Advising and Registration

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What if I am having trouble connecting with my academic advisor, or my advisor is away on sabbatical or a term abroad?

    Visit the chair of the academic department that your academic advisor belongs to, during office hours; s/he can help you and remove your hold.

  • What courses should I take?

    The answer will depend on a number of factors, and, to make good decisions, you should consider the following steps:

    • Think about what courses interest you, excite you, or even scare you! Explore all that is on offer, and don't be afraid to move out of your comfort zone.

    • Talk to your academic advisor.

    • Study the General Education requirements, noting which ones you’ve fulfilled, and which ones you still must fulfill.

      • Tip: In Student Planning, click on "Progress" to see an audit of your General Education requirements.

    • If you’ve declared a major, study your major requirements.

      • Tip: In Student Planning, click on "Progress" to see an audit of your progress in your declared major(s).

    • If you have graduate study in mind, seek advice regarding what course selections will best prepare you.

      • For Law School, click here to get started..

      • For Health Professions, click here to get started.

      • For discipline-specific graduate programs, the best resources for information and advice generally will be faculty members in your major department.

      • If you are thinking ahead to job searches and professional opportunities, get connected with the Becker Career Center.

  • How can I learn more about a course and any prerequisites that it may carry?

    Go to the Academic Catalog. In the upper right-hand corner, in the box that looks like the one below, type the course prefix and number to access the description. This description will indicate any prerequisites.

    (Screenshot of Catalog Search Box)

  • What are Pre-Approval Courses? How do I get Pre-Approved for a course?

    For more information on the Pre-Approval process, click here. If you would like to register for one of the courses listed here, you will need to be pre-approved for registration. Make sure to fill out the appropriate Pre-Approval survey by the posted deadline each term.

  • What if a course I want to take fills up before my registration appointment time?

    You should always have 3-4 “back up” courses in mind when you log in to Student Planning to register for courses.

    If a course is full when you log in, keep checking back regularly -- course registrations are fairly fluid during the main registration period and in the days that follow. If a spot opens up, you can go ahead and sign up (assuming you have the necessary prerequisites and any limits on the number of students from your class year that may exist, haven’t been met).

    You can also send a (polite!) email to the course instructor, inquiring as to whether or not s/he is keeping a wait list, or would be willing to allow you to register for the course despite the fact that it is full. In this case, the professor will have to give you written permission for you to submit to the registrar’s office.

  • What should I major in?

    Click here for an overview of all majors (and minors) offered at Union, with links to departmental web pages.

    Click here to link to the Catalog entries for all majors (and minors).

    As you study these key sources of information, what grabs you? What courses look most compelling to you? What subject are you most excited to pursue?

  • What about study abroad?

    Incorporating study abroad can be a vital part of your learning experience at Union. These opportunities can be found on the International Programs website. Union offers a wide variety of full and “mini” terms abroad. It is never too early to start thinking about what study abroad programs you might wish to apply to. As you begin exploring, keep in mind the following guidance:

    1. Students should begin researching programs early (the first year is not too early).
    2. Many programs have prerequisites (including language prerequisites) that require advance planning.
    3. Acceptance to terms abroad can be quite competitive; acceptance is not guaranteed.
    4. Overall, approximately 60% of Union students participate either on a full term or a mini-term abroad.
    5. It can take several application cycles to secure a spot on a term abroad. This is a reason both to begin thinking about study abroad early and to be flexible about what term and year you might participate in a program.

    Click here to be directed to information about the different programs offered.

    Here is a link to important policies regarding international programs eligibility, participation, coursework, etc.

    Here is a link to helpful FAQs on how to apply for international programs.

  • How can I tell if I’m on track?

    The easiest way to do this is to log into Student Planning and, under Advising, click on "Progress." This feature will show you your progress in the Common Curriculum or Complex Questions Curriculum as well as in any declared majors and minors. Follow up with your academic advisor with any questions or concerns.

    Sophomores - Seniors: Make an appointment with the Registrar’s office at for a Senior Audit.

  • How do I sign up for a fourth course?

    Review the fourth course guidelines posted on the Registrar’s website.

    Fill out a fourth course form (unless you are in an exempt category) and follow the instructions on the form carefully.

  • How do fourth courses work for engineers?

    • During their time at Union, Engineering majors are allowed to register for four fourth courses at no charge, normally one fourth course per academic year.

    • Engineering majors with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.30 also are allowed to enroll in one (additional) fourth course in each academic year at no charge.

    First-Year and Sophomore Engineering Majors

    First-years and sophomores do not have to fill out a fourth course form during the registration process, unless their cumulative GPA is less than 2.50, in which case they must fill out the fourth course form and seek the required permissions from their advisor and the Dean of Studies.

    • First years and sophomores with a GPA at or above 2.50 will be able to directly register for a fourth course as long as they have the requisite Waitlist status for any petition courses, meet all course eligibility requirements, and, there is room in the course.

    • For circumstances in which instructor permission is required (e.g., the course is full, the instructor needs to waive a pre- or co-requisite, etc.), students do not need to fill out a fourth course form, but will need to obtain instructor email permission and send it to in order to register. If a student receives an error message during registration, it likely will be because instructor permission is required. Questions should be directed to should this occur.

