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Northwestern University

Registration Questions

Find answers to common questions about registration-related issues, such as class-enrollment, courseload requirements and registration periods.

How many courses should I take each quarter?

Students in Weinberg College typically take four 1-unit courses each quarter. You need 45 units of credit to graduate, and if you take four 1-unit courses per quarter for four years, you will have a total of 48 units. Thus, even if you enter with no AP, IB, or transfer credits, you can have three quarters with only three 1-unit courses (still considered a full load) and graduate on time. This gives you some flexibility in planning your schedule, as well as the opportunity to very occasionally drop a course without falling behind. See our Number of Courses and Quarters webpage for details, as well as an explanation of how many of these classes need to be taken at Weinberg College.

Special considerations apply to students who take more than 4.99 units in a quarter (sometimes called an overload) or less than 3 units (an underload). Policies and procedures are detailed in our Overloads and Underloads page.

How do I change my schedule? I want to add or drop a class.

Policies and procedures related to adding and dropping classes are listed below. The Registrar’s website lists deadlines for adding and dropping classes. 

  • Add a class: You can add a course only during the add period, which is the first week of each quarter. You may need a permission number from the department in which it is offered. You can then add the course on your own through CAESAR. If you are already enrolled in four courses and want to add a fifth course, you should read about overloads.
  • Drop a class: You can drop a class through CAESAR through the sixth Friday of each quarter; no signature or permission number is needed. Only in circumstances clearly beyond your control (such as illness near the end of the quarter) will the Office of Undergraduate Studies and Advising permit you to drop a course after the deadline. If you are only enrolled in three courses, then dropping one of them will mean you are taking an underload; this can have some serious implications.
  • Withdrawing from a course: Undergraduate students may request permission from their dean’s office to withdraw from a course or courses after the drop deadline (the end of the 6th week of the term), and all approved withdrawals will result in a W (withdrawal) grade being posted to the transcript. For more on the Withdrawal process, see our Adding and Dropping Classes webpage.

How do I add a class after the end of an add period?

Students who wish to add into a class after the end of the add period may submit a request to the Office of Undergraduate Studies at 1922 Sheridan Road.  Students must have permission of the instructor or department to be added into the course.  They can demonstrate this permission via one of the following:

  • instructor signature on the Registration Exception Form (obtained from the department or Office of the Registrar)
  • an active permission number issued by the department
  • a printed email from the instructor giving explicit, recent permission to join the class

Can I take a class P/N (pass/no credit)?

You may enroll in some classes with the understanding that you will receive a P (pass) or N (no credit) rather than a grade. 

Rules for enrolling in a class with the P/N option include: 

  • Only one class per quarter may be taken P/N. The total number of units of credit you take P/N may be no more than six.
  • Only free elective classes are open to P/N. Classes taken to fulfill your freshman seminar requirement and your distribution requirements, and all classes used to attain Weinberg College foreign language proficiency, must be taken for a grade.
  • You must decide whether or not to take a class P/N during the first three weeks of the quarter.

How do I petition for an Incomplete?

Incomplete grades will generally be given only to students who have already completed most of the assignments for the course and who have a reasonable chance of passing by making up the missed work.  They are not a way to get extra time to improve performance, and they are not appropriate for a student who has abandoned a course (stopped attending and turning in work). They are only granted for unforeseen circumstances clearly beyond your control, such as incapacitating illness or family emergency.

Visit our webpage on incompletes  for the step-by-step process of petitioning for an Incomplete. Note that it will include submitting documentation; for physical health ailments, the documentation must be submitted to and verified by Searle Student Health Center.  Students must submit verifiable documentation of all other emergencies with the Petition for an Incomplete

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