Limiting Enrollment

There are several ways to limit enrollment in Yale College courses. Check with your departmental registrar for suggested maximum enrollment numbers and how to determine the best method for limiting enrollment. Several departments have established application processes. 

The registration system offers a formal instructor permission process for limited enrollment courses. See Managing Enrollment for Your Course on the registration website for more information.

Some departments use the Preference Selection Tool to manage enrollment before the start of the term. The Preference Selection Tool is an online service for students to rank multiple sections of a course, or multiple courses of a particular family (e.g., first-year seminars). Seats are distributed to students through lottery and are often placed directly on the student’s schedule. Ask your departmental registrar about the Preference Selection Tool; if your department is interested in implementing this service they should contact the University Registrar’s Office at

It is helpful for students to know the selection criteria for limited enrollment courses. You can ask your departmental administrator to add selection information to YCS in the "Class Notes" field. This information helps students decide whether or not to apply and may reduce the number of applications you have to read. It is important to post syllabi on Canvas as soon as the Canvas sites open, and include in them detailed and clear criteria for admitting students.

Such selection criteria can include:

  • A list of prerequisites.
  • A statement about the number of students who may be admitted to the course.
  • A declaration that the course is open only to majors, or a statement specifying that the course is open, for example, only to juniors and seniors.
  • A form on the Canvas site from the instructor asking for more information from interested students.
  • An application available through the departmental office.

The Registrar’s Office does not, student by student and schedule by schedule, verify that a student has received permission from an instructor to enroll in a limited-enrollment course. The registration system, however, does prevent students from enrolling without instructor permission as long as the course offering is set up to require active permission from the instructor. See Managing Enrollment for Your Course. If the name of any student who does not have the instructor’s permission to take a course appears on the final class list (that appears on Canvas after the add/drop period), the instructor should notify the Registrar’s Office to drop the student from the course. Similarly, the Registrar’s Office does not check whether or not a student has met the prerequisites for a course. It is up to the instructor to ascertain that a student has the appropriate preparation.