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.

During the first two weeks of the Fall or Winter term, 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 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.

Meeting with departmental advisors

In order to determine which courses will be appropriate for you, your departmental academic adviser [link] will require information about the courses you have taken at your home university.

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;
  • information about the number of credits or courses required to complete your degree;
  • a list of McGill courses you think might be appropriate;
  • a list of questions you want to ask your adviser.

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.


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. So if you get a "Prerequisite error" while trying to add a course - that's why  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 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).

Course selection should be done with your departmental academic adviser. The courses you take should also be chosen with your personal situation in mind. 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.

Withdrawing from a course

If you are undecided about whether to drop or withdraw from a course, you can talk to your departmental adviser or to a Faculty adviser in Arts OASIS. You should assess your progress to date in the course and try to reach a realistic evaluation of your ability to complete the course successfully.