Undergraduate Program Area

Advising and Policies

Information about academic advising and program and course enrollment policies for undergraduate students are detailed below. The Student Handbook can be viewed and downloaded from this page. View complete information about advising, including phone numbers, office locations and emails, on the Student Services page. Course schedules are found on the Undergraduate Course Search page. Course registration is completed in CAESAR.

Contact SPS Advisers
Credit and Grades
Undergraduate Registration Requirement
Independent Study
Taking Courses in Other NU Schools
Research Opportunities at NU
CLEP Credit Transfer
Student Handbook

University Resources

Advising at SPS

The SPS Office of Student Services offers a variety of aacademic and career advising options, including phone, video and email advising appointments and well as traditional in-person advising sessions. Advisers can assist in planning courses, reviewing academic policies, covering degree requirements and they can refer students to resources which promote academic success.

If you have any questions, please email spsacademicadvising@northwestern.edu for assistance or to set up an advising appointment. Please provide your full name, academic program and the specifics of your question to help us quickly and accurately assist you.

Contact SPS Advisers

Academic Advising Team

Please contact the academic advising team or the adviser for your program by email for assistance or to schedule an appointment.  See the Student Services page for individual adviser contact information.

Advising Office Locations
Evanston campus
School of Professional Studies Office (405 Church Street, Evanston)

Chicago campus
Wieboldt Hall (339 East Chicago Avenue, 8th floor, Chicago)

Credit and Grades

A bachelor's degree from SPS requires 45 units of credit, at least 14 of which must be at the 300 level. Each course carries 1 unit of credit unless otherwise noted in the course descriptions. Students may not attempt to improve their grade point average by taking additional courses beyond the number required for graduation. One unit equals 4 quarter credit hours.

Students must have a GPA of at least 2.0 in all courses completed at Northwestern to meet the requirements for a bachelor's degree. Courses with a grade of D (1.0) or less do not count toward the major or minor requirements and may not amount to more than one-fifth of total course work. Transfer credit requires at least a C (2.0) grade.

SPS uses the following four-point system in evaluating academic performance. Please note that D is the lowest grade that bears credit.

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
X: 0 (unauthorized incomplete)
Y: 0 (authorized incomplete; may be replaced by a grade within specific deadline)
N: no grade, no credit
P: pass with credit, not computed
W: official withdrawal, not computed
V: audit

Grade reports are available on CAESAR soon after the end of the quarter. Grades are not given by phone, e-mail, or in person in SPS offices.


The final grade Y (authorized incomplete) assigned to a student at the end of the quarter indicates that the instructor, with the approval of the Student Affairs Committee, has agreed to withhold a final grade until the assigned work is completed.

In order to request an authorized incomplete for a course, students must submit the Student Affairs Petition Form with the instructor’s signature. Students should request an incomplete before the final class meeting/final exam, and only when a circumstance has made it difficult or impossible to complete work due at the end of the term. The authorized incomplete is meant to allow for genuine crisis management only,  not for time management or course load issues, or to allow more time to improve a grade.

The instructor will determine when the work must be completed. The maximum time allowed for completion for undergraduate degree students is 10 weeks; in most cases the instructor stipulates a shorter period. Failure to complete all assignments within the time period specified results in a Y grade that remains on the student's permanent record and is counted as an F in his or her GPA

For more information about incomplete grades, please see the Undergraduate Student Handbook.

Undergraduate Registration Requirement

The Undergraduate Registration Requirement (URR) applies to undergraduate students seeking a bachelor’s degree and must be completed in addition to the established degree requirements. The URR is predicated on the principle that when a student receives a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University, the majority of the student’s academic work is completed at the University.

The School of Professional Studies requires that students complete 45 units to meet graduation requirements. In addition, the URR specifies the number of quarters a student must be registered at Northwestern and the number of units of credit a student must earn at Northwestern.

URR for Students with Less than 11 Units of Transfer Credit
Quarters at Northwestern: 9*
Earned Northwestern Credits: 32

URR for Students with 11 to 22 Units of Transfer Credit
Quarters at Northwestern: 6*
Earned Northwestern Credits: 23

*For the purpose of counting toward the URR, "a quarter at Northwestern" requires that students meet all of the following criteria:
  • Complete courses under the supervision of Northwestern faculty member(s)
  • Register for and complete courses worth at least 1.00 unit of credit in a term
  • Receive any of the following grades in credit-bearing classes: A, B, C (including pluses and minuses), D, F, P, N, X, Y or W

Please note that most study abroad and transfer credit does not count toward either requirement of the URR. There is one exception: completion of Northwestern study abroad programs that offer courses with Northwestern course numbers and the “-SA” course suffix counts toward the URR as long as all other provisions are met.

