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In order to register for classes students must first accept their offer of admission by the university. Registration and the payment of assessed fees are required of all who attend classes. Enrollment is not complete until fees are paid, including room and board fees for those living in residence halls.

Registration is a process by which students become officially enrolled in classes for a given term. The process involves consultation between the student and the student's academic advisor. All undergraduate students are assigned an academic advisor based on their program of study. A new advisor assignment is made when a student changes their program of study.

Students with disabilities who need assistance with any phase of registration should contact Student Accessibility Services.

Validating Enrollment

To validate their enrollment in each course at the beginning of the semester, students must attend the first or second meeting (first meeting if the class meets only once a week). Students who add a course after the term begins must attend the next class meeting. The instructor has the option to offer a registered place in the course to another student when a registered student fails to attend and has not obtained prior approval of the instructor. Students who do not validate their enrollment must drop or withdraw from the course or they will receive an F grade.

Enrollment Status

Enrollment status is defined for certification purposes as either full-time, three-quarter, half-time, or less than half-time.

Full-time status, fall or spring semester

Undergraduates: 12 credits
Graduates: 9 credits
Professional: 12 credits

Three-quarter status, fall or spring semester

Undergraduates: 9 credits
Graduates: 7 credits
Professional: 9 credits

Half-time status, fall or spring semester

Undergraduates: 6 credits
Graduates: 5 credits
Professional: 6 credits

Full-time status, summer semester

Undergraduates: Summer status depends on the number of weeks a student is enrolled.
Graduates: Summer status depends on the number of weeks a student is enrolled.
Professional: 8 credits

Always contact the Office of the Registrar to verify a student's status for a summer session. Additional enrollment status information is available on the Office of the Registrar webpage.

Registration Responsibilities

The registration process includes advising, enrollment in courses, and schedule changes. In addition to the student, this process may involve the student's advisor; the student services staff of the student's college; and the dean of the college. Each is responsible for knowing and following the academic policies and procedures.


  • Knowing and adhering to university policies and procedures that apply to registration and schedule changes.
  • Checking the accuracy of his/her current classes in Workday, including schedule adjustments (i.e., adds, drops, withdrawals, section changes).
  • Knowing the degree requirements of his or her program of study.
  • Planning course schedules to meet those requirements; and monitoring the accuracy of the academic progress report.


  • Consulting with advisees during the advising/registration period
  • Providing information about student’s program of study requirements
  • Providing guidance in the student’s course selection
  • Assisting in monitoring the academic progress report for accuracy
  • Notifying the college student services office with corrections to the academic progress report.

College Student Services Staff

  • Assisting new and reentering students with the registration process
  • Resolving unusual scheduling problems
  • Updating the academic progress report or solving problems concerning the academic progress report.


  • Making decisions with respect to requests for deviations from university policies, deadlines, etc.

Students and staff should check with the college office to find out who is authorized to grant approvals or exceptions on behalf of the dean.

Using AccessPlus Registration (Summer semester only)

Students enter the system via AccessPlus by using university ID and password. A registration access number (RAN) is also needed, if required by their college.

The registration system provides messages after each entry indicating whether each request has been processed. Students may review their current schedules at any time during registration. Students are held accountable for all changes made to their schedules.

Using Workday Student (beginning Fall 2024 semester)

Students enter the registration system via Workday.  All eligible students will be assigned a registration appointment, which is the first date and time a student may register for the applicable term.

Students may review their current schedules at any time during registration. Students are held accountable for all changes made to their schedules.

Course Waitlist

A course waitlist is an electronic list of students who are waiting to register for class/section that is at capacity. Students may add themselves to a course/section waitlist while registering for courses for the upcoming academic period.

  • Students are added to a course/section waitlist on a first come, first served basis provided they are eligible to take the course.
  • If a seat becomes available in the course/section, the first student on the waitlist will be notified. The open seat will be available to that student for a 24-hour period, which includes weekends and holidays, should the student wish to register. An additional notification will be sent to the student six hours prior to the end of the 24-hour period if the student has not already taken action. After the 24-hour period, if the seat remains open, the next student on the waitlist will be notified. The previous student will be moved to the bottom of the waitlist, provided they have not removed themselves from the waitlist.
  • A student can accept or decline the seat within the student information system. For official enrollment to take place via the waitlist, the notified student must first accept the seat, review their adjusted schedule, and then accept the offer. It is at the point of accepting the offer, the student is officially enrolled in the course.
  • Students can place themselves on the waitlist for one or more desired sections of a course while being enrolled in a different section of the course. If they accept a seat in their desired section, they will automatically be withdrawn from their initially enrolled section. 
  • Students no longer interested in being added to the course after being placed on the waitlist should remove themselves from the waitlist to optimize the effectiveness of the waitlist system.

