Academics and Registration

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Course Options

Non-Degree Status

Exchange students are admitted to the University as non-degree students. As a non-degree student, there will be restrictions on the courses available to you. Because we cannot authorize exceptions, students need to be flexible regarding the classes they take.

Course Selection

At the University of Minnesota, you are able to choose from a wide variety of courses, even those located in departments outside your major. We will work with you to help you enroll in the courses you need. You should refer to the University’s Class Schedule Builder to gain a sense of what specific courses are offered in your areas of interest. Courses cannot be guaranteed. If there are specific courses you must take to be able to gain credit at your home institution, please note those on your course selection form. We are unable to confirm available courses prior to your arrival. However, you will receive course advising help after you arrive in Minnesota.

Please note:
  • All courses are offered on a space-available basis.
  • Undergraduate students are eligible to enroll in undergraduate courses (those listed as 0xxx-4xxx).
  • Not all courses are offered every semester.  
  • Economics (ECON), Chemical Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering courses are not available to exchange students. 
  • Courses in Sports Management, Statistics, and those offered by the Carlson School of Management are very popular. Exchange students may only be able to take 2-3 courses from these areas per semester.
  • Course registration will be finalized after students arrive on campus.


Some courses will have prerequisites, or courses that you should take prior to registering for the class. If you have already taken equivalent prerequisites at your home university, you may be able to take the course. If you are not sure, or if the permission of the instructor is required, you will need to check with the professor or department once you arrive on campus. It is not possible to receive permission in advance to take upper-level courses and we ask that you also do not contact faculty or departments in advance, as they do not know which restrictions apply to exchange students.

Course Load and Evaluation

A normal undergraduate course load is 12-16 credits per semester. All exchange students are required by U.S. immigration regulations to take a minimum of 12 credits each semester, regardless of the level of coursework they are taking. 

Most courses at the University of Minnesota are two, three, or four credits. The number of credits is based on the number of hours you spend in class each week. For example, a four-credit class will meet four hours per week. You should expect two to three hours of work outside of class (reading, doing assignments, etc.) for each hour spent in class.

The U.S. education system consists of frequent testing. Students should be prepared for an intense workload, and they should be cautious about taking too many classes or extracurricular activities in their first semester. In addition to the final exam, most classes will have a mid-term examination. Weekly assignments of short essays or quizzes (short tests) are also common. Although many types of examinations are used, multiple choice, true/false, and short answer exams are the most common in 1000-level courses. 3000-, 4000- and 5000-level courses usually involve essay examinations and 8- to 15-page research papers. Working in groups with other students is also common.

Course Numbering System

The University classifies courses as 1000-, 2000-, 3000-, 4000-, 5000-, 6000-, or 8000-level. The 1000- and 2000-level courses are introductory and are generally taken by first- and second-year students. The 3000- and 4000-level courses require some knowledge of the subject, and are generally taken by third- and fourth-year students. 1000 and 2000-level courses often involve large lecture sessions (100–500 students), complemented by smaller discussions or labs (20–30 students). Lectures are usually taught by professors, while the labs and discussions are led by teaching assistants (advanced graduate students). 5000-level courses are graduate level, although advanced undergraduates with sufficient academic qualifications may take these. 8000-level courses are advanced graduate seminars and are not open to undergraduate or exchange students. 6000-level business courses are not open to exchange students.

Minnesota English Language Program (MELP)

Want to improve your English? If you are interested in improving your English skills before beginning your academic classes, the Minnesota English Language Program (MELP) offers an Intensive English Language Program during the summer. MELP also offers American English Courses during the school year for credit, including courses focused on Grammar, Pronunciation, Reading & Writing, and Listening & Speaking. To learn more, please contact MELP at [email protected], visit their website, or meet with them at 216 Pillsbury Dr SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455.


Registration Time

You will register for classes during orientation. We are unable to confirm available classes prior to your arrival; however, you will receive advising help before registering for classes.

