Waitlists (WL)

On this page: Using WaitlistsFAQ

The waitlist (WL) functionality helps students access in-demand course sections equitably and transparently.

Note: Waitlists for courses offered in Fall 2021 and Winter 2022 will open on select course sections on the following dates:
  • Upper-level courses (2nd year courses and higher): the afternoon of June 3, 2021 or later
  • Lower-level courses (Freshman and 1st year courses): the afternoon of June 17, 2021 or later

Using Waitlists

In some cases, you can use waitlists to improve your chances of getting into desired course sections.

Important Waitlist Facts

  • Not all courses have waitlists!
    • Waitlists are compatible with most Fall and Winter single-term courses that don’t have linked activities (not multi-term/spanned courses such as D1/D2 courses, not sections with linked lecture/lab/tutorial, and not sections offered in the Summer Term).
    • Waitlists are used (or not) on eligible course sections at the discretion of the academic unit offering the course.
  • Waitlists are added to select eligible course sections a few days/weeks after registration opens, to allow all students equal access to available waitlists.
  • Once waitlists open, all course sections that offer a waitlist will have a note in the Minerva > Student > Registration > Step 2: Search Class Schedule and Add Course Sections search results indicating “NOTES: Waitlist section-use Quick Add”.
  • Joining a waitlist does not guarantee a place in the course section. It’s strongly recommended that you register for alternative courses in case you don’t get invited to register for your waitlisted section by the add/drop deadline.
  • Sections with reserved seats: some course sections have reserved seats, which means a certain number of available seats are reserved for students in a specific program, department, or faculty. As a result, you may only be eligible for a limited number of seats. Once in the waitlist, you will only be invited when a seat for which you are eligible becomes available.

Joining a Waitlist

  1. Please Log into Minerva. If you already know the CRN numbers of the courses you wish to register for, jump to step #7 below. Otherwise, browse to Student > Registration > Step 2: Search Class Schedule and Add Course Sections.
  2. Select the term for which you wish to register.
  3. Select a subject and/or a faculty.
  4. From the “Look Up Course Sections” results screen, you will see a list of course sections. If the WL Cap column shows a value greater than 0, then a waitlist is available for the section.
  5. Check the WL Rem column. If the number in the column is 0, the waitlist is full. You cannot add yourself to the waitlist now, but you can try again later. If the number is greater than 0, there is space on the waitlist.
  6. Take note of the section CRN.
  7. Browse to Student > Registration > Quick Add or Drop Course Sections either through the Minerva top menu, or by scrolling down to the bottom of the “Look Up Course Sections” results screen and clicking Add to WorkSheet.
  8. Enter the section’s CRN in the grid of the CRN Quick Add Worksheet and click on Submit Changes.
  9. Use the picklist to select your waitlist status. Select the action “Add(ed) to Waitlist” and click on Submit Changes.
  10. You have successfully added yourself to the waitlist. You can view your position in the waitlist for the course section in Minerva > Student > Registration > Step 4: View Student Schedule by Course Section.
    Note: if the waitlist is full, you will receive a “Waitlist Full” error message for the section in the following screen. In this case, you will have to try again later. Increase your chances of getting onto the waitlist by trying to join the waitlist shortly after 12:00 noon, since this is the time when students on the waitlist are invited to register for the course when seats become available. If it looks as though there is room on the waitlist and you receive a “Reserved Closed – Waitlist Full” error message, please refer to the Sections with Reserved Seats important note below.

Once You've Joined a Waitlist

  • Once you are on a waitlist, “invitation to register” emails are sent out twice daily on weekdays, at midnight and noon. Please check your emails after those times to see if you've been invited to register.
  • After having received an "invitation to register" waitlist email, please confirm its authenticity by verifying in Minerva > Student > Registration > Step 4: View Student Schedule by Course Section that you are indeed in Waitlist Position 0 (zero) and that the date/time indicated in the "Notification Expires" column is within 24 hours.
  • You will have 24 hours to register for the section upon receiving an "invitation to register" waitlist email (Exception: on the last day of add/drop, students have until midnight regardless of when they receive the "invitation to register" waitlist email). Please read the waitlist notification email carefully to know the exact time of your registration deadline.
  • On the last two days of add/drop, “Invitation to register” emails are sent every two hours between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. You may receive an email prompting you to register for the course at any time during these two days.
Important Notes:
  • Waitlist limit: You can place yourself on a maximum of three waitlists, in addition to your regular limit of registered courses (students in all faculties except Law; the limit for Law students is one waitlist).
  • Sections with reserved seats: some course sections have reserved seats, which means a certain number of available seats are reserved for students in a specific program, department, or faculty. As a result, you may only be eligible for a limited number of seats. Once in the waitlist, you will only be invited when a seat for which you are eligible becomes available.

FAQ

How do registration waitlists work?

Not all courses have waitlists enabled. If a course has one and the course is full, you can join that course's waitlist from Minerva's Registration Menu. Like courses, waitlists can also become full. If the waitlist is full for a given course, you will not be able to register for neither the course nor the waitlist.

If you join a waitlist, you'll receive an email notification when a spot in the course section has become available. If you receive this message, you will have a limited amount of time to change your status in Minerva from "Waitlisted" to "Registered". See the Once You've Joined a Waitlist section for more information.

Email notifications go out twice every weekday, around midnight and around noon (except during the last two days of add/drop, during which notifications go out every two hours). If you are on a waitlist, it is important to check your email twice daily, morning and afternoon (or more often during the last two days of add/drop).

