Rules and Policies for Distribution Requirements
Distribution requirements can be filled in any of the following ways. Jump to various guidelines for these options:
- Approved NU courses
- Courses from other institutions
- AP/IB credit
- School of Professional Studies (SPS) courses
In some situations, an exception may be made or special rules may apply.
- See guidelines and procedures for substituting non-approved Northwestern courses for distribution credit.
- Review special rules for interschool transfer and dual-degree students.
The distribution areas are defined by intellectual criteria, and many departments offer courses in more than one area. For example, the Anthropology department offers courses that count toward Social and Behavioral Sciences, Natural Sciences, Formal Studies, Historical Studies, and Ethics and Values.
- You must choose your distribution requirement courses from a list approved by a Weinberg College faculty committee. Each year some courses are added to the list and others are deleted; only courses on the approved list for the year you take them satisfy the requirements. Review the lists of distribution courses approved for each year.
- Most approved courses count toward just one distribution area. Some Interdisciplinary Studies courses can count toward more than one distribution area. Read about rules and limitations for Interdisciplinary Studies courses.
Grades in distribution courses
- You must earn a grade of at least D in all courses you use to fulfill the Weinberg College distribution requirements. Courses taken P/N may not be used to satisfy these requirements.
- Courses taken under "target grade" registration (currently available in the Schools of Education, Music, and Communication), even if they result in a regular letter grade, may also not be used to satisfy the Weinberg College distribution requirements.
Courses taken at other colleges and universities cannot generally be used to fulfill distribution requirements. This includes college-level courses you may have taken before you entered Northwestern as a first-year student. (See the guidelines for transfer credits for entering freshmen.)
However, there are two types of exceptions to this rule, and you can discuss these with your College Adviser.
If you study abroad with College approval, you may be able to count a limited number of your study abroad courses toward your distribution requirements. Students can receive a maximum of one unit of distribution credit for each study abroad term, up to a maximum of two units. The two units must be in different distribution requirement areas.
Some Northwestern-run study abroad programs offer courses with Northwestern course numbers. See if such courses count toward distribution requirements by reviewing the lists of Northwestern courses approved for distribution requirement credit.
If you transferred to Northwestern from another college or university, some of your transferred courses may count toward distribution requirements. Read rules and policies for transfer credit.
A maximum of two of the 12 courses you count toward your distribution requirements can be credits you earned through AP or higher-level IB testing. Each of these must be in a different distribution requirement area. Your adviser will also be able to help you think about how your AP credits can shape your academic plan. CAESAR does not automatically slot AP credits in for distros. You can do this yourself through the main menu options on CAESAR. Review qualifying AP and IB scores for your entering class.
- If you earn sufficiently high scores on AP exams and have your scores sent to Northwestern, then your credits should be posted to your record during the summer before your first year. You will be able to access this information through CAESAR, the on-line course information and registration system.
- If your AP credits have not posted on your transcript before you arrive on campus, consult with your adviser.
Some courses approved for distribution requirement credit are also taught through Northwestern’s School of Professional Studies (SPS). Any course on the list of approved distribution requirement courses counts toward these requirements in the same way, whether you take it through SPS or in another Northwestern school.
SPS courses not on an approved list are subject to the usual rules for substitutions for distribution requirements.Back to top