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Northwestern University School of Professional Studies

Faculty Resources

Resources for Northwestern University School of Professional Studies Instructors

This page provides information for faculty teaching in Northwestern University School of Professional Studies: course preparation and management, resources, policies, and campus, systems access and contact information. The Faculty Handbook contains all of these resources in detail, along with University and SPS policies.

Download the Faculty Handbook

Get Started: Faculty Access

Before you may access Northwestern systems, payroll forms must be submitted to SPS for processing by Northwestern Human Resources no later than two months before the start of the quarter you will be teaching.

The following forms are required to setup your appointment. You will be receiving an invitation to join a folder in OneDrive. That folder is PCI compliant, to ensure the safety of your personal data. Please scan and upload the forms individually to that folder. Note: Tax forms must be signed by hand.  Electronic signatures on tax forms cannot be accepted.            

In addition to submitting the above forms, you must complete the following prior to SPS's acceptance of any new hire paperwork:

I-9 Verification – Proof of Employment Eligibility

Follow the instructions contained in this document to complete Section 1 of the e-verification process: 

After completing Section 1, click here to upload scans or clear photos of your documents via our encrypted online upload. The documents must be from the Lists of Acceptable documents.  Attachments must be 4MB or less.  The list can found here. 

Upload Tips 

  • U.S. Passport: Both the Passport ID page and the Passport barcode page are required.
  • If you do not see purple headers/banners on the page - the text looks off - please clear the browser’s cache before uploading. You may also try a different browser.
  • If you are on a Mac, and using Safari, we suggest Chrome or Firefox instead. If all else fails, a private window (such as Incognito mode on Chrome) is usually successful.

After uploading your required documents, you will receive an email with further instructions on uploading your agent's ID and proposing    meeting times.  To complete the final verification process, you must identify an agent – somebody you can attest to your identity.  Due to the pandemic, Northwestern has modified the policy regarding remote verification.

  • The agent is someone with whom you can meet in person who is 18 years of age or older. The agent does not need to be a U.S. citizen. The agent may be a friend, colleague or neighbor, or may be related to you (spouse, parent, sibling, or child 18 and over). You must be able to schedule time to be present in the same physical space – same room - with this person so that they can view your original, paper documents. 
  • The agent will view your original paper documents and enter that information into Northwestern’s online I-9 Service Center. While doing this they will attest to the Department of Homeland Security that your documents appeared genuine and appeared to be related to you (that they are your original documents). Scanned documents are not permitted. You must provide original documents at the verification phase.
  • The agent will be asked to provide Northwestern their name, email, and a copy of their government-issued photo ID (such as a driver’s license or passport).
  • You or your agent must have the technology to participate in a video conference and upload documents via a website.

 If you have any questions regarding the I-9 process, please feel free to email the Office of Human Resources at I9 Help.

Direct Deposit

 Once you have been entered into the payroll system, you will receive an email instructing you to activate your NetID and your Northwestern email account.  You will also receive instructions for setting up your direct deposit with Northwestern University.  This will allow NU to deposit your salary directly into the bank account you choose.  Failure to setup your direct deposit will result in a delay in your payments from the University.


Harassment and Discrimination Prevention Online Education 

Northwestern University is committed to fostering a culture of access, belonging, and accountability, where all members of our community can thrive free from harassment, discrimination, and sexual misconduct. Part of being a new faculty or staff member in this community is to complete an online educational course in your first 30 days of employment. This course linked here will provide you with information about harassment, discrimination, and sexual misconduct, including the options available to those who may experience such conduct, how to respond if you learn of an incident, and how to report. The course also covers University resources and guidance for effective bystander intervention.

It is essential that we hold each other accountable for creating a culture where our community members feel comfortable coming forward to report discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct to the Office of Equity, and where we make clear to one another that this behavior is not tolerated. Thank you for investing the time to learn more about these important issues and for doing your part to make the Northwestern community a welcoming and productive place for all.

FERPA (Family Educational Right and Privacy Act) 

FERPA (Family Educational Right and Privacy Act) applies to all educational agencies or institutions that receive funds under any program administered by the Department of Education.  You may not disclose personally identifiable information from educational records to persons other than the student in questions and college officials who have legitimate educational interest.  Please review the FERPA information handout before teaching your first class.


Returning Faculty

Instructors are given network access and their WildCARD IDs are active for use at Northwestern University Libraries for the duration of the teaching assignment. Access will lapse once the appointment has concluded.

At any time returning instructors can check to see if their NetID is active. If your NetID is no longer active, your faculty appointment has expired and you must complete a series of steps to reactivate it. Please refer to “Accessing Northwestern Systems” in the Faculty Handbook for these steps.

NetID, Email and WildCARD


Faculty receive a NetID to access email, use learning management sites (Canvas), submit grades, view class rosters, and use online reference materials from the University libraries. Your NetID will be assigned after you are hired by SPS and NU Human Resources has received and processed your appointment paperwork. You will receive an email from SPS Finance and Administration with your NetID and instructions on how to self-activate it. 

Northwestern Email

The official communication tool for Northwestern University is email. As a condition of employment with SPS, you must maintain an active Northwestern email account. Visit Northwestern University Information Technology for more information about accessing and using your Northwestern email account.


The University's photo ID card is known as the WildCARD, which provides access to University library resources and to University shuttles, as well as discounts at local businesses. New faculty are eligible for the WildCARD once the hiring paperwork is processed by Human Resources. There are two WildCARD offices: one on the Chicago campus located in Abbott Hall, and the other in the Norris Center on the Evanston campus.

Preparing for Your Course

Before your teaching assignment begins, please review the summary information below to ensure that you are prepared for your course. Details and a teaching checklist are found in the Faculty Handbook.

High-Impact Practices for Instruction: establishes a set of shared expectations to support high quality instruction in all SPS online courses.

Syllabus: Instructors must make available to students and the School of Professional Studies a written description (syllabus) of each course they will teach. You are expected to post your syllabus on your Canvas course site at least two weeks before class begins, distribute in class, and email a copy to your program assistant director or manager.

Course Materials: Instructors are responsible for ordering books and other required materials for teaching in advance of the start of class. PDP faculty are responsible for communicating to the Office of Professional Development materials that are required for class via the Faculty Course Information Form. Faculty teaching online may be provided with online course materials; these may be customized as long as learning objectives are achieved.  

Student Communication: Instructors are expected to be available to communicate with and assist students outside of class time via email, office hours, or phone. All SPS instructors are required to activate and use their Northwestern University email account to communicate with students and program and University staff during the time they are teaching. 

Assessment and Grading: Instructors are responsible for informing students in their classes of the criteria and methods to be used in determining final course grades. Graded examinations and papers should be provided for student review and discussion with the instructor. During the academic term, assessments should be graded and returned to students within a reasonable time. All faculty are expected to submit final course grades through CAESAR by the announced deadline.

Pay Information

Payroll Schedule

Faculty salary is paid in equal monthly installments, via direct deposit, on the last business day of each month within a term. The scheduled monthly payments within each term are as follows:

Fall: last day of October, November and December
Winter: last day of January, February and March
Spring: last day of April, May and June
Summer: last day of July and August 

Please contact Jeannine Russo if you have any questions regarding salary payment.

Please refer to the Payroll section of the Faculty Handbook for additional information.

Canvas / Teaching Online

Canvas is a cloud-hosted learning management system that is the platform for all online courses in SPS. Canvas also provides an easy way for instructors teaching any course to communicate, deliver course content, conduct class activities, and use assessment tools.

Training and support information is available at the Canvas Learning Center. You can register for Canvas training on-ground and virtual workshops for hands-on experience with the system. Learn more at the Canvas Workshop sign-up webpage.

Canvas support for general questions relating to getting started, how to use Canvas features, and basic troubleshooting assistance is provided 24/7/365 for the Northwestern community. Learn more about Canvas Support.

Instructors teaching online for the first time complete a required online training course that is offered through the Office of Distance Education. Current distance learning instructors may utilize several resources via the Distance Learning Website. Contact with any additional questions or concerns.

