Coronavirus Information for the SPS Community
CURRENT AS OF: August 27, 2020
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
SPS Fall Quarter 2020
SPS remains committed to the safety, health, and well being of our community and to delivering high-quality education in both our online and remote learning classes. These priorities guide our decision making for the Fall 2020 quarter.
- All online programs will continue to be delivered as online programs.
- With the exception of the full-time MPPA program, all on-campus graduate programs will continue to be delivered in a remote teaching format. (Full-time MPPA students who have concerns about attending classes on campus should contact their academic adviser to discuss options.)
- With the exception of some laboratory courses, all on-campus undergraduate programs will continue to be delivered in a remote teaching format. Specifics on lab courses will be announced at a later date, as the University works through space constraints.
Return to Campus Safety Measures
- Anyone returning to campus will be required to wear a mask at all times. These masks can be non-medical grade masks. If you do not have a mask, some extras will be available. In the event that there are no extras available, you will be allowed to come to work and/or attend or teach class.
- We will not be taking temperatures of individuals coming to campus, but if you are feeling ill or have been demonstrating any symptoms — including fever or chills, cough, difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea — we ask that you stay home.
- Social distancing will be practiced in all classrooms and workspaces. Please observe any floor markings to guide your social distancing as they are present around the campus.
- Elevator capacity will be limited in order to ensure safe social distancing. Please allot enough time in your commute to campus to accommodate for longer waits for elevators and transit between floors via elevator. Stairwells will be open, but social distancing should be practiced.
- Classrooms will undergo a full cleaning 1x a day.
- Classrooms will be disinfected 2x a day, between classes.
- Wieboldt and Abbott Halls will remain accessible by Wildcard only throughout the summer. The access plan for Fall Quarter will be shared as soon as it is finalized.
- Handwashing according to CDC guidelines is the preferred method to prevent the spread of germs. In the event that handwashing is not possible, hand sanitizing stations will be present and stocked throughout the building.
Additional resources including information about University on-campus safety precautions can be found online.
Your Northwestern Academic Experience in the Fall
We look forward to welcoming you in the Fall, whether you are enrolled in remote or face-to-face classes. Faculty, advisers, and staff are busy preparing for the new term, and as we do so, we are prioritizing your health and that of the rest of our community while also keeping in mind the importance of your ability to make progress toward your Northwestern degree.
When the pandemic began, we promised to be transparent about our plans and to share them with you as soon as we could. In that spirit, we write with updated information to help you imagine what your Northwestern academic experience will be during Fall Quarter. Please read to the end, review the links, and ask questions if you have them. Contact information is included in each section.
Teaching Modes, Class Schedules and Registration
Our class offerings for the Fall term, including the teaching mode of each class, are now published in CAESAR. Registration for Fall quarter classes will open in CAESAR at 8 a.m. Central Time on Monday, August 3.
Most Fall classes will be remote. All remote classes will be clearly marked in CAESAR as synchronous or asynchronous. The small number of classes that will meet exclusively in-person will be tagged as “face to face.” Courses that will offer a combination of remote and face-to-face learning are identified as “hybrid,” many of which will be paired with a remote section. If your plans change within the add period, you will be able to swap from one section, or mode of instruction, to the other, space permitting.
Contact the SPS Office of the Registrar or your academic adviser with questions about teaching modes, class schedules, and registration.
Grading and Enrollment Deadlines
After careful consideration and upon receiving significant faculty and student input, we are returning to quality (letter) grades for the Fall term. In the spring, we made emergency changes to our grading systems and requirements as a result of the need for a rapid transition to remote coursework. However, we have heard from many in our community that they are eager to return to traditional grading, an approach we have already implemented for Summer classes.
At the same time, we recognize that our public health challenges are far from over, and we will offer continued flexibility in response. Contact the SPS Office of the Registrar or your academic adviser with questions about grading and enrollment deadlines.
Health and the Classroom
As we have communicated previously, most recently on July 9, Northwestern classrooms, labs, and other learning spaces will look different in the Fall and will require new practices and behaviors. Everyone must observe six-foot physical distancing when entering, occupying, and exiting campus spaces, including classrooms. Northwestern also will require those on campus to complete daily symptom surveys. Face coverings will be required inside university buildings, with disposable options available at designated building entries. Hand sanitizing stations will also be placed in high traffic areas.
Building systems will optimize airflow, and we will enhance cleaning protocols. Instructors and students will be expected to disinfect their own work areas upon entry into their rooms using cleaning materials available in the classroom. Excess classroom furniture will be removed to reflect revised occupancy limits, which in most cases will be 20-30% of normal capacity. You can also expect assigned seating to aid in contact tracing.
Visit the COVID-19 and Campus Updates website to find additional information about how we are planning to return to and manage instructional spaces.
Earlier communications have stressed the important role we all must play in helping to safeguard the health of our Northwestern community. Each student, faculty and staff member must complete Return to Campus training and all students will also be required to review and agree to a revised set of community expectations in CAESAR in order to register for Fall classes. Watch your Northwestern email for further details about these requirements.
We will also need new information from you to plan effectively for the Fall. In early August, we will ask if you plan to come to campus in-person. If you do not plan to come to campus, we will ask the time zone from which you plan to study. You can update this information as often as you need. We will use this data to inform the plans of campus service providers and others, such as advisors and faculty, who will support you as you continue your studies.
The University’s COVID-19 and Campus Updates website is regularly updated and continues to be your primary reference for information about the phased return to campus.
As we said at the beginning of this note, many people are working tirelessly to prepare for your Fall studies. We need your attention to these important details and your commitment to promoting a healthy community to make this transition a success. In the coming weeks, you’ll hear from your school or program with specific details about their academic plans, and from other campus leaders about how student life will take shape remotely and on campus. We’ll also share additional information about study space on campus, and how and when you may access student support and services in Fall.
In addition, we invite you to join in our weekly Return to Campus Discussion Series to hear directly from campus leaders. Sessions address testing and contact tracing, research, and the student experience. While we will have more to share with you in the weeks ahead, we hope that this information helps to fill in the picture of your Northwestern experience.
As always, we invite you to review the University’s robust COVID-19 and Campus Updates site for additional information and answers to your questions. If you do not find what you need, the Resources page is an excellent place to start, and our Return to Campus team is monitoring email and phones to help connect you to the right information.
For the safety of our community, the 2020 School of Professional Studies convocation ceremony was held virtually on June 19, 2020. Watch the ceremony.
Summer Session Updates
- Summer Session 2020 will be conducted remotely.
- Summer classes begin on June 22.
- All University graduate programs, including all School of Professional Studies graduate programs, will return to letter grades for summer term. Traditionally, SPS graduate programs have not had the P/NP option, and in returning to letter grades, students will no longer have the P/NP option for graduate courses. All summer grades will be calculated into the cumulative GPA.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com 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
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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