The College

Registering for Courses

Brown invites students to preregister for their courses and modify their course schedules during the first two weeks of each term.

Course registration is a twofold process at Brown. The preregistration period, which takes place in November and April each year, allows continuing students to plan ahead and to obtain robust advising about course selection for the next term. You will make final decisions about your courses during the first two weeks of the semester. All course registration takes place through Courses@Brown. Information about registration deadlines is available on the Registrar's website.

Auditing Courses

Auditing a course allows you the opportunity to take a course without receiving course credit. Audits appear on your official transcript, but they do not count toward academic standing or the 30-course requirement for graduation. Audits are at the discretion of course instructors, who may require you to complete all assignments for your courses. You should consult with a dean or your advisor about the desirability of auditing a course.

Vagabonding Courses

"Vagabonding" is the process of sitting in a course without officially registering either for credit or as an auditor. Like audits, vagabonding is at the discretion of the instructor. However, unlike audits, vagabonding does not appear on your official transcript or anywhere.

Changing Course Registration

You may drop and add courses using Courses @ Brown, Brown's online registration system, for the first two weeks of a semester without charge. This period is commonly referred to as “shopping period.” Courses added during the third and fourth weeks of a semester require an instructor override before registration can be submitted. A fee is automatically added to the student's Bursar account for each new course added late (section changes within the same course do not incur a fee but do require an override). You are not allowed to add a course to your schedule after the first four weeks of the term.

You may drop a course until the last day of classes, although courses dropped after the second week of classes remain on your internal academic record only (not your official transcript). If you are on Serious Warning and wish to drop a course in the last four weeks of the term, you must meet with an academic dean for an advising conversation about your reasons for dropping the course, any available resources that could aid you, and potential alternative pathways for meeting remaining degree requirements. After this advising conversation, the academic dean will provide you with a "drop code," which you can use to drop the course.

If you make changes to courses in Courses@Brown, please be sure to check your course registration — including your selected grade options — after any registration activity and especially prior to deadlines set on the academic calendar. You can check this information by viewing your transcript, which is available in both Courses@Brown and in the Advising Sidekick (ASK).

Late Course Registration

You may add and drop courses using Courses@Brown for the first two weeks of a semester without charge. Course changes made during the third and fourth weeks of a semester will require an instructor override; a fee will be automatically added to your Bursar account for each new course added late. Section changes within the same course do not incur a fee but do require an override.

If you are adding a course after the beginning of a semester you should check with the instructor to determine whether or not you will be allowed to complete assignments required before your date of enrollment.

If you are a first-year student, you should contact your academic advisor to discuss the desirability of making any changes in your initial course registration. Final responsibility for the selection of courses rests with you, but it is important that advisors be consulted in order to avoid problems resulting from inappropriate course selection.

Adding a course after the fourth week of the semester is allowed only in exceptional cases and requires a petition with the Committee on Academic Standing. Approval will be granted only if the circumstances are exceptional and there is sound educational reason for the change. If you are granted permission to enroll in a course after the fourth week of classes, you will be sent a letter, a copy of which is placed in your permanent academic file, stating that such permission will be granted only once in your career at Brown.

As with any course changes, be sure to confirm your registration — including your selected grade option — by viewing your transcript in Courses@Brown or ASK, especially prior to any deadlines set on the academic calendar.

Enrolling Courses with Overlapping Meeting Times

By Brown University Faculty Rules, Brown undergraduates may not enroll in courses with overlapping meeting times.

The Registration system prevents students from doing so to enforce this faculty rule. 

Students may petition for an exception only in narrow circumstances. Students who want to register for courses with meeting times that overlap to a limited degree may submit a petition in ASK (under "Student Petitions") starting on the first day of the semester. The last day to submit a petition is the last day to add a course without a fee.

With the approval of the course instructors involved, the Chair of the Committee on Academic Standing (or an academic dean delegated by the Chair), may approve petitions for courses that overlap by ten minutes or so. Petitions to enroll in courses with required class meetings that overlap for more than ten minutes are generally not approved, even if the course instructors have indicated their approval of the arrangement. By decision of the College Curriculum Council (CCC), students in courses that have virtual* or online components may not use those components to substitute for face-to-face instructional time for purposes of qualifying for an exception to the ten-minute overlap guidelines.

Examples of course registrations that might be approved are as follows:

  • A course that begins close to the end of a multi-hour lab that does not take the entire time to complete;
  • A course which may have a meeting time (or in which a student chooses to attend an alternative meeting time) other than its formally scheduled hour;
  • A course that begins less than 10 minutes after the earlier course ends (Banner enforces a ten-minute gap between classes).

Petition Requirements

  1. Student petitions must describe the nature of the time overlap.
  2. Students must also list the names of the course instructors ("supporters").
  3. Upon submission, both instructors and an academic dean will receive a link to the form for approval.
  4. Both instructors must approve the request in order for an academic dean to provide approval. If the instructor has emailed approval, students may upload that email into the petition.

If approved by both instructors and the academic dean, the Registrar's Office will register the student for the course, provided that the student has capacity to register for an additional course. (For example, the Registrar will be unable to process a student's registration if they are currently registered for 5 course credits.) There is nothing further a student needs to do to register for the courses. The deadline for submitting a petition is ordinarily the last to add a course without a fee.

*In the 2020-21 academic year, in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the College Curriculum Council, with approval from the Brown Faculty and Faculty Executive Committee, allowed students to waive the usual course overlap guidelines above to allow students to register for predominantly asynchronous, online courses (for example, a course with largely recorded lectures) where both instructors supported the student’s request for an exception. Courses with significant synchronous components such as live discussion sections were not eligible for this exception and the exception was approved only through the Summer 2021 academic term.