2019-20 Undergraduate Catalog 
    Jun 15, 2024  
2019-20 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Academic life

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Academic requirements


Degree requirements

The Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree is granted to students who:

  1. Complete the general education requirements as listed in the Northwestern Core section of this catalog.

  2. Complete an academic major as described later in this section.

  3. Complete a minimum of 124 semester credits.

  4. Achieve a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.00 in all course work attempted at Northwestern College and a minimum GPA of 2.00 in the courses comprising the major. Exceptions to the requirement of a cumulative 2.00 GPA will be made for programs in which an outside accrediting organization mandates a higher GPA (for example, athletic training, nursing, etc.).

  5. Fulfill the residence requirement as described later in this section.

  6. Fulfill chapel attendance requirement.

Student responsibility

While the faculty adviser participates actively in the student’s academic planning and monitors his/her progress, final responsibility for recognizing and fulfilling graduation requirements rests with the student. Students should acquaint themselves with the various requirements set forth in this catalog and, beginning with their freshman year, should plan their college courses so as to fulfill their graduation requirements.

Major requirements

Each student is required to choose one academic major. The major enables the student to pursue in-depth study in one academic department. Students must have a minimum grade point average of at least 2.00 in the courses comprising their major for graduation. Students are required to file a Declaration of Academic Major form in the registrar’s office by the end of the sophomore year, prior to registering for classes as a junior. Sophomores registering for their junior term will be unable to register for classes until a form is on file in the registrar’s office. See the section on college courses for descriptions of all available majors.

The number of credits that a student must take to meet the requirements for an academic major generally ranges between 28 and 36, depending on the major. All majors must require students to take a minimum of 12 credits of 300-level or above courses, excluding cognates.

A student may not use more than 8 credits of the same course work between a double major or a major and a minor. This limit does not pertain to cognate requirements.

A minimum of one-half of major courses comprising an academic major, excluding cognates, must be completed in residency. (Note: Student may petition the respective Department Chair for an exception to this rule).

Academic minors

Northwestern College offers approximately forty academic minors, constituting a disciplinary area in which a student wishes to receive a broad introduction to complement their choice of major. Academic minors must include a minimum of 20 credits. There can be an overlap of no more than 8 credits with a student’s academic major, not counting cognate courses. As with academic majors, a student cannot elect a pass/no pass option for courses in their minor. All course substitutions affecting the minor must be approved by the department offering the minor. A minimum of one-half of the academic minor courses, excluding cognates, must be completed in residency. No one may propose a student initiated minor.

Free elective courses

In addition to meeting Integrative General Education and major requirements, the student generally has a number of free elective credits available in the 124-credit total (depending on choice of major). The student may use these free elective credits in accordance with his or her own interests. In some cases a second major can be chosen, or a minor area of study may be elected (see the sections on college courses for descriptions of all available minors). The student may also use these free elective credits to pursue a pre-professional program or a career concentration (see the sections on pre-professional programs and career concentrations for descriptions of available options).

A student may not use more than 8 credits of the same course work between a double major or a major and a minor. This limit does not pertain to cognate requirements.

Course substitutions

All course substitutions intended to meet Integrative General Education requirements must be approved by the student’s advisor and the registrar, in consultation with the Director of Integrative General Education. All student course substitutions intended to meet the requirements of a major or minor must receive the written approval of the student, the faculty adviser, the department chairperson, and the registrar. The written approval must be filed with the registrar before the start of the student’s last term prior to graduation. Forms for these course substitutions are available in the registrar’s office.

Academic calendar

Northwestern’s academic calendar consists of two 16-week terms.

Course load

A student must be enrolled in 12 credit hours of coursework, taken for academic credit, to be considered full-time. (Audited credit hours do not count toward meeting this requirement.)

The maximum number of credits that a student may take during a given term is 18*. Exceptions for an overload may be granted if the student has the following cumulative GPA:

3.30 when registering for the sophomore year
3.15 when registering for the junior year
3.00 when registering for the senior year

Freshmen are not eligible for an academic overload
*Audit credits are not included when approving course overloads beyond 18 credits.

Residence requirement

Students who transfer 30 or more credits to Northwestern must complete the residence requirement by taking their last 30 credits at Northwestern. Before enrolling in course work at another institution, students must receive prior approval from the registrar.

Exception to this residence requirement is made for students majoring in medical laboratory science; students in the dual-degree program in chemistry/engineering or math/ engineering; and students in selected pre-professional programs in physical therapy, dentistry, medicine, optometry, and veterinary medicine where the professional school accepts students after three years provided their undergraduate institution will award them the B.A. degree following completion of the first year of their professional training.

Academic appeals

Students who wish to appeal academic program decisions or the decisions of a faculty member or an academic department concerning their academic progress must submit to the vice president for academic affairs a written appeal of the decision within 30 days following their notification of the decision. The vice president for academic affairs will provide a written acknowledgment of the appeal within seven days. The vice president for academic affairs will investigate the appeal and provide a decision which will be communicated in writing to the student within 15 days of this acknowledgment. This decision will be final.

Individualized courses and programs


Northwestern values the individuality of each of its students and therefore provides the following individualized courses and programs as a complement to the regular college curriculum.

Honors program

Mission, goals and outcomes

The mission of the NWC Honors Program is to provide support for students who want to explore what it means to become a Christian scholar.

The program’s goals are to:

  • Reward intellectual curiosity-through limited enrollment courses, financial benefits, travel opportunities, and extra-curricular events that bolster community
  • Foster interdisciplinary collaboration-through a core curriculum that bridges the gaps between multiple disciplines, faculty contributions from multiple departments, and an optional Summer Study Abroad course
  • Enhance disciplinary expertise-through honors components within existing courses required for a student’s major, a scholarship methods course, and an independent scholarly project appropriate to the student’s discipline

Students who have completed the requirements of the Honors Program will be able to:

  1. Collaborate across disciplinary lines in order to address cross-disciplinary topics
  2. Conduct independent scholarly work appropriate to their discipline
  3. Embrace scholarship as a means of pursuing God’s redeeming work in the world

Required academic aspects of the program:

Honors NWCore curriculum

The Honors NWCore curriculum is comprised of a series of courses taught on a regular rotation that are open only to students who are members of the Honors Program. A distinguishing characteristic of these courses is their interdisciplinary nature. Not only do they focus on broad, foundational topics that overlap with multiple disciplines, they have been designed to fulfill the objectives of more than one NWCore category. Students are then allowed to choose which of these NWCore categories they would like the course to fulfill.

Each course in the curriculum will include at least one collaborative assignment which fosters interdisciplinary dialogue. The nature of the assignment will vary from course to course, provided that the assignment meets the following parameters:

  • Time in class must be devoted to small or full-group discussion of an issue that crosses disciplinary boundaries.
  • Guidelines for the assignment must direct students to approach the issue from more than one disciplinary perspective.
  • The assignment should include some form of peer editing/review.
  • Multidisciplinary reflection/practice must compose a substantial part (at least 20%) of the overall assignment grade.
  • Note: This assignment may include, but does not require, a “group” grade. The method and criteria of evaluation are left up to the discretion of the instructor.

Honors components within existing courses

Academic culture, broadly speaking, relies heavily upon the notion that students will meet the expectations of assigned coursework. Honors components within existing courses reinforce the value of exceeding expectations in the development of disciplinary expertise. Students will choose one upper division (numbered 300 or higher) course required for their major and, in consultation with the instructor of that course, formulate a way to exceed the expectations of one particular assignment. The following guidelines provide parameters while ensuring a high degree of freedom in implementation:

  • The method of exceeding assignment expectations will be student initiated and instructor, department chair and the honors director(s) approved.
  • The method may be quantitative, qualitative, or creative in nature, depending on what is appropriate to the assignment and discipline.
  • The honors component added to the existing assignment should be significant (the definition of “significant” is left to the discretion of the instructor) without being disproportionate to the assignment itself.
  • The assignment chosen must represent a significant portion of the course grade (e.g., approximately 20%; if preferred, a collection of smaller assignments can be substituted for a single, larger assignment.) No change will be made to the weight of the assignment relative to the rest of the course requirements.

