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Each department has their own way of handling Path@Penn Permission Requests. This article is just for CIS/CIT/NETS courses.

We would love to offer our classes to any Penn student who is interested! However, demand is so high for some of the CIS/CIT/NETS classes that we cannot let everyone in and still do a good job of teaching. Because of this, the number of students who can enroll during Advance Registration is typically capped, and we maintain waitlists for students who would like to take a given class but did not get in.

Waitlist overview

The Waitlisty system builds on the Permission Request (PR) functionality built into Path@Penn. Waitlisty allows us to admit students to a course in a prioritized fashion, instead of a mad dash whenever a slot opens up. Sometimes a waitlist course may have open slots, but this is a mirage because you can’t register for that open slot until your PR is approved.

Being on the waitlist means that there is no guarantee that you will be able to enroll in that course. Because of this, you must have a fallback plan in the event that you cannot take the waitlisted course. For instance, you could tentatively enroll in a different class that will satisfy another degree requirement, and plan to take the waitlisted class in a future semester.

You should always use Advance Registration to get into high-demand courses when possible. If you get in during Advance Registration then you don’t have to worry about the waitlist at all!

Which classes require permission

Path@Penn lists the registration restrictions for each Penn course, in the Registration Restrictions and Registration Notes sections. For example, the course below requires all students (regardless of major, year, etc) to have an approved PR before they can register:

Path permit-required course

Sometimes students with certain majors can register directly, but other majors need a PR:

Path grad-only course

This message above lists all of the graduate programs in CIS (here, Computer & Information Science refers specifically to our CIS Master’s degree), so CIS grad students can register directly but everyone else (e.g., CSCI undergrads) needs a PR.

Finally, if you see the text “Enrollment in this course is restricted. Request Permission to register”, as below, then it means that again all students need a PR – the PR requirement overrides the ability for undergrad CIS students to register directly:

Path pr-ugrad course

The Special Permission restriction mentioned above similarly takes priority over other restrictions, so if you see both then it also means everyone needs a PR.

Waitlisty is the mechanism we use in CIS for approving PRs in a customized and scalable way.

Using Waitlisty

Please do not reach out to individual faculty with permission requests!

See our short video of how to request permission for a course.

The first step is submitting a PR via Path for a waitlist course (see our instructions below or official ones from SRFS). You can submit PRs just before and during Advance Registration, and we encourage you to do so.

A PR is always created for a specific course and section. If you created a PR for a recitation but actually need to get into the lecture (or the undergrad version of a cross-listed course but you want the grad version instead), you will have to create a new PR. PRs cannot be edited after the fact.

You can, somewhat unfortunately, submit a PR for any course, even ones that you can register for directly. Don’t submit a PR unless the course requires it - just go ahead and advance-register or regular-register!

Find the course in Path and click Add to Cart. Then, click Request permission for this course:

Path permission request part 0

It doesn’t matter which cart you use. Type something brief in the Permission Request field; we’ll follow-up with course-specific questions later. For now, just hit OkPath permission request part 1

…and finally, Save Changes. Path permission request part 2

After Advance Registration results are announced, we’ll follow up via email to direct you to the Waitlisty website where you may need to complete course-specific information like explaining how you satisfy the pre-reqs, why you want to take the course, etc. You must submit a PR via Path to gain access to this site.


To prioritize students on the waitlist, we consider how urgently each student needs to take the class. For instance, if both a NETS student and a CSCI student want to take NETS 2120formerly NETS 212, we give priority to the former because NETS 2120formerly NETS 212 is specifically required for the NETS student, while the CSCI student is taking NETS 2120formerly NETS 212 as a CIS Elective or Technical Elective which have lots of alternatives. Timing matters, too: perhaps this is a student’s last opportunity to take the class before they graduate.

When will decisions be made?

PRs are processed periodically from when Advance Registration results are announced until the end of the Add/Drop/Swap period. You could receive permission during the first few weeks of the semester.

We are unfortunately not able to notify you that you will not be receiving permission, since course enrollment fluctuates right up until the Add/Drop/Swap deadline.

Approved Permission Requests

If your PR is approved, you’ll receive a notice from Path. You then have a chance to register for the course in Path.

If your PR is approved but the class is full, you cannot register.

Due to an inability to revoke approved PRs and, as a result, students sitting on approved-but-unused PRs, waitlist courses are often mildly oversubscribed. Thus, an approved PR is no guarantee that you’ll be able to register for a course. So always use an approved PR right away!

Once you’ve registered for a waitlist class, please be careful not to accidentally drop it. If you do this, we cannot guarantee that you will be able to register again!

Switching between cross-listed courses

If you are registered for a cross-listed CIS course (like CIS 4190) and wish to switch to the other cross-listed course (CIS 5190), Waitlisty can help you with the transition. You need to submit a PR for both courses, including the one you are registered for. About 1 business day after both PRs are submitted, Waitlisty will see and approve your other PR, allowing you to swap into the new course. Please don’t drop and then add as two separate actions, in a full course you can lose your spot as soon as you drop!

You can use this mechanism to switch between any two cross-listed CIS courses, e.g., from CIS 4190 to CIS 5190 or vice-versa.

Why do you need to submit a PR for a course you’re already registered for? This is because our waitlist system can only “see” PRs, so if you are registered for a course but don’t have a PR for it then Waitlisty won’t be able to tell. But once you submit the PR, Waitlisty can see your registered status.

Leaving the waitlist

If you are no longer interested in registering for a waitlist course, you should withdraw your request. You can do so via the Waitlisty site.

Problems with Waitlisty

If you encounter any bugs while using the Waitlisty website, you can file an issue on our Github repo.

If you have other questions about the waitlist, please reach out to ciswait@seas.upenn.edu.

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