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Undergraduate 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 many of you are handling a variety of commitments at the moment – family, personal pursuits and work. Regardless of where you are currently living, it is especially important at this time to take care of yourself while finding ways to stay connected with one another 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 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. At the same time, we are sensitive to the complicated nature of this moment and the challenges many students and faculty will continue to face in the coming weeks. Our guiding principle is to protect those impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, recognizing that we do not yet know the full scope of its impact on all members of our community. We know that some students are working hard to achieve certain GPA goals. But we also have students whose family members are ill or are facing economic difficulties and who are struggling with mental health issues and challenges associated with social isolation. In the end, we made the difficult choice to employ Pass/No Pass, because we think it provides both equity and compassion to those most impacted by this pandemic.

All undergraduate students will receive Pass/No Pass grading for this upcoming Spring Quarter, with a passing grade designated as a D or higher, per our current policy. Pass/No Pass grades do not count in the GPA. In line with this change, individual schools will offer increased flexibility in using a P grade from Spring Quarter 2020 to fulfill requirements. Specific details will be available from your school. We also will extend add, drop and withdrawal deadlines for students. These extensions are reflected in the academic calendar, and grading changes will be reflected in CAESAR next week. We appreciate your ability to adapt, given our changing circumstances.

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. 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.

University Policies and Expectations

All policies and procedures that apply to your 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

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.

Instructors may choose to record class sessions or portions of a class session so that students may review specific content after class, and also to provide an opportunity for students who are not able to attend class to keep up with the course content and discussion. These recordings will be shared only with students enrolled in the course and will be deleted at the end of the Spring Quarter. Instructors will let students know if they are choosing to record and how to access the recordings.

Unauthorized use of classroom recordings – including distributing or posting them – also is 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.

Academic Advising & University Services

Academic advising and University services remain available to students, with most offices and departments operating remotely. Students may make appointments with their Academic Adviser through Civitas/Inspire or may email advisers or advising offices directly. Sessions will be held by Zoom, Skype or phone. Remote advising sessions follow the same guidelines as on-campus sessions, and we hope that you will find a private space to participate in a virtual advising session. If during your session you have a concern for your privacy, please let your adviser know you would like to stop and reschedule the session. 

Other advising offices across campus also are available for remote sessions, including Northwestern Career Advancement, Office of Fellowships, Undergraduate Research and Health Professions Advising. In addition, Counseling and Psychological Services will continue to provide services remotely. More information on University Resources can be found here and 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