Exceeding assignment expectations does not guarantee a high grade on the assignment; as always, grading is at the discretion of the instructor. The student and the instructor should discuss grading expectations prior to the completion of the assignment.

Honors scholarship

Honors Scholarship involves the completion of an advanced-level, independent project that reflects strong intellectual and technical work appropriate to the student’s discipline. The student will work with a 3-member faculty panel headed up by a primary faculty advisor. The project should make an original contribution to the field and will take a form that is representative of work done in that field (examples include a substantial research paper, extensive experimentation and collection of data, original artwork, etc.). Upon completion of the Honors Scholarship project, the student will give a formal, public presentation open to all members of the NWC community.

In order to be approved for Honors Scholarship, the student must:

  1. Be a junior or senior during the time completing the proposed scholarship.
  2. Have a minimum GPA of 3.5 in his or her major.
  3. Have successfully completed HON498: Honors Scholarship Methods course prior to beginning scholarship.
  4. Propose the number of credits awarded for their proposed scholarship. Honors Scholarship may be taken for 2 to 4 credits. The credit hours proposed for Honors Scholarship will depend on the nature of the project.
  5. Organize a scholarship panel. This panel will include the student’s scholarship advisor, one of the honors directors and at least one other faculty member. The role of this panel is to approve the quality of the scholarship proposed, agree to the appropriate number of credits awarded to the project, mentor the student during their work and evaluate whether the project is acceptable or unacceptable upon completion.
  6. Receive final approval from (once approved by the scholarship panel) the Academic Dean. This must take place at least three weeks prior to the semester in which the research is to begin.

A copy of each proposal and project will be catalogued by the Honors Program. These will be made available to future Honors students.

Optional academic aspects of the program:

NWC105: Honors First-Year Seminar

NWC105 is a course in place that allows potential Honors Scholars to experience a strong academic community. It functions as an Honors section of the First-Year Seminar, utilizing the same syllabus, texts, and course objectives as NWC101. In addition, the Honors First-Year Seminar aims: 1) to promote community among first-year students of demonstrated academic ability; 2) to create an environment in which these students can excel academically and nurture their innate intellectual curiosity; and 3) to provide students with an opportunity to learn from NWC faculty who have been recognized for their teaching excellence in the classroom. Prospective students are invited to enroll based on their high school academic records. Completion of the Honors First-Year Seminar does not guarantee, nor is it required for, admission into the Honors Program. Students will have the opportunity to apply to the Honors Program in the second semester of their freshman year.

Honors summer study abroad

In conjunction with the Global Education Center, the Honors Program currently sponsors a 3-week travel experience in Greece, where honors students are given the opportunity to explore the roots of western culture and their own academic discipline. The Honors SSA is optional, but participants earn four academic credits and fulfill the NWCore Cross Cultural Engagement requirement through this opportunity.

Additional aspects of the program

  • The program occasionally sponsors events such as graduate school visits and workshops to assist students who are pursing post-graduate education.
  • The program administers two financial scholarships, which are awarded based on financial need and academic achievement.
  • The program will provide limited reimbursement of fees incurred while pursuing scholarship beyond NWC. Students who are presenting papers at conferences may request that their travel expenses be covered by the program. Students who have completed or are in the process of completing Honors Scholarship may be reimbursed for graduate school exam and application fees up to $100.
  • The program sponsors occasional social events in order to foster community and collaboration among members.

Guidelines for admission to and retention in the Honors Program:

Northwestern’s Honors Program welcomes qualified applicants at any point prior to the end of their sophomore year. The program strives to create a dynamic and well-rounded group of scholars who will contribute to every aspect of the Honors community. The admissions process is selective-not all students meeting the minimum requirements will be admitted. Incoming freshmen and incoming transfer students may apply as soon as they have been admitted to the college; currently enrolled students may apply as soon as they have completed one full semester at Northwestern. Consideration for admissions to the Honors Program is based upon: cumulative GPA; standardized test scores (where applicable); a 200-300 word essay; and academic recommendations. For more information and a link to the online application, see www.nwciowa.edu/academics/honors-program.

Minimum requirements for applying to the Honors Program:

For incoming freshmen:

  • 3.9 cumulative high school GPA
  • 29 ACT/1350 SAT


  • Permission of Honors Co-Directors

For transfer students:

  • 3.7 cumulative college GPA at previous institution(s)


  • Permission of Honors Co-Directors

For currently enrolled Northwestern students:

  • 3.5 cumulative GPA at Northwestern


  • Permission of Honors Co-Directors

To be retained in the program, students must maintain a 3.5 cumulative GPA.

Requirements for completion of the program:

To fulfill the requirements of the program, honors students who are admitted must complete:

  • 8 credits of Honors NWCore coursework (NWC105 does not count towards program coursework)
  • 1 Honors Component
  • Honors Scholarship Methods course (1 credit, HON498)
  • Honors Scholarship (2 to 4 credits, HON499)
  • Students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.5 in order to remain in the program.
  • Honors students must attend a minimum of two of their peers’ scholarship presentations each semester.

Any honors student who completes these requirements will be designated an “Honors Scholar” on their academic transcripts and in the commencement program.

Directed study

A directed study course is an individualized program of study designed in collaboration with a faculty member and intended to be either an extension of a previous course or the study of a topic not covered in the present curriculum (2, 3, or 4 credits). To qualify for a directed study, a student must be a sophomore, junior or senior with a minimum grade point average of 2.50. A student taking a directed study as an extension of a previous course must have received at least a grade of B in that course. A student may take up to 8 credits of directed study during his or her college career. Applications for directed study are available in the registrar’s office and must be submitted to the dean of the faculty at least three weeks before the start of the term or half term in which the course is to be taken. All directed study courses will have a 398 designation.

Student-initiated major

Most students will pursue one of the regular academic majors offered by the college. However, an individual student may have special interest in pursuing in-depth study in a unique major that draws from different areas of the college curriculum. Such a student has the option of designing an individualized major in collaboration with his or her faculty adviser and submitting the proposal for this major to the Academic Affairs Committee for approval.

A student wishing to propose a student-initiated major must do so before completing 80 credits of course work. Courses which have already been completed must be indicated on the proposal for a student-initiated major, and these courses may comprise no more than 75 percent of the total package proposed. To ensure sufficient depth in the student-initiated major, a minimum of 14 credits must be courses numbered 300 or higher; this is in addition to internship credits. To ensure that the proposed major differs sufficiently from existing majors, there must be at least a 16-credit difference between the requirements of the proposed major and those of an existing major.

Department internships

Northwestern offers departmental internships during the regular semester or summer under the direction of the Career Development Center. The major purpose of an internship is to give the student the opportunity to put into practice the theories, knowledge and skills learned in the classroom. Students secure internships with the assistance of the director of career development. Recent internships have included placements in banking, social service, marketing, journalism, church education, theater, insurance and accounting.

All departmental internships earn from 2-12 credits on a pass/no pass basis, with either two or four credits to apply toward the student’s major (see the college course section, course 417, for the credits that apply toward the major). The number of credits earned will be generally based on a scale of one credit for each 52.5 hours of work. While participating in an internship, the student may apply to take other regular or directed study courses under the supervision of one or more Northwestern faculty members for a maximum of 18-credit hours for the term. Students are allowed to complete departmental internships during more than one academic semester; however, a maximum of 16 internship credits may apply toward graduation.

A joint faculty/administrative committee screens all departmental internship applications. Students desiring preference on departmental internship placement are required to return their application forms to the director of career development by September 30 for a spring internship, February 1 for summer internships and March 1 for fall internships. Applications will not be accepted for departmental internships after November 15 for spring internships, April 25 for summer internships and July 15 for fall internships.

Departmental internships are generally limited to students in their junior or senior year. Applicants for internships must satisfy the following criteria: cumulative GPA of 2.00, significant promise for benefit and significant potential for exceptionally good performance, and promise for exemplary representation of the goals of Northwestern as a Christian liberal arts college. Upon acceptance for an internship, students must submit learning contracts two weeks prior to the start of the term in which the internship is to be taken. No registration for internships will be allowed after the fifth class day. Summer internship registration is based upon beginning dates for summer school. Students must refer to the summer school schedule for registration deadlines.

Learning assistance


Under the supervision of the director of academic support, Northwestern offers a number of learning assistance services designed to help each student to succeed in his/her college experience. These services include accommodations for students with learning disabilities, academic counseling, an academic alert system that identifies and provides support for students struggling with their studies, and a peer tutor program.

Accommodations for students with disabilities


Northwestern College seeks to operate in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. A student will be eligible for protection under Section 504 if he/she has a mental or physical impairment that “substantially limits one or more major life functions and has a history of such impairment.” If the student has met the academic standards required for admission to the college, then he/she will be ensured equal educational opportunity. In the case of students with disabilities, it is the responsibility of the academic support staff, working closely with faculty and students’ academic advisers, to provide appropriate academic accommodations. Because these accommodations are based upon the student’s diagnostic evaluations and past educational experiences, he/she will be expected to provide recent documentation (within three years) verifying the disability.

Writing center

Northwestern’s writing center offers services designed to help all students become better writers. Using highly trained peer tutors, the center offers tutorial services to students who voluntarily drop in or are referred to the center by faculty. The Writing Center is located on the first floor of the DeWitt Learning Commons.

Programs for international students


Northwestern College has four study options for international students: a one-year English as a Second Language program; a complete baccalaureate program; a fifth-year program; and a transfer program. (See the admissions section of the catalog for further information about admissions for international students.)

English as a Second Language certificate program

Northwestern College’s one-year English as a Second Language (ESL) certificate program is for non-native speakers who want to achieve the English skills necessary for success as degree- seeking students at Northwestern or other U.S. colleges and universities, or in business. Entrance into the program requires a minimum TOEFL score of 350 (63-computer). Students who complete the certificate program and achieve a TOEFL score of 550 (213-computer) or better will be eligible to apply for enrollment as degree-seeking students at Northwestern College or another U.S. institution. If accepted at Northwestern, courses taken as part of the certificate program would then be credited toward graduation requirements.

The one-year ESL certificate program can benefit:

  • High school graduates who need an improved TOEFL score to enroll in undergraduate programs in U.S. colleges or universities

  • Business persons who want to improve their English for better employment

  • Professionals who need better English skills before acceptance into English-speaking graduate programs

One-year study program

Students may apply for one year of study at Northwestern either through their home institution or directly to the admissions office. These one-year students generally study at Northwestern for their sophomore or junior year and then return to graduate from their home institution. Most overseas cooperating or sister colleges accept all credits earned at Northwestern.

Baccalaureate program

Some international students come to Northwestern College directly from high school or after graduating from a junior college. These students work to complete Northwestern’s graduation requirements for a bachelor’s degree. It is often advisable for international students to take only 12 credits during their first term at Northwestern.

Fifth-year program

International students who have graduated from an accredited college or university may attend Northwestern for a year; this is an attractive option for those who want to upgrade their English proficiency in preparation for graduate school.

Online learning


A Northwestern education is for any student who believes an exploration of faith should be part of learning-even if you can’t be a regular part of our campus community. That includes non-traditional, students who don’t live on campus, and students for whom the flexibility of technology enables them to take all the classes they want, when they want.

Northwestern’s online programs and courses are ideal for:

  • Students who want to take classes in the summer
  • Nontraditional students who are already working or pursuing a career change
  • NWC students who prefer the diversity of taking some courses on campus and others online
  • NWC students who require scheduling flexibility, like student-athletes or students studying or interning off campus
  • Anyone who wants a Northwestern education without the limitations of living on or traveling to campus

Off-campus study programs


Because Northwestern desires to broaden the educational experience of its students, it extends the privilege of two forms of off-campus study. Juniors and seniors can pursue a full semester in an approved off-campus program. A variety of short-term summer study abroad opportunities, led by Northwestern College faculty members, is offered each summer and is open to all students.

Off-campus semester options


Applicants must satisfy the following criteria for participation: significant promise for benefit and significant potential for exceptionally good performance; promise for exemplary representation of the goals of Northwestern as a Christian liberal arts college. The college requires a 2.5 GPA to be eligible for an off-campus semester; some programs have a higher requirement.

Participants in approved off-campus study programs register at Northwestern and are considered to be students of Northwestern College. The allocation of credits and grades toward academic requirements is determined by the registrar on the basis of recommendations from the off- campus study program. During their off-campus experience, students may continue to receive their regular financial aid from the college if attending one of the following approved programs. These students will be considered enrolled at Northwestern for the purpose of applying for Title IV assistance. Students pay normal Northwestern costs for the semester. All off-campus costs that exceed on-campus study costs are to be paid by the student. The following is a list of approved off-campus study programs.

Credits and grades are accepted from the programs listed in this category.

Note: Instructions for applications may be obtained in the Career Development Center and must be returned by February 10 of the academic year prior to the fall or spring off- campus semester.

Northwestern College programs


Denver Urban Semester

The Denver Urban Semester (DUS) is designed to provide a three-pronged experience of classroom instruction, living in community, and internships. Students spend 24 to 40 hours per week at an internship and take 1 to 3 classes for a total of 12-18 credits. (GEN335)

The DUS program consists of two tracks: the general track and the professional track. The DUS tracks are designed to provide two distinct options for NWC students and look as follows:

General Track

  • Internship (2-10 credits)

Choose one to three courses:

  • Race and Ethnicity in American Society (3 credits)
  • Global Urbanization (City of Joy) (3 credits)
  • Urban Leadership (3 credits)
  • Urban Cross-Cultural Integration Seminar (2 & 4 credit options, pass/no pass)

TOTAL: 12-17 credits

Professional Track

Social work majors:

  • SWK418SR, Social Work Professional Seminar (3 credits)
  • SWK419, Social Work Practicum (10 credits, pass/no pass)
  • Urban Cross-Cultural Integration Seminar (2 & 4 credit options, pass/no pass)

TOTAL: 15-17 credits

Education majors:

  • Student Teaching (4-16 credits)

Choose one course:

  • Urban Cross-Cultural Integration Seminar (2 & 4 credit options, pass/no pass)
  • Urban Leadership (3 credits)

TOTAL: 12-18 credits


DUS is offered every spring term and four of the course credits can be used towards completing a minor in Christian Community Development (see under listing of Minors).

Letter grades are required if requested by the student’s home institution.

Romania Semester (Lupeni, Romania)

Northwestern College, in conjunction with the New Horizons Foundation of Romania, offers a unique fall semester experience engaging the culture of post-communist Romania. New Horizons Foundation is a non-governmental organization working with Romanian youth using adventure education and service-learning experiences to help them develop responsibility, teamwork and trust, with the ultimate goal of building a sustainable civil society. Located in the city of Lupeni, nestled in the Jiu Valley of the Carpathian Mountains, the program offers students a semester of cross-cultural engagement, along with development theory in the classroom and practical application once outside. The four-course curriculum consists of:

  • Romanian Language (4 credits)
  • Eastern Orthodoxy (4 credits)
  • Sustainable Development (4 credits)
  • Experiential Education (4 credits)

The Romania Semester meets both the Northwestern College Cross-Cultural and Language Integrative General Education requirements. Students will receive credit for the following courses at Northwestern: Eastern Orthodoxy is equivalent to REL385, Sustainable Development is equivalent to ECO305 and Experiential Education is equivalent to KIN345.

A backpacking trip in the mountains, a home stay with Romanian families, and excursions around the country punctuate the classroom experience and the service-learning work with Romanian youth (GEN352).