Nearly all courses/sections will have a course waitlist, with the exception of those courses that require approval at all times (e.g., 5990, 6990, etc.).

The opportunity for a student to join a waitlist, and accept or decline a seat, is available through Period 1 for the course. For full semester courses, Period 1 ends on the fifth business day of fall and spring semester. 

Registration System Abuse

Using the registration system is a privilege, which may be revoked if abuse is detected. Abuse includes, but is not limited to, creating and using an automated program to search for course openings and/or enrolling in a section with the intent of reserving space in that particular section for another student. The Office of the Registrar, college office, and/or advisors have the right to determine abuse and revoke privileges for any type of registration system abuse.

Registration Process

To register for classes, students need the following:

  • A registration appointment.
  • Course section information.
  • Other departmental information applicable to their curriculum, available from their advisor.

Students are expected to do the following in the advising and registration process:

1. Meet with their advisor in advance of their registration start date, who will provide the following:

a. Academic Progress Report
b. Guidance in course selection

2. Choose specific sections of each course. Students are responsible for choosing their course sections. In most cases advisors will not be involved in selecting meeting times.

3. Review their registration start date/time information and any registration holds. 

4. Register for courses.

Schedule Changes

Summer 2024 semester:  Students may make most schedule changes through the first five days of class using the AccessPlus registration system.  For courses with permission requirements and/or after the first week of classes, a Schedule Change form will be needed. The Schedule Change form can be found in AccessPlus, under the Student tab, within Registrar Forms located in the menu on the left column.

Beginning Fall 2024:  Students will register and make schedule changes using Workday.  Course adds will be completed using the task 'Find or Register for ISU Course Sections'.  Up through the fifth day of the semester, students may drop or swap courses/sections directly from their Current Classes.  Students may also modify credits or request grading basis changes utilizing Edit Registration options. For courses with restrictions, prerequisites, permission requirements and/or after the first week of classes, students may request registration approvals through available Workday tasks.

Procedures for schedule changes vary by the time period of the semester. The effective date of a schedule change is the date when the change is entered into the registration system.

Schedule change periods for full term courses are as follows:

Period 1 ends on the fifth day of classes in the fall and spring semesters. Schedule changes during period 1 do not require advisor approval. Instructor or departmental approval may be required for adds or section changes for some courses during period 1. Course drops during this period will not appear on a student's permanent academic record. 

Period 2 ends the Friday of week 10 in the fall and spring semesters. It is important for students to make well-informed decisions when adjusting their course schedules, particularly because such decisions often have financial and/or academic implications. To best support students' decision-making process, period 2 schedule changes should be made in collaboration with their advisor and instructor as appropriate and necessary.

For students who wish to add or change sections of a course, or adjust course credit hours, the approvals grant permission for a student to make the requested change.

The decision to drop a course rest with the student; as such, the advisor's signature is not one of permission, but rather to indicate a conversation about the implications of dropping has occurred. Course drops after period 1 appear on the permanent academic record. A section change does not require a drop.

Drops and other schedule changes that are judged to be beyond the student's control may be processed as administrative actions if approved by the college dean. Administrative drops do not appear on the permanent academic record. The effective date of an administrative action is the date it is approved by the college dean or authorized representative.

Period 3 is any time after period 2. Schedule changes during this period are permitted only for extenuating circumstances, may require a written statement of support from the instructor and the advisor, and must be approved by the dean of the student's college or authorized representative.

Half-Semester and Partial Term Courses

Specific deadlines for adding and dropping half-semester courses are published in the university calendar. Prorated adjustments to add and drop deadlines are made for other partial term courses. To find out specific deadlines for partial term courses, contact the Registrar's Registration Office at or 515-294-2331.

R-Credit Courses (required courses)

Processing a scheduling change for a required course is usually considered administrative. Administrative drops do not appear on the permanent academic record. To make a Period 3 R-credit drop administrative requires approval of the college dean.

