Information about academic and course enrollment policies for undergraduate students are detailed below.
For further details on policies, grades, and advising, please consult the Undergraduate Student Handbook.
|Credit and Grades||University Registration Requirement|
|Independent Study||Research Opportunities|
|Courses in Other NU Schools||CLEP Credit Transfer|
Credit and Grades
A bachelor's degree from SPS requires 45 or 42 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.
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.
In rare circumstances, students may be granted a grade of incomplete, which is designated with a grade of Y. A student must get advance permission from the instructor and submit a Student Affairs Petition to receive a grade of incomplete. Y grades will count as a 0.00 in a student’s grade point average until a final grade is submitted by the instructor.
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.
Undergraduate degree students may register for no more than four independent studies and may not register for more than one per term. An independent study may be undertaken only if an equivalent course is not offered by SPS once within four consecutive quarters. Courses required by a program may not be taken as independent study, though exceptions may be made for some post-baccalaureate programs. Students should contact their academic adviser for guidance on the independent study approval process.
Scholarship funding is available for undergraduate research through an independent study. See the Scholarships page for application and deadline information.
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Taking Courses in Other Northwestern Schools
Bachelor's degree students who have earned a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 and have completed a minimum of 22 units (at least 4 units at SPS) of coursework are eligible to enroll in undergraduate-level courses offered in full-time programs in other schools at Northwestern (also known as “day school” courses). Students are required to meet with their SPS academic adviser about selection of daytime courses and have the adviser sign the request form. Students then will need to submit a Student Affairs Petition with the signed request form to the SPS Office of the Registrar.
For more information about registering for daytime courses in other Northwestern schools, please see the , or contact an SPS adviser.
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Undergraduate Registration Requirement
Research Opportunities at Northwestern
SPS undergraduate degree 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 Northwestern 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.
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.
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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.
For more information, view details about CLEP.
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View the current SPS academic calendar, including quarter dates and registration and drop deadlines:
The Student Handbook is your guide to your SPS program of study and Northwestern University. It will provide you with information for expectations and resources as a student, and is intended to help you navigate through your program and its administrative procedures. The handbook is your reference tool for a wide range of student concerns, from course registration to completing your program. In many cases, it is the quickest path to an answer.
If you still have questions or unresolved issues after consulting the handbook, please contact your Academic Adviser.
In addition to the policies contained in the SPS Student Handbook, you are also expected to be familiar with University-enacted rules and regulations, which are found in the Northwestern University Student Handbook.
Below is a list of the most commonly asked questions about the Undergraduate program at the School of Professional Studies (SPS), grouped by category. If you cannot locate an answer on the website, prospective students can contact the admissions team. Current students can contact the academic advising team.
For general application instructions and deadlines visit the Admission page.
Will SPS issue me a student visa upon acceptance into a certificate or degree program?
International students currently in the U.S. on other types of visas may not require a student visa if their current visa permits part-time study (e.g. L-1B, L-2, H-1B, or H-4). If you are in the U.S. on a visa other than an F-1 or J-1 visa, please speak with your visa sponsor to confirm you ability to enroll and study at SPS.
SPS does not process I-20 or DS-2019 forms, our certificate and degree programs are designed as part-time programs for working professionals and cannot be used to maintain legal status in the United States.
Does the School of Professional Studies accept application fee waivers (i.e. NACAC)?
No. Applicants must pay the required application fee at the time of submission.
May coursework completed at other institutions transfer and apply to my degree at the School of Professional Studies?
The majority of undergraduate degree candidates will transfer coursework to SPS which decreases time to degree completion. Undergraduate students may satisfy up to one-half of their graduation requirements with coursework completed previously at another institution. In general, transfer credit is awarded for academic courses taken at a regionally accredited institution, passed with a grade of C (2.0) or better and similar in focus and classroom hours to courses at Northwestern University.
Will my homeschool transcript satisfy the high school transcript application requirement?
Homeschooled applicants should contact the Office of Admissions to discuss their prior secondary education.
If I attended more than one high school will I be required to submit a transcript from each school?
No, only the high school transcript stating conferral of diploma and graduation date is needed.
Is a GED Score Report sufficient to meet the high school graduation requirement or would I also need to request high school transcripts?
While not required, it is recommended that applicants submitting a GED Score Report also submit an official high school transcript if they have attended a secondary education institution.