For more information about the URR policy, please contact the SPS Registrar or an SPS adviser.

Independent Study

Bachelor’s degree and post-baccalaureate students may design an independent study course or project with the direction of an SPS or NU faculty member. An independent study is advanced study of a specific topic within a subject area, comparable to a 300-level course, that, under the guidance of a faculty member, may extend a topic introduced in a completed course, or produce original or creative work. Students are responsible for inviting a faculty member in a pertinent academic field pertinent to sponsor the independent study; the sponsor is expected to meet with the student over the course of the quarter, provide guidance for the student's independent work, evaluate the student's work and assign a grade. It is not expected that the student will meet with the faculty sponsor each week. Students assume primary responsibility for applying for the independent study; a statement of goals, reading list, assignments, activities, and schedule are to be submitted.

Eligible students must have completed a minimum of 22 units - at least four at SPS - and have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. An independent study can be taken only if an equivalent course is not offered by SPS in a current or upcoming quarter. Courses required for a major may not be taken as independent study. Students may enroll in only one independent study each quarter, and a maximum of four independent studies total in the degree program. However, students can petition for exceptions to this policy in special circumstances.

View and download the Application for Independent Study. For more information, please contact the SPS Registrar.

Scholarship funding is available for undergraduate research through an independent study. See the Scholarship and Grant page for application and deadline information.

Taking Courses in Other NU Schools

Bachelor's degree students who have earned a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 may enroll in undergraduate-level courses offered in full-time programs in other schools at Northwestern (also known as “day school” courses). Consent from the SPS Student Affairs Committee and from the course's instructor is required A maximum of three courses may be completed; credits earned may count toward degree requirements. Before enrolling in an undergraduate course in another school, a minimum of 22 units, at least 4 at SPS, must be completed. Enrollment in advanced-level courses that that supplement the major/degree requirements only will be considered; a course required for a major is eligible only if the pertinent SPS course have been cancelled. Daytime courses may not be taken P/N, or to make up a deficiency resulting from failing or incomplete grades. Post-baccalaureate students also may enroll in undergraduate courses in other NU schools according to the same procedure.

To register for full-time, daytime undergraduate courses in other schools at Northwestern, students must first meet with their SPS adviser and obtain their signature on the request form for daytime enrollment, then should submit the Student Affairs Petition Form no later than two weeks before the start of the quarter, providing details of the academic purpose for the cross-school enrollment, and the course instructor’s consent to for an SPS student to enroll in a non-SPS course.

For more information about registering for daytime courses in other NU schools, please see the Undergraduate Student Handbook, or contact an SPS adviser.

Research Opportunities at NU

SPS undergraduate degree and post-baccalaureate students can pursue opportunities for research throughout the University beyond the Independent Study and cross-school enrollment.

Through Northwestern’s Office of Undergraduate Research, research opportunities through NU academic departments and programs are available to SPS students. A number of undergraduate research programs are offered throughout the year, from research grants to workshops and language study, open to students across disciplines and majors. The Office of Undergraduate Research is available to guide SPS students to opportunities and through the application process; get started with information from the OUR website, or request an advising session with an OUR adviser.

External funding for research is available SPS students. These opportunities are funded by sources outside of the University and can be found through the Office of Fellowships.

SPS students who have engaged in original research and creative projects may enter the university-wide Undergraduate Research and Arts Exposition.

CLEP Credit Transfer

Degree students may elect to take one of the nationally standardized CLEP tests, which allow them to earn college credit. CLEP credits can satisfy prerequisites or reduce the number of courses needed for a degree. Before registering for a test, students must determine whether the credits may be applied to a specific program at SPS by petitioning to the Student Affairs Committee. CLEP credit does not satisfy the writing requirement. CLEP credit cannot be applied to majors or minors, or foreign language requirements. SPS accepts up to 11 units of credit from CLEP tests.

CLEP test applications and information about testing sites are available from both SPS offices. Additional information on CLEP can be found on the College Board website. The SPS CLEP code is 1578.

Review details about CLEP, including exam information here

Student Handbook

The Undergraduate Student Handbook is your guide to SPS undergraduate study. It provides information about various practical aspects of student life and is intended to help you navigate your program and its administrative procedures. In addition to the policies contained in this handbook, you are also expected to be familiar with University-enacted rules and regulations, which are found in the Northwestern University Student Handbook.

Links to University Resources

Resources across Northwestern University are available to you as an SPS student. Visit the links at the right for more detailed information. If you have questions, please contact the SPS Office of Student Services.