Dates and Deadlines

Dates for registration are published in the university calendar (choose the Academic calendar link), and at

Students are assigned a registration appointment, which is the first date and time they can use the registration system. Registration start dates are assigned based on projected year in school classification (computed by combining total credits, current term credits, and current term test out credits). Then specific start dates within projected year in school are established by using the sum of total credits and current term test out credits.

Students may choose to delay their registration until a later date; however, courses will begin to fill on the first day of registration. Any delay in registration may reduce course selection options. A list of start dates by classification is available at

Continuing students register for the following term during the middle of the current term. For example, registration for spring term begins the middle of fall term; registration for summer session is completed during the previous spring at the same time as registration for fall semester.

A late registration fee is assessed for registration initiated on or after the first day of classes for fall and spring terms. This fee is not charged for the summer term. If registration is not initiated by the end of the fifth day of classes, students must obtain permission from the instructors for the courses they plan to take, their advisor, and in some cases, approval from the dean of the college in which they are registered. 

Students may not enroll in courses with time conflicts without the approval of the instructors concerned.

Students who participate in off-campus experiences for which they receive Iowa State University credit must register for that credit during the term when the experience is taking place, whether or not they are taking courses on campus during that time.

Withdrawal of Admission to the University

New undergraduate students who wish to withdraw their admission to the university prior to the first day of classes must initiate their withdrawal by completing the Admissions Office’s Application Change Form:

Cancellation/Withdrawal - Currently Enrolled Students

Students who decide not to attend classes before the date class work begins must cancel their registration to avoid tuition and fees assessment. Students who decide not to attend classes beginning the first day of class or later must institutionally withdraw or take a Leave of Absence from the university.

Course Information

Prerequisite. A prerequisite indicates the specific academic background or general academic maturity considered necessary by the faculty for the student to be ready for maximum success in the course. For more information, see Information About Courses, Course Prerequisite.

Permission Required courses/sections. To register for these sections, students must obtain authorization.

Restricted courses/sections. Some courses or sections are restricted to students who meet specified criteria including curriculum/major, college, and/or year in school. In addition, some sections may be restricted to new students to ensure that sufficient spaces are available when new students register during summer orientation. A department may waive a restriction for a student who has extenuating circumstances. To request an override of the eligibility requirement, the student must obtain authorization from the department.

Classrooms are listed for each course in Workday, beginning approximately 3 weeks prior to the start of the term.

Cancelled courses/sections. In some cases, courses or sections may be cancelled due to low enrollment or departmental staffing considerations. Students who are registered for a cancelled course or section will be notified by the Office of the Registrar, the department, and/or on their schedule.

Textbook information. A link to textbook information, including the ISBN and retail price for assigned textbooks, is available from the ISU Bookstore. Textbook information for Iowa State University courses is posted as close to the start of registration as possible. Students may purchase textbooks from any source they choose.

Credit Limits

For fall and spring semesters, the credit limit is 18 credits for undergraduates and 15 credits for graduate students. For summer session, the limits are 12 credits for undergraduates and 10 credits for graduate students. A student may be required to drop credits before adding another course. In some cases, the college dean may approve a higher or lower credit limit for individual students. Students may request a Credit Limit Increase through their advisor. Advisors should notify the student's college student services office if the credit limit needs to be changed.

Registration Holds

Students with holds on their registration will not have access to register until the initiating offices have released the holds. Those who attempt to register before the holds have been released will be restricted from doing so. Students may check for holds within their Student profile.

Drop Limit

Undergraduate students are not limited in the number of courses they may drop during their academic career. Drops (course withdrawals) processed after the fifth day of classes of each semester will appear on the permanent record.


To audit a course means to enroll in the course without receiving credit for the course. The instructor of the course approves the audit request.

Students are assessed tuition and fees as though they are taking the course for credit, but the audited course does not count in determining full-time student status. However, an audited course does count towards the maximum allowable credits per semester. Audited courses do not apply toward V.A. benefits.

Graduate students: See Graduate College, Registration for audit policies.

