Enrollment (Add or Drop a Course)

Overview

Most enrollment questions are best answered by other offices on campus aside from L&S Advising. Because enrollment for a course is managed by the department that hosts it, L&S College Advisers are unlikely to be able to provide additional information about waitlist procedures, likelihood of getting a seat, and enrollment restrictions. L&S College Advisers also do not have access to students’ enrollment tools on Cal Central, so are less likely to be able to guide students through technical aspects of enrollment. 

However, we know it can be challenging for students to know where to go for information. This page will guide you in navigating how to find information about enrollment issues. 

Deadline to Add/Drop Courses

Deadline to add/drop/swap/change units for courses is the Wednesday of 4th week of a given Fall or Spring semester. Deadline dates for the current semester can be found on our homepage

Deadline to drop Early Drop Deadline (EDD) courses are the end of 2nd week of a given Fall or Spring semester. This is the deadline to also drop classes without a fee.

If you have missed the deadline to make changes to your class schedule, you can further explore your options by taking a look at the Late Change of Class Schedule webpage.

A department may still add students to classes from a waitlist until the Friday after the add/drop deadline. Drop yourself from the waitlist before the add/drop deadline or monitor your waitlist position until the Friday following the add/drop deadline has passed. 

Enrollment FAQs

Note: Referrals to the “department that hosts the course” means the department listed in the course name. For example, for Math 55, the department that hosts the course is Math. Department contact information can be found in the Academic Guide.

Prerequisites, Reserved Seats, Special Approval

A prerequisite is a course or exam required to be completed before being allowed to enroll in a course. For example, Math 1A or the equivalent credit is a prerequisite to Math 1B, meaning Math 1A must be completed before Math 1B. 

Reserved seats are seats the department has set aside for special populations. Most typically, these are seats reserved for students declared in a major or minor. classes.berkeley.edu will detail reserved seat restrictions. 

Instructor or department approval for a course means that a student must receive a permission number from an instructor or department to add a course. 

For basic information and technical questions about these topics, see the SIS Enrollment FAQ page. 

For questions about exceptions, permissions, or whether you have satisfied a prerequisite, you will contact the department that hosts the course

L&S Advising has no authority to make decisions regarding the above topics.

Waitlists

Basic information and strategies for waitlists can be found on the SIS Enrollment FAQ page. 

As mentioned at the top of the page, a department may still add students to classes from a waitlist until the Friday after the add/drop deadline. This means if you stop monitoring your schedule after the add/drop deadline, you may not be aware you have been enrolled into a course. It is therefore important to either drop yourself from the waitlist before the add/drop deadline or monitor your waitlist position until the Friday following the add/drop deadline has passed.

For questions about how a particular waitlist is organized (e.g.: whether there is an intention to add more seats, whether they are prioritizing majors or seniors, etc), you will contact the department that hosts the course

While L&S Advising can offer general strategies for waitlists (mostly covered in the above SIS Enrollment FAQ page), L&S Advising has no authority over waitlists nor information on how any particular waitlist is managed.

Swaps and Section Switches

Information related to swaps and section switches, including how-to guides and regulations, are found on the SIS Enrollment FAQ page. Any technical issues with performing these actions should be directed to sishelp@berkeley.edu

Time Conflicts

You will often receive an error message if you try to enroll in a course that has a time conflict with another course that is already on your schedule. This same error may prevent you from being enrolled from a waitlist. 

To request a time conflict override, at least one of the departments that host the courses in question will need to agree that you can be granted a time conflict override. 

It is important to not only consider how you will keep up in two courses that are offered at the same time, but also keep in mind that just because a time conflict override is allowed, you may still run into problems if the final exams are offered at the same time. 

You can find more information about time conflicts on the SIS Enrollment FAQ page.

Unit Minimums/Maximums

L&S students take a wide range of unit loads, depending on what works for them. The College of Letters and Science requires/allows for:

  • a minimum of 13 units in Fall/Spring semesters
  • a maximum of 20.5 units Fall/Spring semesters and UC Berkeley Summer Sssion

For more information about seeking approval to take fewer than 13 units (Reduced Course Load) or enrolling in more than 20.5 units, please visit our page on Semester Unit Minimums and Maximums.

Adding a course after the first lecture

Students are often still working to finalize their schedule after the first day of instruction. As the semester progresses, you may decide you do not wish to keep a course on your schedule and find yourself looking for a replacement. 

Just because you can add a course before the add/drop deadline, does not mean you should add a course. If you are considering adding a course that you have not been attending since the first day instruction, consider the following and discuss with the instructor:

  • How many weeks of instruction have you missed?

  • How many readings, assignments, and/or quizzes have you missed? How likely is it that you will be able to catch up?

  • What is the attendance policy? 

To avoid this challenging situation, L&S College Advisers often recommend a strategy we call the “Shop and Drop” strategy, which is explained in the FAQ below.

Shop & Drop strategy: Uncertainty about your schedule

The “Shop and Drop” strategy is when you purposefully add an extra course to your schedule just in case you decide to drop a different course or do not get off a waitlist. 

Example: A student has planned a 14 unit schedule that includes Chem 3A/AL and Math 1B. But the student is worried that this course combination may end up being too heavy for them. Using the “Shop and Drop” strategy, the student adds a breadth course to their schedule for a total of 18 units. They do not intend to take 18 units, but instead will attend all of these courses for the first week and choose which course they wish to drop by the add/drop deadline. 

Tip: If using this strategy, consider the different courses or course combinations you may ultimately wish to drop from your schedule and make sure you have a plan for how you will keep 13 units to meet the unit minimum. 

Caution: Keep in mind that it can be challenging to assess the true work load of a course or course combination by the add/drop deadline. As you make choices about which courses to keep or drop from your schedule, keep in mind that if you are already feeling the pressure or challenge of a course or course combination, this pressure or challenge will most likely increase as you approach midterms and finals.