Oman Semester

The Northwestern College semester program in Oman offers a unique opportunity each spring for study in the Middle East with exposure to Muslim culture and the religion of Islam. In addition, the program combines cultural immersion with academic rigor so that students gain an understanding of important questions facing a traditional culture that is rapidly modernizing. Courses include:

  • Modern Standard Arabic (6 credits) (This course fulfills the NWCore Language and Culture category requirement.)
  • Christian-Muslim Relations (4 credits) (This course transfers as a 4-credit Topics in Religion course)
  • Oman History and Culture (4 credits)
  • Integrative Experiential Learning (2 credits)

Oman is renowned for its hospitality, openness, and peaceful nature, and thus it provides unparalleled opportunities to be a part of community life. The Oman semester meets both the Northwestern Cross-Cultural Engagement and Language and Culture general education requirements. The Oman Semester, along with 8 additional on-campus credits, earns a Middle East Studies Minor (see under listings of Minors). (GEN354).

Other programs


Au Sable Institute

The Au Sable Trails Institute of Environmental Studies has been established to serve and support evangelical Christian colleges. Northwestern is one of 47 Christian colleges participating in this program. The institute’s original Great Lakes campus is located on 65 wooded acres near Mancelona, Michigan. The Institute also offers study on campuses on the Pacific Rim in Washington State, Chesapeake Bay on the East Coast, the Florida Everglades, and Tamil Nadu, India.

The purpose of the Au Sable Institute is to provide a unique off-campus, environmentally oriented educational experience for qualified students from participating colleges. Students live in small, rustic dorms or cottages and utilize well-equipped classrooms and laboratories. Students have the opportunity to participate in two five-week sessions during the summer.

Participating students may elect to take the necessary sequences of courses that will meet the requirements for vocational certification in one of the following areas: environmental analyst, land resource analyst, water resource analyst or naturalist. (A list of approved Au Sable courses is posted in the biology department and available from the registrar).

Academic credit for all Au Sable Institute courses is granted through Northwestern College. Special fellowships and scholarships are available for qualified students (see the section on special scholarships and grants under the financial information section of this catalog).

Chicago Semester

The Chicago Semester program offers a combined internship/study program under the supervision of Trinity Christian College. The program aims to help students integrate their lives around Christian social values, to develop an understanding of the city and its culture, and to strengthen the student’s vocational directions.

Northwestern grants 16 credits upon completion of the program, with credits distributed as follows: 8-12 credits for an internship/student teaching/social work practicum (with 4 credits to be applied toward the student’s major, see the college course section, course 417, for the credits that apply toward the major). The Metropolitan Seminar entitled “Diversity and Inequality in Global Chicago”  or “Urban Planning, Development and the Sustainable City” will satisfy the NWCore Cross-Cultural requirement; the Social Justice Seminar will also satisfy the NWCore Cross-Cultural requirement; the Arts and the City Seminar will satisfy the Aesthetic Experience (AE) requirement. (GEN300).


Off-campus/study abroad through the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU)


Note: A majority of CCCU semesters require a minimum GPA of 2.75.

American Studies Program (Washington, D.C.)

Founded in 1976, the American Studies Program uses Washington D.C. as a stimulating educational laboratory where collegians combine classroom theory with hands-on experience in an internship in their chosen field. Internships are available in congressional offices, social service agencies, think tanks, cultural institutions and the many other organizations located in the nation’s capitol.

Northwestern grants 16 credits upon completion of the program, with the credits distributed as follows: 8 credits for the seminars on public policy; 8 credits for the internship (with either 2 or 4 internship credits applied toward the student’s major, see the college course section, course 417, for the credits that apply toward the major) (GEN303).

Australia Studies Centre

The ASC offers students a semester at the Christian Heritage College in Brisbane, Australia. The ASC utilizes a combination of classroom training at the Christian Heritage College and experiential learning in the beautiful Australian context. Home stays, service learning and travel around Australia are important components of the ASC.

Northwestern grants 15-18 credits upon completion of the program, with credits distributed as follows: 3 credits for the Australian History, Culture and Society seminar (meeting the Integrative General Education Cross-Cultural requirement); 12-15 credits for elective seminars (GEN326).

China Studies Program

The China Studies Program enables students to engage this ancient and intriguing country from the inside. While living in and experiencing Chinese civilization firsthand, students participate in seminar courses to learn about the historical, cultural, religious, geographic and economic realities of this strategic and populous nation.

Northwestern grants 16 credits upon completion of the program, with credits distributed as follows: 3 credits for Chinese language instruction; 12 credits for the seminars (meeting the Language and Culture (LA) and Integrative General Education Cross-Cultural requirement); 1 credit for elective seminar (GEN324).

Contemporary Music Program (Nashville, TN)

The Contemporary Music Program provides students the opportunity to live and work in a community while seeking to understand how God will have them integrate music, faith and business. Both interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary in nature, the CMP offers two tracks. The artist track is tailored to students considering careers as vocalists, musicians, songwriters, recording artists, performers, producers and recording engineers. The executive track is designed for business, arts management, marketing, communications and other majors interested in possible careers as artist managers, agents, record company executives, music publishers, concert promoters and entertainment industry entrepreneurs.

Northwestern grants 16 credits upon completion of the program (GEN329).

Latin American Studies Program (Costa Rica)

Students have the opportunity to live and learn in Latin America through the LASP, based in San José, Costa Rica. The program introduces students to a wide range of experiences through the study of language, literature, culture, politics, history, economics, ecology and religion of the region. Living with a Costa Rican family, students experience and become a part of the day-to- day lives of typical Latin Americans. Students also take part in a service opportunity and travel for three weeks to nearby Central American nations.

Northwestern grants 16 credits upon completion of this program, with the credits distributed as follows: 6 credits in Spanish language (can be taken in lieu of Spanish 201, 202 at Northwestern); 6 credits for the seminars (meeting the Language and Culture (LA) and Integrative General Education Cross-Cultural requirement); 4 credits for the service/travel internship (with either 2 or 4 credits to be applied toward the student’s major, see the college course section, course 417, for the credits that apply toward the major) (GEN305).

Los Angeles Film Studies Center

The Los Angeles Film Studies Center is designed to train students to serve in various aspects of the film industry with both professional skill and Christian integrity. Students live, learn and work in the Los Angeles area near major studios. The combination of the internships and seminars allow students to explore the film industry within a Christian context and from a liberal arts perspective.

Northwestern College grants 16 credits upon completion of the program, with the credits distributed as follows: 10 credits for the seminars (counting as communication studies, English, or theatre/speech electives); 6 credits for the internship (with either 2 or 4 credits to be applied toward the student’s major, see the college course section, course 417, for the credits that apply toward the major) (GEN304).

Middle East Studies Program (Egypt)

This program, based in Cairo, Egypt, allows students to explore and interact with the complex and strategic world of the modern Middle East. The interdisciplinary seminars give students the opportunity to explore the diverse religious, social, cultural and political traditions of Middle Eastern peoples. Students also study the Arabic language and work as volunteers with various organizations in Cairo.

Northwestern grants 16 credits upon completion of the program, with the credits distributed as follows: 4 credits for Arabic language instruction; 12 credits for the seminars (meeting the Language and Culture (LA) and Integrative General Education Cross-Cultural requirement) (GEN310).

Oxford Summer Programme

The Oxford Summer Programme (OSP) is a program of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. The programme is structured for rising college sophomores, juniors and seniors, graduate and seminary students, non-traditional students, teachers and those enrolled in continuing-education programs.

Northwestern grants 5 credits upon completion of the program (GEN342).

Russian Studies Program

RSP students are exposed to the depth and diversity of the culture during a semester spent in Russia’s three largest cities: Moscow, St. Petersburg and Nizhni Novgorod. In addition to three seminar courses, students receive instruction in the Russian language, choosing either four or six semester hours of language course work.

Northwestern grants 16 credits upon completion of the program, with the credits distributed as follows: 6 credits for Russian language instruction; 8 credits for the seminars (meeting the Integrative General Education Cross-Cultural requirement); 2 credits for the service project (GEN308).

