Enrollment

You told us that the lottery system was too confusing, too uncoordinated, and too stressful. We listened. Now, it's as easy as request, rank and register.

Beginning in Spring 2020, Gen Ed is piloting a coordinated, ranked-choice enrollment process designed to match more students to their highest-choice courses.

The new system is designed to get you enrollment confirmation by early afternoon on the Thursday of the first week of classes, as well as solve for the previous problem of some students getting multiple admissions to competitive courses while other students get none. Our goal is a more equitable, easily navigated Gen Ed curriculum.

For more information, please see our step-by-step instructions and read our FAQ below and reach out gened_questions@fas.harvard.edu with any questions. 

Q: Why the new process...and will it really be better? 

A: We hope so - but it’s a pilot, so we’re still learning. Here’s what’s different and why we needed a change: In the past, Gen Ed lotteries were uncoordinated, meaning that every lottery stood on its own. Most had different timelines, and many had different processes (some faculty required an application, for example). This resulted in some students gaining admission to multiple courses while some students received none. For Spring 2020, we’re running all Gen Ed enrollment lotteries at the same time, which means that you’ll get answers about all Gen Ed courses within a short timeframe and can make more informed choices about your schedule. We’re also running a ranked-choice system that seeks to match each student with their highest-possible preference, meaning that a wider range of students will be able to gain an offer of admission to courses with limited seats.

Q: How does it work? What’s my timeline?

A: We’re standardizing and coordinating enrollments this term, meaning we’re collecting all of your petitions to enroll as well as your preferences about which courses you’d most like to be in. Once we have those, we will run an algorithm to assign students to their highest-choice course possible. Don’t worry - you’ll still get permission to enroll in any course that has plenty of room. You’ll only be entered into the coordinated lottery for a given course if there are more petitions for that course than seats available. You’ll find out your status by 2 p.m. Thursday, January 30.

Q: How do I enroll in a Gen Ed course?

A: Remember this: Request, rank and register. For all Spring 2020 Gen Ed courses in which you'd like to enroll, you must request permission through my.harvard by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, January 29, 2020. Please note that you are expected to attend all classes of the courses for which you petition. Once you've requested permission to enroll in one or more Gen Ed courses, you will have the option in my.harvard to rank your choices. A banner in my.harvard will instruct you on how to do so; please note that it may take up to 15 minutes for the ranking banner to appear in my.harvard. The deadline to rank your choices is also 11:59 p.m. January 29, so plan accordingly and be sure to give yourself time after requesting a course to rank it

Q: What if I have an advising hold? Can I still participate in the enrollment process?

A: Yes! Advising holds don't keep you from requesting or ranking courses. You must have it lifted in time to complete enrollment by the course registration deadline, though.

Q: Do I have to enroll in a class I get in the lottery? 

A: Nope. When your petition to enroll in a Gen Ed course is granted, it gives you the option to enroll and saves a place for you through the course registration deadline (11:59 p.m. Friday, January 31). After that, if you don't complete enrollment in the course, your seat isn't guaranteed. We'd ask that if you're not going to enroll in a course you get an approval for, you withdraw your petition. This will tell us that you're not interested and will free up a space for another student to enroll. 

Q: Do I have to attend the classes I petition for and rank?

A: Yes. You are expected to attend all classes for which you petition.

Q: How do I know how many seats are available in each Gen Ed course?   

A: Gen Ed courses have a size limit of between 50 and 250 students. Check my.harvard for the specific limits of courses you’re interested in.

Q: In how many Gen Ed courses may I request permission to enroll? 

A: You may request permission to enroll in - and then rank in order of your preference - up to five Gen Ed courses.

Q: Okay, so I ask for permission to enroll in five Gen Ed courses. Am I only getting into one? What are my chances here?

A: If you petition and rank five courses, you should get in to at least one. You’ll be granted permission to enroll in all courses you request that have plenty of seats, and you’ll be entered into the coordinated lottery for any and all courses that don’t have enough seats to accommodate requests. Students in the lottery will be randomized through a random serial dictatorship (RSD) and given their highest possible choice among the competitive courses for which they requested permission to enroll. You’ll hear whether your petitions are approved or denied by 2 p.m. Thursday, January 30.

Q: So, shouldn't I just list a popular course as my number one choice, just in case?

A: Nope. Because of the way that the random serial dictatorship works, it's in your best interest to truly list your number-one choice as your actual number-one choice.

Q: Can't I just ask the professor to let me in?

A: No. The enrollment process is designed to make enrollment as equitable for everyone as possible, so we've asked faculty not to approve permissions before the allocation process runs. If, after the course registration deadline of 11:59 p.m. Friday, January 31, there are still spaces in their course, faculty will have the discretion to approve additional requests for enrollment.

Q: What happens if I change my mind after the lottery runs?

A: Requesting permission to enroll in a course isn't binding. If permission is granted, you'll have the option to either enroll or not. It’s up to you.

Q: What if I find the perfect class...on Thursday afternoon?

A: Great news - after the lottery ends and the enrollment deadline passes, faculty will have the discretion to approve additional requests for enrollment as space permits.

Q: I’m a senior and I need this course to graduate. I’m guaranteed a slot, right?

A: Not necessarily. You must request permission to enroll in up to five courses that will get you the credit you need and rank them highly. If you don’t secure a seat in a necessary course after the lottery runs, please write to us. We'll help.

Q: What if the lottery runs and I don’t get anything I’m interested in taking? 

A: Check back on this site frequently during shopping week. After the lottery concludes, we’ll post a list of courses with open seats to this page so that you know what your options are.

Q: I love (or hate!) everything about this. How do I let you know? 

A: Fill out this form! We want to hear from you about how to continually improve.