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Graduate Spring Quarter Grading and Policy

Dear Northwestern Students,

We hope that you have been able to find some time to relax over Spring Break, despite the complexities that we are facing today. We know that you are handling a variety of commitments at the moment in your personal and professional lives. It is especially important at this time to take care of yourself, while finding ways to stay connected with each other and your Northwestern community.

We are writing now to provide important information concerning Spring Quarter. 

Update your current address, phone number and emergency contact information

Students are required to update your current address, phone number and emergency contact information. It is essential that we have up-to-date contact information to better understand where Northwestern students have settled in the last few weeks and to enable us to assist you in an emergency. Please update your local address, emergency notification phone number and emergency contact information in CAESAR by April 10. 

Spring Quarter Schedule

As you know, Northwestern classes will be delivered remotely through at least May 4, with an announcement no later than April 17 about whether whether we will continue remote classes beyond May 4. We understand how important this decision is to you. The University continues to monitor the situation closely, and we will update you as soon as a decision is made. Any students who are unable to return to campus to resume in-person attendance will be allowed to continue their classes remotely. 

Spring Grading and Deadlines

The University maintains its high academic expectations and commitment to rigor for Spring Quarter. Details on approaches for spring study in the Pritzker School of Law, Kellogg School of Management and Feinberg School of Medicine can be found on their respective Coronavirus update pages.

Other graduate programs will offer a new option in which students will receive Pass/No Pass grades for Spring Quarter but have the option to select quality (letter) grades. We encourage only those who must have a letter grade for external accreditation, licensure or reimbursement to opt-out of Pass/No Pass grading. Pass/No Pass grades do not count in the GPA; a Pass grade does earn a credit. Schools will follow up to advise students in programs where letter grades may be prudent, and with information about allowing Pass/No Pass grades from Spring Quarter 2020 to fulfill requirements. In addition, add, drop and withdrawal deadlines for graduate students will be extended. These extensions are reflected in the academic calendar, and grading changes will be reflected in CAESAR next week.

Preparing for Remote Learning

Northwestern has a variety of resources to help faculty and students make the transition to remote instruction. Guidance regarding hardware (e.g., computer, microphone and camera) and software (e.g. Canvas, Zoom) requirements for Spring Quarter can be found here. Should you need financial support to meet these needs, please complete this form. The University Bookstore is providing free shipping for Spring Quarter. If you are taking classes, we encourage you to order your course materials as soon as possible, as shipping and delivery times are becoming longer. More information on ordering course material is available here. Learning remotely may take some getting used to! We encourage you to review these strategies for learning effectively in a remote context.

Preparing for Remote Teaching

Northwestern’s resources for the shift to remote instruction include assistance specifically designed for graduate students serving as teaching assistants or independent instructors. Both Teaching and Learning Technologies and the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching offer materials and workshops. There is also a great deal of support available through the College and Schools Coronavirus websites

University Policies and Expectations

All policies and procedures that apply to students’ time on campus still apply to remote learning, including policies and procedures outlined in the Northwestern Student Handbook and the University’s expectations around academic integrity.  We encourage you to review Academic Integrity: A Basic Guide and your school’s policies on academic integrity. As always, dishonesty, cheating and theft in any form will not be tolerated in this remote environment. 

Recording of Synchronous Remote Class Sessions

For those of you who are taking classes, please be aware that unauthorized student recording of classroom or other academic activities (including advising sessions or office hours) is prohibited. Unauthorized recording is unethical and may also be a violation of University policy and state law. Students requesting the use of assistive technology as an accommodation should contact AccessibleNU. Unauthorized use of classroom recordings – including distributing or posting them – is also prohibited.  Under the University’s Copyright Policy, faculty own the copyright to instructional materials – including those resources created specifically for the purposes of instruction, such as syllabi, lectures and lecture notes, and presentations.  Students cannot copy, reproduce, display or distribute these materials.

Students who engage in unauthorized recording, unauthorized use of a recording or unauthorized distribution of instructional materials will be referred to the appropriate University office for follow-up.

For those of you who are teaching assistants or instructors, note that instructors may choose to record class sessions or portions of a class session, including in order to give students who are ill or in a different time zone an opportunity to participate. These recordings will only be shared with students enrolled in the course and will be deleted at the end of the Spring Quarter. Instructors will communicate how students can access the recordings. Faculty and graduate student instructors will inform students if they are choosing to record. Additional guidance about recording by instructors can be found here.

University Services

University services remain available to graduate students, with most offices and departments operating remotely, including Northwestern Career Advancement, the Office of Fellowships and Counseling and Psychological Services. Please see the Libraries Spring Update for information on resources and services to help students complete research remotely. More information on University Resources can be found here.

We are proud of the tremendous efforts of our students, staff and faculty during these times of uncertainty. As the quarter approaches, we will continue to communicate updates as they are available. Please visit the University’s COVID-19 website as the main source of University information, updates, FAQs and resources as this dynamic situation unfolds.

Please continue to take care of yourselves and stay safe.


Jonathan Holloway
Provost and Professor

Kathleen Hagerty
Interim Provost Designate