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Registration Options, Exams and Grades

Learn about registration options, exams and grades using the resources below. If you have any further questions, please reach out to Allison Ledwon (

Taking 5.5 Credits

The maximum number of credits a student can take without permission or additional tuition charges is 5.5. It is your decision whether to take a fifth course; however, you may not take a fifth course during your practicum or your student teaching without permission. Before taking a fifth class, consider your academic background in the subject, the strength of your GPA, and other time commitments. You may only take a sixth class in extreme circumstances and only then with the permission of your adviser and the SESP Assistant Dean for Student Affairs. This option is rarely approved. You will also be charged an overload fee if you enroll in more than 5.5 units. 

A fifth course does not automatically accelerate your graduation; you must also fulfill the Undergraduate Registration Requirement.   

You may not enroll in a fifth class or 5.5 units until the Add period, which is the first week of classes in fall, winter or spring quarters.  You are not allowed to self-enroll in a fifth class during the summer. Approval is needed to override any time conflict or summer enrollment cap.  

Part-time Enrollment

If you enroll in 2 or fewer credit bearing courses, you are considered to be a part-time student. A change to part-time enrollment may be made in CAESAR. Tuition will be charged per credit. To avoid being charged full tuition, you must have your part-time status established during the first week of classes. If you drop a class (thus going to part-time status) after the first week, even if it is before the drop deadline, you will be charged full tuition. 

If you register for full-time enrollment and then prior to the beginning of the quarter decide to change to part-time enrollment status you must follow these steps: 

  • Discuss your plan with your adviser; 
  • If you have filed your graduation petition, consult your graduation petition approval email from your degree auditor to confirm you have completed your Undergraduate Registration Requirement; 
  • Complete the Part-Time Enrollment form on CAESAR. It is located under ‘Forms’ on the Student Center page. 

If you are enrolled in three courses and drop a course (thus having two credits) during the quarter, be sure to discuss your situation with your academic adviser. 

Registering part-time may have other implications that you should consider before implementing your plan. Consider how part-time enrollment may affect: 

  • Student Loans; 
  • Financial aid eligibility, if you are only taking one course; 
  • Tax implications if you are a dependent; 
  • Insurance (auto, health, etc.); 
  • Time frame in which you can complete your degree. 

Additionally, there are several University services that you may wish to continue to use to verify that you can have access as a part-time student where your verified access level may be significantly changed or reduced. Part-time enrollment can impact the use of campus resources:For example: 

  • CAPS: Some services available to part time students.
  • Northwestern Libraries: Open to part-time students. 
  • SPAC: Open for use if you are a part-time student, but you must pay a fee. Consult SPAC for specific pricing details. 
  • Residential Services: To be eligible for residence, you must be enrolled
    at Northwestern University as a full-time degree candidate or as a special student. For more information, contact Residential Services. 

This is not an exhaustive list of services that may be impacted by part-time status.  Be sure to check with the appropriate department. 

You can view the University’s policy on enrollment changes and billing here

SESP Pre-Registration

SESP offers pre-registration for our students the week before the University Advance Registration period. During pre-registration you may register for 2 SESP courses that will be offered the next quarter. This is not limited to courses within your concentration. Pre-registration generally lasts 4 days. During pre-registration the SESP Student Affairs Office hosts a pizza dinner, at which you can get insight and advice on courses from your SESP peers.  If you have a second major or minor in another department that also offers Pre-Registration, the maximum number of classes that you may pre-register for is 2.   

You may pre-register any time after your appointment time begins, but not before. Failure to register at your assigned time can have serious ramifications as SESP classes may fill up. This will cause you to lose any advantage you have over non-SESP students to gain access to our courses. If you would like to enroll in a SESP course that is full, you should place your name on the course waitlist, which is maintained on CAESAR. Before a course waitlist is created, the SESP Office of Student Affairs must make a request to the Office of the Registrar that the list be created. If you wish to enroll in a course that is full – but a waitlist does not exist - contact the Allison Ledwon ( in the SESP Student Affairs Office to ask that a wait list be created. Do not contact the professor directly as they do not maintain the waitlist. 

