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Northwestern University School of Professional Studies

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

For continued updates regarding Northwestern University's response to coronavirus/COVID-19, visit the link below.


Coronavirus Information for the SPS Community


To do our part to protect our community and help combat the spread of COVID-19, the School of Professional Studies (SPS) has taken steps to pause any on-campus activity in buildings. This includes:

  • Limiting all face-to-face appointments or walk-ins to our buildings
  • Implementing technology solutions that enable us to continue our work and manage all business activities remotely
  • Remaining available, and looking forward to, helping students by email and phone
  • Moving on-campus/blended courses to remote learning classrooms
  • Continuing to offer existing online courses as usual



Current Students


For the safety of our community, the 2020 School of Professional Studies convocation ceremony will be held virtually. The SPS Convocation event will begin on June 19, 2020, at noon CT, following the University’s virtual Commencement. Find out more.

Summer Session Updates

  • Summer Session 2020 will be conducted remotely.
  • Registration will open on May 18.
  • Summer Session will be standard grading practices with the option for P/NP grading determined at the level of the individual course.
  • Descriptions and meeting times will be finalized by May 11. If a course is listed as TBD for days/times, it will be conducted asynchronously.

Spring Quarter Start Date

Northwestern University officially announced changes to the spring academic term to limit the community’s potential exposure to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Spring Break will be extended one week for all Northwestern students, including School of Professional Studies (SPS) students, and the academic term will begin as follows:

Graduate, undergraduate and post-baccalaureate: Classes begin on April 6 

Professional development: Classes begin on April 4

A message from the Dean

Listen to remarks from SPS Dean Thomas Gibbons at the start of spring quarter, 2020.

Winter Quarter Courses

Winter Quarter Graduate Finals

Graduate students are not required to attend in-person winter quarter exams. Faculty will reach out to those students who do not attend exams with alternative options for completing the course. If students complete the remaining work by the end of Spring Break, they will not receive an incomplete.

If you have any questions about your final, please ask your instructor. If you are confused and would like to discuss any options, contact your academic adviser.

Winter Quarter Undergraduate Finals

The Northwestern University Provost’s Office asked that all instructors make undergraduate final examinations and assessments optional. Please note that this applies to all SPS undergraduate students and courses. This means that:

  • If you take the final examination (or submit final assessments/papers) you will receive grades according to the principles set out on the course syllabus;
  • If you opt not to (or cannot) take the offered final nor submit the final paper or assessment, you will be assigned a grade based on the coursework you have completed to date.

For more information, visit the University’s Coronavirus/COVID-19 Academic FAQ page.

If you have any questions about your final, please ask your instructor. If you are confused and would like to discuss any options, contact your academic adviser.


Pass/No Credit Options for Undergraduate Courses Taken in the Winter 2020 Quarter

SPS Undergraduate and Post-baccalaureate Students will be allowed to seek a Pass/No Credit grade for any winter quarter course, even after grades are released. As announced by the NU Provost, “Undergraduates will also be given the option to change their winter term grade from a quality assessment (a letter grade) to Pass/Fail. That retroactive change can be pursued in the spring quarter and with the consultation of your academic adviser. More details about the mechanics of that change will be shared early in the spring term.” For the full message, see the Update to Winter Finals Policy.


Limiting On-campus Activities

As the Northwestern community works to combat the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the university has limited on-campus activity. We are taking precautions to pause any on-campus activities and services in School of Professional Studies (SPS) buildings, on both the Evanston and Chicago campuses. This includes all face-to-face appointments or walk-ins that require staff to be on campus. Remote and online activities will continue as usual, and our staff is looking forward to helping you by email and through Zoom appointments.

We hope that these additional precautions will have a limited impact on SPS students because we have already implemented a robust online approach to enable our students to manage their educational needs at a distance. Additional information on Northwestern events can be found at the University’s Coronavirus/COVID-19 Events FAQ page.



General Questions

Students with general questions about the impact of Coronavirus/COVID-19 on their academic should first visit the University’s site dedicated to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on these topics, the Coronavirus/COVID-19 Academic FAQ page.

If the student has questions that are not answered by the University FAQ, please refer to the clarification messages below and contact your academic adviser if you have further questions.


Online Learning Tools

Northwestern provides a range of tools to support online learning.

digital hub



Should you need to submit a paper form to the office, please scan or photograph it and submit via email. We will continue to provide most services remotely.

The following in-person services are suspended for the foreseeable future:

  • Verification of documents via a seal or wet signature In person review or pick up of student records, including printed transcripts
  • Responding to any mailed or faxed requests
  • Notary and apostille services



Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Northwestern University has made the determination to run all classes remotely for at least three weeks following spring break to combat the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). In line with the University's policy, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) will start to conduct some of our spring study groups remotely beginning Monday, March 23. In addition to study groups, OLLI will also be offering some spring lectures remotely as webinars. These lectures are free and open to all current OLLI members. For information regarding these lectures and to register for them, go to the OLLI Online Registration System.

At this time, all OLLI staff are working remotely. OLLI staff will continue to be available by email during our normal office hours (M–F, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.), however the OLLI offices on each campus are now closed until further notice. To reach OLLI staff please email or submit a ticket through the OLLI Help Desk. Please be patient, we will reply as quickly as we can.




Building access is restricted as of May 21, 2020

Chicago campus

Wieboldt Hall : Exterior doors will be locked and will require Wildcard for entry. 

Abbott Hall, 3rd Floor: Abbott Hall 3rd-floor doors will be locked and require Wildcard for entry.

Evanston campus

405 Church Street : Exterior doors will be locked and will require key for entry.

1801 Maple, 1st Floor: 1st floor will require key for entry.

500 Davis, 7th Floor : 7th-floor doors will require key for entry.


Prospective Students


SPS Admission staff is working remotely in order to continue to process applications without interruption. Please make arrangements for all official transcripts and supplemental materials to be submitted to SPS electronically. For instructions on how to submit official transcripts, please see the SPS admission page or contact us via email.

We have the infrastructure and technology in place to continue providing comprehensive support to our prospective and current students. 

  • Admission advisers remain available to provide program information, answer your questions, and assist with the application process.
  • Applicants will receive an email to login and view their admission decision in the online Self Service Center portal.
As you prepare to submit your application, please note:
  • When possible, please send transcripts electronically to expedite application completion.
  • Physical items mailed to our office will be processed when our office reopens. If you have specific questions regarding application materials please contact your admission adviser.


SPS Faculty

Remote teaching resources

Previously scheduled on-campus (in-person) classes will be held remotely for, at a minimum, the first three weeks of the spring quarter. The SPS Office of Distance Learning has created a remote teaching resources to assist instructors in converting their course content for use in the Canvas Learning Management System and teaching their courses online.

VISIT THE SPS DISTANCE LEARNING WEB PAGESPS Faculty Self-paced Remote Teaching WorkshopNorthwestern IT How-To Videos for Zoom and Canvas


Key Dates for Spring 2020

Faculty Open Course Sites for Student Viewing

March 23, 2020*

Start of Term                    

April 6, 2020

End of Module 1             

April 12, 2020

End of Module 2             

April 19, 2020

End of Module 3             

April 26, 2020

End of Module 4             

May 3, 2020

End of Module 5             

May 10, 2020

End of Module 6

May 17, 2020

End of Module 7

May 24, 2020

End of Module 8

May 31, 2020

End of Module 9/Exams Open

June 7, 2020

End of Module 10/Exams Close    

June 13, 2020

Grades Due in CAESAR   

June 15, 2020


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