Changing status to audit: Changing a course from credit to audit requires a request to Edit Registration, Grading Basis. See Making Schedule Changes

Rights and privileges: Once enrolled in an audited course, auditors have the same rights and privileges as any student taking the course for credit. Their names appear on the class list with a notation that they are auditing the course. Audited courses do not appear on the student's permanent record except by special request from the student. A request form can be downloaded from the Office of the Registrar website at

Audit Deadlines and Required Signatures

In addition to the deadlines provided below, note that instructors must approve all audits.

Full semester courses:

Adding an audit−day 10 deadline:
−Through day 5 of classes: instructor approval required.
−Day 6-10: instructor, advisor approval required.
−After day 10: only with extenuating circumstances, instructor, advisor, college approval required.

Changing status, from credit to audit−day 10 deadline:
−Through day 5 of classes: instructor approval required.
−Day 6-10: instructor, advisor, college approval required.
−After day 10: only with extenuating circumstances, instructor, advisor, college approval required.

Changing status from audit to credit−day 5 deadline:
−Through day 5 of classes: instructor approval required.
−After day 5: instructor, advisor, college approval required.

Partial semester or summer courses:

Deadlines are determined based on the length of the course. For deadlines concerning partial term or summer courses, contact the Registration Office, or 515-294-2331.


The procedures delineated in this section apply to students who were dismissed from Iowa State for academic reasons. Students who left Iowa State in good academic standing and who are seeking reentry should see Index, Reentry for more information.

  1. Reinstatement is not automatic. Students who have been dismissed for academic reasons should contact the dean's office in the college they wish to enter for instructions specific to that college.
    The college Academic Standards Committee reviews each petition and other relevant information, and reinstatement is based upon that review. As part of the petition process, students must submit a plan for academic success that identifies the causes of their poor academic performance and demonstrates that they have taken actions to avoid or eliminate these causes.
  2. Students can only be reinstated after at least one academic semester (fall or spring) has elapsed since they were academically dismissed. Winter session and summer session are not considered semesters.
  3. Students who have been dismissed from enrollment two or more times are not eligible for reinstatement until at least two academic semesters (fall and spring) have elapsed since their last academic dismissal. Winter session and summer session are not considered semesters.
  4. Students who were dismissed by one college and subsequently reinstated by another college cannot transfer back to the original college unless permission is granted by the Academic Standards Committee of the original college. This procedure applies regardless of the student's academic standing when the transfer is requested.
  5. To be considered for reinstatement to the university, students must submit a petition to the Academic Standards Committee of the college in which they desire to enroll at least 45 days before the beginning of the semester. Students who have not been enrolled for a period of 2 years or more must also apply for reentry. For more information see the Reentry web site at (Students dismissed for the second time and requesting reinstatement in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences must submit their petition 70 days before the beginning of the semester.)
  6. Juniors and seniors with extenuating circumstances may request a waiver of their required semesters of absence as identified in number 2 and 3 above. The petition requesting early reinstatement must be submitted through procedures specified by their college's Academic Standards Committee.
  7. As a condition of reinstatement, students will reenter on academic probation and must accept whatever additional requirements are stipulated by the college Academic Standards Committee. Examples include full- or part-time status, specified credit hours, specific courses, specific GPAs, restriction on choice of major, and required counseling.

Student Appeal

Students may appeal a decision regarding their academic status if they believe that new information can be provided, or extenuating circumstances exist that would alter the application of any rule in this section. The appeal should be made in writing to the Academic Standards Committee of the college in which the student is enrolled. The written appeal must include the reasons for the appeal and the evidence to substantiate these reasons.

The student should initiate the appeal process by contacting the secretary of the college Academic Standards Committee in the administrative office of her or his college immediately upon receipt of notification of the committee's action, and at least ten calendar days before the beginning of the semester. The secretary will then inform the student of the deadline for submission of the written appeal.

If the student is dissatisfied with the committee's action, he or she may submit an appeal in writing to the dean of her or his college within seven calendar days after they are notified of the committee's action. The dean must respond in writing within seven calendar days of receipt of the appeal.

If the issue is not resolved within the college, further appeals may be made in writing to the provost and subsequently to the president of the university. Appeals beyond the college level will, however, be considered only if based on one or both of the following contentions: (a) appropriate procedures were not followed at the college level; (b) academic rules were not applied correctly at the college level.

Academic Renewal

Students who are returning to Iowa State University to pursue an undergraduate degree after an extended absence may request permission to remove one or more of their complete academic terms from future degree and GPA considerations.

