Registration Procedure

 Registration Procedures | Resources and Contacts | Course Prerequisites
Core Registration | Visual Arts Registration | Dance Registration
Physical Education Registration | Cross-Registration | Professional Courses

Registration is the systematic process that reserves seats in particular classes for eligible students. It is accomplished by following the procedures announced in advance of each term’s registration period. Enrollment is the completion of the registration process and affords the full rights and privileges of student status. Enrollment is accomplished by the payment or other satisfaction of tuition and fees and by the satisfaction of other obligations to the University.

Registration alone does not guarantee enrollment; nor does registration alone guarantee the right to participate in a class. In some cases, students will need to obtain the approval of the instructor or of a representative of the department that offers a course. Please check this website and the registration instructions contained in the Directory of Classes and/or Vergil for all necessary approvals.

Registration for New Students

New students may register for classes only after attending an Academic Planning Session. Students are expected to consult with their advisors for approval of their schedules either prior to, or shortly after, registering for courses. More details will be covered during the Academic Planning Sessions for students matriculating each term.

Registration Process for All Students

Prior to meeting with their advisors about registration, students should consult the GS website in order to plan a schedule of classes. The website provides major requirements and current course descriptions, as well as times and locations of classes. Students may also consult the Directory of Classes for detailed information. Students plan their programs with the help of their GS advisors, and, for those who have declared their majors, with the additional assistance of faculty advisors. The advisor must approve the original program as well as any subsequent changes. If any course requires permission of the instructor or department, a student is responsible for obtaining that permission. Registration for courses in divisions of the University not listed on the GS website requires permission from the Office of the Dean of Students. See Additional Academic Opportunities for more information.

After receiving the approval of the advisor on the registration form or electronically, students are permitted to register online via SSOL during registration, the change of program period (typically, the first two weeks of each semester and designated registration weeks throughout the summer months), and shortly thereafter under special circumstances. The dates for these registration periods are published in the GS Academic Calendar and on the Registrar’s Academic Calendar. Students will need their University Network Identification (UNI), Network Password, and all relevant course numbers and call numbers in order to complete the registration process. All students are strongly advised to participate in the early registration period for each term that allows them to reserve seats in courses for the following semester.

Cancelations and Changes to Registration

Canceling Registration

Students who decide to defer their admission, take a leave of absence, or not matriculate at GS after having registered for classes must contact their GS advisor to initiate the withdrawal process required for canceling registration. Failure to complete this mandatory administrative procedure in a timely fashion will result in the student being liable for tuition and associated fees for the term in question.

Changes to Registration

Students are able to make changes to their registration online during the registration and change of program periods each semester, but all changes must be approved by the student's academic advisor.

Registration Holds

A “hold” on an account prevents a student from being able to register. Students may check for holds by logging on to  Student Services Online (SSOL). Possible reasons for having a hold include significant debt to the University (financial hold); failure to provide evidence of required inoculations (health hold); overdue library books (library hold); or other academic, disciplinary, or administrative reasons designated by GS (dean's hold). Students with a dean's hold must contact their GS advisor.

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Registration Resources and Contacts

Columbia University Directory of Classes


Online Registration: Student Services Online

Online Registration Instructions

University Registrar

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Course Prerequisites and Instructor Approval

Prerequisites are specified in the individual course listings available in Course Offerings. Prior to registering for courses, students should ensure they have met the prerequisites for each course. If prerequisites are not specified for upper-level courses, students are advised to consult with the instructor prior to the first day of class. Students should not register for courses if they have not met the stated prerequisites. However, in exceptional cases, students may be granted permission,  to enroll in such courses by demonstrating to the instructor that they have competence equivalent to the prerequisites. The instructor will indicate permission by signing the student’s Registration Adjustment form in the column marked “Instructor Approval.” The form should then be signed by the student's GS academic advisor, who will forward the registration form to the Registrar’s Office to enroll the student in the course. Some courses, especially seminars and colloquia, require the instructor's permission even when the student does have the prerequisites; students using the online directory of courses should note whether instructor approval is required.

Instructor permission may also be granted electronically via SSOL in cases where courses have an electronic wait list. Students may choose within SSOL to place themselves on course wait lists, which are of two varieties: either filled automatically on a space-available basis or filled by the course instructor based on student qualifications. Once a student is admitted to the course, the student is notified that s/he has been enrolled in the course and removed from the wait list.

Several departments that limit enrollment in their upper-level seminars and colloquia have special application processes. Priority enrollment in these seminars is often given to majors and seniors. Students are responsible for following special application or registration processes specified by individual departments for these limited-enrollment courses. 

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Registration for Core Courses

Students interested in registering for Core courses or petitioning to transfer sections should consult the Core Registration and Petitions page.

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Registration for Visual Arts Courses

It is not possible to register online for visual arts courses; students must follow a procedure that is different from registering for most other courses. Some visual arts courses require that students show a portfolio prior to registration. Most visual arts courses require that students attend the first two days of class to ensure their spot and then secure the written permission of the instructor. Students should take a Registration Adjustment form with them to the first meeting of the class. Preference in visual arts classes is given to majors. For more information about registering for Visual Arts classes see Visual Arts Registration.

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Registration for Dance Courses

Registration for dance classes is by permission of the instructor. GS students registering for a dance class must register for at least one point: GS students may not register for a zero-point dance class.

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Registration for Physical Education Courses

Registration for Physical Education courses (see Electives) must be handled with the Registration Adjustment Form during the first week of each term.

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Cross-registration into Other Columbia Divisions

Students who wish to take courses in one of Columbia's graduate or professional schools or programs must receive written approval from both GS and the appropriate graduate or professional school or program, as well as the instructor of the course, and must also submit a Cross-Registration petition. The student should have completed one semester and 15 points of letter-graded Columbia coursework and be in good standing within the School to be eligible to petition for coursework in another school. All work for these courses must be completed within the term in which the student is enrolled.

Note: GS students are not allowed to register for professional courses administered through the School of Professional Studies unless that course is cross-listed within an Arts & Sciences department or program offering an undergraduate major or concentration.

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Limit on Professional Courses Counted Toward the Degree

GS students are permitted 6 points of professional studies coursework toward their GS degrees. Those 6 points may be counted in transfer credits or courses completed at Columbia, or a combination thereof. Exceptions to this rule include GS students accepted into the combined or dual degree programs with Columbia's Schools of Business, Law, or International and Public Affairs. Courses which are cross-listed with undergraduate departments do not count toward this limit.

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