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Academic Standing, Probation and Dismissal

Academic Standing 

The decision concerning the academic standing of a student is the responsibility of the faculty of the school in which the student is registered. Academic probation constitutes notice of unsatisfactory academic performance; it is a warning that minimum standards for graduation are not being met. 

Unless a student demonstrates significant scholastic improvement during the period of probation and thereby indicates the ability to fulfill degree requirements within a reasonable period of time, the student may be dismissed from the University. A student will be notified in writing no later than the middle of a term that, because of unsatisfactory work in a previous term or terms, he or she will be excluded in the event of unsatisfactory work during the term for which the notice is issued. 

Academic Probation 

The following students are ordinarily placed on academic probation: 

  • Students who have received final grades below C in two or more courses in any quarter or Summer Session 
  • Sophomores, juniors, or seniors who have a cumulative academic record below a C average on all work attempted at Northwestern University 
  • Students who have failed to complete at least three quarter-courses or the equivalent in each of two consecutive quarters 
  • Students who, on account of dropped courses, failure, or uncompleted courses, have failed to earn credit for an average of three quarter-courses per quarter after six quarters of residence 
  • Students who have failed to maintain a C average in the major or a professional field of study 

The faculty of each school may impose such additional conditions of academic probation as they may deem appropriate. 

Removal from Academic Probation 

Students on academic probation are ordinarily removed from probation if the deficiencies that resulted in probation have been remedied during the next succeeding quarter in residence. Students are rarely removed from probation on the basis of a program consisting of less than four courses graded on a basis other than the pass/no credit option. However, in the School of Communication, students enrolled in a course load of 3 credits and receiving a grade of C or higher in all three may be considered for removal from probation. If students on probation who receive grades of X or Y are not dismissed, probation continues until they have completed all courses or until the end of the next quarter in residence, when the students’ records are again subject to scrutiny. 

In no case are students removed from probation at the end of a quarter in which they have failed any course. 

Academic Dismissal 

The following is a partial list of categories of students who may be dismissed for academic deficiencies (in every case the decision is determined in part by the student’s cumulative academic record): 

  • Students on academic probation whose academic records have not improved significantly during the period of probation (which will not normally exceed two consecutive quarters) 
  • Students not on academic probation who fail in half the work in any quarter or Summer Session 
  • Students who demonstrate flagrant neglect of academic work at any time 
  • Students who do not make satisfactory progress toward completion of degree requirements 

As a matter of general policy, the probation period for a freshman may be extended to the third quarter of residence if such extension appears to be in the best interests of the student and the University. Such consideration is not granted to a freshman whose record clearly discloses lack of aptitude or flagrant neglect of work.