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Pass/Not Pass (P/N) Grading Option

 If you are interested in taking a course that is out of your normal area of study, or that might be highly challenging for you, and that is not a distribution or major requirement, taking the class Pass/Not Pass (P/N) might be an option. If you register for a course P/N, then either a “Pass” (P) or “Not Pass” (N) grade is posted to the transcript in place of an ABC grade. The P/N does not affect your GPA, regardless of whether you “Pass” or “Not Pass” the class. If you pass, you can use the course as an elective credit toward your degree. If you receive an “N” grade, you receive no credit for the class.  You will need to complete a petition to add/drop/PN before being guaranteed a P/N grading option. 

Keep in mind – professors do not know if you sign up for a course grading option of P/N unless you tell them.  They will give you a letter grade, which will be converted to a P/N grade after final grades have been submitted.  

Be very cautious when registering for a class P/N; it is best to discuss it with your advisor before going ahead with this option. For example, many graduate schools (especially law schools) do not like to see P/N grades because they may be masking low grades and artificially inflate your GPA.  P/Ns are intended to help you explore new areas – use them wisely and consider how they will impact your record. 

P/N policies are listed below, and additional information is available at  Note that each school and department at Northwestern may have varying rules on P/N grading, so you should consult with your own academic advisor, the SoC Undergraduate Dean, or your degree auditor in the Office of the Registrar for accurate information. 


P/N Policies 

  • Grades of P or D may only count as electives courses; they may not count in either the major or distribution requirement areas.   
  • Courses offered by the major department may not be taken for a P grade, regardless of which requirement they are applied to, and even if they will count as an elective.  
  • You may P/N only one class in a given quarter, and you cannot P/N a course during a quarter in which you are on probation. 
  • A maximum of six courses may be taken P/N. This includes Ns. 
  • You cannot P/N a language course that you will use to fulfill the language requirement for your major. 
  • It is solely your responsibility to sign up for P/N grading successfully.   If you change your grading via CAESAR, be sure to log out and log back in to double-check that the grading option was properly set.  You can also sign up in person at the Registrar’s Office; if so, save your receipt so you can prove you did sign up P/N. 
  • Professors may decide not to allow the P/N grading option in their course. That information will be listed in CAESAR. 
  • The P/N deadline is absolute — No Exceptions. Refer to the university academic calendar for deadlines: