Having trouble registering?

McGill class schedules are designed to strike a balance between maximizing choices for students and using limited classroom space. Class sizes are limited based on academic needs and space availability. As a result, some course sections that interest you may be full. You can check the number of available spots in any class in the Minerva Class Schedule.


Handling registration issues

Course sections can have a variety of restrictions/controls that may cause registration errors when you are registering in Minerva. Below are some of the most common registration errors you may encounter, along with tips on how to resolve them.

Note: Pay particular attention to "NOTES" that appear directly below some course sections in the Class Schedule. These may help explain error messages that occur.

Common registration error messages

Closed Course

This will be indicated by a "C" appearing at the far left of the course number in the Class Schedule where normally a tick box would appear. This means that the section is full, i.e. all spots in the course are currently taken. There are two solutions to this registration error, depending on whether you need the course to fulfill program requirements or you want the course as an elective.

  1. If you need the course to fulfill program requirements you must contact the department administering the course directly (e.g., Biology for a BIOL course, English for an ENGL course, etc.). Explain your situation to the staff person and they will determine if you are eligible for a place in the course. If the department allows you into the course they may grant you a "registration permit" allowing you to bypass system controls and register for the section. After the permit is granted, you will be able to register for the course section through Minerva.

    Note: If you are granted a CAPACITY permit for a closed course section, you must use the "Quick Add/Drop" menu in Minerva to register.

  2. If you want the course as an elective, you should not contact the department, as they must give priority to students who need the course to meet program requirements. However, it is possible that there will be movement within the course during the Add/Drop period. Try to "quick add" the course section regularly and you may be able to register if another student drops the section. If the course uses the Waitlist feature, at the time you try to "quick add" and the course is still full, you will be invited to join the waitlis. If you add yourself to the Waitlist you will be notified by your McGill e-mail if a place becomes available and you are next on the list to register (further info is available on the waitlists page).

    Note: Have another elective course in reserve in the event you are not successful adding your first choice. You may have to plan to take this elective in another term.

Reserve Closed

This error message appears when seats in the course section are reserved for a specific student population and no seats are currently available. It may seem as though the section has seats available, but either you don't fit the reserved seat criteria for the section, or the seats for which you're eligible are full. For example, a section with 50 available seats may reserve 40 for students in a specific program and leave 10 for everyone else. If you are not in the program for which the 40 seats were reserved and the other 10 seats are full, you will receive this error message. Similarly, if you are in the program for which the 40 seats were reserved and they're full, you will receive this error message even if there are seats available in the remaining 10 seats. A student can only be eligible for one reserved seat rule at a time.

The solution to this registration problem is the same as for the "Closed Course" error message: refer to item 1 and 2 in the "Closed Course" section above.

Class/Major/Program/etc. Restriction

  • Class Restriction: This refers to courses that are limited to students in a specific academic year (U0, U1, U2 or U3). Courses with class restrictions usually have "NOTES" in the Class Schedule of "Limited to U0 (or U1, U2 or U3) students".

    If you are not in the correct year to permit registration, you must see the department administering the course to determine if you are eligible for a place in the class (e.g. Chemistry for a CHEM course, Anthropology for an ANTH course, etc.). If the department allows you into the course they will issue you a registration permit granting access to the course. You must still use Minerva to register after the permit is granted.

  • Degree Restriction: The course section you are trying to add is restricted by degree (BA, BCom, MSc, etc.). See notes/restrictions in the Class Schedule Listing. To obtain special permission to register for a restricted course, contact the department offering the course.
  • Faculty Restriction: This refers to a course that is controlled by faculty codes, i.e. only students in specific faculties may register. If you are a B.Sc. student seeking to register in an Engineering course or a B.A. student seeking to register in an Education course you may experience this error message. Please contact your Faculty's Student Affairs Office for more information in this situation.
  • Level Restriction: The course section you are trying to add is restricted by level (undergraduate, graduate, etc.). See notes/restrictions in the Class Schedule Listing. To obtain special permission to register for a restricted course, contact the department offering the course. For graduate students, please fill out the online Student Records form (Request for Registration/Course Changes).
  • Major Restriction: The course section you are trying to add is restricted by major, major concentration or minor. To select your Major, go to Minerva > Student Menu > Student Records Menu > Change Your Primary Curriculum. To obtain special permission to register for a restricted course, contact the department offering the course.
  • Program Restriction: This refers to a course section that is restricted by program code; if you are not in the appropriate program you will not be able to register. Courses with program controls usually have "NOTES" in Class Schedule of "Limited by Program". There are two possible solutions to this restriction:
    1. if the program-controlled course is within your Faculty: you must ensure that you have the program properly entered onto your record in Minerva to be allowed to register.

      Note: You may not add a program to your record unless you fully intend to complete the program. Adding a program to your record solely for the purpose of registering in a restricted course is not permitted, and students attempting this may be asked to deregister from the course.

    2. if the program-controlled course is outside your Faculty: An example of a program-controlled course outside your Faculty would be a MGCR course open only to students in BCom degree programs and you are not in the Desautels Faculty of Management. You should find a suitable alternative offered to students in your Faculty or speak to an adviser.

Departmental/Instructor Approval Required

This refers to courses which require a placement test or the approval of the professor or advisor prior to registration. Courses with this type of control usually have NOTES in the Class Schedule indicating "Departmental approval required" or "Adviser approval required" or "Placement test required". Please contact your department or instructor as indicated.

Link Error

This refers to course sections (lecture activities) which have other activities "linked" to them (a tutorial, lab, etc.) that require you to add more than one section/CRN at a time. Courses with this type of control usually have NOTES in the Class Schedule indicating "Must be taken with a tutorial" or "Must be taken with a lab". Ex.: some CHEM or BIOL courses require students to register for both a lecture and a lab. In this case you must choose both the lecture activity and the linked activity and register for them at the same time.

Prerequisite or Test Score Error

This applies to course sections which have prerequisites and/or corequisites that must be satisfied to be able to register. NOTES in the Class Schedule only occasionally warn of existing pre/corequisites, so if this error message occurs it will be necessary to verify in the McGill eCalendar what prerequisites or corequisites exist for the course. If you've already completed the prerequisites, or have registered for the corequisites, and are still getting the error, you should contact your Faculty's Student Affairs Office for assistance with this issue.

Maximum Hours Exceeded

If you receive this error message, it means that you are trying to register for more than the total for which you are allowed to register. You can verify the course load regulations for your Faculty in the eCalendar under the "Course Load" sub-heading.

Note: If you receive this error message when adding a multi-term course (a "D1/D2" full year course) and you have room in the Fall, it is possible that the "maximum hours exceeded" message refers to your credit load in the Winter term. You must have enough room in both Fall and Winter terms before registering in full-year courses.


Automated registration software

McGill discourages the use of software that automatically and repeatedly attempts to register for course sections. If a set number of cumulative registration attempts are made for a given term (either using a registration software or manually), you will be blocked from all registration features for that term in Minerva. If this happens, you will need to contact Service Point to have your registration rights restored, which may take several business days.

Unsure how to proceed?

If you're still having trouble or the issue you're experiencing is not addressed by the above FAQ, you should reach out to someone for help. For most of the above situations, either your Department or Faculty have authority and discretion to assist with your registration issue, where relevant. For Registration Holds or for anything else, please refer to Service Point.

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