Registration and Enrollment Policies published by the Office of the Registrar
"Registration" is the systematic process by which eligible students reserve a seat for themselves in current or future classes. Students use the Vergil/SSOL system to register for courses at Columbia. Students receive informational emails from the Registrar’s Office each semester that detail the procedures for registration for the term.
"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 need to obtain the approval of the instructor or of a representative of the department offering the course. Students may also be required to attend the first few class sessions prior to official registration or to confirm official registration. Please check the course information in the Departments, Programs, and Courses section of this Bulletin and the course information noted in the Directory of Classes for any approvals required to register for a particular course.
To comply with current and anticipated Internal Revenue Service mandates, the University requires all students who have a Social Security Number (SSN) at the time of admission to report it. The University recognizes that international students are not eligible to apply for a SSN unless they are employed and that not all students will be eligible to obtain a SSN during their program of study. Newly admitted students who do not have Social Security numbers should obtain one well in advance of first registration. International students who will be employed on-campus should follow the ISSO instructions for applying for a SSN soon after their arrival in the United States. International students should consult with the International Students and Scholars Office for more information.
According to University regulations, each person who completes registration is considered a student of the University during the term for which they register, unless the student’s connection with the University is officially severed by withdrawal or otherwise. No student registered or enrolled in any school/college of the University shall at the same time be registered or enrolled in any other school/college, either of the University or of any other institution, unless there is an existing registration agreement between the two schools. Students who wish to register or enroll in another institution must receive specific authorization from the dean/director of the school/college in which the student is first registered.
The privileges of the University are not available to any student until they have completed registration. A student who is not officially registered for a University course may not attend the course, with the possible exception of a course in which students are required to attend the first few class sessions prior to official registration. No student may register after the stated period unless he or she obtains the consent, written or electronic, of the appropriate dean or director.
The University reserves the right to withhold the privilege of registration or any other University privilege from any person with an unpaid debt to the University. Students who are permitted to enroll after the beginning of the term are responsible for any absences incurred due to the late enrollment.
College Registration Policies and Procedures
Registration instructions are emailed to all students by the Office of the Registrar in advance of each registration period. Students are expected to register for courses during the time periods explicitly identified by the Office of the Registrar.
All Columbia College students must be registered for a minimum of 12 points of credit in any given semester. Each Columbia College student must be registered for at least 12 points of credit by the close of the Change of Program period (i.e., the end of the second week of classes in the Fall or Spring term).
Students who are registered for fewer than 12 points by this time will be withdrawn from the College. An exception to this rule can be a graduating senior who needs fewer than 12 points of credit to complete the Bachelor of Arts degree from the College; a student in this situation may petition the Committee on Academic Standing for permission to register for fewer than 12 points of credit, with the understanding that they will be viewed as full-time students who are responsible for paying full-time tuition and for all other rules that apply to full-time students in the College.
Some classes may be blocked for online registration and require written approval; students should check Vergil or the Directory of Classes for approval information. Courses blocked from online registration require additional approval, either in SSOL or through your academic advisor. A completed Registration Adjustment Form, with all necessary approvals confirmed, may be required. A student cannot use the Registration Adjustment Form to register for a course if the course is not blocked from online registration or if the student is eligible to join the course Wait List. Speak with your academic advisor for more information on this process.
A student’s ability to register for courses may be put on hold by various offices within the University. Students can check for holds in their Vergil/SSOL accounts. Note: Only the office that places the hold has the ability to remove it.
Students are responsible for ensuring that their academic programs are in accordance with the College and University policies noted here. The Committee on Academic Standing in the Berick Center for Student Advising is tasked with upholding the academic policies of the College and will make changes to students’ registration if the students fail to ensure that their academic programs comply with these policies set by the faculty. Questions about registration should be directed to the Berick Center for Student Advising.
Early Registration Periods
Current students first have the opportunity to register for classes during the early registration period in the preceding semester: early registration for Fall classes occurs during one week in the previous April, and early registration for Spring classes occurs during one week in the previous November.
After that early registration period, there are certain weeks before the beginning of the term designated for registration changes, during which students can continue to add and drop classes for the upcoming semester. You can find a complete list of registration periods on the Registrar's website.
The first two weeks of a Fall term or a Spring term are known as the "change of program" period, when students can continue to add and drop classes in order to finalize their academic programs for the term.
The deadline for adding a course in a Fall or Spring semester will always be the second Friday of the term (i.e., the end of the second week of classes).
Student Registration Appointment Times
During registration weeks, students are assigned registration "appointment times" – i.e. windows of time on weekdays when students can perform registration activities through Vergil/SSOL.
Students’ individual registration times are listed in Vergil/Student Services Online (SSOL) and registration dates are noted on the Academic Calendar in this Bulletin. Students should also consult the Registrar’s website for additional information..
During early registration, these appointment times are assigned based on seniority, with the current seniors (in Fall) or rising seniors (in Spring) given appointment times on Monday; the current juniors (in Fall) or rising seniors (in Spring) added on Tuesday; the current sophomores (in Fall) or rising sophomores (in Spring) added on Wednesday; and current first-year students (in Fall) added on Thursday. Within that structure, most students' appointment times are randomly assigned.
SSOL Course Waitlists
Most courses have electronic waitlists attached to them in SSOL – although there are some courses (for instance, courses in the Core Curriculum) that will not have electronic waitlists. If a course is full and has an attached electronic waitlist, students may choose to add themselves to the waitlist within SSOL. Waitlist activity will continue until the Thursday evening prior to the last day of the Change of Program Period at 9:30pm EST.
