit toward their concentration, secondary field, language citation, and/or elective credit. Students should contact the OIE as soon as possible to begin planning their time abroad.
  • Lemann Program on Creativity and Entrepreneurship - StudioLab courses
  • Mindich Program in Engaged Scholarship – Civically engaged experiential learning in or with a community beyond the Harvard context.

Special Courses for First-Year Students

More information about first-year requirements and special opportunities can be found in the document How to Prepare for Fall Course Registration.

Fulfilling Degree Requirements

In planning courses for the semester, keep in mind the following courses that must be taken for degree fulfillment at Harvard College.

Harvard College Curriculum Requirements

(up to 12 courses: note that many General Education courses may also be counted by Departments/programs towards concentration requirements)

Concentration Requirements

(numbers vary, but usually between 11 and 14 courses)

Harvard College offers fifty concentrations, with most offering students the option of pursuing an honors or a non-honors path through their requirements. Each concentration also allows for concentration credit to be earned through study abroad. Learn more about individual concentration requirements by consulting the department or program's concentration website, consulting the Harvard College Fields of Concentration handbook (Coming soon) or meeting with a departmental or program advisor. Pursuing a special concentration, a joint concentration (integrating work between two concentrations), or a double concentration is also possible.


(numbers vary, but between 8 and 12 courses)

These courses represent the discretionary part of every Harvard College student's study plan. Use electives to explore intellectual interests outside of a concentration. They can also be used to take First-Year Seminars, pursue a secondary or minor field, pursue a concurrent Masters, do advanced language study leading to a citation, or study abroad in an area outside of one's concentration.