Part 1: Preparing to Register
Registration may seem a bit intimidating, but it’s also one of the most important steps in your life as a student. Here we break it down step by step to help prepare you for the big day. In this section, we cover general information to help you prepare for course registration. We also provide tips on how to build a strong class schedule, how to use Minerva to register efficiently, and how to contact and prepare for a meeting with an academic advisor.
McGill PRO (Pre-Registration Orientation) is a virtual series of workshops designed to help you navigate course registration and provides you with an opportunity to ask your Academic Advisor questions face-to-face virtually. Some students are also able to write English and French placement exams as well as meet with an Access Advisor from the Office for Students with Disabilities! McGill PRO runs from May 25th - June 11th. Registration opens in early May. For more information and to register, visit the McGill PRO website.
First thing's first: trust us when we say that your course selection will all work out! McGill works hard to ensure that the students who have required courses for their major(s) and minor(s) are given priority in the course registration process.
You may not always get your top picks for electives; however, this is true for any student, new or returning. With electives, it is important to remember that an elective course for you is a required course for someone else. Few courses at McGill act as electives for everyone.
All McGill students are part of a Faculty. Each Faculty at McGill is divided into departments and/or schools, and headed by a dean. Departments are devoted to a particular area of study, such as the Department of English or the Department of Chemistry. Professional Schools are part of a Faculty, but offer more intense, specialized programs usually leading to a professional career.
Your particular registration date will depend on your faculty and year of study, e.g., U0, U1, etc., and is listed on Minerva.
TIP: Take some time BEFORE registration opens - Which classes do you need to take, and in which semester(s) are they available? Preparing your schedule before you register saves you time and stress!
McGill 101 on myCourses is an online hub that offers lots of helpful videos and information on registration and more. Complete the Course Registration module to learn about how to successfully register for courses.
NOTE: Should you login to myCourses and not see McGill 101 on your screen, firstyear [at] mcgill.ca (subject: McGill%20101) (email) us with your name, faculty and student ID number and we will add to the McGill 101 class list as soon as possible.
Placement tests evaluate students' levels of proficiency in certain areas of study to ensure that they are placed in the correct course(s).
- French Placement tests - MANDATORY for all French language courses regardless of ability. You must take a placement test prior to registering for any French as a Second Language course. Visit the French Language Centre's website information about French placement tests.
- English Placement tests - MANDATORY for students who speak English as a second language wanting to register for one of the three courses in academic writing (English for Academic Purposes) offered by the McGill Writing Center. Visit the McGill Writing Centre's website information about English placement tests.
- Science & Math Placement tests - OPTIONAL for students who feel that they've completed the equivalent of one or more university-level science courses, but do not have acceptable certification to that effect. For more information about eligibility visit the Placement Test webpage.
McGill has two modes of grading students' course work:
- The first is a standard system of letter grades that follow a Grade Point Average (GPA) scale. Most courses you take at McGill will follow this grade mode.
- The Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grade mode (also called "Pass/Fail") is for electives only. The S/U grade mode does not give letter grades; instead, students either pass or fail the course.
You may take one elective course per semester under this grade mode and you can use the S/U grading option for up to 10% of your total credits completed at McGill. Courses taken under the S/U grade mode are excluded from GPA calculations, so they will not raise or lower your GPA.
Make sure to consult the complete eligibility requirements before you select the S/U grade option.
Choose this grade option wisely! Students often do better in elective courses because they are chosen out of interest; if you take an elective under the S/U grade option, it will not boost your GPA.
You can select the grade mode for individual classes by going to Minerva > Student Menu> Registration Menu > Quick Add or Drop Course Sections > Current Schedule table. Know that you cannot make any changes to your grading option after the Course Change (Add/Drop) deadline.
U0 or U1?
Registration information is different if you are a U0 student (also referred to as a “freshman”) or if you are a U1 student. U0 and U1 are terms that McGill uses to differentiate between first-year students’ standings. Some students enter McGill with advanced credits that can be used towards their degree, so they may enter McGill as a U1 student. This depends on Faculty and program too. Basically, U1 students are able to advance past the freshman requirements that U0 students must take.
