Enrollment Policies Page
(Enrollment, wait lists, permission numbers)
If you are not sure what
class you should enroll in, you should read the content of the Placement Page and the Placement FAQ Page.
Important Information For All Students:
page discusses the process of enrolling in the following courses:
Math 105L, 106L, 111L, 112L, 122L, 202,
212, 216, 353.
- Enrollment in full sections of these high-demand courses in the Mathematics Department is mostly handled by the wait lists.
- While wait lists are in operation, you should
not need a permission number to enroll in any open section (a section with available seats) of any of these courses that would be appropriate for you
to take. The Mathematics Department does not use permission numbers to control enrollment in these courses.
- The Mathematics Department does not give permission numbers
for these courses while the wait lists are in operation, other than in
exceptional circumstances (such as a second-semester senior who needs
the course to graduate), or unusual cases of students being eligible to
take a course without having satisfied an enforced prerequisite (such
as Trinity students not majoring in math who are interested in taking
- Please do not contact instructors
of these courses in the Mathematics Department to request permission
numbers for their section of a course while wait lists are in operation.
- The Associate Chair and the Supervisor of
First-year Instruction will be keeping a close eye on enrollments until
the end of drop/add, and will make every effort to accommodate as many
students as possible.
High-Demand Courses and Wait Lists:
If your preferred section is full, please enroll in any section that is
open that fits your desired schedule. If that is not possible,
you might need to consider adjusting your other classes to get into an
If your conflicts with open sections involve classes that you must take
next semester for your major, then add yourself to the wait list for
any other section, ideally the one with the fewest other students on
the wait list. This will maximize the chances that you will get
in as other students shuffle their schedules.
Be sure to
have a back-up plan
-- because putting your name on the wait list does
not guarantee that you will get any section of the course.
Depending on the needs of your schedule, this might be another section
of the same course, or a course in a different department; but, it
should definitely be a class whose enrollment is such that you are
certain there will be an available seat for you.
cannot assume that you will (or will not) get in to the section whose
wait list you join, you should make sure to attend BOTH the wait listed
section and the back-up class.
Students in the Pratt School should make sure to communicate their scheduling problems to Dean McMillian.
After the wait lists have been erased, if you have been unable to
enroll in any section of the appropriate course without sacrificing
courses critical to your major, please contact the Supervisor of
First-Year Instruction at email@example.com. (See also the section below called "After Wait Lists Are Erased".)
For incoming students: Before you arrive at Duke in the Fall of
your freshman year, you will not be allowed to join wait lists. This is
a University policy, not a Mathematics Department policy. You will be
allowed to join wait lists in the week before classes begin, after you
have met with your pre-major advisor.
Note, if you want to get onto a particular wait list as soon as
possible, you can ask your advisor for his or her earliest possible
meeting time, usually on Wednesday of that week. After your advisor
talks to you about your courses and makes you eligible to enroll, you can then
add yourself to a wait list.
Misunderstandings About Wait Lists
Wait lists are set up to help make the registration process more
orderly. Students often misunderstand this, perhaps on some level
over-interpreting the wait list as a complete and fully automated tool
for registering for the most desirable section. Critically, this
is not the case. (For official discussion of how the wait lists
work, please refer to the Office of the Registrar.)
Most importantly, students should understand that being on a wait list does not mean that you will be enrolled in that section.
If there is insufficient movement from the roster, you will not be
enrolled. A student who is not enrolled into a section from the
wait list is not entitled to special consideration afterwards.
Students are also often very surprised to learn, sometimes
unfortunately through personal experience, that when a seat opens up in
a section, the first person on the wait list is NOT always the one who gets that seat.
The system will try to enroll the first person on the list, but if that
attempt is unsuccessful, for any reason, it will skip the first person
and go on to the next person on the list. (It is not rare for a
student in position #4 on the wait list to get the newly open seat,
after the system failed to enroll the students in positions #1-3!)
There are several things that might prevent the system from enrolling a
student in the course, including (but not necessarily limited to):
ACES system gives no indication to a student on a wait list that
such an enrollment problem will prevent enrollment. It is
entirely the responsibility of the student to avoid these sorts of
problems. A student who is skipped over on a wait list for a
reason such as these is not entitled to special consideration
- The student might already be enrolled in another section of the same course.
- The student might be enrolled in another course with a time conflict with the wait listed section.
- The student might not yet have received permission to take that many credits.
Because of the risk discussed above, it
is not recommended that you sign up for a wait list for one section of
a course if you are keeping your enrolled seat in another section of
the same course, or a time-conflicting course,...
If you do this anyway, be sure to understand that you will not be
enrolled from the wait list as long as this circumstance remains.