If you are either a student who requires and academic accommodation and are registered with AccessibleNU, or a student athlete, you may register on the Friday before University Advance Registration. HOWEVER, we encourage you to participate in SESP pre-registration so you can register for our classes as soon as possible. 

University Advance Registration

After SESP’s pre-registration period, the Office of the Registrar will assign you an advance registration time. During this period, you may advance-register for a maximum of 4.99 credits (this includes any courses for which you have pre-registered).
Like pre-registration, your advance registration appointment time will be determined by the number of quarters you have completed and the last 2 digits of your ID number. You may advance-register any time after your appointment time begins, but not before. Failure to register at your assigned time can have serious ramifications as classes may fill up. The appointment times and course listings are published in CAESAR.

Registration with Outstanding Financial Bills

If you experience financial difficulties, SESP and Northwestern want to work in partnership with you to resolve these challenges. However, if you have tuition or other University bills that you have not paid, you will not be able to pre-register for the upcoming quarter. You must make arrangements to address any outstanding bills before you begin attending classes. Students will need to work with Northwestern Student Finance to reconcile their accounts. Visit the Student Finance website for more information.

Registration for Graduate-level courses

If you would like to take a graduate-level SESP course, you must obtain permission from the instructor and your adviser to register.

CAESAR Troubleshooting

Occasionally, you may have technical difficulties when registering online. If the problem is not due to a registration hold, contact the IT Information Center Help Desk at 847-491-5347 or send an email to:

 If you are trying to enroll in five or more units, you cannot do so until the first week of classes of the term in which you wish to take those units.

Registration in Absentia

If you are studying abroad and have limited or no internet accessibility, contact your adviser, at least two weeks in advance, to ask  the SESP Student Affairs Office to register for you.

Permission Numbers

Some courses require permission from the SESP Student Affairs Office or an instructor. The class schedule and description, found on CAESAR, will indicate whether a particular course requires permission before you may register. Please reach out to Allison Ledwon ( with any questions.

Account Holds

If you have a "hold" on your account you cannot pre-register until it is resolved. Typical reasons for holds are an outstanding balance for fees, tuition, library fines, uncompleted health records or a failure to update emergency notification information. Your adviser or the SESP Assistant Dean for Student Affairs may also place a hold on your registration if you have failed to respond to their attempts to contact you, if you have not kept them updated, or you have not met with them. In all cases, you need to arrange with the appropriate office to have the hold cleared before you can pre-register.

Dropping a Class

To make changes in your schedule once the quarter has begun, follow the University’s deadlines for adding and dropping courses. The deadlines are posted both in the SOAP and on the Office of the Registrar's website

You may add a course during the first week of the quarter without receiving permission.

If you wish to add a course after the add deadline, you must discuss your request with your adviser and submit a petition for this request to the SESP Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Associate Director of Advising.

Late Course Withdrawal

You may withdraw from a course without any academic implications until the end of the 6th week of classes. 

You may request permission for a “late drop” after the deadline until the end of the 8th week of the term, and before the due date of the final assessment of the class in question. At this stage, all approved withdrawals will result in a “W” (withdrawal) being posted to the transcript. You will be asked to attest that the due date for the final assessment in the particular course has not been reached. If you request a withdrawal after the final assessment date has been reached, you will be in violation of the academic integrity policy. 

You must discuss dropping a course with a grade of “W” with your adviser or the SESP Assistant Dean for Student Affairs prior to the deadline. 

You can learn more about the withdrawal process on the Office of the Registrar's website.

K Grades

You will receive a grade of "K" for work in progress, which is not factored into your GPA. The best examples of the use of the “K” grade are for the Senior Honors Thesis Program, which extends over three quarters, the Certificate in Civic Engagement Capstone Project, which extends over two quarters, or for study abroad.