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Student Spring Quarter Grading and Policy Update

Since writing to you last Sunday, I, along with other senior leaders, have heard from members of the Northwestern community – including some of you – about the difficulty of focusing on academic work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and recent race-based injustices, and in particular, how this impacts your preparations for finals and other end-of-quarter assignments.

Winter and Spring Quarters have been challenging, in more ways than one. The implementation of Pass/No Pass grading and the adjustment of some deadlines was intended to address some of these challenges by creating more flexibility than we would typically offer during a quarter. I now write to announce additional adjustments to our academic policies for Spring Quarter, made in consultation with deans and faculty, which I hope will help address some of your concerns.

  • Withdrawal Policy for All Students: We are extending the deadline for course withdrawal for all students until the end of the quarter: Saturday, June 13. Among the available options, we chose withdrawal because it can be offered to all students equally.
  • Grading Options for Graduate Students: Graduate students were assigned Pass/No Pass grades unless they opted-in to quality (letter) grades by May 29. We are now reopening the window for grading format changes with a new deadline of Monday, June 8. Graduate students may alter the grading option, either from letter grades to P/N or from P/N to letter grades, during this time period.

Instructions for withdrawing and changing grading options are on the Office of the Registrar website.

Know that I have also written to the faculty to emphasize the importance of flexibility and compassion as we navigate the end of the term and offered specific suggestions.

Please talk with your instructors and advisers as you navigate the end of term, especially if you are considering withdrawal or, in the case of graduate students, are contemplating a change to your grading format. I know they share my concern for your well-being and academic success and are ready to help you.

Whatever you decide, remember that notations on all transcripts already reference this tumultuous time, advising the reader not to hold tightly to grades or enrollment patterns that might have been unusual before the pandemic. These choices are yours to make, with guidance from your instructors, advisers, and mentors, who all wish you health, safety, and well-being.

Be well and best wishes for a successful end of Spring Quarter, 


Kathleen Hagerty
Interim Provost and Professor