Pass/No Credit (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/No Credit (P/N) might be an option. If you register for a course P/N, then either a “Pass” (P) or “No Credit” (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 “No Credit” 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. 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. Also, be sure to review the rules on P/N grading below.

***For all matriculation years, human communication sciences and communications studies have additional rules concerning grades; see their major requirements for complete information.

  • The last day to change your grading option to P/N is the Friday of the third week of classes.  The P/N deadline is absolute -- No Exceptions.

P/N Rules

  • 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.

Keep in mind – professors do not know if you sign up for a course grading option of P/N unless you tell them.  Also, 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. 

Lastly, each school and department at Northwestern may have varying rules on P/N grading, so do not ask the people at the front desk in the Registrar's Office to accurately tell you the rules for your major in the School of Communication. You should ask your own academic advisor, the School of Communication’s Undergraduate Dean, or your degree auditor in the Registrar's Office. These are the people who know the rules that apply to you.