Electronic waitlists may be automated or self-managed:
- If a course’s electronic waitlist is automated, when a space opens on the course roster, the student at the top of the waitlist will automatically be added to the course roster. The student will receive notification that registration for the course has been successful, and the update to the course roster and electronic waitlist will occur overnight and be reflected on SSOL the following day.
If a course’s electronic waitlist is self-managed, the instructor or the relevant department/program will select the students from the waitlist who can register for the course. The criteria for selection will vary from course to course: there may be priority for declared majors, graduating seniors, first-year students, students who have submitted successful applications, etc. If additional materials must be submitted for consideration for selection, students will typically receive an automated email with details when they add themselves to the self-managed electronic waitlist.
Registration Limits and Petition Processes
Students are allowed to register for a maximum of 18 points of credit in any Fall or Spring term. If a student’s academic program contains more than 18 credits after the student is admitted into one or more class(es) from waitlists, the student must adjust the academic program to bring their registration into alignment with the 18-credit semester cap by dropping one or more course(s) by the end of the Change of Program period.
If a student has a compelling reason to register for more than 18 credits in a term, the student can petition the Committee on Points and Programs for permission to exceed the credit limit.
Students may not register for courses whose meeting times overlap. If a student’s academic program contains classes whose meeting times overlap after the student is admitted into one or more class(es) from waitlists, the student must adjust the academic program to bring their registration into alignment with this regulation by dropping one of the overlapping courses by the end of the Change of Program period.
Dropping a Course
Students may drop a course from their academic program through the deadline noted during the fifth week of classes. Until this deadline, students can drop a course themselves online via Student Services Online (SSOL), although they are encouraged to talk with their advising dean about their choice to drop in order to consider all of their options.
If a course is successfully dropped before this deadline, the course will be removed from the student’s program and transcript.
Note: The five shared Core Curriculum courses – Art Humanities, Contemporary Civilization, Frontiers of Science, Literature Humanities, and have their own particular drop deadline, which coincides with the end of the Change of Program Period at the end of the first two weeks of classes. See “Dropping or Withdrawing from Core Curriculum Courses” below.
When considering the option to drop from a course, students should be aware that, in order to remain in good academic standing, they must successfully complete no fewer than 12 points in a given semester. Students who do not earn at least 12 points per term will be placed on academic probation, or be suspended or dismissed. Students who do not make adequate progress to the degree (an average of 15.5 points per term) will also face academic probation, suspension, or dismissal.
Neither failure to attend classes nor a student’s personal communication to an instructor of intent to drop will constitute dropping from a course. Students who stop attending classes without dropping or officially withdrawing are assigned the letter grade earned by factoring a zero or F for any missing work.
Withdrawing from a Course
Please note: For Fall 2023, the deadline to withdraw from a course is extended to Monday, December 11, 2023, the last day of classes.
Between the fifth week of classes and the tenth week of classes, students may withdraw from a course. To withdraw from a class, students must first meet with their advising dean in the Berick Center for Student Advising to discuss their choice to withdraw in order to consider all of their options. Students must then submit a Columbia College Acknowledgment of Course Withdrawal form to their advising dean in the Berick Center for Student Advising.
If a student successfully withdraws from a course after the drop deadline and before the withdrawal deadline, the course will remain on the student’s program and transcript with a notation of “W”, with no credit or final grade earned.
After the course withdrawal deadline, students may not withdraw from any course and will receive the letter grade earned in the course. In cases that have been referred for disciplinary action through the Dean’s Discipline process, a student may not drop or withdraw from the course in question without a successful petition to the Committee on Academic Standing.
When considering the option to withdraw from a course, students should be aware that, in order to remain in good academic standing, they must successfully complete no fewer than 12 points in a given semester. Students who do not earn at least 12 points per term will be placed on academic probation, or be suspended or dismissed. Students who do not make adequate progress to the degree (an average of 15.5 points per term) will also face academic probation, suspension, or dismissal.
Neither failure to attend classes nor a student’s personal communication to an instructor of intent to withdraw will constitute dropping or withdrawing from a course. Students who stop attending classes without dropping or officially withdrawing are assigned the letter grade earned by factoring a zero or F for any missing work.
Dropping or Withdrawing from Core Curriculum Courses
The deadline to drop one of the shared Core Curriculum courses (i.e., Art Humanities, Contemporary Civilization, Frontiers of Science, Literature Humanities, Music Humanities, and University Writing) from an academic program is the end of the Change of Program period-i.e., the end of the first two weeks of classes.
After the Change of Program Period, students cannot drop or withdraw from a Core Curriculum course. Students who have compelling mitigating circumstances for withdrawing from a Core Curriculum course must petition the Committee on Academic Standing for permission to do so. It is possible that students who receive a W in a Core Curriculum course may be placed on academic probation.
All first-year students are required to complete Frontiers of Science, Literature Humanities (both semesters), and University Writing successfully by the end of the first year. It is possible that students who do not complete one or more of these three courses may be placed on academic probation. Students considering dropping or withdrawing from a Core Curriculum course should consult their advising deans before taking any action. For more details, see the section on Core Curriculum in this Bulletin.
Declaring the Pass/D/Fail Option using the Registration System
The Pass/D/Fail option is available only for certain courses in a students’ program. Students should refer to Academic Regulations—Exams and Grades listed in this Bulletin for more information regarding this grading option.
The deadline for declaring the Pass/D/Fail option for a course falls during the tenth week of classes; students should consult the academic calendar for the specific deadline each term. Up until this deadline, students may elect to change their course grading options for eligible courses from letter grading to Pass/D/Fail or from Pass/D/Fail to letter grading online via Student Services Online (SSOL).