Unsure if you are a U0 or U1 student? Log onto Minerva and select Registration Menu > Step 1: Check your Registration Eligibility and Verify Your Curriculum. You can also verify your program by contacting Enrolment Services or your Faculty's Student Affairs office.
Where do I go to start planning my program?
The 'Preparing for course registration' page on McGill's I've Been Accepted website is the place to find degree requirements, course registration dates, and all other information necessary to start planning your program. You can even start building your first-year class schedule!
TIP: Don’t forget to check if you have any transfer credits from high school or CEGEP, which could impact which first-year classes you have to take.
McGill's eCalendar lists every course available in the 2020-2021 academic year. You can explore all the classes offered within your program and read individual class descriptions. You can also refer to it to know how many credits are required to achieve the different concentration levels in your area of study (for example, a B.Sc. with a major in biology requires 59 credits, whereas a biology minor requires 25 credits).
Accessing Previous Course Evaluations
Before you build your schedule, you may want to know what previous students had to say about the courses you plan to take. Mercury is McGill's course evaluation system that allows students, professors, and administrators to deliver and receive feedback. You can also access previous course evaluation results via Minerva to hear what past students thought of the course.
Review Course Details
When you have an idea of which classes you want to take, log onto Minerva to access more information on which professor will be teaching each course and when each course will be scheduled week-to-week. From the Minerva homepage, select: Student Menu > Registration Menu > Step 2: Search Class Schedule and Add Course Sections. From there, you will have to select a term and find your program to see a list of available classes. Click on View Sections beside each course to obtain more information.
Take note of the following information for each course you're interested in:
- The course's class days and time. Some classes are divided into three 1-hour lectures per week, while other classes may only meet once or twice per week.
- The building and room number of each class. You can refer to this campus map to gain a sense of where buildings are; try not to schedule back-to-back classes in buildings that are on different ends of campus! Also, if you are planning on taking courses at both the Downtown and Macdonald campuses, be sure to schedule at least 40 minutes to take the shuttle bus between the two campuses.
- The cap for the number of students in the course is listed beside the class time. This will tell you how many people have already registered and how large or small the class will be. Beside the cap, some classes will also have a Waitlist (WL) available; this indicates how many students can be added to a waitlist once the class is full.
- The Course Reference Number (CRN) of each course is listed beside the course code. CRNs can be used to quickly register for courses in the Registration Menu.
Visual Schedule Builder (VSB)
McGill's Visual Schedule Builder (VSB) allows you to visualize what your weekly class schedule will look like before Minerva opens for registration. Follow these steps to use VSB:
- Click Continue
- In the top left corner, Choose a Term (Fall 2020 or Winter 2021)
- Insert one or more course codes into the Select Course bar
- Click Generate Schedules
From there, you will see a weekly schedule with your courses built into it. VSB tells you when classes overlap and when there are different sections of a course that are offered at different times. Additionally, you can pin down classes to save them in your schedule and block times when you prefer not to have classes.
Make sure to build several different schedules while you plan, so that if a given course is full when you get to registering you have something to fall back on.
All details regarding course registration dates can be found on McGill's I've Been Accepted website. You can register for courses at any time after course registration opens for you.
First-Year Registration Dates (Registration opens at 9:00AM EDT)
Students admitted from Quebec CEGEPs
June 4, 2021 for scholarship recipients
June 7, 2021 for all other students
Students admitted into U1
June 11, 2021 for scholarship recipients
June 14, 2021 for all other students
All other students (beginning as U0 or freshman) admitted into the Faculty of Arts (including Social Work and Religious Studies), Arts & Science (B.A.&Sc. interfaculty program), Education, Management, or Music
June 11, 2021 for scholarship recipients
All other students (beginning as U0 or freshman) admitted into the Faculty of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, Engineering (including Architecture), Nursing, Physical & Occupational Therapy, or Science
June 11, 2021 for scholarship recipients
Register for at least one course before August 14, 2021 to avoid late fees!
All course registration happens on Minerva, using your McGill username and password to log in. Select Student Menu > Registration Menu from the Main Menu to verify your registration eligibility and program, browse available classes by faculty and department, register for specific classes, confirm your registration fees and view your weekly schedule. It's a good idea to start getting familiar with Minerva before your registration date to feel comfortable with the platform!
