Registration Policies

All students are encouraged to register on days and times specified by the Registrar and published in the Registration Handbook and Schedule of Courses. However, class or scheduled laboratory time may not be used for the purposes of registration.

Students declare their course selections via the Web- registration system or by submitting a registration form signed by their faculty adviser.

Hobart and William Smith Colleges reserve the right to cancel any course without prior notice should minimum enrollment not be reached, or staffing situations necessitate it.

Dropping and Adding Courses

During the fall and spring semesters, students may drop and add a course during the first five days of class via the web-registration system or in person with an add/drop form. No signatures are necessary to make changes during the add/drop period unless the student needs permission to enroll, does not meet pre-requisites, or is being overloaded into a class. Registrations and student class schedules are finalized at the end of the five-day drop/add period. Students are accountable for all courses for which they are enrolled from that point on, and those courses are reflected on the permanent academic transcript. If a student has attended a course in which he or she was not properly registered, no credit or grade is recorded. If a student stops attending a course but fails to drop or withdraw properly, a grade of “F” may be assigned by the instructor of the course and recorded on the permanent academic transcript.

Under certain circumstances, changes may be allowed beyond the add/drop period. Half credit courses may be added/dropped with the approval of the instructor(s). Half credit courses may be dropped until the end of the eleventh week of classes with the approval of the instructor(s). Students seeking to only add a full credit course beyond this period require the approval of their instructor for the late add. Normally any full credit course dropped beyond the add/drop period will require the student to withdrawal (voluntary or authorized- see the dean of the College) from the course. If the student receives dean’s approval to add/drop beyond the add/drop period, the student will need the approval of the instructor of both the class to be added and the class to be dropped, and the advisor in addition to the dean’s approval.

For a voluntary withdrawal students only need the permission of their dean. Authorized withdrawals go through the Committee on Standards and require input from the instructor of the course and the student's dean.

Course Load

The normal course load for Hobart and William Smith students is eight full-credit courses in an academic year, evenly distributed across the two semesters. Students in good academic standing may take three, four, or five courses in any particular semester. Enrollment for a fifth course must occur during the drop-add period (first week of classes) and processed in person using the registration/drop/add form, not through PeopleSoft Student Self Service.  Students should be aware that 32 total credits are required for graduation, and therefore an average course load of less than four courses in any semester may lengthen the time required to complete the degree requirements and to graduate. Students who have fallen behind in credits must submit to their dean an academic recovery plan that they have created in consultation with, and approval by, their academic adviser. Good academic standing will be defined as maintenance of a minimum GPA of 2.0 (C), while accruing 7 courses passed in the First Year, 15 by the end of the Sophomore Year, 23 by the end of the Junior Year, and 32 by the end of the Senior Year. Course withdrawals carry no penalty but do not diminish the minimum requirements for the degree. Tuition remains the same if a student takes three, four, or five full credit courses in a semester.  Additional tuition will be charged for more than five full credit courses.


Students may be deregistered from a course prior to the first day of classes if they have already received credit for the course through advanced placement or transfer credit from another institution. Students may also be deregistered from courses prior to the first day of classes if they have not met the required financial obligations to the Colleges at that time, or made arrangements with the Bursar to do so. In the event of deregistration, re-registration is on a space available basis, and students may not be able to re-enter the courses for which they were previously enrolled. Deregistered students who have been cleared by the Bursar may attempt to reregister into their original class schedule before the first day of classes. Students are urged, therefore, to resolve all financial responsibilities within the established deadline. Finally, students may be deregistered from a course if they do not have the required prerequisites for course entry.

Attendance on the First Class Day

A student may be dropped out of class by the instructor of a course for non-attendance on the first day unless the student has made prior arrangements with the Dean or in extraordinary circumstances beyond the control of the student. Students who register for a course and fail to attend for the remainder of the semester (without properly dropping the course) may be issued a grade of 'F' (FAILURE) for non-attendance.

Course Withdrawals

There are two kinds of course withdrawals. The voluntary course withdrawal (see “a” below) is available to students twice in their career. The first course withdrawal may be used during the first two years and the second during the second two years, and at the discretion of the student. The authorized course withdrawal (see “b” below) is available to students only under exceptional circumstances beyond their control.

a.)  Voluntary Course Withdrawal.  Before the end of the 11th week of a semester, a student may submit a voluntary course withdrawal from one course during his or her first two years, and another course during his or her second two years. The Voluntary Course Withdrawal Form must be filed (including all required signatures) by the student at the dean’s office by noon on Friday of the 11th week of the semester. If the voluntary withdrawal is in order, it is communicated immediately to the student’s adviser and instructor.   Students may not use a voluntary withdrawal if they stand accused of a violation of the principle of academic integrity or if they have been found responsible for such a violation. A course withdrawal from the Maymester or Summer Session will not count as a voluntary withdrawal or towards the total number of voluntary withdrawals.

b.)  Authorized Course Withdrawal.  With the exception of the two voluntary withdrawals described above, withdrawal from any course after the first five days of class, and prior to the due date for the semester’s grades, is granted only for serious and compelling reasons beyond the student’s control. A student seeking to withdraw under such circumstances must petition the Committee on Standards (COS).  COS makes its decision based on input from the student (rationale), input from the course instructor, and documentation of any extenuating circumstances, as appropriate, e.g., input from a health care provider.  Approved withdrawals are communicated immediately to the student’s adviser and instructor.

Course withdrawals under this policy, either voluntary or authorized, carry no penalty, do not diminish the minimum requirements for the degree, and do not reduce tuition charged for that semester.

We do not offer an unauthorized withdrawal.  Students remain enrolled in and will receive a grade for any class which appears in their registration.
Students who register for a course and fail to attend for the remainder of the semester (without properly dropping or withdrawing from the course) may be issued a grade of ‘F’ for non-attendance.

Repeatable Courses

Courses may be designated “repeatable” if they are fundamentally creative and/or experiential in nature, such that student performance is cumulative or held to a progressively higher standard of expectation across successive registrations and/or the content of student experience is substantially different with each offering of the course. Repeatable courses are identified as such in this Catalogue, subject to any published limit which may be established by the sponsoring department. Additionally, students may elect to take an Independent Study (450) without limit.  Each registration of such courses carries full credit and is calculated independently in a student’s grade point average.

Special Topic Courses

Courses designated as “Special Topics” registrations may vary in content by semester or by instructor. Each unique offering is considered an independent course and ordinarily carries a title extension indicating the topic in a given term. Each carries full credit and is calculated independently in a student’s grade point average.

Course Repeat

(This does not apply to “repeatable courses”)

Students may repeat courses in which they have earned a grade below a C- (1.7). Courses with a grade of C- or better may not be repeated. The deans will not approve any exceptions. The student’s permanent transcript records each time a course is taken, including the grade. In computing the student’s GPA, the highest grade will be used. Courses repeated at other institutions and transferred to the Colleges are not included in the GPA nor are they treated as HWS course repeats. Repeated courses count only once toward the 32 courses required for graduation.

Registration into 100-Level Classes for Juniors and Seniors:

  • Juniors and Seniors can get into a 100-level course if the course is listed as a requirement on an officially declared major or minor, or on a Baccalaureate Audit form as a requirement for a goal. This applies only if there is space in the class, and only if the space is not specifically reserved for First Year Students and Sophomores.
  • 100-level language courses are open to all students, unless otherwise noted in the schedule of classes.
  • Any course for which the adviser judges there to be a compelling programmatic reason, with written permission of the adviser and course instructor.

Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.