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All six of Northwestern’s undergraduate schools share a common priority – undergraduate teaching and learning – but the campus culture is decentralized, with each school setting the number and type of requirements for its specific degree programs, and with its faculty determining the curricula and approving new programs and courses. In every school, however, there are general education requirements as well as intensive coursework within a major. Cross-school collaboration among faculty and students

is common and valued. The scholars and accomplished professionals who make up the faculty integrate their research and professional experience into classroom instruction. As a result, students are exposed to the latest perspectives and engage with professionals excited about their work. Each school also encourages independent student research or creative work with faculty. Field study, internship, and off-campus research opportunities are available during both the regular academic year and throughout the summer. Northwestern also encourages study abroad. Early planning should allow most students, regardless of school or major, to study abroad and still graduate within four years.


Upon arrival at Northwestern, your student belongs to a community of scholars who respect individual achievement and have a fundamental commitment to academic integrity. A statement about academic integrity appears on the University provost’s website and is available as a brochure in the dean’s office of each school.

It gives examples of violations which include plagiarism, cheating, fabrication of data, etc., and describes the sanctions that may be imposed following a violation (grade reduction, letter of reprimand, suspension, denial of honors, or permanent exclusion from Northwestern). Students charged with violations may not change their registration in a course in which a charge is pending or a finding of a violation has been made.


All new students choose their courses after consulting with an academic adviser. In addition to planning for course registration during advising sessions, students and their advisers take time to think carefully about academic interests and the breadth of opportunity at Northwestern.

Placement tests in fields such as foreign languages, chemistry, and math are offered online and should be taken before the start of Wildcat Welcome. Some students may enter with Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate credit or with credit for completing college courses; such credits may prepare a student, to begin with more advanced courses.


New first-year students register for fall classes during Wildcat Welcome, after they and their advisers have agreed on a course schedule. Course descriptions appear in the online Undergraduate Catalog, and quarterly class listings appear on CAESAR, the University’s student information portal at

Students can also review degree and major requirements and their individual degree progress in CAESAR via the Degree Progress tile in CAESAR.


Decisions about academic standing are the responsibility of the faculty of the school in which your student is registered. Students not meeting the minimum standards necessary for graduation may be notified and enter a period of academic probation, which, is intended to be helpful, rather than punitive, and is not reflected on a student’s permanent academic record. The Undergraduate Catalog – found on the registrar’s website at identifies some circumstances that might lead to probation.

Students whose academic records do not improve significantly during a probation period may be dismissed. (See the online Undergraduate Catalog for circumstances that may lead to dismissal.) The cumulative academic record is considered in every case involving academic dismissal.


The Undergraduate Registration Requirement (URR) stipulates a number of terms in which a person must be enrolled in Northwestern classes to be eligible for an undergraduate degree.  It applies to all undergraduate students, and must be met in addition to the degree requirements established by the various schools’ faculties. The URR is predicated on the principle that when a student receives a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern, the majority of the academic work is completed at the University.

Students should know all provisions of the URR; questions about their interpretation or permissible URR variances may be directed to advisors or the Office of the Registrar at (847) 491-5234 or NU-REGISTRAR@NORTHWESTERN.EDU and more information can be found in the Undergraduate Catalog and on the Registrar's website.


A student who wishes to transfer from one Northwestern undergraduate school to another must follow.

guidelines set by the University and by the school. Detailed instructions are available at REGISTRAR.NORTHWESTERN.EDU.


Before taking courses at another institution, a student already enrolled at Northwestern must receive approval to transfer credits. Transfer policies and the form to obtain approval are available at REGISTRAR.NORTHWESTERN.EDU.


Students who wish to withdraw entirely for a quarter or from individual courses after the drop deadline must submit an online withdrawal request found at the Office of the Registrar's website

The policy regarding withdrawing from individual courses is available at REGISTRAR. NORTHWESTERN.EDU.


Undergraduates must file a degree application one calendar year before their anticipated graduation. Students in the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science must file with the school’s Undergraduate Engineering Office; students in the other schools file with the Office of the Registrar.

An annual University Commencement is held in June, and each school also hosts its own graduation convocation. Graduation honors are determined by grades in all work at Northwestern. Students in the highest five percent of their undergraduate school class are awarded degrees summa cum laude; those in the next eight percent, magna cum laude; and those in the next 12 percent, cum laude. Graduation honors are announced after final grades for the final spring quarter are announced, after Graduation Weekend.

The GPA cutoffs for each level of honors based on the stated percentages are not published. Graduating seniors who have demonstrated outstanding talent in connection with a research project or work of an integrative nature may receive departmental honors. Students are nominated by their departments, and the school’s faculty members make the final decisions.

Students are selected for membership in certain honorary societies for superior scholarship or other outstanding achievements. The annual Commencement program announces new members of Phi Beta Kappa (arts and sciences); Zeta Phi Eta (communication); Eta Kappa Nu, Kappa Theta Epsilon, Omega
Chi Epsilon, Pi Tau Sigma, Tau Beta Pi (engineering); Kappa Tau Alpha (journalism); and Pi Kappa Lambda (music).



The following system is used in computing the grade point average (GPA):

GPS System
A 4.0
A- 3.7
B+ 3.3
B 3.0
B- 2.7
C+ 2.3
C 2.0
C- 1.7
D 1.0
F 0.0, Failed to Earn Credit
X 0.0 Failed to earn credit; missed final exam
Y 0.0 Failed to earn credit; work incomplete

Notations ignored in computing the GPA:

  • P  Pass with credit
  • N No grade, no credit K In progress
  • S  Satisfactory (noncredit course)
  • U Unsatisfactory (noncredit course)
  • W Withdrawn by permission 

Students assigned an X or Y incomplete grade must complete the course and the faculty must submit the grade change no later than the grading deadline of the following like term (i.e., an incomplete grade from the fall must be changed to a final, quality grade before the grading deadline for the following fall). In cases where this deadline is not met, the incomplete grade will be changed to a final grade of F.


Professors may schedule exams anytime during the quarter, with midterms most often occurring in the
third through the fifth weeks; final exams are scheduled at the times indicated in the quarterly class schedule. Permission to be absent from the final examination is given by the instructor only for cause beyond the student’s control and should be secured before the exam date.


The quarterly GPA required for inclusion on a dean’s list varies by school, and ranges from 3.7 to 4.0. Students may inquire in their dean’s office for more information.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

University faculty and staff are bound by FERPA, the 1974 Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which prevents us from sharing your student's personal information with anyone, even you as their parent, without their consent. FERPA defines exactly what information in their records – such as address, enrollment status, and major – Northwestern may share with third parties, including parents, and for which – such as grades and course schedule - we must have student permission.

In compliance with FERPA, the University does not mail home grade reports; students are solely responsible for disclosing their grades to their family members. They may download their quarterly grade reports or request they be mailed to them or to their family’s address. For a detailed explanation of FERPA, see REGISTRAR.NORTHWESTERN.EDU.

It is normal to wonder how first-year classes are going and to be curious about grades. The best way to get answers is to ask your student directly, phrasing questions pointedly but without prying. Instead of saying, “How’s everything going?” a family member might ask, “What do you like most about Northwestern so far? Has anything surprised you? What are your biggest challenges?

Asking your students is, in fact, your only means of finding out about their academic performance. Some first-time Wildcat parents’ and families’ impulse is to provide their student close oversight and protection but stepping in to resolve problems for them denies their student valuable life lessons and opportunities for growth.