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Part-Time and Overload Credit


A full-time course load is three or four units of credit per quarter. (NOTE: The definition of a quarter of NU registration for the purposes of the Undergraduate Registration Requirement is registration in at least two units of credit; see the URR section of this guide for details). Note that if you enter Northwestern as a first-year student, you have at least three quarters of the 12 required during which you can take just three classes (since four courses per quarter for 12 quarters is more credits than you need to graduate) 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.

Overload Credits

School of Communication students can register for up to 4.68 units of credit before the quarter begins. Once the term begins, they may register for up to 5.5 credits without permission of the school and without incurring additional tuition charges.

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

Students wishing to add more than 5.5 credits should complete a Registration Exception Form (also called an add/drop form, available in the Registrar’s Office, on their website, and in your department’s office), get a permission number or signature from the appropriate faculty member, and then see their advisor to receive approval. Once the advisor has approved, students should then turn the form in to the Student Resource Center in the Music and Communication Building, room 5-134 for review by the Undergraduate Dean. If the overload is approved by the Dean, you will be registered for the overload course by her office.


You do not need permission to drop down to part-time status (less than three credits per quarter); however, it is recommended that you consult your advisor to determine any implications this might have for your degree progress. The deadline for dropping to part time and receiving a partial tuition refund is the fifth day of the quarter. If you drop down to part-time after the fifth day of the quarter, you are not eligible for any tuition refund.

Note especially that dropping below a full-time course load may affect your financial aid and/or health insurance, and your student loan repayment grace period. For additional details and considerations, visit the Office of the Registrar’s webpage: graduation/registration/course-load-policies.html