Scholar’s Semester in Oxford

SSO is designed for students interested in doing intensive scholarship in this historic seat of learning. Working with academic tutors, students hone their skills and delve into the areas that interest them most. As visiting students in Oxford University and members of Wycliffe Hall, students have the privilege to study and learn in one of the university’s historic halls. A minimum GPA of 3.5 is required for this program.

Northwestern grants 17 hours of credits upon completion of the program (GEN333).

Social Work in Latin American Context

The Social Work in Latin American Context semester is sponsored by Augsburg College of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The program is located in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and offers a unique combination that may be of interest to students double-majoring in Spanish and Social Work (GEN315).

Uganda Studies Program

Uganda Christian University (UCU) serves as the base of study for students in the USP. Set on the outskirts of the capital city Kampala, this rapidly growing institution brings USP students together with the UCU Honours College. Courses taught by local faculty in the English tutorial tradition will immerse students in a uniquely African education. The program includes home stays, travel and service learning opportunities.

Northwestern grants 16 credits upon completion of the program, with the credits distributed as follows: 4 credits for the Faith and Practice in the Ugandan Context seminar (meeting the Integrative General Education Cross-Cultural requirement); 12 credits for elective seminars (GEN334).

Washington Journalism Center

The Washington Journalism Center is an advanced, experiential semester on Capitol Hill that will cultivate professional news skills and encourage students to think through the implications of being a Christian working in the news media in a city that is home to the powerful and the powerless.

Northwestern grants a minimum of 16 credits upon completion of the program, with the credits distributed as follows: 4 credits for Foundations of Media Involvement; 3 credits for Reporting in Washington; 3 credits for Washington, News, and Public Discourse; and 6 credits for the internship (GEN312).

Other off-campus semester options


Only credits are accepted from the programs listed in this category. Credit is granted for grades of C or higher.

Alma College (Ecuador)

Alma College (Michigan) offers a Spanish language semester in Quito, the ancient northern capital of the Inca Empire. Alma works in conjunction with the Academia Lationamericana. Academic internships and service programs are available to those with sufficient Spanish language proficiency. Housing is provided through host families.

Northwestern grants 16 credits upon completion of this program, with credits distributed depending on courses of study (GEN318).

American Junior Year at Heidelberg

Heidelberg College (Ohio) sponsors an immersion experience in German language and culture at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. A language proficiency exam determines course placement in either the intensive language program of the university’s International Study Center, or, for more advanced students, course work at the Seminar for German as a Foreign Language and in other departments of the university. The university requires at least two years of college or university-level German study or the equivalent.

Northwestern grants 12-18 credits upon completion of this program, with credits distributed depending on courses of study (GEN349).

Guatemala Semester (Bethel University)

Bethel University sponsors a semester in Antigua, Guatemala.

Northwestern grants 14-15 credits upon completion of this program, with credits distributed depending on courses of study (GEN321).

Casa de la Solidaridad (El Salvador)

Casa de la Solidaridad is an academic initiative between the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), the University of Central America (UCA) in El Salvador and Santa Clara University. The mission of the Casa is the promotion of justice and solidarity through the integration of rigorous academic study with the direct immersion with the poor of El Salvador. Casa is a community-based learning program stressing intellectual growth, ethical and religious values, and promoting socially responsible global citizens. Modern foreign language department approval will be required for students participating in this program.

Northwestern grants 15 credits upon completion of this program. Credits may be distributed in Spanish language, literature or conversation, depending upon courses completed during the student’s program of study (GEN345).

Central College (London, Colchester, Wales, Spain)

Central College (Iowa) sponsors several programs of study for which Northwestern students may apply. Qualified students can study for a semester in Austria, London, Mexico, Wales, Spain or Vienna. The programs offer courses at a local university and/or courses taught by Central College personnel. A wide variety of courses are available in numerous fields, along with opportunities for internships and travel. The prerequisite for the Vienna Semester is an intermediate level of German proficiency.

Northwestern grants 12-18 credits upon completion of this program, with credits distributed depending on courses of study (GEN319).

Council for International Educational Exchange (CIEE) (Rennes, France)

Students study at the University of Haute Bretagne, Rennes II, in this capital city of Brittany. The CIEE Study Center is geared to students with intermediate or higher level French language skills and combines language study and content courses taken at the Centre International Rennais d’Etude du Francais pour les Etrangers (CIREFE) and the opportunity to take regular university courses at the University of Haute Bretagne. Following an intensive three-week language session, and a placement exam, students enroll in classes at the CIREFE and/or the UHB.

Northwestern grants 12-18 credits upon completion of this program, with credits distributed depending on courses of study (GEN348).

Creation Care Study Program (Belize, South Pacific)

The Creation Care Study Program (CCSP) offers semesters in two locations: Central America (Belize) and New Zealand. The goal of CCSP is to develop and nurture, in Christian community, the knowledge, care and practical competence necessary to be caretakers of creation. The core curriculum is three 4-credit classes and the option of an internship in Belize. Home stays with national host families are included.

Northwestern grants a minimum of 13 credits upon completion of the program, with the credits distributed as follows: 4 credits each for God and Nature; Tropical Ecosystems (Belize) or Ecosystems of the South Pacific (Samoa/New Zealand) (either course meeting the Science and the Natural World (SN) requirement); Introduction to Sustainable Community Development (meeting the Integrative General Education Cross-Cultural requirement); and 1-4 credits for elective seminars/internships (GEN340).

Cultural Experience Abroad (Guadalajara, Mexico)


Dordt College (Netherlands)

Dordt College (Iowa) sponsors the Netherlandic Studies Program in Contemporary Europe (N- Spice). This spring semester program gives students the opportunity to study and live in the Netherlands for an entire semester. It is a cooperative program with the Gereformeerde Hogeschool in Zwolle, Netherlands. Students live with host families and have many opportunities to interact with Dutch students as they study Dutch language, history, art, culture, philosophy and contemporary European society.

Northwestern grants 12-18 credits upon completion of this program, with credits distributed depending on courses of study (GEN336).

Florence University of the Arts (Study abroad Italy)

Located in the city that was the heart of the Italian Renaissance, the Florence University of the Arts offers students exposure to the cultural highpoint of early Modern Europe as well as contemporary European culture. Florence University of the Arts offers semester programs in 7 different schools/departments; including culinary studies, digital imaging and visual arts, fashion, interior design, international business, journalism and publishing, and arts and sciences. The program requires students to enroll in Italian language study. Northwestern requires participating students to take at least one additional substantive academic course, perhaps in the school of Arts and Sciences. These courses must be approved in advance by the Global Education Center.

Program offerings include:

  • Apicius-Culinary, Wine and Baking/Pastry Programs
  • School of Digital Imaging and Visual Arts
  • School of Fashion and Accessory Studies and Technology
  • School of Interior Design, Environmental Architecture and Sustainability
  • International School of Business
  • School of Journalism, Communication and Publishing
  • School of Arts and Sciences


International Studies Abroad Program (Multi-country (Mexico, Peru, Argentina), Argentina, Guanajuato Mexico)

ISA semesters in Mexico, Argentina and the multi-country program are approved for Spanish language semesters. Courses are offered on the intermediate and advanced levels. The programs include home stays with host families as well as opportunities to study with national students in local universities.

Northwestern grants 12-18 credits upon completion of this program, with credits distributed depending on courses of study (GEN346).

Mediterranean Center for Arts and Sciences (Sicily, Italy)

Northwestern grants 12-16 credits upon completion of this program, with credits distributed depending on courses of study (GEN323).

Studies Program in Nicaragua (SPIN)

SPIN is a Dordt College fall program in Managua and Leon, Nicaragua. Areas of study include Spanish language at various levels, cross-cultural immersion courses and electives in agriculture, history, politics or literature. SPIN has ties with the Nehemiah Center, giving students a missional component.

