Managing Course Enrollment

Instructors who wish to manage their own course enrollments without guaranteeing enrollment at the end of the second-round registration period must convert their courses to “Instructor Permission” prior to Advising Week by updating the course description through the Committee on Educational Policy, specifying how enrollments will be prioritized. New courses are handled in a similar fashion. Such conversions are recommended for reserving spaces for first-year students in the fall semester, as well as for courses that require additional evaluation by the instructor prior to enrollment. In addition, a new option has been made available to reserve a certain number of seats for first-year students in the fall semester. This feature can also be accessed by updating the course description through the Committee on Educational Policy. 

Practical Note: Because there tend to be students who drop courses near the end of add/drop, allowing the Registrar’s Office to enforce the class limit often results in classes that might otherwise be full ending up below their enrollment limits. We recommend that new faculty consult with colleagues about how best to handle enrollment limits as the dynamics of enrollment are highly specific to departmental culture around specific courses.

Course Rosters in Workday and Moodle

Workday is the system of record for the college and is the source for official course rosters. If a student is not on the Workday official roster, the student is not registered for the course and will not appear on a grade roster, nor will the course be recorded on the student’s transcript.

Moodle is the learning management system for the college. Until the end of the add/drop period, Moodle rosters may include: students officially registered for the course, Five-College students attempting to register for the course, and Amherst students who have placed a course on their Saved Schedule but have not officially registered for the course. Students not officially registered in the course will have a petition/petitioner notation following their name in Moodle.  Petition/petitioner status allows the student temporary access to course information posted on Moodle which can help them make an informed decision about choosing your course during the add/drop period. At the end of the add/drop period, all petitioners and other individuals who have not been officially registered are removed from Moodle rosters.

Those seeking to audit a course at Amherst must obtain the permission of the instructor and register that audit with the Registrar’s Office. The decision to accept an auditor rests solely with the instructor, who will define and communicate the ways in which the auditor may participate in the course. All auditors must adhere to the standards of the college.

Course Load Requirements

The default course load for Amherst students is four, full courses. Students may elect one or two half courses in addition to the normal program without class dean permission. The table below presents possible course loads and the permissions required for each. All permissions should be submitted to the class deans, via Workday, by the last day of the add/drop period.

Number of Courses 1,2,3 Requirements and Permissions
3 Full Courses

A reduced course load requires approval of accessibility services in consultation with the class dean.

3 Full Courses and 1 Half Course

Advisor and class dean approval. Students must have completed at least 4.5 courses in the previous semester with the half course not matched to another half course.

3 Full Courses and 2 Half Courses (this would include students taking two lab sciences) 4

Advisor and class dean approval.

4 Full Courses

Advisor approval.

4 Full Courses and 1 Half Course Advisor approval.
4 Full Courses and 2 Half Courses (this would include students taking two lab sciences) 5 Advisor approval. Students should contact the Registrar’s office for approval code.
4 Full Courses and 3 Half Courses (e.g. two lab courses and a music lesson) Advisor and class dean approval.
5 Full Courses or More (including additional half courses) Advisor and class dean approval.

Practical Note: Taking 5 full courses or more involves considerable risks for students. Class deans will review a student’s record to make sure that a student electing 5 full courses has a strong likelihood for success. Often Class Deans will not approve this course load. Deans appreciate getting detailed reasoning from advisors approving 5 full courses when the students academic history does not demonstrate the “superior academic ability, responsibility, and will,” noted as the general requirement for fifth courses in the catalog.


  • 1 Students wishing to use half courses to fulfill major requirements should consult the chair of the offering department or program for any matching requirements.
  • 2 If a student takes a regular half course, and seeks to drop that course, that would count as exhaustion of their First-Year/Sophomore/Junior Course Withdrawal Option.
  • 3 Students may only count four half courses towards the 32 course graduation requirement.
  • 4 First-year students are prohibited from taking only a first-year seminar and two lab sciences (3 full and 2 half courses) in the first semester. If a student takes one regular course and two 1.5 courses (science with lab), they cannot use the First-Year/Sophomore/Junior Course Withdrawal Option to drop one of the lab science courses, as they will drop below the minimum credits required to be counted as a full-time student.
  • 5 Please note, our system cannot differentiate this schedule from a five-course load. The registrar will place a permission on the students record, upon request, without additional permission from the class dean.

Additional information can be found at Policy on Half Courses.

Reduced Course Load

In consultation with their class dean and approval by Accessibility Services, some students are able to register for a reduced course load. If a student describes concerns about taking a full course-load, a referral to Accessibility Services might be helpful to explore academic accommodation eligibility. For more information, faculty should consult with Accessibility Services.

Five College Registration

Amherst College students may not register for Five College courses during their first semester at the college. Upon the start of the second semester, students may take up to two Five-College courses per semester. Exceptions are made for students who are pursuing a Five-College major and must take particular courses that would not be available in another term, upon receiving written permission from the major advisor and class dean. First-year and transfer students should be advised to wait until their second semester or later to take Five-College courses. 

Five Colleges Information 

Course Withdrawal

Students are generally expected to complete thirty-two courses* and eight semesters in residence in order to be awarded the bachelor of arts degree. Students who have came to Amherst as first years may fail one course or withdraw from one course during their first, second, or third years and may graduate with thirty-one courses. Students wishing to withdraw from a course must follow guidelines for exhibiting attempts at progress, as determined by the class dean, and should be advised to meet with the class dean as soon as possible.  Please note the deadline for this course withdrawal is the tenth week of the semester and requires prior conversation with the dean, advisor and instructor. 

Transfer students must complete thirty-two full semester courses or their equivalent, at least sixteen of them at Amherst, and at least four semesters of residence at Amherst. A transfer student may, however, withdraw from one course without penalty once and graduate with thirty-one courses, as long as that withdrawal is not during their senior year at the college.

A student failing a course in the final year that results in a deficiency may have to make up this deficiency at another institution in order to graduate. Courses must be taken at an accredited higher education institution in the United States and taught in-person. Generally, online or hybrid courses will be accepted for transfer credit. International students may be able to take courses outside of the United States in consultation with their class dean. Students should contact the Office of the Registrar for pre-approval of transfer credit before registering for any transfer course.

  • Please note that students who were enrolled during academic year 2020-2021 may graduate with a minimum of 30 courses. Students who are eligible to graduate with 30 courses may not withdraw from a course and graduate with 29 classes. If you have any questions or concerns about specific students’ graduation requirements, please contact the Registrar at