Northwestern to move to Pass/No Pass grading system for Spring Quarter


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Northwestern University will be employing a Pass/No Pass grading system for undergraduate students during Spring Quarter, according to an email sent to students Tuesday evening.

James Pollard and Marissa Martinez

Northwestern University will be employing a Pass/No Pass grading system for undergraduate students during Spring Quarter, according to an email sent to students Tuesday evening.

“We know that some students are working hard to achieve certain GPA goals,” the email said. “But we also have students whose family members are ill or are facing economic difficulties and who are struggling with mental health issues and challenges associated with social isolation.”

The decision was made to provide “equity and compassion” to those most impacted by the spread of the novel coronavirus, the email added. A passing grade is designated as a D or higher, per current Northwestern policy. These grades will not count toward students’ GPAs, and individual schools will offer flexibility in fulfilling degree requirements, the email added. In addition, students can add or drop classes beginning April 6.

Before administrators sent the update, many students across schools had received emails from their professors over the past few days, which notified them of the change to the grading scale.

University officials also posted an FAQ page Tuesday, which details the changes to spring quarter classes and grading. Students will have until May 29 to change their Winter Quarter grades to a Pass/No Pass grade, and will be awarded a P if their grade was a C- or higher.

Weinberg classes taken Pass/No Pass from Winter and Spring will not count toward a variety of college limits, including the rule that no more than six units applied towards graduation can be taken P/N. Students who receive a P grade for either quarter are allowed to use that course for a major, minor or distribution requirement. According to the FAQ page, it is unclear how this change will affect those applying to professional programs.

At the time of publication, no other school website has been updated to reflect the grading changes. Medill students received an email that P grades earned in Winter and Spring may be applied toward journalism units, including IMC courses, distribution requirements, elective concentrations and general electives.

The University announced earlier today remote classes would be extended through at least May 4, with an announcement coming no later than April 17 on the potential continuation of remote classes. Tuesday evening’s email reiterated that if in-person classes were resumed, students unable to return to campus could continue their classes remotely.

The University also outlined guidelines around the recording of class sessions on Zoom. Recording classroom activities is prohibited and may be in violation of University policy and state law.

Faculty own the copyright to their instruction materials through the University’s Copyright Policy. Unauthorized use, distribution or posting of classroom recordings is prohibited — and may violate University policy and state law, the email added.

The email included a form where students can request funding if they need financial support to enable them to meet University requirements and fully participate in remote learning. Students requesting assistive technology were told to contact AccessibleNU.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @pamesjollard

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @mar1ssamart1nez