So it is essential to keep a very close eye on your position in the
wait list. If you are in position #1, clearly there is no point
in having that position if you cannot be enrolled from it. If you
are in position #2, 3, or 4, note that you could still be preventing
yourself from being enrolled -- because, as noted above, the students
ahead of you on the wait list might also be enrolled in other sections,
and the system might be passing you up after trying to enroll you,
after having passed up the other students!
Consider these dangers very carefully before you sign up for a wait
list for one section while keeping your enrolled seat in another
Wait List Scenarios and Strategies:
Students should be sure to understand that we cannot guarantee seats
for all interested students when courses are in high demand.
Along those lines, note that if you play one of the "risky" strategies
below, the risk is entirely yours.
Below are some potential scenarios and some strategies to consider.
- If one section of a course is more desirable to you than the one that you are enrolled in:
Recommended: Stay in the section you are currently
enrolled in, and keep a regular eye on the wait list for the other
section. Sometimes, especially after classes begin, students
shuffle their schedules around significantly, and there might be
significant movement on that wait list. If open seats become
available, you can then add that section.
Risky (not recommended): You could drop your current
section and add yourself to the wait list of the desired section, hoping that with movement on
this waitlist you will be in line ahead of students following the
recommended strategy above.
this does increase your chances of getting into the desired
section, note that it also increases your chances of not getting into
the course at all. Wait lists do not always move significantly,
and are impossible to predict. Note also that other students on
this and other wait lists for the course in question could easily
decide to play it safe, and enroll in your previous section. All
of the sections could fill up in this way, leaving you unable to take
the course this term. So, if you do take this risky strategy, you
should make sure to keep an eye on the enrollment and wait lists for
all of the sections of the course, and be prepared to move back into an
- If all of the sections that fit with your desired schedule are full:
Realize that you might simply not be able to get the desired schedule
that you were hoping for. Some of the other classes on your
desired schedule might be electives, and you could consider taking a
different elective to get into an open section of the needed math
course. Some of the other classes on your desired schedule might
be required for your major, but could be taken in a different term, and
you could consider taking a different course that would be equivalently
effective for your major.
Or, it could be that the math
course you are trying to get into might be the one that is of the
lowest priority. If you don't need to take math for your major,
or if it can be postponed without serious consequence, you might
consider arranging a new schedule for the semester that does not
include math. You can still add yourself to a wait list, and hope
that you might get in, but you will have a fall-back plan in case you
Note, if you are taking math
classes because they are required for your major, it is very possible
that those math classes are prerequisites for particular courses in
your major. If this is the case, postponing your math classes
will delay your preparations for those courses. For this reason,
it is very often more desirable to prioritize your math classes, and
choose other courses on your desired schedule to delay.
Risky (not recommended):
You could join a waitlist for a math section that fits your desired
schedule, in the hopes that it will all work out. Of course there
is no guarantee that it will, and you might end up unable to take the
course. If the other courses on your desired schedule are
sufficiently important that it is worth that risk, then this might be
the right gamble. If you do take this gamble, be sure to have a
back-up plan in case you do not get into the math course for which you
Remember though that math classes very often are prerequisites for
other courses that might be important for your major. So, for
many students, this will be a gamble with a significant potential down
- You are on a wait list, not sure if you should attend that section, since you are not yet enrolled.
Attend the lectures for that section as if you were enrolled! It
is also recommended that you let the instructor know that you are
attending the classes and keeping up with the work for the
course. Instructors will expect you to do this, so that if you do
get in to the class, you will already be
up to speed and will not need to do any
make up work.
Of course you should also have a back-up plan in case you do not get in
to the math class in question -- you should be attending that class
also, for the same reasons.
If you do not get in to the class, then your only loss is that you
attended a few extra lectures. Of course if you take that class
in a future term, what you learned in those few lectures could still
end up being valuable knowledge.
Risky (not recommended):
You might consider not attending the lectures, and then if you do not
get in to the class you will not have spent time on something that did
not have direct bearing on your schedule of classes for this
But, if you do get in to the class, you will be significantly behind on
learning the material for the course. The instructors cannot be
expected to give you individual lessons on that missed material, and so
you will have to learn it on your own, which of course is a significant
You might also be behind on the assignments for the course. While
the instructor might allow you to turn in those assignments a little
bit late, you will need to complete those assignments while also
teaching yourself the material already covered, trying to follow the
new material, and also doing the current class assignments (all of this
in addition to all of your other classes as well). At best, this
significant extra load to an already full schedule will be an extremely
difficult challenge until you catch up, and will hurt your
understanding of the material in the course; at worst, you might find
that you can never really fully catch up, in which case it would be
expected that you would perform poorly on the exams and in the course.