For additional information regarding teaching online or in-person, please see the Canvas Faculty Learning Resource site and the High-Impact Practices for Online Instruction

Classroom Needs

Room Assignments

Room assignments for on-campus courses are available at least one week prior to the start of the quarter.

Room assignments can also be viewed in CAESAR.

Instructors may not change classrooms without first obtaining SPS approval. After the quarter begins, it is the instructor's responsibility to notify students of approved room changes.

Requests for equipment or specific classrooms, including technology-equipped Smart Classrooms must be made six to eight weeks before the start of the quarter. Please contact the SPS Help Desk with requests or with any questions about classrooms on both campuses. 

In-Class Technical Support

  • Chicago campus: open a helpdesk ticket, visit Room 615 in Wieboldt Hall, or call 312-503-3333 (3-3333 from a campus or podium phone).
  • Evanston campus: call 7-ROOM (847-467-7666); phone located in top drawer of podium

Maps, Shuttles and Parking

Campus Maps

To find your way around the Evanston or Chicago campuses, use the University's interactive maps.

Campus Shuttles

The Intercampus Shuttle runs year-round, Monday through Friday, between the Evanston and Chicago campuses. The shuttle is free, but a WildCARD must be presented to board. All shuttles are wheelchair accessible. For schedules and stops, visit the Intercampus Shuttle website.

Parking: Chicago Campus

Evening/weekend rate parking for SPS faculty and students is available Monday through Friday 4:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. and weekends 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The discount will only be honored at Huron Superior (222 E. Huron Lot C) and the Erie-Ontario Garages (321 E. Erie Lot D). Park and obtain the ticket. To get reduced rate, QR code coupons will be posted in Wieboldt Hall classroom bulletin boards for daytime and evening parking, and can be scanned at the garage pay station.

Long-term Chicago campus parking permits are also available.

Parking: Evanston Campus

Free parking is available in most "F" Parking Lots on the Evanston campus after 4:00 p.m. Please refer to signs at the parking lot to be certain about availability. Do not park in a reserved space at any time.

Getting Help

The following departmental contacts are available to assist you during your teaching appointment at SPS.

Undergraduate Program Staff

Graduate Staff

  • Doug Bakker, Director of Graduate Programs, 847-467-1546
  • MALit, MALS, MA in Writing/MFA Prose & Poetry, MSIS: Amy Danzer, Assistant Director, 847-491-3051
  • MPPA, MSRC: Nancy Ferguson, Assistant Director, 847-467-7854
  • MHI, MSA: Megan Talpash, Assistant Director, 847-467-7498
  • IDS, MHA: Shannon Castle, Assistant Director, 847-467-5411
  • MSDS: Beth Lair, Assistant Director, 847-467-3840
  • MSGH, MSHA: Anna Yee, Assistant Director, 847-467-0871
  • Alison Farajpanahi, Academic Events Coordinator
  • Matt Hill, Program Assistant, 847-491-5612

Professional Development Program Staff

Distance Education Staff

Proctored Testing, Zoom Training or Troubleshooting

Graduate Program Faculty Directors

Class Rosters and Attendance

Class rosters are accessed either through Canvas or in CAESAR, Northwestern's student enterprise system.

CAESAR is also used to monitor and view enrollment prior to the start of the quarter and to access class rosters. At the end of the quarter, instructors enter final grades in CAESAR. An active NetID is required to access CAESAR.

Each week, you should take attendance from the class roster. Noting attendance is crucial at the start of the quarter to ensure that all students sitting in class have registered. If a student has registered for the course but is not listed on the roster, he/she will be allowed to sit in the class for a maximum of two sessions. If the student's name does not appear on the class roster at the third session, the student cannot attend class until they register for the course or existing registration issues are resolved. Please advise the student that they must cease attending class and to contact the SPS Registrar's Office immediately.

For all other attendance-related questions, please see the Faculty Handbook.

