Shopping Period

SPRING 2021:  The schedule for Course Selection has been modified to accommodate earlier registration for courses prior to arrival on Campus.  Below are key dates for Yale College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences:

  • November 30: Expanded course descriptions available in Canvas for spring 2021 courses
  • December 1-14:  Students can add courses to their Primary Worksheet on Yale Course Search to shop courses.
  • December 1-9: Students submit preferences for limited-enrollment courses
  • December 14: Students informed of admission to limited-enrollment courses
  • December 14: Online Course Selection (OCS) opens for students to begin building preliminary course schedules.
  • December 18: Deadline for students to submit a preliminary course schedule
  • January 25: Course schedule adjustment period (“add/drop”) begins and "shopper" enrollments will begin converting to "student" enrollments in Canvas
  • February 1: Classes begin
  • February 5: Final schedules due 

During the first few weeks of the Fall and Spring terms, Yale students are given the opportunity to "shop" for courses.  During this shopping period, students can attend courses and view online course materials to help them decide for which courses to officially register.

During this time, you will see participants with the role of "Shopper" added to your site.

Note:  Please contact the Registrar's Office if you have questions about the status of students' enrollment in your class. Our system reflects the data from that office.

What happens during shopping period?

  • Students shop for courses via OCS (Online Course Selection) and Yale Course Search **
  • Students' OCS worksheet lists are shared with Canvas by the Registrar's system every 2 hours.
  • Canvas provides access to course sites on a student's OCS list based on data received from the Registrar. Students will see a full list of courses they are enrolled in under the "Courses" area (via the "Courses" button found in the left side global navigation bar).
  • Until the students' registration is finalized, they will appear in Canvas sites with the role of "Shopper".
  • As students do seal/finalize their schedules, their enrollment with change from "Shopper" to "Student".

** The School of Management employs an alternate method for enrolling students in courses during the shopping period. For more information, please contact the SOM Registrar. Yale Law School students who want to “browse” courses in Canvas, need to register via 

Note: Students can also go to the Yale Course Search to search for courses and access the official course syllabus for that course. Syllabi are available only for courses that have been published by the instructor and are available in Course Search within 6 hours of the course being published.

Enrollment Caps and Canvas Rosters

For the majority of Yale academic courses, students are able to register for almost any course they want.  The registration system that students use does not enforce enrollments caps - so it does not prevent students from shopping/registering for a course even if the course is technically "full".  

In these cases, when a student registers for a course that is already full, the instructor will need to contact the student and ask them to drop the course from their schedule. Once the student drops the course - within 2 hours the student's account will be removed automatically from the course.

Reminder:   If the students officially register for/shop courses, their enrollments cannot be removed by an instructor or admin.  Even if the instructor tried to remove them, they would not see the "remove user" option for those users because their enrollments are strictly managed by integration between the registration system and Canvas.  

The only way that an officially registered student can be removed from a course is for that student to drop/un-register for it.

After approximately two weeks

  • Students create a final course selection list on OCS before their access to the system is lost.
  • Students finalize their schedules and obtain permissions to seal registration. The Registrar oversees the collection of this information.
  • Canvas receives final registration data from the Registrar (this can occur 1-2 weeks after the end of shopping period).
  • Officially registered students' role on the Canvas Roster is changed from "shopper" to "student" (or "auditor"). Students who drop a course will have their shopper enrollment removed from those dropped courses.

Finalizing the class roster after shopping period

  • Shoppers are notified that they will be deleted from course sites on a specified date unless their registration is finalized. Shoppers who have the instructor's permission may request to retain access to a course site in the guest role.
  • At the specified date, Canvas deletes all shoppers. For those who didn't register for a course, the course disappears from their course list.**
  • The class roster is finalized.


Shopper enrollments (as enrolled from the Banner-to-Canvas feed) will be automatically purged from courses after shopping period has ended - but the timing of that purge varies from semester to semester because:

  1. Shopping period closes on different dates for different schools.  Shopper enrollments cannot be purged until all schools' shopping periods have ended.
  2. Students can submit paper-based enrollment changes.  Because some students submit schedule changes via paper, shoppers will not be removed until the registrar's office confirms that all paper-registrations have been processed.  How long this takes can vary from semester to semester depending on the quantity of paper-based changes.  

Regardless - Global Announcements (visible on the dashboard page in Canvas) are posted regularly to notify both shoppers and instructors when the shopper enrollments will be purged from the system.

For more help, please contact