Northwestern grants 16-17 credits upon completion of this program, with credits distributed depending on courses of study (GEN336).

Trinity Christian College (Semester in Spain)

Trinity Christian College (Illinois) sponsors a semester in Seville, Spain, for students of any level of Spanish language ability from beginning to advance. The greatest variety of courses is offered at the advanced level, including literature, history, art, theatre and business. An autonomous program not connected with another university in Spain, it requires living with a Spanish family in an immersion experience. It also offers an optional voluntary service component.

Northwestern grants 16-18 credits upon completion of the program, with the credits distributed depending on courses of study (GEN328).

Summer study abroad programs


Summer study abroad has a rich history at Northwestern College. Since 1998, 25 Northwestern College faculty members have led 25 short-term programs to 13 different countries around the world, teaching three-to four-week classes in their academic field. In addition to being taught by NWC faculty, the college’s summer study aboard program is designed specifically for Northwestern students and features small class sizes. Participants encounter the “cultural other” in meaningful ways and experience places that are generally underrepresented in the college curriculum. They also have the unique opportunity to share intensive short-term study with Northwestern faculty and students.

While some programs are offered on an every year or every-other-year basis, new programs and locations may be offered each summer, depending on the interests and areas of expertise of the faculty leaders. Past programs have taken students to the Czech Republic, Ecuador, France, Great Britain, Germany, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Mexico, Oman, Romania, South Africa and Taiwan. Along with field trips to cultural sites, the courses often feature guest speakers who give insights into their native countries. Some courses also provide language instruction and the opportunity to live with host families.

Participants in summer study abroad programs receive Northwestern College credit. Courses generally fulfill the Integrative General Education Cross-Cultural requirement for cross-cultural studies (GEN 350), and occasionally they may also provide departmental credit or fulfill other departmental requirements. Summer study abroad courses cannot be taken for audit.

Study abroad locations for the following summer are usually determined and announced in November. Most summer study abroad programs are open to all Northwestern College students who have a 2.5 GPA and are in good academic standing. Occasionally, prerequisite courses may be required. An interview may also be requested. Specific program application requirements are outlined in the application packet for each program.

Applications are due around January 25 and may be submitted either to the summer study abroad office or to the faculty leader. Students are informed of their acceptance in a timely manner. A deposit is due upon acceptance. Final program fees are set around April 1 based on tuition rates plus direct costs of students’ housing, airfare, food and excursions. Final program fees are generally due around May 1, and in all cases, must be paid prior to departure. Additional financial aid in the form of loans may be available. Interested students should contact Northwestern’s summer study abroad office for more information.

Academic standards and honors


Academic grades and points

The system of grading is as follows:

A - Superior, counts 4 grade points for each semester hour.
B - Good, counts 3 grade points for each semester hour.
C - Average, counts 2 grade points for each semester hour.
D - Below average, counts 1 grade point for each semester hour.
F - Failure, no grade points per semester hour.

The grading system allows for pluses and minuses. The computation is as follows:

A   4.0   B-   2.7   D+   1.3
A-   3.7   C+   2.3   D   1.0
B+   3.3   C   2.0   D-   .7
B   3.0   C-   1.7   F   0
I - Incomplete: Given when some portion of the work is unfinished. “I” is to be given only when there are circumstances beyond the control of the student, such as serious illness or family affliction. An incomplete must be removed within four weeks after the end of the course. After the four-week period, the grade will automatically become an “F” if the course work has not been made up.
P - Pass: Indicates at least “C”-level performance. The student receives credit for the course, but it does not affect grade point average.
NP - No Pass: Indicates failure to meet class standards in a course taken on a pass/no pass basis. The student receives no credit for the course, and this grade does not affect grade point average.
W - Withdrawal: Indicates dropping a course with permission, within the time limits and according to the procedures set forth by the registrar’s office. Withdrawals or “drops” under other circumstances will be recorded as “F.” (See the withdrawal procedure section concerning withdrawal from college.)
AU - Audit: Indicates class participation. No credit is given for the course. This is available only for lecture courses. The student is responsible for any fees associated with the course lecture or lab.

If a student repeats a course for a letter grade, the last grade received is the grade earned. All courses and grades will be recorded; however, only the last grade will be used to determine the student’s grade point average. Students may repeat a course as an audit. The audit grade will not replace the prior grade and will not affect a student’s earned credits or cumulative grade point average. Repeat courses must be taken at Northwestern College. Reports on grades are made available to students twice each semester.

Courses with different departmental prefixes within the same NWCore category are not equivalent for grade replacement purposes (i.e., HIS120HP will not automatically replace a previously earned grade for PSC120HP). Exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis. Students desiring to pursue an exception must receive approval from the NWCore director prior to the start of the new course.

Students receiving federal financial aid may repeat courses for which they have previously received credit one time. This applies to courses that students voluntarily repeat and not to courses that are designated as repeatable (i.e., music lessons, special topics, etc.). For more information, please contact the financial aid office.

The U.S. Department of Education mandates that a class being repeated may be included when determining the student’s enrollment status for Title IV purposes. However, if you repeat a previously passed course more than one time, it will not count towards full-time consideration for Federal Student Aid. If this drops you below full time, it will most likely cause a reduction or elimination of a Federal Pell Grant or SEOG Grant, if eligible. It could also impact the amount of Federal Work Study or Federal Student Loans you may be receiving.

Pass/no pass courses

Several off-campus courses (e.g., department internships, field experiences, practica and student teaching) are graded on a pass/no pass basis. This information is included in the course description for the course.

Pass/no pass option for elective courses

To encourage students to explore academic areas outside their major strengths and specializations, each student has the option of taking a maximum of 12 credit hours of elective courses on a pass/ no pass basis. This option may not be used for Northwestern Core requirements or for any requirements for a major, minor, or career concentration. Freshmen may not take courses on a pass/no pass basis; sophomores and juniors may take one course per term; seniors may take two courses per term.

Courses taken on a pass/no pass basis will count toward the 124-credit-hour graduation requirement but will not affect the student’s grade point average.

Incomplete grade policy

In the event that a medical situation occurs with a student, the student’s spouse, or dependent child, or parent, and the medical event inhibits completion of the coursework, the student may request an incomplete grade from their instructor before the last day of a course. If the instructor approves the incomplete, the student must complete a Petition for Incomplete Grade. The student will be granted a four-week extension after the end of the session or term to complete the requirements for the course. The grade will automatically become an “F” if the coursework has not been completed by the last day of the four-week incomplete period. There is no fee for an incomplete granted for a medical need.

In the event that a non-medical life circumstance occurs with a student that inhibits completion of coursework, the student may request an incomplete grade from their instructor before the last day of a course. If the instructor approves the incomplete, the student must complete a Petition for Incomplete Grade. The student will be granted a four-week extension after the end of the session or term to complete the requirements for the course. The grade will automatically become an “F” if the coursework has not been completed by the last day of the four-week incomplete period. The student may be assessed a non-medical incomplete fee, which will be used to compensate the instructor for time required beyond the instructor’s contract.

In compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Northwestern College will provide, on a flexible and individualized basis, reasonable accommodations to students who have a documented disability that may affect their ability to participate in course activities or to meet course requirements. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact both their instructor and the college disability service provider to discuss their individual needs and accommodations.

Students with an existing ADA accommodation who require additional time to complete coursework beyond the last day of a session or term will be granted an incomplete grade if their accommodation specifies additional time for assignments. The student must notify their instructor that an incomplete is needed by the last day of the course, and must complete a Petition for Incomplete Grade. Instructors are required to award an incomplete, in accordance with the student’s ADA accommodation. The instructor will verify the accommodation with the ADA compliance officer, and the student will be granted a four-week extension after the end of the session or term to complete the requirements of the course. The grade will automatically become an “F” if the coursework has not been completed by the last day of the four-week incomplete period, unless another incomplete extension is requested by the student, provided for in the student’s accommodation, and approved by the instructor. There is no fee for an incomplete granted due to an existing ADA accommodation.

