2011-12 Catalog 
    Jul 22, 2024  
2011-12 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 general education 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 semester 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.

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).

Free elective courses

In addition to meeting 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 student course substitutions intended to meet general education requirements must receive the written approval of the student, the faculty adviser, the department chair in the area in which the substitution is requested, and the registrar. All student course substitutions intended to meet the requirements of a major, minor, or career concentration 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 semester 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 semesters.

Course load

The maximum number of credits that a student may take during a given semester 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 dean of the faculty a written appeal of the decision within 30 days following their notification of the decision. The dean of the faculty will provide a written acknowledgment of the appeal within seven days. The dean of the faculty will investigate the appeal and provide a decision which will be communicated in writing to the student within 15 days of this acknowledgment. A final appeal may be made to the provost, following the same procedures and timetable.

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

The Honors Program seeks to enhance academic excellence in the pursuit of the integration of faith, learning, and living-key elements of Northwestern College’s mission. This broad purpose is pursued in four primary ways.

First, honors seminars offer students in the Honors Program an interdisciplinary approach to understanding perennial and contemporary issues, such as technology, war and peace, gender roles, and work and calling. One seminar, taught by two faculty, is offered each semester.

Second, honors research affords the opportunity for students in the program to delve more deeply into a topic of their choice, working with selected faculty members to complete a project that goes beyond the normal upper-division work at the college.

Third, the program encourages students to pursue graduate education by sponsoring trips to regional graduate schools and financially supporting graduate school applications.

Fourth, Honors Program students have the opportunity to substitute up to four credits of honors seminars for any general education requirement.

Fifth, honors students, after the first semester of participation in the Honors Program, shall be given the option of substituting one higher level course of the same general nature and in the same discipline for a general studies course, with the substitution to be approved by the Honors Program directors and the respective department.

Taken together, these elements provide honors students with the challenge to grow in their intellectual maturity and wisdom through courses and other activities with other similarly motivated students, faculty and guests.

Additional information about this program is available from the director of the Honors 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 semester or half semester in which the course is to be taken. All directed study courses will have a 398 designation.

Honors research

Excellent students may qualify for an honors research course. Proposals (available through the registrar’s office) must meet the following qualifications:

  1. Student must be a junior or senior during the time of the course.

  2. Student must have at least a 3.5 GPA in his or her major.

  3. The Honors Program includes a two-tier academic component, both of which must be completed to receive official acknowledgment on the student’s transcript as an Honors Program graduate.

    1. Honors Seminars. Members of the Honors Program must complete two Honors Seminars. One Honors Seminar will be offered each semester as a 2-credit course.

    2. Honors Research. Members of the Honors Program must complete a departmental Honors Research Project. Honors research involves the completion of a research paper, or an equivalent project in the fine arts, that reflects not merely 400-level topic and work appropriate for the respective discipline, but a level of quality beyond the normal, in preparation, scope, originality, precision, etc. Honors Research may be taken for 2-4 credits. The student will convene a faculty panel consisting of the student’s research advisor, one of the Honors Directors, and at least one other faculty member. This panel must approve the research proposal and submit it to the Provost at least three weeks prior to the semester in which the research is to begin.

  4. The proposed course must include an original research project that makes use of both primary and secondary sources. The paper or project needs to be “substantial.” Most projects are 20 pages or longer.

  5. Other kinds of projects, including creative works, will be considered, but will require full explanation of how the project fits the honors research criteria. Whatever the project, a substantial reading list and a complete tentative schedule for completion of the project must be included in the proposal.

  6. Honors projects may be 2, 3 or 4 credits.

  7. The final grade for the project is determined by the faculty supervisor and a panel of faculty who attend the final oral presentation.

  8. To qualify as the research component of the Honors Program requirements, one of the Honors Program co-directors must be a member of the faculty panel, and the student must be a member of the Honors Program.

