Shopping and Course Registration – Fall 2020

Site Last Updated: 10 August 2020

Key Facts and Dates    Why Early Shopping   Early Shopping Advising   Provide Feedback

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Early Shopping: Key Facts and Dates

Shopping Week will take place before classes start, from August 17–21, 2020. You’ll be able to meet with your advisers before Early Shopping begins to plan for the semester. During Early Shopping, you can enroll in open courses, validate your Crimson Cart, and submit petitions to enroll in courses with a lottery or application process. Lotteries will be run and instructors will begin approving petitions once Early Shopping concludes. If your petition is approved, you must finalize the enrollment process and register for capped courses.

After you’ve enrolled in your initial set of classes, you’ll still be able to make changes to your schedule through the regular add/drop process. So while your schedule won’t be set in stone at the Enrollment Deadline, it is still an important date because enrollments at the deadline will be used to determine how many sections larger courses have.

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Attend Early Shopping Events

Don't miss events planned exclusively for early shopping! Visit the Harvard College Calendar for details.

August 10, 2020

  • First Year Students receive information about placement tests for Expos, language, and mathematics.
  • Canvas sites will go live with key information.
  • Students can begin to meet with their advisers.
  • Juniors and Seniors can have their advising holds lifted.
  • Student may begin adding courses to their Crimson Cart, validating courses, and submitting petitions to enroll in capped courses.

August 17, 2020

  • Shopping Week begins. Instructors will have added any additional information about shopping materials to their Canvas sites, such as videos and schedules with links for live online sessions.
  • First Year Students and Sophomores can have their advising holds lifted.
  • FAS course registration opens to allow enrolling in courses.

August 21, 2020

  • Shopping Week ends. This is the deadline for students to enter lotteries or any other mechanisms for capped courses, such as applications or interviews. Details will be available on each course’s Canvas site.

August 26, 2020

  • Enrollment deadline.
  • Course Instructional Staff run lotteries and approve petitions between August 22 – 26. If your petition is approved, you must finalize the enrollment process and register for capped courses by August 26.

August 27, 2020

  • Add/Drop Period begins. Adding a course requires permission of the instructor. 
  • Students may drop courses freely during add/drop.

Why Early Shopping for Fall 2020?

Shopping Week gives students the chance to learn as much as possible about courses they’re considering, and to let students explore courses they might never have considered otherwise.

This Fall, Shopping Week will continue to play these crucial roles. But we had to adapt it to our current circumstances. It will be completely online, and it will take place before the start of the semester. Shopping Week will take place online because many students will not be able to be in Cambridge.


Shopping Week will take place before classes start for several reasons:

  • Early Shopping lets instructors conduct lotteries, and lets students adjust their schedules, without having to worry about coursework at the same time.  
  • Early Shopping gives students enough time to get the course materials they need, regardless of whether they’re in Cambridge or elsewhere.
  • Early Shopping gives instructors enough time to schedule class meetings that can accommodate students from many different time zones and help students avoid as many conflicts between course meetings as possible.

The College moved Shopping Week earlier in response to the current pandemic. We did not do so lightly. And while we know that some of you may not actively benefit from these changes, we ask that you have empathy for your peers for whom this change is crucial. This year’s process will also allow the teaching staffs of courses to provide much better educational offerings by having the lead time Early Shopping provides.

How to use your Crimson Cart to view Course Materials in Canvas

You are encouraged to add courses to your Crimson Cart to better plan your schedule and course enrollment. However, it is not necessary to add courses to your cart during Early Shopping. Here's how to gain access to the items you're looking for:

     Course syllabus/basic information: View in Canvas without adding.

cart icon  To view course videos and other course materials in Canvas, add to Crimson Cart.


Early Shopping: Advising

Juniors and Seniors who already have advisers are encouraged to schedule an advising meeting early. Advisers can lift advising holds for Juniors and Seniors beginning on August 10, 2020.

First-Year Students and Sophomores will be assigned advisers in early August before the beginning of Shopping Week so that they can meet their new advisers and devise strategies to get the most out of the Fall.

More information for First-Year Students:

Early Shopping: Feedback

Early Shopping for Fall 2020 is a response to an unprecedented situation. We do not know what the future, especially the Spring of 2021 will hold. The College, through the Committee on Course Registration, is actively thinking about how to make Shopping and Course Registration as successful as possible. To send them your thoughts about this Fall’s Early Shopping, please use this form.