The Petition for Incomplete Grade is located on the Student Forms page of the Academics tab in My Northwestern.

Academic forgiveness

Students must specifically request an academic forgiveness option from the dean of the faculty at the time of readmission, and at least five years must have elapsed since their last Northwestern attendance date. Under the policy, (1) All students’ grades in their prior academic periods at Northwestern are excluded from the GPA calculation required for graduation. (2) All course work and grade information will be included on transcripts, with academic forgiveness so noted. (3) Graduation honors will be determined by considering the cumulative GPA of all course work attempted at Northwestern College.

Grade change policy

It is the student’s responsibility to bring any error in grades to the instructor within 30 days following the issuance of grades. Grade changes are only allowable for computational or recording errors. In no circumstances may a student raise a grade by submitting work after the end of the course.

A grade change form must be completed by the instructor and submitted to the dean of the faculty within 30 days following the issuance of grades. If approved, the registrar will change the student’s permanent record and notify the student and faculty adviser of this grade change.


Freshmen standing: 0-23 semester hours
Sophomore standing: 24-54 semester hours
Junior standing: 55-88 semester hours
Senior standing: 89 and above

Course numbering

The courses offered at the undergraduate level at Northwestern are divided into four categories:

  1. 100-level courses are primarily for freshman students.

  2. 200-level courses are primarily for sophomore students and those students with essential prerequisites or backgrounds.

  3. 300-level courses are primarily for junior students and those students with essential prerequisites or backgrounds.

  4. 400-level courses are primarily for senior students and those students with essential prerequisites or backgrounds.

Courses numbered below 100 are remedial courses designed to help students develop basic academic skills expected for college performance. Courses numbered below 100 will not count toward graduation nor be computed in grade point averages.

An “x” following a course number indicates that the course is cross-referenced in another department. The course description indicates which department the course is cross-referenced with.

Graduate credit for undergraduate students

An undergraduate student with senior standing and a minimum GPA of 3.0 may take up to 12 graduate credits with approval from the department chair. In general, no course may count toward both an undergraduate and a graduate degree unless approval is obtained by the department chair.

Students may not exceed 18 total credits (undergraduate and graduate) in a term without approval from the registrar’s office. Undergraduate financial aid will only apply to undergraduate courses. Graduate financial aid will only apply to graduate courses. Graduate credits are billed at the graduate program tuition rate, and are separate from the full-time student undergraduate package of 12-18 credits.

Credit from other institutions

Credits will be accepted only for courses with grades of C or higher. See the section on admission of transfer students.

Students who transfer in 30 or more credits must complete their last 30 credits at Northwestern. Before enrolling in course work at another institution, students must receive prior approval from the registrar.

Satisfactory academic progress policy (SAP)

A student’s progress is based on the number of credits attempted at Northwestern College and if applicable, any credits transferred in, and the cumulative grade point average. Students must earn at least a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of a 2.00 and successfully complete a minimum of 124 earned credit hours in order to graduate and earn a degree from Northwestern College. This SAP policy is the same for all students, regardless of whether they receive Title IV assistance, and whether they are full or part-time. Satisfactory academic progress is reviewed at the end of each academic term (including summer), regardless of whether a student received Title IV aid. A student is making satisfactory academic progress toward graduation if he or she has completed the attempted credits and earned the necessary cumulative grade point average as explained in (1) and (2) below.

Financial Aid SAP: Federal regulations require that students who receive federal financial aid must make satisfactory academic progress towards degree completion. Financial Aid SAP is defined by the federal government using both Grade Point Average and Pace measures:

1. Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA)

Cumulative Grade Point Average Progress Chart

    Attempted Hours   Placed on academic probation* when minimum cumulative gpa is below:   Suspended when cumulative gpa is below:
Freshman   0-23.99   1.75   1.00
Sophomore   24-54.99   1.90   1.50
Junior/Senior   55 and up   2.00   1.70

*Also placed on Financial Aid warning (see Financial Aid warning and probation below).

Students must achieve a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 by the time they reach junior status, which is based on the total number of credit hours attempted. Students not making satisfactory academic progress (SAP) will be placed on academic probation and financial aid warning.


2. Pace

In order to maintain satisfactory progress towards degree completion at Northwestern College, students must successfully complete 67% of the cumulative credit hours attempted at all times. All courses taken toward the student’s program of study are included as attempted hours. Students who successfully complete 67% of their attempted credits meet the quantitative measure for monitoring satisfactory academic progress. Students failing to complete 67% of their attempted credits will be placed on financial aid warning or probation.

Duration of financial aid eligibility or “Maximum Time Frame”

The maximum time period to complete a degree is no longer than 150% of the published length of the program measured in credit hours. Thus, students may attempt no more than 186 credit hours  in order to maintain their financial aid eligibility. If a student is unable to complete his/her degree program in the 150% degree completion time frame (12 semesters), financial aid eligibility will be terminated.

Students who enroll in a 2nd degree, additional minor or teacher certification may be eligible for financial aid and will have their SAP calculated using the credit hours beyond the first degree.

Incompletes, withdrawals, course repeats and transfer credits

  • Incompletes: Students with incompletes at the end of a payment period will have their SAP calculation delayed until the Incompletes are converted to a grade (within 4 weeks of the end of the payment period).
  • Withdrawals: If a student withdraws before the withdrawal deadline and receives a “W” for the class, the credits are not considered attempted while computing GPA or pace.
  • Repeated Courses: All repeated courses count as attempted credits each time for pace calculations, but only the last grade is used for GPA calculations.
  • Transfer Hours: All accepted transfer credits count as attempted and completed credits when calculating pace, but do not factor into the GPA calculation.

Academic probation/suspension

  • Any student whose cumulative GPA is below the minimum standard, based on the total number of credits attempted, shall be placed on academic probation for the following semester.

  • Any student who would be on academic probation for a second consecutive semester shall be suspended. An exception will be granted if the student’s semester GPA during the semester on probation is above 2.00. In this case, the student shall be granted a second semester on probation, and will be placed on financial aid probation (see Financial Aid Warning and Probation). A student may be granted this exception only one time.

  • If the student (on probation) enrolls in summer school classes at Northwestern and earns a summer GPA below 2.0, the student will be suspended. If the student enrolls in summer school classes and earns a summer GPA of 2.0 or above, the new cumulative GPA will determine whether the student is back in good standing or whether the fall semester counts as a second semester of probation.

  • Any student who would be on probation for a third semester, whether or not any are consecutive, shall be suspended.

  • Academic suspension means a student is suspended for a minimum of one semester. Students wishing to return after one semester must follow the reinstatement process (see below).

Reinstatement procedure for academically suspended students*

  • A student is suspended for a minimum of one semester. Students wishing to return after one semester must submit a Reinstatement Application to the Registrar. Application deadline information is available from the Office of the Registrar.
  • The Registrar shall provide a copy of the Reinstatement Application to the Director of Admissions, the Director of Residence Life, the Director of Academic Support and the Director of Financial Aid, who will provide immediate feedback concerning any specific issues that would prevent the student from being issued a Reinstatement Eligibility Contract.
  • The student will complete a Reinstatement Eligibility Contract, which will specify the following:
  1. The student will provide the name of the institution, the course numbers, the course titles and the number of credits for each course. At a minimum, the student must take at least 12 credits (concurrently) at a regionally accredited college and attain at least a 3.0 grade point average in those courses. Type and level of difficulty of each course will also be factors.
  2. The student will provide a verifiable plan to reverse past academic and personal patterns that hindered the student’s success at Northwestern College.
  3. The Registrar will provide various academic scenarios showing what courses and grades are needed at Northwestern College to attain good academic standing, should the student be readmitted.
  • All reinstatement application materials (Reinstatement Application, Reinstatement Eligibility Contract, and any academic transcripts) should be in the hands of the Registrar by the appropriate deadline.
  • Upon receipt of ALL reinstatement materials, the Registrar shall notify the chair of the Academic Appeals Work Group, who will schedule a meeting. The student has the option of meeting with the committee prior to its deliberation, but must request this option on the Reinstatement Application. The committee will make a decision within one week after the deadline. The committee decision is final.
  • The student shall be promptly notified by a member of the Academic Appeals Work Group of its decision, which includes a phone call and an official letter providing details of the grounds for the group’s judgment.
  • *Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood program and the RN to BSN program must submit a Reinstatement Application to the Registrar’s Office. The Registrar shall provide a copy of the Reinstatement Application to the Dean of the Graduate School & Adult Learning, Director of Academic Support and Director of Financial Aid to provide adequate notification of the student’s possible return. The student will be required to write a letter outlining the reason for their failure to remain in good academic standing and how they plan to succeed in their program of study if allowed to return. The Academic Appeals Work Group will then determine if re-admittance will be allowed.