Registration Holds

It is essential that you take action to remove the registration holds that are on your student record before your registration time (to see a list of the holds on your record, go to MyU and click on the “Holds” tab). You will not be allowed to register for classes until these holds are removed. ISSS will either permanently or temporarily remove the AI (“Determine Visa Status”) hold from your record after you complete the International Student Preparation Course and attend the ISSS Welcome Session. If you have an AZ (“ESL”) hold, you must take steps to remove it when you arrive in Minnesota to avoid a delay in your registration. More information will be provided in your pre-arrival emails. Read more information on removing common holds.

Grading Status

In most cases, students can take courses pass/fail (S/N) rather than for a letter grade (A–F). However, be aware that it is not possible to receive a letter grade at a later date if you elect to take a class pass/fail. Be sure to check with your home institution about grade requirements in advance. Note that undergraduate international students must maintain at least a 2.0 (C) average each semester in order to remain in status with their visa requirements. 

Canceling and Adding Classes

You may change your registration within the timeframes - and with college scholastic committee/instructor approvals - shown on the Onestop Website. This is usually within the first one to two weeks of each semester. If you have questions, contact GO Minnesota.

Building Your Schedule

The University has developed a Schedule Builder to help you choose from available courses:

  1. Go to and click on the “Academics” tab.
  2. Under “Enrollment Tools,” select “Schedule Builder.”
  3. Type in the course you wish to register for into the “Search for courses…” box. Click “Search.”
  4. If you do not know the specific course, select “Subjects.” They are divided by course levels (i.e., 1xxx, 3xxx, 5xxx) in different tabs at the top of the page.
  5. When you have found a course, select the down arrow from the “Add course” button
  6. Repeat steps until you have selected all courses. You can review your selections under “Courses/Sections” on the left hand side.
  7. Click “Build Schedules.”
  8. Look through schedule options and determine which one is for you. Open sections are noted by the green check mark Waitlist sections are noted by the yellow clock Closed sections are noted by the red X.
  9. When you have selected the schedule you would like, you can click “send to Shopping Cart” button.
  10. Select A-F grading and enter permission numbers.

Abbreviations and Terms

The University uses a lot of abbreviations and special terms. Check out our guide to common abbreviations and terms to help you through the registration process.

Academic Support

There are a number of resources and academic support services on campus that can help you be a successful student. You should first reach out to the exchange coordinator and ISSS’s Academic Services.

Academic Advisers

With all of the choices for the classes they can take, students often want to talk with an academic adviser. The first thing to remember about academic advising is that you, as an exchange student, are primarily concerned with fulfilling requirements for your home university. You should discuss your program carefully with the appropriate contact person at your home university and have a good idea of what types of courses you should be taking at the University of Minnesota. A typical course load is 12-16 credits per semester  of undergraduate-level work. 

Do not contact advisers or professors at the University of Minnesota until you arrive on campus and meet with our staff. Exchange staff will identify academic advisers who will be able to meet with you once you arrive.

Academic Integrity

A key to your success on campus is understanding U.S. standards and practices regarding academic integrity. Please take the time to review this important information:

Academic Support Units

The University of Minnesota has many resources on campus to help you with everything from writing essays to making friends. Here are a few of the many offices on campus you should be aware of, including a map of where to find them!


The University of Minnesota Libraries provide a wide-range of collections and services to all students, faculty, and staff of the UMN. The collections contain materials in many languages and expert librarians and staff are skilled in supporting international students.

The library provides an online guide that can be found on their website at This guide helps to orient those new to the University and connect students with helpful resources and programs specific to their area of study. 

Workshops, tutorials, and guides can assist with any of information needs. These resources can be done face-to-face or accessed online.

Disability Resources

The University's Disability Resource Center facilitates access to learning, working, and participating in campus life for anyone with a disability.

If you have a disability (i.e., visual, audio, mobility, learning, etc.), contact your exchange coordinator at least two months prior to arrival, who will work with the Disability Resource Center to provide appropriate accommodations.


You can request a variety of transcripts from the University of Minnesota on the MyU website:

  • Official (electronic or paper)
  • Unofficial

Note: If you request a transcript directly from the Office of the Registrar before your grades have been posted, you will receive an incomplete transcript, as your request will be processed right away.