Course Registration & Exploration Guide

Students walking through Harvard Yard

There will be two registration periods for Fall 2024. 

  • Returning students register in April 2024
  • Incoming students register in August 2024

The FAS Registration web page includes full timelines for each registration period through Fall 2024

Harvard Yard in the Fall

Fall 2024 Registration for Returning Students

Fall 2024 Registration for returning students takes place from Wednesday, April 3, until Wednesday, April 17, 2024. Once registration closes, the open add/drop period will take place from Monday, August 19 until Tuesday, September 10, 2024. During this period, students can add/drop without instructor permission, unless the course has limited enrollment.

A small group of students sitting in Harvard Yard

Fall 2024 Registration for Incoming Students

Fall 2024 registration for incoming students will open on Monday, August 19, 2024. Incoming students will have until Thursday, August 29 to enroll in the minimum required course load. Students can add/drop courses without permission until Tuesday, September 10, 2024. 

Student studying in Harvard Yard

Registration Logistics

Course Information

Instructors will share basic information about each course via my.harvard or on their course Canvas websites. You can use this information to help you decide whether you want to take a course. 


Most courses offering a discussion section or lab will require you to register for a timed section during registration. Some courses with less predictable enrollments or space constraints (like lab courses) will prompt you to enroll in an untimed placeholder section when you register and will finalize their sections at the end of registration. During registration and the August add/drop period, you can swap section enrollments if needed. 


Each semester, students must have their advising hold lifted by an academic advisor in order to register. It's helpful to meet with your academic advisor to discuss your fall schedule as soon as Crimson Carts open (Crimson Carts for returning students open on March 27). Be mindful that additional holds may be placed on your account by various offices such as Harvard University Health Services (HUHS),  Student Financial Services, etc. and you may need to take separate steps to clear these holds. If you have not completed your language requirement after two terms, a language requirement hold will be placed on your record until you meet with an academic advisor. 

You can view holds on your record under the 'Student Home' tab when logged into my.harvard. Common types of holds and information about who to contact for help can be found on the Registrar's Office website. 

Important information about holds:

  • Holds only prevent you from enrolling in courses.
  • If you have an active hold on your account, you 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, and will be indicated on my.harvard and course websites. It is important to submit a petition to enroll in a course through my.harvard before the advertised lottery deadline.

If accepted through a lottery, you must enroll in the course via my.harvard by the deadline. Contact instructors directly for course-specific lottery questions.

New for Fall 2024 Registration: If you do not accept your seat by a lotteried course's set deadline, your seat may be given to another student. It is important to be aware of individual courses' deadlines. 

Gen Ed runs a single coordinated, ranked-choice lottery for all enrollment-capped Gen Ed courses for which student interest exceeds available seats. If you are offered a seat in a lotteried Gen Ed course, you must enroll and claim your seat by April 11, 2024. Not all Gen Ed courses have enrollment caps, but those that do are marked clearly in my.harvard and on the Fall 2024 Courses page of the Gen Ed website. 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 you have the equivalent background. To waive a prerequisite, check directly with the instructor.

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 pre-concentration or concentration advisor for course selection. Advisor contact information can be found in the my.harvard advising portal under the Advising Network tab. You are required to 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.
    • Your academic advisor must lift your advising hold for you to 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 for returning students open Wednesday, March 27 for Fall 2024 registration.
  • 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 - The Lemann Program on Creativity and Entrepreneurship (LPCE) offers StudioLab courses in which students develop entrepreneurial skills and learn how to create ventures that tackle societal issues.
  • Mindich Program in Engaged Scholarship – Engaged Scholarship (MPES) courses integrate community and civic engagement in the classroom or apply course concepts by engaging with the public or through hands on learning experiences in or with communities and groups beyond the Harvard context.

Special Courses for First-Year Students

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, 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.