Financial aid warning and probation

A student is placed on financial aid warning for failing to make the qualitative and/or quantitative measure of SAP, as outlined by the SAP guidelines above. If a student is placed on financial aid warning, the student may continue to receive Title IV assistance for one additional term despite the fact that they failed to make SAP. No appeal is granted or required.

If a student on financial aid warning fails to make SAP at the end of the term (or payment period), and if the student is not academically suspended, the student loses Title IV aid the following term unless they appeal (see Financial Aid Appeal Process below) to be placed on financial aid probation, or, to receive an individual academic plan. An individual academic plan could be established to assist a student who cannot meet SAP in one semester. Progress in the plan will be evaluated at the end of each payment period. Failure to meet the terms of the academic plan will result in a loss of Title IV aid until SAP is re-established. A student on financial aid probation may receive Title IV funds for one payment period. At that point, the student must meet SAP or the requirements of an established individual academic plan in order to maintain Title IV eligibility.

Financial aid probation appeal process

Students who fail SAP may appeal based on any circumstances the student deems as difficult circumstances, such as family difficulties, illness/injury, roommate or dating issues, loss of balance between responsibilities, death in the family or financial struggles. The financial aid appeal (for students on financial aid warning who again fail to make SAP but are not academically suspended) will be handled in the same manner as academic suspension appeals. The student’s appeal must be in written (letter) form and state why they failed to meet SAP as well as what will change to demonstrate SAP at the end of the next term. Students will be notified of the appeal decision via email and/or a letter in the mail. If an appeal is granted by the Financial Aid Director (who decides the appeal in consult with the Academic Support Director and the Registrar), the student will be placed on financial aid probation and allowed to receive Title IV funds for one additional term. If making SAP is not realistic in one term, the academic appeal committee may develop an academic plan in lieu of probation that, if followed, will ensure the student is able to meet SAP standards at a specified point in time. If the appeal is not granted, the student may not receive Title IV funds until they regain eligibility by taking actions that bring them back into SAP. These actions may include filing an appeal after attending classes at another institution or by taking classes at NWC without the assistance of Title IV aid.

For a returning student seeking reinstatement from a prior academic suspension, or for any re-registering student who does not meet SAP, if the academic appeal for reinstatement is granted, the student will re-enter on financial aid probation or an established academic plan.

Appeal procedure for students who have been academically suspended

Students may appeal their academic suspension only in cases of extenuating circumstances. An extenuating circumstance is defined as a disruptive, unavoidable circumstance beyond the student’s control (e.g. chronic illness, medical emergency, family crisis, physical attack). Students may not appeal using the concept of academic amnesty, whereby only certain courses are excluded from GPA calculations.

Students wishing to appeal their academic suspension must submit, either by mail, fax or email attachment, a one-page typed letter, signed and dated, to the Registrar or to the Director of Academic Support within two weeks of the last day of final exams. The letter should outline 1) the extenuating circumstances that affected the student, 2) actions the student has taken to address those circumstances so that they will not influence future academic endeavors, and 3) whether or not the student wishes to attend the appeal meeting. Letters written by outside persons supporting the appeal must be sent to the Registrar or to the Director of Academic Support at this time.

Once the student has filed an appeal, the Registrar will notify the chair of the Academic Appeals Work Group, who will arrange a meeting as soon as possible. The student who is appealing may choose to be present when the committee considers the appeal; a request for an outside party to be present at the meeting must be approved by the committee prior to the meeting. If the Academic Appeals Work Group determines the appeal warrants review, committee will convene to consider the appeal. After the appeal meeting, the student will be notified of the committee’s decision.

Extra-curricular sports eligibility

Probationary students are ineligible for participation in extra-curricular athletic contests. In order for a student to participate in any extra-curricular sports activity at Northwestern, he/ she must have passed at least 24 credits in the previous two terms of study, with summer school course work to be computed as part of the spring term.

Academic honors

Students who achieve excellence in their academic work will be awarded academic honors. A student who achieves a semester grade point average of 3.50 or above will be placed on the Academic Dean’s List, and a student with a semester average of 3.75 or above will be designated as a Collegiate Scholar.

In order to be eligible for the Academic Dean’s List, the student must carry a minimum of 12 graded hours. (Pass/no pass credits are not included.)

Credit hour definition

Northwestern College requires 124 credits for the Baccalaureate degree.

Northwestern College assigns credits to courses per the federal credit hour definition:

A credit hour is an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that reasonably approximates not less than:  (1) one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out-of-class work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or (2) at least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1) of this definition for other activities as established by an institution, including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading toward the award of credit hours.

Accordingly, courses at Northwestern College vary in the amount of credit awarded from .25 to 16 credits. Courses during the academic year may run for either 8 or 16 weeks and may be either face-to-face or online.  A credit represents at least 60 minutes of direct instruction, or its equivalent, per week over a semester of 16 weeks or at least 120 minutes of direct instruction, or its equivalent, per week over a half-semester of 8 weeks. In the case of laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and similar activities, the assignment of credits shall consider the number of hours required, the nature of the learning experience, and common practices in the discipline, recognizing that such learning experiences generally carry less credit per hour.

Thus, the number of credit hours allowed for a course will consider the intended learning outcomes for the course, the number of hours of direct instruction or its equivalent during the semester or half-semester, and the nature and rigor of expectations for work done outside of class. Online and summer school offerings shall have the same learning outcomes and expectations as courses offered on campus, but schedules, assignments, and delivery modes may be different. Departments shall regularly review existing courses to ensure that courses carry the appropriate amount of credit, and that courses offered by different faculty or in different formats have similar outcomes, expectations, and evaluations of student learning. Proposals for new courses must be submitted to the Academic Affairs Committee with a rationale that demonstrates how the proposed credits meet the above criteria.



Application for graduation

Students who anticipate graduating at the spring commencement must file an application for graduation with the registrar. Upon submission of a graduation application, students will receive a degree audit review letter from the registrar confirming degree completion requirements. Students who intend to complete their degree requirements during the summer will participate in the preceding spring commencement and have until August 15 to complete their requirements. Students who anticipate completing their degree requirements in May or August will pay a graduation fee on their spring bill. Students who anticipate completing their degree requirements in December will pay a graduation fee on their fall bill.

Catalog governing graduation

Students in continuous enrollment must meet the degree requirements of the catalog in effect when they entered the college, unless arrangements have been made with the dean of the faculty and registrar to graduate under a later catalog. Students failing to complete degree requirements within a reasonable period of time (six years) may forfeit any right to graduate under the regulations in effect at the time of matriculation.

Students returning after discontinuing studies for two or more semesters will come under the requirements of the newest Northwestern College catalog.

Graduating honors for B.A. or B.S. degree

A student will graduate with academic honors if his or her cumulative grade point average meets one of the following standards of excellence: Summa Cum Laude, 3.90 or above; Magna Cum Laude, 3.70-3.89; Cum Laude, 3.50-3.69. For transfer students, a minimum of 62 earned credits of course work must be taken at Northwestern College in order to graduate with honors.

Students meeting the requirements of the Honors Program shall be designated as Honors Program graduates (see the Honors Program section of this catalog).


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