Summer Session Enrollment Limit Policy


Beginning with Summer 2018, the enrollment limit policy will align with that of fall, winter, and spring, and summer enrollment limits (seat caps) will be only those that are CEP (CCI) approved.  The following exceptions will be considered:

  1. Where a course has no enrollment cap, time will be afforded in winter quarter as department proposes the addition of a cap with CCI (approval timeline).  In the case of ‘senior seminar’ or ‘capstone’ type classes, a summer-only request can be made.
  2. Where a department requests an exception for new Graduate Student Instructor teaching a particularly rigorous course and the department deems a limited size is needed.
  3. Where facilities have a maximum capacity, like art studios or chemistry labs.

Requests for exceptions (B) must be submitted with the Call for Courses and will be reviewed by the Dean for approval.


Historically, there has been no policy.  Previously, Summer Session asked departments for seat limits in the Call for Courses each fall, but responses varied.  Some asserted their courses had no summer caps; others used internal caps, while several others asked instructors for their preferences.  This was seen as unfair by some and was cumbersome to track.  Issues arose, such as differing cap requests from the instructor and department, and delays in response, which result in immediate loss of students. Issues of inequity and uncomfortable requests were abundant, situations where instructors would email, “Enroll only the following three students beyond the cap” (despite many other students asking) and, “I’ll open more seats if you allocate me another TA.”  

With summer’s expansion in offerings and enrollment, a consistent process is needed.  It would be prudent to have an established policy to:

  • Eliminate workload of asking departments, checking with instructors
  • Remove unfair advantage and disadvantage to students waiting to get enrolled
  • Prevent loss of students who see a class is full and move on to other summer plans (not looking back to see seats opened a few days later)
  • Minimize undue chaos with scheduling, finding new spaces, and notifying all involved
  • Reduce reservations of wrong sized classrooms
  • Decrease inequity where some instructors decide their limit, others do not
  • Eliminate the use of leverage (course support is high and equitable)

Ideally, summer practices align with fall, winter, spring (where appropriate) and use existing infrastructure. The CEP (now CCI) has approved seat limits per section for many classes in the catalog.  Here is the report as of July 2017:  All courses, approved limits

The above report indicated four summer classes had enrollment in excess of CEP limits.  However, as expected, many ran with requested enrollment limits well below the approved caps.  


While this policy touches all involved, it will have very little “impact” on departments, instructors, and students.  The impact would be the removal of an unneeded process in the Summer Session Office, which has served as a disadvantage to many students.  Using this model in Summer 2017, we find 41 of the 300 courses offered had CEP approved caps.  Enrollment in 35 of the 41 classes fell below their cap. The average enrollment-below-cap was 28.  Only one course filled to its approved cap then had no drops.  This should serve to alleviate worry around classes filling, the high workload of requests from students, issuing permission codes, and the strain of declining students’ requests.

We reviewed the Summer 2017 cap requests - there were 29.  Of those 29 classes, ten already had an approved cap, so we do not need to collect those in the future.  Another twelve were not needed, where the enrollment was well below the requested cap.  

Two classes had no cap; one was requested and worked well.  For the remaining seven, the caps requested by the departments were too low; so as students dropped, seats went unused.

Online Courses:

For an online course's first year, a department can request a cap, the minimum being 65. This cap can help accommodate the new mode of instruction.  As instructors become more familiar with the mode of instruction and courses improve, caps are removed. In a course's second offering, it will have no cap.  If major revisions are needed, departments can request exceptions.

It is important to note summer class size is smaller, typically than the rest of the year. Summer online course enrollment averaged 69 students in 2018, 55 in 2017, and 50 in 2016.  Trends indicate more significant numbers of students enroll in online summer classes, then drop them, so expect a decrease when classes begin.

Over-enrollment and Dropping:

Consistently, students artificially inflate enrollment numbers (enroll then drop).  With no use of summertime waitlists, classes fill when low caps are set.  Then many students are unable to enroll, but when classes begin and many seats open, it’s too late for the students who have made other summer plans.  In 2017, 474 seats were dropped after classes began.  Due to the nature of summer enrollment behaviors, higher (or no) enrollment limits are critical to accommodate students considering summer classes.