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Northwestern University

Adding and Dropping Classes

Northwestern students generally sign up for courses during the registration period preceding each academic quarter. However, you may sometimes want to change your schedule—by adding a course you are not yet signed up for or by dropping a course in which you are enrolled.

Deadlines for adding and dropping courses are available on the Registrar’s website each quarter. 

Adding a course

You can add a course only during the add period, which is the first week of each quarter. The deadline for adding courses ensures that you will not join a course too late in the quarter to complete it successfully.

To add a course, you may need a permission number from the department in which it is offered. You can then add the course on your own through CAESAR.

If you are already enrolled in four courses and want to add a fifth course, you should read about overloads.

Late Adds

Weinberg students who wish to add into a class after the end of the add period (the first five days of the term) should follow the process below to submit the request to the dean’s office.  Please note that requesting a late add does not necessarily mean that it will be approved.  No late adds will be permitted after the drop deadline for the term.  Please consult the Academic Calendar for the drop deadline for a particular term.

How to request a late add:
  1. Obtain permission to join the class after the add deadline. Permission can be demonstrated via one of the following:
  1. Fill out and save the Weinberg pdf form Petition for a Late Add
  2. Fill out the Registrar’s online form Request to add/drop/P/N (Undergraduates Only)
What do I do if: 
The class is closed or requires a permission number?

Include an active permission number on the online form, regardless of whether you also include an email from the instructor.

I need to add a class that is also a time conflict with one of my current classes?

A completed Time Conflict form approved by both instructors should be uploaded to the online form.

It’s after the second week of the quarter?

After the second week of the quarter, the dean’s office will not approve any request to add a course the student has not been engaged with since the start of the term.  The dean’s office will require additional verification of attendance from the instructor. 

Dropping a course

You can drop a course through CAESAR through the sixth Friday of each quarter; no signature or permission number is needed. See the Academic Calendar on the Registrar’s website for exact deadlines. (The deadline for tuition reductions is the end of the first week of the quarter.)

If you are only enrolled in three courses, then dropping one of them will mean you are taking an underload; this can have some serious implications.

Withdrawing from a course

Undergraduate students may request permission from their dean’s office to withdraw from a course or courses after the drop deadline (the end of the 6th week of the term), and all approved withdrawals will result in a W (withdrawal) grade being posted to the transcript.  Ws do not impact a student's GPA, but the course remains on the transcript. The deadline to request a withdrawal is 12 pm (noon) two Fridays (10 days) before exams begin, and before the final assessment is given.  In the case of a take home exam, the withdrawal must be submitted before the exam is distributed. When the Thanksgiving or other university holidays conflict with this deadline, withdrawal petitions must be submitted by the last class/business day of that same week. Check the calendar in the particular term to find the exact deadline.
Weinberg students should complete two forms and then meet with a College Adviser: the Undergraduate Course Withdrawal Request and the Weinberg Course Withdrawal Request
If the deadline to withdraw has passed, you should consult with your College Adviser about next steps, including whether taking an incomplete is a viable option, or how you can best work to complete the course.
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