University Planning and Academic Calendar Updates for Students
Dear Northwestern students,
We want to thank you for everything you have done so far to get our academic year off to a strong start. Whether you are on campus or at home, we know you have endured challenges and disruptions. We appreciate both your commitment to protecting the community’s health and your flexibility as we navigate the challenges in our nation and world, and in particular, the impacts of the ongoing pandemic.
We write today to provide you important updates about the upcoming Winter and Spring terms, including changes to the academic calendar and timeline for future announcements.
We know it is important for you to have the most updated information possible. We will provide you with regular updates to equip you with the information you need. We also ask you to share your anticipated plans through a survey, described below, by Sunday, Oct. 18. Your response is essential to ensure we are prepared for the upcoming terms.
After evaluating many scenarios and consulting with students, faculty and staff, we have decided to begin Winter Quarter undergraduate classes Monday, Jan. 11 – one week later than originally planned. To help promote the health of our community after winter break, we again will observe a two-week Wildcat Wellness period, from Jan. 3 to 17, with all classes scheduled during that period held remotely.
Graduate and professional schools on the quarter system that are closely linked to undergraduate programs – including The Graduate School, all Ph.D. programs, the School of Professional Studies and programs in the Bienen School of Music – also will begin Winter Quarter on Jan. 11. Graduate programs that operate more independently from the undergraduate experience will begin Jan. 4, including those professional programs offered by the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, the School of Communication, the Kellogg School of Management, the School of Education and Social Policy, the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and clinical programs in the Feinberg School of Medicine: Prosthetics-Orthotics, Physician’s Assistant, Physical Therapy and M.D.
Students in the Pritzker School of Law will hear from their school about updates to the Spring Semester calendar within the week.
Our decision to start Winter Quarter one week later was not made lightly. This change does not signal a desire to shorten our quarters for the long term. But after evaluating many different scenarios, we determined that the move-in and testing time necessary to return students to campus after the winter holidays would not be possible if we began on the previous start date of Jan. 4.
The remainder of the 2020-21 academic calendar will continue as planned, including originally scheduled spring break and Spring Quarter dates.
In addition to new start date for the Winter term, we have made the difficult decision to extend undergraduate international travel restrictions and prohibit student international travel associated with all Winter 2021 and Winter-Spring 2021 undergraduate credit-bearing study abroad and exchange programs. We encourage you to reach out to the Global Learning Office or your adviser and consult these FAQs for additional information.
Survey on Your Plans for Winter Quarter and Spring Semester
As we continue our planning for January, it is essential that we have an accurate understanding of how many of you, if allowed, would come to campus and the frequency with which you plan to do so. Such information will enable us to plan for testing, housing and other aspects of campus life.
We ask that you help us finalize our plans by completing this survey by Sunday, Oct. 18.
Students’ Return to Campus
We know the revised academic calendar information will spark many questions – among them, which undergraduates will be invited to campus starting this Winter. As a baseline for our decision, we plan to continue to allow the students who are currently on campus to return in January, including third- and fourth-year undergraduates, first- and second-year students with a housing exception and most graduate and professional students.
In our university-wide planning efforts, we are thoughtfully modeling housing scenarios, dining needs, course modality and testing and quarantine/isolation housing needs. We are actively working to finalize our plans, including whether first- and second-year undergraduates will be able to return to campus in the Winter Quarter, and will share decisions with you no later than early November. As we have previously stated, our goal is to have as many students come to campus as can be safely accommodated.
Course Modalities and Registration
As has been the case in most schools in the Fall term, the majority of instruction for Winter will continue to be remote to enable proper social distancing and other safety protocols. Classes offered hybrid or in-person will be identified on the class schedules.
Timelines for publishing class schedules and holding registration are below:
- Evanston graduate and undergraduate class schedules, including those for TGS programs operating in Chicago, will be released Nov. 13, with undergraduate pre-registration beginning Nov. 19 and graduate registration beginning Nov. 30.
- The Kellogg School of Management already has published Winter and Spring Quarter class schedules, and bidding for Winter Quarter begins Friday, Nov. 9.
- The School of Professional Studies will publish a Winter Quarter class schedule Nov. 2 with registration to begin Nov. 16.
- The Pritzker School of Law already has published Winter Intersession and Spring Semester class schedules. Bidding will begin for Winter on Oct. 20 and for Spring Semester on Nov. 20.
The pandemic has changed our lives in myriad ways since March, yet we could not be prouder of the way our communities have responded to these challenges. The measures we have enacted have required a lot of work from everyone, but the results have been exceptional. Since Aug. 22, we have conducted more than 23,000 COVID-19 tests. For the week that ended Oct. 4, the positivity rate for our on-campus tests was 0.38%. This is due, in large part, to your efforts, and we thank you.
However, to continue to keep our numbers low and to enable a Winter return to campus to the fullest extent possible, it is imperative that we continue our social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing, adherence to testing and behavioral responsibility throughout the rest of the academic year.
We deeply appreciate your efforts and look forward to your continuing partnership as we prepare for Winter Quarter and Spring Semester.
President and Professor
Provost and Professor
Senior Vice President for Business and Finance
Vice President for Student Affairs