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Full Time, Part Time, and Overload Credit


A full-time course load is typically three or four units of credit per quarter. This definition differs from the definition of a quarter of NU registration for the purposes of the Undergraduate Registration Requirement (URR), which is registration in at least two units of credit. See the University’s URR webpage for details: 

Note that for students who enter Northwestern as a first-year student, if you take four courses per quarter, you would earn 48 credits over 12 quarters. However, you need only 42 credits to graduate with a degree from the School of Communication, so you would have at least six quarters during which you can take just three classes and still graduate on time. Other factors, such as AP credits, transfer credits, study abroad, your program of study, etc., may impact your decision of whether to take three or four courses in a given quarter. Consult your academic advisor on this question. 


Part-Time course load is fewer than three credits in a given quarter. Factors to be considered when deciding to enroll Part-Time include progress toward degree and URR requirements, impact on financial aid, implications for on-campus housing, health insurance coverage, implications for visa status for international students, and eligibility for student athletes. Consult with relevant advisors and offices if you intend to enroll Part-Time 

 Students who plan to enroll Part-Time are also encouraged to complete the Undergraduate Part-Time Enrollment Request in CAESAR. Decisions to enroll Part-Time must be made before tuition adjustment deadlines. If you drop down to Part-Time after the deadline, you will not be eligible for any tuition refund. Deadlines are posted on the University’s academic calendar: 

 Additional details on Part-Time enrollment as well as related links are available at: 

Overload Credit 

Students can register for up to 4.68 units of credit before the quarter begins. Students who seek to register in up to 5.5 credits may do so during the first week of the quarter without permission of the school and without incurring additional tuition charges.  

Enrollment in more than 5.5 units of credit requires consultation with your advisor and permission of the SoC Undergraduate Dean, and will result in additional tuition charges. See the Undergraduate Financial Aid website for information about tuition and financial aid for overload enrollment. 

Students wishing to add more than 5.5 credits should consult with their advisor, and complete the undergraduate “Request to add/drop/P/N form.  Submission of the form does not result in automatic approval and registration. The form will be routed to the SoC Undergraduate Dean then back to the Office of the Registrar, and if approved, you will be registered for the overload course by the Office of the Registrar.