Grading Policies

Grading policies are detailed in the Faculty Handbook. It is your responsibility to become familiar with these policies. In general, grading policies are:


Grades given for credit-bearing classes are A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C- and F (for failing work). Ds are not awarded for graduate work. Students may not take required courses pass (P)/no-pass (N), except for their 590 (capstone/thesis) course. Grades may not be changed except in cases of errors in calculating grades. If a student has not yet turned in all the required work, only a grade of Y (incomplete) or F may be given. An X grade is not applicable to graduate students. Please let SPS know immediately if you are pressured in any way to alter a grade.


Grades given for credit-bearing courses are: A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D, F. As there are no fixed guidelines, computing of grades left to discretion of the instructor to formulate a fair grading scale. You are asked to retain graded papers and examinations that have not been returned to students for at least six months following the end of the quarter. 

Incomplete Grades

The grade of Y/Authorized Incomplete is granted to students who are unable to complete course work to merit a final grade, but due to special circumstances, will be allowed to complete that work after the term has ended.

Before you support an incomplete petition, discuss the situation with the student to determine whether an incomplete grade is appropriate. A student must have finished and submitted enough course work for there to be a reasonable chance of successful completion (recommended amount of work completed is 75%) for an incomplete to be requested. Incompletes should not be supported to allow more time to improve a grade, but may be given when a student's circumstances change due to family or medical emergencies and they are prevented from finishing a large portion of work.

Faculty should not request the student to produce medical documentation specifying the injury or illness. A note from the treating physician attesting that the student was unable to complete the work or attend class on specified dates due to a medical condition is sufficient and can be submitted by the student with the incomplete petition to the Student Affairs Committee.

The Y (incomplete) grade is granted with permission of the Student Affairs Committee, so the assignment of a Y grade should be approved before you enter grades for your course. The student should complete a Student Affairs Petition Form and will attach an email of support from you outlining a timeline to complete the work (this form can be completed and is located on the SPS website). Once a decision is reached, the committee will email the result of the petition to you and the student. Then, you enter a grade of Y (Authorized Incomplete) for the student in CAESAR during the online grading period.

When reviewing the request for the incomplete the instructor and student must outline what outstanding assignments/assessments remain and agree on the timeline for completion of the work. This information should be documented in an email to the student to be included in the petition. Students typically should have until the end of the following quarter to turn in the work needed. However, the grade change cannot exceed a year and if it does the grade is automatically converted to an F, per University policy.

Students are not allowed to have more than one outstanding incomplete at any given time.

Submitting Grades

Final grades are submitted in CAESAR. SPS does not accept grades in any other form, including paper grade sheets or emails. Do not leave blank grades in CAESAR. Your NetID must be active to submit grades. A letter grade should be assigned to each student. Please submit grades by the deadline.

Grading starts at the beginning of the final week of the quarter and concludes just after the end of the quarter. Your academic program will notify you of grading deadlines and policies each quarter. If you encounter problems while trying to submit grades in CAESAR, email  the SPS Office of the Registrar,, or the Northwestern University Registrar’s office,

Grading Resources

Academic Integrity

Any suspected instances of academic integrity violation should be reported immediately to the Assistant Dean of the program in which you are teaching. Please see the Faculty Handbook for policies and procedure.

Managing Thesis Research (Graduate Only)

You are expected to familiarize yourself with your role as a Thesis Adviser or Final Reader. Complete details are included in the Faculty Handbook and please reach out to your program's assistant director for more information.  In addition, please read over the section “Capstone Project Process” in the SPS Graduate Student Academic Catalog. Students in all SPS graduate degree programs must complete either a capstone course (only available in a few programs) or an independent thesis / capstone project, which require that the student to secure two faculty members or other approved individuals to supervise and, eventually, approve their work. A specific procedure is in place for MFA/MA students in the Creative Writing program, details of which are also displayed in the Faculty Handbook.

Faculty Development Resources

Northwestern University School of Professional Studies is committed to assisting our faculty in providing the best possible learning experiences. We strive to identify helpful resources that address the specific needs of our adult students. These resources provide a range of support, offering consultations, videotaping of classes, workshops and lectures, and a library of books, articles, and online resources to increase success in the classroom.

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