CIS Waitlist

5 minute read

Each department has their own way of handling 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

This CIS waitlist system builds on the Permission Request (PR) functionality built into Path@Penn. The waitlist 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!

Notable Path@Penn differences

Many folks are familiar with our previous waitlist system. With the new Path system, several things have changed:

  • You begin your waitlist request by submitting a Permission Request (PR) on Path. You can submit PRs as soon as Advance Registration begins.
    • Previously, all waitlist requests were created via a separate website which did not open until after AR was over.
  • 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.
  • If your PR is approved but the class is full, you cannot register.
    • Previously, a PennInTouch permit would allow you to register for a class even if it was full.

Which classes use the waitlist

If you cannot register directly for a course on Path (or add it to your Primary Cart in Advanced Registration), and it’s a CIS, CIT or NETS course, the course uses the CIS Waitlist system to manage Permission Requests.

There are a variety of specific messages you may see on Path. Sometimes all students have to go through the waitlist:

Path permit-required course

Sometimes students with certain majors can register directly, but other majors need to use the waitlist:

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) has to use the waitlist.

The Special Permission restriction takes priority over major restrictions, so if you see both then it means everyone has to use the waitlist. Path always has the definitive information on how to register for a course.

Using the waitlist

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

With Path@Penn, the interface to the CIS waitlist has changed significantly from previous years. 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 during Advance Registration, and we encourage you to do so.

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 CIS Waitlist 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 will then be able to complete your registration in Path by submitting your registration for the course.

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!

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 waitlist website.

Problems with the waitlist site

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

If you have other questions about the waitlist, please reach out to