Is the School of Professional Studies a member of the IAI (Illinois Articulation Initiative)?
We are not a member of the IAI. However, we do accept many courses in the transfer process.
Will my GPA transfer along with my courses from other institutions?
A Northwestern University GPA represents completed coursework at Northwestern and will not include your transfer GPA.
Should applicants with previous military experience submit a JST transcript?
Yes, prior military service should be indicated in a resume as well as submission of an official JST Transcript.
Do transcripts from Canadian institutions require a NACES course-by-course evaluation?
Applicants to the undergraduate program are required to have transcripts from any non-U.S. institution evaluated by a NACES member to ensure that the maximum amount of transferable credit is awarded post-admission.
Can I attend the School of Professional Studies for a second bachelor’s degree?
Prior course credits from a previously conferred bachelor’s degree are non-transferable to SPS’ undergraduate degree program. It is recommended that individuals with an earned bachelor’s degree pursue either the or Student-at-large program. To explore these options, please contact SPS’s Office of Admission at 312-503-2579.
Undergraduate Admission Review
The admissions review committee reads each application fully and employs a holistic review process dedicated to determining an applicant's preparedness to meet the academic rigors of a Northwestern University education. In addition to reviewing academic records, the committee also pays close attention to other indicators of likely success at Northwestern, such as work experience, professional advancement, evidence of commitment to completing the degree and other relevant factors that demonstrate persistence and motivation.
The most successful applications will include:
- Recent record of academic achievement at a regionally accredited institution
- A clear statement of purpose highlighting educational and professional goals
- Professional resume that highlights occupational experience, skills and achievements
Offers of admissions are at the discretion of the review committee and may include parameters such as limiting enrollment in the first several quarters of attendance, meeting with an academic adviser before registering and maintaining a minimum GPA.
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For general advising information visit the Student Services page
How do I make an appointment with an undergraduate adviser?
Contact the academic advising team or the adviser for your program by email for assistance or to schedule an appointment. Advising is available on both the Chicago and Evanston campuses.
How often should I meet with my academic adviser?
We encourage students to meet with their adviser at least once per year. If you have more specific concerns, feel free to meet quarterly, or as often as needed.
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Does the School of Professional Studies offer career guidance and career-related advising?
SPS degree-seeking and certificate students are encouraged to discuss their career goals with their academic advisors. SPS academic advisers are available to help with job search strategies, resume review, and provide program-tailored career advice.
Northwestern Career Advancement (NCA) is a comprehensive career services office on the Evanston campus that provides an extensive range of advising, programming and resources to all Northwestern University degree-seeking undergraduate and graduate students. Recent alumni have access to NCA for six months post-graduation.
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For undergraduate program policies and procedures, see the Undergraduate Student Handbook.
Can I take a class pass /no pass?
Degree-seeking students in SPS who carry a 3.0 grade point average may request to take a course with a pass/no pass option. The course must not be in the student’s major or minor area of concentration. A minimum of 9 courses must be completed to request a pass/no pass option. A maximum of four classes taken pass/no pass are allowed in a student’s entire academic career at SPS.
What is the unit completion requirement at SPS?
Degree-seeking students who transfer to the School of Professional Studies must complete their final 12 units (courses) of coursework at Northwestern University.
How many classes are required to graduate?
Bachelor degrees at SPS require either 45 units or 42 units of credit, depending on the major. See Degree Requirements for details.
What is a unit?
A unit of credit is equivalent to 1 class, 2-2/3 semester hours or 4 quarter hours.
What is considered “good academic standing?”
Students must maintain a 2.0 cumulative grade point average in order to be classified as good standing. Students whose GPA drops below this minimum may be placed on academic probation.
Will my previously completed coursework, including online courses, transfer to my SPS program?
Some coursework may transfer. Courses must be equivalent to the undergraduate courses offered by Northwestern University, from a regionally accredited (i.e. NCA) institution and have a final grade of C or higher. Once admitted, students will receive an admissions packet containing a detailed credit evaluation of all transferred coursework. Transfer credit is subject to the approval of the Office of the Registrar and questions may be directed to their office at email@example.com or (312) 503-6951. SPS does not evaluate transfer credit prior to being admitted.
What is the maximum amount of courses I can transfer into the undergraduate program?
