Learn more about registering for courses at UBC from the Registration page at Student Services.


Q: The ARTH or VISA course that I want to register in is full. What should I do?

A: Check if the course has an associated waitlist. If there is a waitlist for the course, you should register for it. As space frees up in the course (because of students dropping, additional seats becoming available, etc.), we will manually move students from the waitlist to the course.

Note that 100- and 200-level ARTH courses and 100-level VISA courses do not have waitlists. If the course is full, check regularly for seats to open up.

Q: In what order are students moved from the waitlist?

A: Students are moved from the waitlist on a priority basis. If seats become available, they are given to:

  • Students in Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory specializations;
  • Students in other specializations that require specific ARTH or VISA courses;
  • All other students on a first-come, first-served basis.

Q: How do I know what position I am in on a waitlist? 

A: There is no way for you to determine this, given the priority protocols summarized above.

Q: What are my chances of getting into a full course, assuming I am registered on the waitlist? Am I guaranteed a seat?

A: Each course and each term is different, and your chances of getting in can be hard to predict. Generally speaking, a small number of seats in almost every course become free for various reasons. Unfortunately, you are not guaranteed a seat, and it’s wise to always have back-up course(s) in mind.

Q: I can see there are open seats in a course I am waitlisted for. Should I drop the waitlist and register myself in the course?

A: No. If you do, you will lose your position on the waitlist and won’t be able to register in the course, because registration is blocked for waitlisted courses. If you see open seats, it just means that administrative staff have not yet manually moved students from the waitlist into the open seats.

Q: How often do AHVA administrative staff update waitlists and process registrations?

A: There are typically fifty to sixty active waitlists during the registration period, and keeping them up to date is time-consuming. It is not uncommon to see open seats in a waitlisted course, because staff have not had a chance to manually move students from the waitlist into the course. Typically, waitlists are updated three times per week.

Q: The waitlist for the class I want to register in is so long. Why don’t you add more seats or open another section?

A: We do, on occasion. However, additional seats require additional teaching assistants, larger lecture halls and, in many cases, more studio space. (Also, the learning outcomes for certain courses cannot be met when class sizes becomes too big—notably, VISA studio courses). Additional sections require additional instructors and teaching assistants and another room or studio space. It may not be possible to meet the demand for additional sections.

Q: I want to take an upper-level VISA course, but I see that all the seats are reserved for VISA majors and minors (but I am in a different program). Can I take it?

A: VISA minors and other students with the appropriate prerequisite can take upper-level VISA courses, but cannot self-register for them (since registration is restricted to VISA majors). Non-majors submit their registration requests via email to (including course code, course number, and section number — e.g., VISA 320 001 —, full name, and UBC student number). Registration requests from non-majors begin to be processed in mid-July, once all VISA majors have had a chance to register, and this continues until the end of the add/drop period each term. VISA courses do fill up quickly, so it’s most likely that a course you wish to take as a non-major will not have spaces left by mid-July. That said, we do our best to accommodate registration requests. If your registration request is successful, you will be notified via email. It is always a good idea to have back-up course(s) in mind.

Q: A required course for my program is full and I am worried I won’t be able to graduate on time. What should I do?

A: Note that it is the university’s policy that a student will not be prevented from graduating because they cannot find a seat in a full course. The department will place the student in a course that fulfills the specific program requirement, but it may not be the exact course the student had hoped to enroll in. For example: VISA 401G fulfills a specific program requirement needed to graduate. If this course is full, but there are open seats in VISA 401F, a student may be directed to take 401F because it fulfills the same program requirement.

Q: I have questions about a HIST, ENGL, FIST, ANTH, GRSJ, etc., course. Can you help me, dear AHVA advisor?

A: No. The undergraduate advisor in the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory can assist only with courses offered by the department: specifically ARTH and VISA courses. Please direct your questions to the specific department offering the course (for example, if you have a question about registering in an ANTH course, contact Anthropology).

On this page