Course Selection

How to register for courses

Select your courses for the term using Minerva (you will have to sign in with your McGill credentials). You can also view course descriptions on the eCalendar.

Refer to McGill's Registering for Courses webpage for detailed instructions on using Minerva to register for courses, including a registration tutorial video.

If you encounter any problems with course registration, consult our information on common registration problems.

Please note that if you are attending McGill as a Visiting student or as part of a McGill Exchange, you are only permitted to take courses at McGill that have been pre-approved by your home institution. If you make changes to your initial course selection, make sure that your home institution is aware of any course changes.

During the first two weeks of the Fall or Winter term, also referred to as the add/drop period, you will have the opportunity to change the courses for which you have registered. You may drop and add courses as you wish, subject to any restrictions indicated in the eCalendar.

The Add/Drop (course change) deadline for each semester can be found here, so you will have lots of time to register for the courses you want to take! Keep in mind that all students modify their course selection up until the Add/Drop deadline, so there's a good chance that spots will open up in courses that you want to take! 

After this Course Change period, you may withdraw from courses until approximately the mid-point of each term. Please consult Important Dates for specific deadlines.

Registration Assistance

Since the registration system in Minerva won't know what major programs you are studying at your home university and which courses you should be allowed to register for within your major/minors, you'll need to contact the relevant department (i.e. the Political Science department) for assistance when you begin to register. The department that administers the course is the best resource for information on the the courses they offer.

The department can put an electronic permit on your record to allow you to register for specific courses that are usually only open to major program students.

If you plan to also register for courses in multiple departments, you may also need to contact other offices for help with registration. 

In most cases, departments will do their best to accommodate exchange students, as they know about the difficulties in registering normally through Minerva.  But again, sometimes some courses will simply be full and there won't be any exceptions.  In those cases, it will be helpful to be able to go to a list of second choice courses.

If you wish to take a course through McGill’s School of Continuing Education, please refer to the Faculty of Arts policy on these courses. If you are a Visiting Student from another university, please confirm that your home institution permits you to take Continuing Studies courses for credit towards your undergraduate degree. If you are taking part in a McGill Exchange, McGill’s Student Exchange Office (studentexchanges [at] must be informed that you have your home institution’s permission to take these courses.

Departmental Program Advising

In order to determine which courses will be appropriate for you, the department will require information about the courses you have taken at your home university. The departmental academic adviser will review the courses you have already completed to ensure you have the appropriate background for the McGill courses you intend to take.

Please bring the following pieces of information to your advising appointment:

  • a copy of your academic record (courses and grades);
  • course descriptions for the courses you have taken;
  • a list of McGill courses you think might be appropriate;


If you try to register for a course that has a prerequisite, you may receive the following Minerva error message - "Prerequisite error". Please note that any courses that have a listed prerequisite will probably require you to get a permit from the department offering the course, as Minerva has no way to know that you have complete the prerequisite at your home university. For example, if you wanted to take an upper-year History course that requires a 200 or 300-level prerequisite course, you would need to contact the Department of History.

Course Information

Each course has a credit weight associated with it. The normal course load for a full-time student in Arts is five (5) courses or 15 credits per term. The number of credits you take in a term should be determined by your own situation. If you have commitments outside the University, you might consider reducing your load to 12 credits per term (this is normally the minimum for those studying on a student visa).

If this is the first time you are studying in English, you might want to mix program courses, electives and an English as a Second Language (ESL) course. If you have studied in English before, but feel that your writing could be improved, you might want to consider taking English for Academic Purposes. Click here for more information.

Academic options in times of difficulty

If you are encountering difficulties that may be affecting your studies, you are encouraged to meet with an OASIS Faculty Adviser to discuss your academic options. If you are undecided about whether to drop or withdraw from a course, they can help you to assess your progress to date in the course and try to reach a realistic evaluation of your ability to complete the course successfully.