Students are able to transfer in a maximum of 22.5 of the 42 to 45 courses needed to graduate.
Can I repeat a course?
Yes. You may repeat a course if you did not receive a passing grade. However, both grades will remain on your transcript.
Do you require a certain number of upper-level courses for graduation?
Yes. 14 courses at the upper (300) level must be completed to graduate.
Do I need a certain GPA in order to graduate?
Yes. You must earn a 2.0 in your major, minor and overall GPA in order to graduate.
Will my degree say “School of Professional Studies?”
No. SPS bachelor’s degrees are conferred by the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Communication at Northwestern. Your degree will say “Northwestern University.”
How long will it take for me to complete my degree?
This answer depends on how many courses you transfer and the academic load you plan to carry while at SPS. A formal credit evaluation is recommended to ascertain how many courses you will need to complete your degree. You may work with an academic adviser to determine a tentative schedule thereafter.
May I take a course at another institution and transfer it back to Northwestern University?
Yes, but you must secure permission via a successful petition.
May I take a CLEP exam and transfer it to Northwestern University?
Yes, for additional information about the CLEP exam and equivalent courses at SPS, visit our CLEP Credit Transfer Information page.
Do I need to apply for graduation?
Yes. You should complete the Graduation Application by October 1 of the academic year in which you are finishing your degree.
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Where can I park when I come to class?
On the Evanston campus, free parking is available in most "F" Parking Lots after 4 p.m. Please refer to signs at the parking lot to be certain about availability. Do not at any time park in a reserved space. On the Chicago campus, reduced-rate (with validation) parking is available in two University garages from 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays. Full parking details available within Locations and Contact information.
How can I travel between the Evanston and Chicago campuses?
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. For schedules and stops, visit the Intercampus Shuttle website.
Can I take the CTA to Northwestern?
The Evanston campus is close to the Purple Line's Davis, Foster and Noyes stops. The Foster and Noyes stops are both two and a half blocks west of Sheridan Road. The Chicago campus is closest to the Red Line's Chicago stop, which is three blocks west of Michigan Avenue. Multiple bus routes serve each campus.
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Can I take courses during the day from other schools at Northwestern University?
Typically students can complete a degree by taking courses through the School of Professional Studies. However, students who are pursuing academic interests not available in SPS do have the option of daytime enrollment in other schools at Northwestern. SPS degree seeking students may petition to take up to three courses in other schools. You should have a 3.5 cumulative Northwestern grade point average, have completed 22 units of credit, with at least four at SPS. Courses in other schools should be specialized and not available in the SPS Undergraduate program. Consult with an SPS adviser about selecting daytime courses in other schools.
Who are the instructors at SPS?
Instructors come to teach at SPS from all over Northwestern University. Full-time professors, lecturers and instructors from corresponding departments at Northwestern University teach, as well as adjunct professors with academic and professional expertise.
I have to drop my class. What do I do? Where do I start?
You can change you registration status through CAESAR, including dropping a course. If you are dropping your last course, you need to submit the Change of Registration Form. Please ensure to submit it by required add/drop deadlines.
Where do I find important dates and deadlines?
Important dates are located at the Important Dates/Academic Calendar page.
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Do you offer financial aid?
Degree-seeking students may apply for financial aid by completing the FAFSA and the paperwork required by Northwestern University Financial Aid. You should first review important information at the NU Financial Aid website. Students-at-large are not eligible for financial aid.
How much is tuition?
Tuition information can be found on the Tuition and Financial Aid page
When is tuition due?
Tuition is due shortly after your registration. Your account and any financial aid information will be visible on CAESAR.
What if I have questions about my bill?
Contact the Office of Student Accounts at 847-491-5224 or at 312-503-8503.
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As provided by the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990, now known as the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, you are entitled to request and receive a copy of Northwestern University's Annual Security and Fire Safety Report. This Report includes statistics for the previous 3 years concerning reported crimes that occurred on campus; in certain off-campus buildings or property owned or controlled by Northwestern University; and on public property within, or immediately adjacent to and accessible from campus. The Report also includes institutional policies concerning campus security, such as policies on drug use, crime prevention, the reporting of crimes, sexual assault, fire safety and other matters. You can obtain a copy of this Report by contacting the Northwestern University Police Department Deputy Chief at 847-491-3256. The Report can also be accessed and printed from the University Police website.
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