Prerequisites and Permission Numbers
While the wait lists are in operation, you should
not need a permission number to enroll in any open section of any of these courses that would be
appropriate for you to take.
Note, the way ACES is set up,
it might appear that a permission number is needed as you are signing
up for a course, due to the appearance of a box labeled "Permission
Number"; this is there to be used only if a permission number is
actually required, and thus is misleading for courses in which a
permission number is not required. The Mathematics Department
does not use permission numbers to control enrollment in these courses.
In fact, you would also not need a permission number even to enroll in
many courses that would be too advanced for you to take -- so make sure
that you have carefully read the information at the Placement Page and Placement FAQ Page, and that you have noted all of the prerequisites listed in the Bulletin
for the course that you are interested in.
If you are not sure
that the course you are considering is the right course for you, read
the content of the Placement Page and the Placement FAQ Page.
Very few of the prerequisites for courses in the Mathematics Department
are enforced by ACES. Most of our enforced requirements are there
simply to make sure that you are selecting the right course for you at
a particular level, or to keep you from taking a course that would
repeat material from a course for which you already have credit at Duke
-- not to keep you from enrolling in a course at too high of a level.
It is the responsibility
of the student to ensure that credit for enforced prerequisite courses
appears on your Duke record, in a timely manner, to allow you to
enroll; pending transfer
credits, pending AP credits, and unreported AP scores will not be
viewed as equivalent and do not make you eligible for a permission
Here are discussions of the enforced requirements of some particular courses in the Mathematics Department:
- Math 105L has
no prerequisites. Anyone can enroll in this course who does not
already have credit for first semester calculus (21, 111L, or 121).
- Math 106L requires credit for Math 105L, as this is a two-course sequence.
- Math 111L
has no prerequisites. Anyone can enroll in this course who does
not already have credit for 105L or 106L, or 121.
- Math 112L
requires credit for Math 106L or Math 111L at Duke, as it is part of
those two sequences. (These prerequisites are not enforced in the
Spring, when Math 122L is not offered.)
- Math 122L
does not allow students who have credit for 106L or
111L. Students with credit for either of those courses are
in the 111L-112L sequence of calculus courses and must stay in that
sequence, in which
the next course is Math 112L.
- Math 112L and Math 122L cover roughly the same material. Students cannot receive credit for both of these courses.
- Math 202 and Math 212 require credit for second semester calculus (Math 22, 112L, 122L, or 122). AP/IPC credits must be on your Duke record as Math 22 (http://trinity.duke.edu/undergraduate/academic-policies/credit-AP-IPC-PMC); the Mathematics Department cannot accept claims of scores expected to result in this credit.
- Math 202, 212, and 222 cover similar material. Students cannot receive credit for more than one of these courses.
- Math 221 and Math 216 cover similar material. Students cannot receive credit for both of these courses.
- Math 216 requires credit for Math 202, 212, or 222, and is not open to students who have credit for Math 221 or Math 356.
- Math 353 requires credit for Math 216, and is not open to students who have credit for Math 356.
If you are planning to take a course for which you do not have a
prerequisite that is not enforced (perhaps you want to take Math 122L
but you do not have credit for Math 21 (AP credit)), be sure to note
that your ability to enroll in the class does not necessarily mean that
it is a good idea. For example, it could be that one of the
requirements for your intended major is that you have credit for the
class you are skipping. Critically, students should realize that
concerns about skipping math courses required for a major or minor should be addressed to the department in
question, not the Mathematics Department. See questions 3, 10,
14, and 15 on the Placement FAQ Page for further discussion of this issue.
Note, unlike Duke credits, AP credits can be forfeited for the purpose
of taking an equivalent course at Duke. So, for
example, if you have AP credit for Math 22 you can still enroll in
122L. But if you have credit for Math 112L taken at
Duke, or transfer credit for Math 122 taken at another university, you
cannot enroll in Math 122L. If you have AP credits, you are
encouraged to keep them and enroll in the next course in the sequence
appropriate to your situation, but you are free to consider forfeiting
them and enrolling in a lower level course. (Note, Math 105L is
not equivalent to Math 21; students with AP credit for Math 21 are not
allowed to enroll in Math 105L)
If you are not certain what would be the right course for you to take,
you should be able to determine the right answer by reading the Placement Page and the Placement FAQ Page.
After Wait Lists Are Erased
Most students should have their schedules finalized before the wait lists are erased. For the remainder of the drop/add period, adding any class requires a permission number.
Note that adding a class at this time is often difficult, as
that class will have covered already a substantial amount of material,
and written assignments will have been collected. If you are allowed to add that
class, you will have to make up all of that missed work, probably on
your own -- while also doing the continuing work for the course, and
keeping up with all of your other classes. Students should
consider carefully the question of whether accomplishing this is
realistic, and be aware that being unsuccessful in such an attempt
would probably result in a poor performance in that class.