    Junior and Senior Engineering Majors

    Juniors and seniors must fill out fourth course forms in each term that they take a fourth course in.

  • What is a practicum and how do I sign up for one?

    Practicum courses are offered in a variety of applied areas (dance, research, musical instruments, etc.). They are graded on a pass-fail basis, and do not count as one of a student’s three regular course registrations for the term. Typically, after three terms of the same practicum experience, a student can earn one course credit. A student can use two such credits toward the 36 course credits required for graduation (40 for engineers). For more detail on practicum policy, click here.

    Click here to explore music and dance practica. Click here to explore science, computer science and engineering practica. You can find information on registration at these links as well.

  • How do I declare or change my major or minor?

    Complete the declaration/change of major/minor form online. Don’t forget to secure all the signatures needed.

  • How do I declare a course pass-fail?

    Familiarize yourself with Union’s pass-fail rules.

    On the registrar's forms and guidelines page, fill out a pass-fail form.

    Note that you must declare a course pass-fail by the pass-fail declaration deadline, which is generally the last day of the third week of the term. You can always find the exact deadline date on the Important Dates page.

    It is a good idea to talk with your academic advisor before declaring a course pass-fail.

  • How/can I withdraw from a course?

    During the first week of the term, you can withdraw from a course via Student Planning. It will not appear on your permanent record. You must add a new course in its place in order to stay on track toward graduation. All students are required to carry three full-credit courses each trimester.

    During the second week of the term, you can withdraw from a course, and it will not appear on your permanent record, but, you must do so in person at the Registrar’s Office. You must add a new course in its place and carry a full load of three courses. Adding a course during the second week of the term will require written permission from the instructor.

    After the end of the second week of the term, you can withdraw from a course -- but it will remain on your permanent record. If you withdraw after the 2nd week of the term, but before the end of the 8th week of the term, a “W” will appear next to the course.

    • To withdraw from a course you will need to complete the withdrawal form. At a minimum, you will need your academic advisor’s permission, so don’t leave this to the last minute. You may need additional permissions as well.

    • If you withdraw from a course after the end of the 8th week of the term, an “F” will appear on your transcript. It is very important, therefore, to be aware of the end-of-8th-week withdraw deadline.

    • Please note that if you withdraw from a course after Week 2 of the term, you cannot add a new course in its place. You will be behind one credit and will need to make it up in order to graduate on time. There are a number of options for catching up. Click here for detailed information.

    All withdrawal deadlines are listed on the Important Dates page.

  • I’m behind a course … How can I catch up?

    There are a number of options for catching up. Click here for detailed information.

  • Can I change my academic advisor?

    Yes. If you have yet to declare a major, are not ready to declare a major, and wish to request a change in your academic advisor, contact the Dean of Studies.

    If you arrived at Union undeclared, when you declare your major, you will be assigned a new academic advisor from within your major department.

    After you have declared your major, you may use this form to change your advisor (within the major).

  • What if I’m struggling academically?

    There are a variety of resources to support you in finding a productive way forward.

    Regular communication with your faculty members is important. Go to class without fail. Talk with your professors during office hours. Ask for advice about how best to approach the course material.

    Could your time management and/or study skills use some upgrading? Request academic coaching through the Office of Student Success. To request coaching, please visit this link:

    For help with writing, be sure to utilize the resources on offer at the Writing Center.

    If you think you may be in the wrong program, and should consider a change of major, consider scheduling an appointment with your Class Dean to talk this issue through.

  • Can I apply Advanced Placement (AP) and/or International Baccalaureate (IB) credits toward graduation?

    Students can apply up to six pre-matriculation credits to their Union record. These can be from AP or IB exams, or, from college courses taken before arrival at Union. You will have to have official AP or IB scores reported to Union in order for the registrar’s office to enter them onto your record. Contact the registrar's office with questions.

    You can view a table of AP test scores, credits, and course equivalents here.

    Contact the registrar’s office regarding IB course credits.

  • Can I graduate early?

    Students that accumulate three or more "extra' credits from pre-matriculation credits, fourth courses, practicum credits, Union summer courses, or Union mini-terms may graduate one term early or be unenrolled from Union for a term during the junior or senior year, provided that these credits are not needed compensate for course withdrawals or course failures. Students cannot utilize transfer course credit earned at other colleges or universities after matriculation at Union College to graduate early.

    Union Scholars and Seward Interdisciplinary Fellows can accelerate graduation by one or more terms provided that they are in good standing and have completed their respective program requirements.

  • What if I would like advising about career paths?
    • If you are thinking ahead to job searches and professional opportunities, get connected with the Becker Career Center.

    • For Law School, click here to get started.

    • For Health Professions, click here to get started.

    • For discipline-specific graduate programs, the best resources for information and advice generally will be faculty members in your major department.

  • What’s a class dean?

    Each class year has a Class Dean assigned to it as an extra level of support and advice above and beyond students’ academic advisors. Academic advisors’ primary responsibility is to guide students toward course selections that lead to completion of the major and the Common Curriculum requirements. If and when students encounter unexpected or complex challenges with regard to academics, health, residential and social life, etc., the Class Dean is available as a listening ear and mentor.