  1. Eligibility. To be eligible for academic renewal consideration, students must meet these requirements:
    1. Students must not have enrolled at Iowa State University for four or more consecutive calendar years.
    2. Students must not have graduated from Iowa State University.
    3. Students must have demonstrated satisfactory academic performance as evidenced by earning a GPA of at least 2.00 over a minimum of 12.00 credit hours taken after returning to the university. If more than one semester is taken to reach 12.00 credit hours, the combined GPA of all semesters/terms of enrollment after returning to the university must be 2.00 or greater.
  2. Conditions. Academic renewal is based on the following conditions:
    1. All courses and credits that were taken during the chosen terms will be removed from consideration for GPA and degree requirements. Students may not combine courses from multiple terms to comprise the semester(s) or quarter(s) dropped. Degree requirements met during the dropped terms will ordinarily have to be repeated.
    2. Renewal may be applied only to academic terms completed prior to the students' extended absence.
    3. All courses and grades for the chosen terms will remain on the students' academic record.
    4. Designated repeats and P/NP options will be reinstated for the terms dropped.
    5. Students may be granted only one academic renewal.
  3. Procedures.
    1. Students should discuss their desire to pursue academic renewal with an advisor in the college they wish to enter.
    2. The student must submit a request for Academic Renewal in Workday.
    3. After the request is initiated by the student it will route for approval to the academic advisor and college student services offices and then to the Records area in the Office of the Registrar, 010 Enrollment Services Center.


Returning Students

Students planning to return to Iowa State University after an absence of less than 24 months do not complete reentry, and should be assigned registration appointments along with continuing students, unless previous programs of study have been completed or discontinued.

Students who were dropped from enrollment at Iowa State University must obtain reinstatement by the Academic Standards Committee of the college that they wish to reenter. (See Reinstatement/Renewal for policies that apply to requests for reinstatement).

Undergraduate and Graduate students may contact the Office of the Registrar at or 515-294-2331 with any questions about updating their status and generating registration access. Students should contact their advisor/major professor to select courses and begin the registration process.

International undergraduate and international non-degree undergraduate students planning to return to Iowa State University after an absence of a semester or more must also complete the Returning to ISU electronic form for the International Students and Scholars Office in order to receive their new I-20 or DS- 2019. The form can be found under the F-1 or J-1 Student Services tab in Cystart at If you have questions or concerns in regard to your documents, please contact the International Students and Scholars Office at 515-294-1120 or

Reentry Students

Students who have been absent from Iowa State University for more than 24 months since last enrolled must apply for reentry to the university through the Admissions Office.

Students with a bachelor's degree who plan to take supporting graduate level coursework prior to applying for graduate degree admission should request a nondegree graduate admission application.

Students who have previously attended Iowa State University only as nondegree (special) students and who now seek to earn an undergraduate degree should request an undergraduate admission application.

International Students must also complete the Returning to ISU electronic form for the International Students and Scholars Office in order to receive their new I-20 or DS- 2019. The form can be found under the F-1 or J-1 Student Services tab in Cystart at If you have questions or concerns in regard to your documents, please contact the International Students and Scholars Office at 515-294-1120 or

The reentry application should be completed well in advance of the term of reentry. Students who have attended another college or university since enrollment at Iowa State University must have an official transcript(s) of all course work attempted sent to the Office of Admissions, 100 Enrollment Services Center.

Iowa State University requests the information on the reentry application for the purpose of making a reentry decision. The university reserves the right not to approve reentry if the student fails to provide the required information.

Reentering Graduate students that have not been enrolled in the last 24 months or are looking to come back in a different program than previously enrolled, please go to the Returning Graduate Students website and follow the instructions for your specific situation. Please contact the Graduate College at 515-294-4531 if you have questions on returning to the Graduate College.

Reentry Approval Process

The reentry application will be referred to the college for review and decision if the student: (a) desires to change curriculum; (b) has a previous Iowa State University cumulative grade point average below 2.00; (c) was dropped from the university for unsatisfactory academic progress or was not otherwise in good standing; or (d) since leaving Iowa State University, has completed additional college study with less than a 2.00 grade point average.

Reentering students must also contact their departmental office/advisor to prepare a class schedule. Reentry must be approved prior to registration.