Half Courses and Permission Requirement Policy

Changes to the policy were instituted with the pre-registration period in spring 2019.  Students are required to fill out and submit the Registration Options Permission Form in order to take 3.5 courses following a previous semester of 4.5 classes but the combination of half courses has changed. You may match music lessons, theater and dance courses, as well as some science labs as described below.  The policy remains that two half course language sections can be "matched" as long as they are the same language. If you have questions please email registrar@amherst.edu.

Additionally, because more departments have agreed to match disparate half courses, students may take 3 full courses and two half courses with permission of their class dean and advisor using the permission form noted above.  The total of half courses for credit is no more than four for the student's academic career.  Students may take more than four half courses but they won't count as part of their overall course totals.  Students must finish their degree requirements with a minimum of 31 classes (with their class dean's and registrar's approval) which can be a combination of 29 or 30 full classes, and four half classes.

Beginning in the Fall 2019 semester, the Biology, Chemistry, and Physics and Astronomy departments will offer some laboratory courses for half course credit, when taken concurrently with the main lecture offering. Students should plan on registering for one and one-half courses for these lectures with lab. The Biology, and Chemistry, and Physics and  Astronomy departments will match all of the following half courses in any combination except in the first semester of a student’s first year: BIOL-181L, BIOL-191L, CHEM-151L, CHEM-155L, CHEM-161L, CHEM-165L, CHEM-221L, CHEM-231L, ENST-110, PHYS-116L, PHYS-117L, PHYS-123L, PHYS-124L and PHYS-125L as well as ASTR-200L and any half courses offered by departments that permit them to be matched with Biology, and Chemistry and Physics and Astronomy half course labs.

Students may elect one or two half courses in addition to four full courses at their discretion and without additional permission of the class dean. All students wishing to register for four full courses and two half courses should contact the Office of the Registrar with their request as, at this time, Workday will not allow students to make this change through the online program.

Update to course credit restrictions during 2020-2021: the college stated that students could take three classes as a full course load in the fall and spring semesters. Students wishing to take half courses were required to have a minimum of 12 credits for the semester. This includes the 2 credits for lab courses and music classes.

More Information on half courses can be found in the College Catalog.

Half Credits and Overloads, and Who Needs to Approve Them

Half Credits and Overloads Chart

Number of Courses1, 2, 3Requirements and Permissions
3 Full CoursesA reduced course load requires approval of accessibility services in consultation with the class dean. 
3 Full Courses and 1 Half CourseAdvisor and class dean approval. Students must have completed at least 4.5 courses in the previous semester with the half course not matched to another half course.
3 Full Courses and 2 Half Courses (this would include students taking two lab sciences) 4Advisor and class dean approval.
4 Full CoursesAdvisor approval.
4 Full Courses and 1 Half CourseAdvisor approval.
4 Full Courses and 2 Half Courses (this would include students taking two lab sciences) 5Advisor approval. Contact Registrar’s office for approval code.
4 Full Courses and 3 Half Courses (e.g. two lab courses and a music lesson)Advisor and class dean approval.
5 Full Courses or More (including additional half courses)Advisor and class dean approval.

1  Students wishing to use half courses to fulfill major requirements should consult the chair of the offering department or program for any matching requirements.

2 If a student takes a regular half course, and seeks to drop that course, that would count as exhaustion of their First-Year/Sophomore/Junior Course Withdrawal Option.

3 Students may only count four half courses towards the 32 course graduation requirement.

4 First-year students are prohibited from taking only a first-year seminar and two lab sciences (3 full and 2 half courses) in the first semester. If a student takes one regular course and two 1.5 courses (science with lab), they cannot use the First-Year/Sophomore/Junior Course Withdrawal Option to drop one of the lab science courses, as they will drop below the minimum credits required to be counted as a full-time student.

Please note, our system cannot differentiate this schedule from a five-course load. The registrar will place a permission on the students record, upon request, without additional permission from the class dean.