Skip to main content
Northwestern University

Adding and Dropping Classes

Northwestern students generally sign up for courses during the registration period preceding each academic quarter. However, you may sometimes want to change your schedule—by adding a course you are not yet signed up for or by dropping a course in which you are enrolled.

Deadlines for adding and dropping courses are available on the Registrar’s website each quarter. 

Adding a course

You can add a course only during the add period, which is the first week of each quarter. The deadline for adding courses ensures that you will not join a course too late in the quarter to complete it successfully.

To add a course, 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.

Late Adds

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:

Dropping a course

You can drop a course through CAESAR through the sixth Friday of each quarter; no signature or permission number is needed. See the Academic Calendar on the Registrar’s website for exact deadlines. (The deadline for tuition reductions is the end of the first week of the quarter.)

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. Discovering after the deadline that you are likely to receive a low grade in a course is not sufficient grounds for a late drop.

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.  W's do not impact a student's GPA, but the course remains on the transcript. The deadline to request a withdrawal is 12 pm (noon) two Fridays (10 days) before exams begin, and before the due date of the final assessment in the class(es) in question. When the Thanksgiving or other university holidays conflict with this deadline, withdrawal petitions must be submitted by the last class/business day of that same week. Check the calendar in the particular term to find the exact deadline.
Weinberg students should complete two forms and then meet with a College Adviser: the Undergraduate Course Withdrawal Request and the Weinberg Course Withdrawal Request
If the deadline to withdraw has passed, you should consult with your College Adviser about next steps, including whether taking an incomplete is a viable option, or how you can best work to complete the course.
Back to top