What's on this page?

Who is this for?

Teaching staff, Curriculum Coordinators - for setting up courses for sectioning

When to section

The Sectioning Tool cannot be used to move students among sections after the add/drop deadline (Fifth Monday Deadline). Please make any necessary section changes before this date. 

There is no pre-enrollment sectioning; students cannot be sectioned prior to being enrolled in course. Sectioning uses real enrollments, so students need to be fully enrolled in order for you to be able to section a course.  

Important Sectioning Dates

Fall 2021 

  • Sectioning Tool opens in my.harvard on August 16, 2021  
  • Sectioning Tool closes on October 5, 2021

Spring 2022

  • Sectioning Tool opens in my.harvard on January 10, 2022
  • Sectioning Tool closes on February 22, 2022

Getting started

Use the my.harvard Sectioning Tool to create or edit sections for courses with discussions or labs. You can also use the tool to move student into classes with multiple enrollment sections, like language courses. 

As you are getting started with sectioning, you should review the following documents:

We also offer instructional videos that highlight key features of the Sectioning Tool:


  • Students must be fully enrolled for you to add them to sections.
  • All sections must start at designated start times.
  • Many courses section at the same time which may impact students’ time availabilities. If a student was available at a certain time but later has a time conflict, it is probably because they provided that time availability for multiple courses and they’ve now been enrolled in a section for a different course at that time.  
  • Never edit the placeholder discussion section (typically called DIS or LAB). This causes substantial enrollment problems and will prevent students from enrolling in your course. Do not delete or add a meeting pattern to the placeholder discussion section, even after the course registration deadline. 
  • Only hit the Submit button once. Every time adds a new job to processing queue. 

Using models

We recommend prioritizing students who submitted preferences first. After you have finished sectioning, you can then move students who did not submit preferences.

Models that consider preferences

Consider student preferences: Only moves students who submitted preferences. You can move students who did not submit preferences manually or run another model that does not consider preferences.

Models that do not consider preferences 

Sequential: Builds groups one section/student at a time depending on preferences.

Example: The sequential model will place a student into section 1, another student into section 2, and another student into section 3, repeating this pattern until all students are sectioned (1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3). 

Even Class Distribution: Fills sections completely before moving on to the next section.

Example: Fill section 1, fill section 2, fill section 3.

How to troubleshoot error messages

Common error messages

Error Message Issue Solution
User does not have access to the drop transaction. The transaction was not processed. The Sectioning Tool cannot be used to make swaps after the add/drop deadline. Submit a ticket to and the Registrar’s Office will make the change on your behalf.  
A scheduling conflict exists with a currently enrolled course. Select another class, or override the time conflict. The student has a time conflict with the move-to section and cannot be moved. They can resolve the issue by selecting an alternative section time.   Ask the student to select an alternative section time. 
You cannot swap from and to the same course when the swap course would receive a penalty. The student may be cross-registered and their career may have different add/drop deadlines or grading bases than FAS.  Submit a ticket to and the Registrar’s Office will make the change on your behalf. 
Not enrolled in the ‘From’ class. Swap not processed. The primary component in the class associations and schedule of classes do not match.  Submit a ticket to and the Registrar’s Office can correct the issue. 
Swap not processed. Hold on record. The student may have an advising hold or another service indicator. Speak to the student and ask them to resolve the hold on their record. 
The value entered in the field does not match one of the allowable values. The TF has not been assigned to the course instructional staff or their permissions need to be edited. Submit a ticket to and the Registrar’s Office can correct the issue. 


Tips and Tricks

Consider different approaches to locking students

Lock model functionality works similarly to a status, so there will only be one locked model. Anytime you lock students, they will appear on one locked model. Consider two different approaches to locking students: Locking or Submit as you go.

  • Locking: Run a model and lock the successfully sectioned students. Locking the students does not submit their enrollment; it simply holds them in place until the model is submitted. Run another model and again lock the new students that were sectioned successfully. Repeat until you’re left with a manageable number of students who haven’t been sectioned. Then submit the locked model and section the remaining students manually. OR, 
  • Submit as you go: Run a model and submit for the students that were sectioned successfully. Then run another model and submit for the students that were sectioned successfully this time. Repeat until you’re left with a manageable number of students who haven’t been sectioned and place those students manually. This approach submits enrollment changes as you go along as opposed to locking them. 

Determine how many sections you need for each meeting time

  • Instead of creating multiple identical sections for students to rank, create one large section for that time to see how many people are interested.
  • Once you know how many people are interested in that section, create the additional sections for that meeting pattern (ex. M09A, M09B, M09C). 

Learn how your students rank different sections

  • Under the Reporting tab, download the Student Preferences Report. This will allow you to download everyone’s preferences without going back and forth between tabs. 
  • On the Sectioning tab, you can also select Show All Student Preferences so you can easily compare multiple student preferences.  

Information for courses with multiple primary components

A language course with multiple lecture sections is an example of a course with multiple primary components. 

  • Use the tabs to navigate to the other primary components: The Sectioning tab will display one tab for each primary component. Each tab will display only the students enrolled in that primary component section.
  • Discussion sections may not appear in the Sections list, but you can still select students and swap them among discussion sections. 

Moving students to balance enrollments

  1. Filter by the section you need to move people out of
  2. Either use the Student Preferences Report or Show All Student Preferences to find who ranked an under-enrolled section

Contact students shopping the course or current enrollees

  • Contact shoppers: Download Current Shoppers report
  • Contact enrollees: Download roster (grid icon) from Sectioning tab

Need Assistance?

Sectioning Support

Email: The FAS Registrar's Office Sectioning team
Zoom: 15-Minutes with the Sectioning team

  • for help with sectioning

Email: Academic Technologies

  • for help with Canvas

Email: The FAS Registrar's Office Classrooms team

  • for help with classrooms