How much time will I have to register for courses?
Minerva will remain open until the Fall Add/Drop deadline on September 14, 2021. That means you'll be able to go into Minerva and change your course selection for the Fall semester at any time until the Fall Add/Drop period is over. For the Winter semester, the Add/Drop period goes until January 18, 2022 which will also give you a chance to see what your Winter classes are like before you commit to them.
Course selection and registration can be tricky. You can seek guidance from academic advisors who provide academic and personal advice based on your specific needs at McGill.
How do I contact an advisor?
Over the summer, academic advisors can be contacted via email or phone. The Advisor Directory lists the contact information for all Faculty Advisors and Student Affairs Offices (also listed below) as well as the contact info for all Departmental and School Advisors. Remember that advisors are very busy working with graduating students in the spring and will be more accessible to new students throughout the summer.
If you are a U0 student, a faculty advisor can provide you with the most help. If you are a U1 student, you will likely need to contact a departmental/school advisor (as you already have a declared major and minor).
Unless you already live in Montreal, you will likely be unable to meet with an advisor in person until Orientation Week or after the Add/Drop period. That's OK! It is not mandatory to meet with an advisor in person to get the answers you need. During the summer, you can contact an advisor via email or phone.
Remember that advisors will likely be very busy during Orientation Week and Add/Drop; these are known as peak advising periods. During this time frame, and depending on your Faculty/School, you will be able to see academic advisors either through Advising Sessions or one-on-one appointments. Check the advisors' respective websites for information that is applicable to you.
Part 2: The Registration Process
So, you've checked your program requirements. You've chosen the classes you want to take for both the Fall and Winter semesters and you've noted their Course Registration Numbers (CRNs). You know when you can register. Now what? Follow these steps to sign up for your courses!
- Log into Minerva at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on the morning of registration. Registration creates a lot of online traffic, so it may take a couple of tries to successfully log into Minerva. Don't give up if you can't get through right away!
- Go to Student Menu > Registration Menu and select Quick Add or Drop Course Sections.
- Go to the Quick Add Worksheet near the bottom of the page and insert the CRNs of the courses you would like to take, then click Submit Changes.
- Above the Quick Add Worksheet, you will see a Current Schedule table with a list of the courses you are registered for. To drop a course, select Web Drop from the Action column. Once you have dropped a course, you will no longer have a spot reserved in it!
- Once you are happy with your courses, go to the Registration Menu and click on Step 4: View Student Schedule by Course Section. This will bring you to a list of your classes.
- From the Registration Menu, click on Step 5: View Personal Weekly Class Schedule. You can submit a specific date in the top right corner to see what your schedule will look like week-to-week.
TIP: Save a screenshot of your weekly schedule to your phone to have it on hand during your first few weeks of classes!
TIP: Use the HELP button in the top right corner of Minerva if you are unclear of any terms that pop up during the registration process.
What if a class is unavailable to me when I go to register?
We recommend having 4 to 5 different schedules planned out before you begin registering for courses on your registration date. That way, you'll have backups ready if a class doesn't fit into your schedule.
If a class is full when you go to register for it, don't despair; keep checking the course on Minerva during the Add/Drop period to see if spots open up (they often do)!
Some classes also have waitlists. Waitlisting is a process for students to stay "on hold" for a particular course while waiting for spots to open up. Not all classes have waitlists enabled, and those that do have a limited number of spots on their waitlist. If you are placed on a waitlist, you should check your email frequently for a notification that a spot has opened in the course; if you are notified of an open spot and don't register fast enough, the spot will be given to the next student on the waitlist.
Minerva Help Rubric: Use the HELP button in the top right corner of Minerva if you are unclear of any terms that pop up during the registration process.
Academic Advising: You can seek guidance from academic advisors who provide academic and personal advice based on your specific needs at McGill. Consult the Advisor Directory to find out how to contact an advisor.
Campus Life & Engagement: If you have another problem but don't know where to start or who can help, contact us at Campus Life & Engagement! Feel free to firstyear [at] mcgill.ca (email) us at any point in time. Our office is dedicated to helping first-year students with any questions they may have.