Instructors are also keenly aware of this issue; accordingly, instructors are within their rights not to accept further students into their classes.
The Mathematics Department might also conclude that
adding a course at such a time would not be appropriate, and not allow
a student into a course. Adding a lab calculus course after the
wait lists are erased is particularly problematic in this way due to
the lab schedule and class content.
Another difficulty is that, of course, the class you are interested in might be full. Be aware that the Mathematics Department usually does not allow students into sections that are full.
If you are interested in adding a class during the drop/add period after the wait lists have been erased:
- If you
are already enrolled in a different section of that course, if you have
been doing the work for the course, and if there are seats available in
the section you want to switch to, contact the instructor of the desired section to request a permission number.
you have been attending a higher level course and want to "drop down" to
a lower level course (for example, from Math 122L to Math 111L), and if
there are seats available in the section you want to take,
you should discuss your case with the Supervisor of First-year
Instruction. Be aware that, depending on details, it may be too
late to add the course. (See discussion below on Changing Classes.)
- If you want to move up to a higher level course,
you should discuss your case with the Supervisor of First-year
Instruction. You will need to establish that you are qualified
for the higher level course; see the Placement Page
for details. You will also need to establish that you will be
able to catch up on missed material and work in a timely manner.
Be aware that, depending on details, it may be too late to add the
course. (See discussion below on Changing Classes.)
- If all
open sections of the desired course conflict with
required classes in your schedule, you should discuss your case with the Supervisor of First-year Instruction.
When you contact either the instructor or the Supervisor of First-year Instruction (as directed above), please
be sure to include all of the information necessary to establish that
you are qualified for the course, as described above. (See the Placement Page for discussion on placement qualifications.)
Recall that time is a very important factor in deciding if it is
advisable for you to add a class, so you are urged to follow the
instructions above as soon as you can. For example, a request to
add a class late in the second week of classes is unlikely to be
Once you have received a permission number, please add the course PROMPTLY.
Be aware that until you actually enroll, there is the possibility that
the section might fill up and you might be denied entrance into that
new section. It is not appropriate to request a permission number
that you do not intend to use promptly.
Most students should be able to determine their proper placement from the Placement Page; and students with borderline or otherwise complicated cases can get advice from the SFI Placement Advice
page. The SFI is also usually available for consultations before
the start of the term. All of these resources can and should be
accessed before classes begin; so, most students should start the term in the correct class.
The first week of classes is then an opportunity for students to
confirm their placement. Students who might want to change to a
different class can do so for the entire first week. Note, this
is a significant amount of registration flexibility afforded to
students, because in this first week classes are covering material,
doing group work, and completing graded items both in class and out of
class. Because of this significant and important activity, it is
important for students to try to get into the proper class as early as
possible in that first week; joining a math class late in the first week will require a significant effort, even for students with a previous exposure to similar high school or college courses.
is the responsibility of the student to ensure by the end of the first
week that he or she has the necessary background, qualifications, and
resources that will be needed to do well in the math class in which he
or she is enrolled.
By the beginning of the second week, courses in the Mathematics
Department have moved forward to an extent that joining the course in a
way that is feasible, fair to the other students, and consistent with
the philosophy of the course might not be possible. Either the
course instructor or the Mathematics Department might disallow such a
Some departments allow students to "drop back" to a lower level course
with a later deadline than that for students who have not been
attending a course in that department. Such a policy, when
feasible, can be encouraging and convenient for students
who are not entirely confident in their placement choice.
However, due to the tailored content and assigned work of each individual course, such an option is not realistic for lab calculus courses in the Mathematics Department.
Specifically, having attended a higher level course and attempting to
"drop back" to a lower course (or, similarly, "jumping up" to a higher level course) is usually not much easier (or more
likely to be allowed) than simply adding that course late in the
The lab work in these courses is central to the course structure and
philosophy, and is not part of the calculus curriculum of most high
schools or other universities. Students who have missed even one
lab meeting will have significant difficulty in catching up in the
material and work of the course fully and fairly. Students who have missed more than one lab meeting are unlikely to be allowed into the course.
If you are less than confident that you have the appropriate
preparation for and resources to dedicate to taking the math course you
have selected, you should consider attending and participating in BOTH
that course and the lower level course that you might need to consider
dropping down to. Note, you can attend such a course and
participate in the work even without being registered (though of course
you will need to have the lab manual in order to participate!).
participation will significantly extend the point in the term by which
you will be able and allowed to change your mind to take the lower
level course. And, of course, if you decide that your initial
higher placement is satisfactory, then your continued participation in
the lower level course is not necessary.