Courses and Credit

Although the course listings in this catalog are as complete and exact as is possible at the time of publication, some changes may occur later, and courses may be dropped or added. The class schedule for each quarter is posted on CAESAR and contains a complete and updated listing of classes offered each quarter. The University reserves the right to cancel classes when necessary, including those for which there is insufficient enrollment.

Undergraduate Course Credits and Quarters

Traditional undergraduate work in all the schools on the Evanston campus is on the quarter system. In a quarter-long course, students and faculty meet at least three hours per week, and students are awarded 1.0 unit of credit. Exceptions are courses that meet less than three hours per week, which carry less than 1.0 unit, and 15-week courses, which carry 1.5 units.

For purposes of transfer to other institutions or for certification stated in credit or semester hours, a quarter-long course bearing 1.0 unit of credit is generally the equivalent of 2 and 2/3 (2.66) semester hours. In quarter hours, 1 quarter-long course is equal to 4 quarter hours of undergraduate credit.

Credit for Repeated Courses

When courses designed to be taken once are repeated, all attempts remain on the student’s record and all grades are used to compute the cumulative grade point average. However, credit is awarded only once, following the attempt that resulted in the highest grade. Similarly, when courses that allow more than one completion are repeated more than the maximum number of allowed times, all attempts remain on the record but credit is not awarded for units taken in excess of the maximum.

Numbering System

A three-part alphanumeric code denotes all courses. PHYSICS 135-1 General PhysicsPHYSICS 135-2 General Physics, PHYSICS 135-3 General Physics may be used as an example:

  • The first part is the subject code indicating the area of study (PHYSICS in the example).
  • The subject code is followed by the three-digit course number indicating the level of study:
    • 100–199 (as in the example) denote courses primarily for first-year students and sophomores, usually without college prerequisite.
    • 200–299 denote courses primarily for first-year students, sophomores, and juniors, sometimes with the prerequisite of a 100-level course in the same or a related department.
    • 300–399 denote courses primarily for juniors and seniors, with the prerequisite of junior standing or a 100- or 200-level course in the same or a related department.
    • 400–499 denote courses or seminars, primarily for graduate students, in which the major part of the work is not research; they may be open to advanced undergraduate students with permission.
    • 500–599 denote graduate courses or seminars in which the work is primarily research.
  • The third part usually indicates whether the course is part of a sequence.
    • -0 = one-quarter course
    • -1,2 = two-quarter sequence
    • -1,2,3 = three-quarter sequence (as in the example)

Special characters identify certain groups of courses. If a course is taught only through a Northwestern study abroad program, the designation SA is included with the course number. Other designations may be used by the individual departments; see departmental listings for details.

Graduate School Courses

Descriptions of Graduate School courses that are open to advanced undergraduate students may not be included in this catalog. Please see The Graduate School Catalog.