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Harvard FAS Releases Schedule for Previous-Term Course Registration

The Faculty of Arts and Science Registrar's office is located inside the Smith Campus Center.
The Faculty of Arts and Science Registrar's office is located inside the Smith Campus Center. By Addison Y. Liu
By Ariel H. Kim and Meimei Xu, Crimson Staff Writers

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences set a timeline for the school’s full transition to previous-term course registration for the spring 2024 semester, FAS Registrar Erika McDonald announced in a Tuesday email to students.

Students will register for spring 2024 courses from Nov. 1 to 15, 2023, and all returning students will register for fall 2024 courses from April 3 to 17, 2024, according to McDonald's email. Incoming students will register for fall 2024 courses from Aug. 26 to 28, 2024.

McDonald’s announcement marks the next step in the FAS’s implementation of previous-term registration. The school announced it would implement previous-term registration after more than 60 percent of faculty voted in May 2022 to pass a proposal ending shopping week, a decades-old scheduling quirk that allowed students to sample classes for one week prior to enrollment.

A FAS committee on course registration, formed in 2019, recommended the previous-term registration system in December 2021, a move which garnered backlash from some students, faculty, and alumni.

“Prior term registration will provide Harvard College and GSAS students with an earlier period to register for courses, more flexibility to adjust class schedules, and the ability to set their class schedules ahead of time and therefore be more thoughtful in their planning,” McDonald wrote in Tuesday’s email announcement.

The new timeline will not affect spring 2023 or fall 2023 course registration, which will run from Jan. 11 to 19, 2023 and Aug. 21 to 31, 2023, respectively.

Under previous-term course registration, class meeting times, course descriptions, and any class notes must be finalized two weeks prior to registration period. Course syllabi and Canvas sites must be available to students on the first day of course registration.

Following the May faculty vote, the FAS formed a committee of faculty, students, and administrators in charge of implementing the new system.

Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education, Academic Programs, and Policy Gillian B. Pierce ’88, one of the co-chairs of the committee, wrote in an email that the implementation body will now hone tools related to course registration.

“The next step for the committee will be to focus on developing course discovery tools for students, such as the common course template mentioned in the report of the course registration committee and the legislation,” she wrote. “We also continue to work on the necessary technology upgrades to support previous term registration.”

—Staff writer Ariel H. Kim can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ArielH_Kim.

—Staff writer Meimei Xu can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MeimeiXu7.

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