In the interim, you may view your position in the waitlist using the Minerva Registration Menu > Step 4: View Student Schedule by Course Section.

Minerva Registration Menu

It is advisable that you monitor your position on the waitlist regularly in Minerva.

How can I tell if a course has a waitlist?

Waitlists will open on select courses between a few days and a few weeks after registration opens for a given term. This delay will depend on the course and will ensure that all students have equal chances to join a course’s waitlist as soon as it opens (please see the top of this page for specific dates).

Once registration waitlists open, your Minerva Class Schedule should feature:

  • a "Waitlist Section-use Quick Add" note on the course section;
  • numbers next to the section enrollment information indicating:
    • the waitlist capacity (WL Cap);
    • the number of students currently on the waitlist (WL Act); and
    • the number of spots remaining on the waitlist (WL Rem)

How do I join the waitlist?

If a course for which you'd like to register is full, you can follow the five steps below:

  1. From the Course Section Lookup results screen, look for the NOTE: Waitlist Section appearing on your desired course section.
  2. Check the section's WL Rem number.
    • If it is 0, the waitlist is full; you cannot add yourself to the waitlist now but you should try again later.
    • If it is greater than 0, there is space on the waitlist; jot down the section CRN and follow the remaining steps.
  3. Go to Quick Add or Drop Course Sections.
  4. Enter the CRN in the grid of the Quick Add Worksheet and click Submit.
  5. Use the Action picklist to change your waitlist status: Select "Add(ed) to Waitlist" and click Submit.

A spot has opened up for me. How quickly do I need to register?

Waitlist email notifications will include a registration deadline — this is usually within 24 hours. In the last day of add/drop, the system only allows until midnight regardless of what time you receive a notification, so check your email often! If you miss the deadline, the spot will be offered to the next eligible student on the list.

See the Once You've Joined a Waitlist section for more information.

Minerva says there's an open spot in the course, but it won't let me register. Why not?

Waitlisted students who are invited to register are allowed a specified time (usually 24 hours) to change their status from "Waitlisted" to "Registered". During this period, spaces that open up are reserved for the next eligible student on the waitlist — even if seats appear to be available, no one else is allowed to register. You'll only be allowed to register once you've received an "invitation to register" email.

Furthermore, some courses have reserved seats, meaning a specific number of seats are reserved for students in a specific year, program, department, etc. In courses with reserved seats, an open seat will be offered to the next student in the waitlist who is eligible for that seat. Although you may be first in line in the waitlist, you will only be invited to register for seats for which you are eligible.

Spaces are available and I'm next in the waitlist, but I haven't been invited. Why not?

Certain courses have seats reserved for a specific type of student — usually students in a specific program, department, or faculty. If one of these "reserved seats" becomes available, only students on the waitlist who meet the reserved seat criteria are eligible for the spot. For this reason, it may appear as though the system "skipped" your turn. However, the waitlist system is simply adhering to these reserved seat rules. Although you may be first in line in the waitlist, you will only be invited to register for seats for which you are eligible.

A spot has opened up and I've been invited to register. How do I register for the course?

From the Minerva Registration Menu, select Quick Add or Drop Course Sections. The courses for which you are registered/waitlisted will both display on the screen. Select the "Register(ed) from Waitlist" Action for the section for which you’ve been invited to register and click Submit.

How do I remove myself from a waitlist?

In Minerva, go to Quick Add or Drop Course Sections, select the "Web Drop" Action for the waitlisted section, and click Submit Changes. You will be removed from that section’s waitlist, and it will disappear from your list.

I have been invited to register, but "Register(ed) from Waitlist" doesn't appear in the dropdown list for the course.

We have received reports of fraudulent email phishing attempts disguised as waitlist notification emails in the past — please do not click any links in the "invitation to register" email until you've confirmed its authenticity. You can verify the authenticity of your McGill waitlist email notification by confirming in Minerva that you are in position 0 (zero) in the waitlist for that course, and the date/time indicated in the "Notification Expires" column is within 24 hours (this can be verified Minerva > Student > Registration > Step 4: View Student Schedule by Course Section). If the “Notification Expires” value matches the date and time indicated in your notification email, the notification is authentic and you have indeed been invited to register for the section.

  • If your invitation to register email is authentic, you are within your allotted time frame to register, and the "Register(ed) from Waitlist" selection doesn't appear in the "Action" dropdown list, this is a known bug that occurs occasionally. First, take note of the CRN of the course in question. Then, remove yourself from the waitlist. Finally, immediately go to Quick Add or Drop Course Sections in Minerva, enter the CRN, and click Submit to register. The waitlist process should have issued a permit to your record (valid 24 hours) for the course in question.
  • If you conclude that the "invitation to register" email notification is not authentic, do not click any links therein. Refer to the IT phishing information page for details about how to deal with it.

There is room on the waitlist for a Summer term course, but it won't let me join.

Waitlists don’t work on certain types of courses (multi-term/spanned courses, courses with linked lecture/lab/tutorial, Summer term courses). Staff sometimes mistakenly add a waitlist on incompatible courses, and it will appear as though there is a waitlist on the course section and it is empty. However, students won't be able to join it.

If you see a waitlist on a summer course, it is an error — you can inform the academic unit, but unfortunately you will not be able to register in the summer CRN via a waitlist.

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