Enrolling in a Course That's Full

Related Topic: Registration

Trying to get into a class that is full? These tips may help.

Course Watch and Wait Lists

In LionPATH, if a course is full and Wait List is available, a student can choose to be automatically added to the class if a seat opens (tutorial: Wait List Frequently Asked Questions). Note: Be sure to uncheck Show Open Classes Only in order to see full sections, including those with Wait List availability.

Note: Even if you are on the Course Watch List, consider taking the steps below to improve your chances of gaining a seat in the course you want.

Keep Trying

In LionPATH, if a course is full, continue to use Search for Classes (tutorial: Searching for Classes) to monitor seat availability. It is possible that seats are now available in another section, seats have been added to existing sections, or new sections have been created.

Look for Combined Section Classes

Combined Section Classes are offered by multiple departments. You may find that a course you are looking for is offered with a different departmental abbreviation, and there may be a seat available. Regardless of the abbreviation, it's the same course, so it will meet all the same requirements. (For example, if you want CAMS 5 you can take HIST 5, they are combined section class and meet all the same requirements.)

Contact the Department and/or Instructor

Call the department offering the course to ask:

  • Is there any way I can schedule this course?
  • Is it likely that more sections are going to be added? If so, when?
  • If the course is essential for progress toward your degree, ask what alternatives are available to you.

A directory of contacts is provided by the Registrar's office: for University Park use the phone number for each department, for all other locations, contact the appropriate campus Registrar's office.

Call, email, or visit instructors during their office hours to ask what they would recommend if you really want to take their course. Contact information for faculty is available in the Penn State Directory. (If an instructor is not listed in Search for Classes results, use the Registrar's directory of contacts to find out if an instructor has been named.)

Ask the course instructor to sign a registration drop/add form giving you permission to enroll (even though the class is full). If the instructor signs this form, take it to the department for approval and processing. If the department does process the "override," double-check your schedule to be sure that the course you added doesn't conflict with other courses already on your schedule.

Check Online Courses

If taking the course online interests you, you might find it is offered and available to you through the World Campus or other Penn State locations.

In Search for Classes (tutorial: Searching for Classes), select World Campus. (World Campus courses are available only on the web.) For web courses at all other locations, under Additional Search Criteria select Web as the Mode of Instruction and select at least one other criterion (e.g., General Education, subject, or number of credits). See Multiple-Campus Registration if you would like to schedule courses at more than one campus.

Schedule a Good Alternative

Swapping a Class is worth a try. Look for an appropriate alternative to the course that's full, schedule it, then in LionPATH request a swap. Then if your first choice becomes available your alternative will be swapped for the course that's your first choice. Consult with an adviser if you need help identifying an alternative course.

The First Week of Classes: TAKE ACTION

Many courses will have space available within the drop/add period. If it's okay with the instructor, sit in on the class even if you can't add it at that point. That way, you'll be sure you really want the course and you won't have missed anything if you're able to add it later.

The Bottom Line

Don't settle for courses that aren't appropriate just because they're available! Keep working on your schedule until you're satisfied with it.

For additional help in scheduling courses, take a look at Registration/Enrollment Information.


Last Update: September 2016