  9. A copy of each project will be catalogued in the library. All honors research courses will have a 499 designation.

Students desiring feedback on their proposal should approach one of the Honors Directors and ask him or her to read a draft. The proposals must be complete and show some evidence of actually being narrow enough to be completed in the time specified. Some proposals are of such a nature that students should begin planning, talking to their supervisor, and even reading earlier in the semester in which they do the work. Students needing to travel to visit archives should begin working with their supervisor and write a grant for such travel in the year before they do the course. The college does have funds for joint student and faculty travel and research. If a proposal is turned down, feedback should be offered to fuel a revision of the proposal.

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 16-credit hours for the semester.

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 the junior or senior year. Applicants for internships must satisfy the following criteria: cumulative GPA of 2.00, passing the general education writing requirement, 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 semester 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 student tutors, the center offers tutorial services to students who voluntarily drop in or are referred to the center by faculty.

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 semester 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.

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; and have passed ENG184, College Writing, or have an ACT English score of 30 or above (SAT above 680). 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 March 1 of the academic year prior to the fall or spring off- campus semester.

Northwestern College programs


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. Students will study Romanian culture and history, language, Eastern Orthodoxy and sustainable development theory, combining these subjects with experiential and service-learning pedagogy among Romanian young people. The program will be group-oriented, and include excursions, a mountain backpacking trip, and home stays with Romanian families.

Northwestern grants 16 credits upon completion of the program, which will include meeting the general education cross-cultural requirement, as well as equivalents of elective courses in several majors (GEN352).

Oman Semester

The Northwestern College semester program in Oman offers a unique opportunity for study in the Middle East. The program combines cultural immersion with academic rigor so that students gain an understanding of some of the important questions facing a traditional culture that is rapidly modernizing. Courses include Introduction to Arabic, Christian-Muslim Relations, an independent study and a course at Oman Medical College. The country is renowned for its hospitality, openness, and peaceful nature, and thus it provides unparalleled opportunities to be a part of community life.

Northwestern grants 15-17 credits upon completion of the program. The Christian-Muslim Relations courses transfers as a 4-credit Topics in Religion course, which counts toward the Religion major (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” will satisfy the cross-cultural requirement; the Arts and the City Seminar will satisfy the fine arts 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 Wesley Institute in Sydney, Australia, where they can explore their artistic talents through Wesley Institute’s outstanding division of ministry and the arts. The ASC utilizes a combination of classroom training at the Wesley Institute 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 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 cross-cultural studies requirement); 1 credit for elective seminar (GEN324).

Contemporary Music Program (Martha’s Vineyard)

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 cross-cultural studies 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 cross-cultural studies 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 cross- cultural studies 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).

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 cross-cultural studies 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 London, Colchester (England), Wales or Spain. 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.

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 the South Pacific (Samoa 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 electives in anthropology, Latin American studies and environmental literature, or internships. 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 natural science studies requirement); Introduction to Sustainable Community Development (meeting the cross-cultural studies 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).

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).

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 general education requirement for cross-cultural studies (GEN 350), and occasionally they may also provide departmental credit or fulfill other departmental requirements. Summer study abroad courses can not 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 six weeks after the end of the course. After the six-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.

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.

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 general education 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 semester; seniors may take two courses per semester.

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.

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.

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 semester. 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 below.

Federal regulations require that students who receive federal financial aid must make satisfactory academic progress towards degree completion. Satisfactory academic progress is defined by the federal government using both qualitative and quantitative measures:

1. Qualitative measure-Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA)

Cumulative Grade Point Average Progress Chart

    Attempted Hours   Placed on 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

*Academic probation and 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. Quantitative measure-Ratio of total earned to attempted credits

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. Withdrawing from school, earning NP (No Pass) grades, and/or failing coursework may result in not meeting the 67% satisfactory completion rate in order to graduate in the time period allowed. 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.

Duration of financial aid eligibility

Students may attempt no more than 186 credit hours (150% of credit hours needed to complete a degree program at NWC) 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 returning only to earn an additional major are not eligible for financial assistance. Students who enroll in a 2nd degree or teacher certification may be eligible for financial aid and will have their SAP calculated using the credit hours beyond the first degree.

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 would 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 submit a Reinstatement Application to 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, and the Director of Academic Support so as to provide adequate notification of the student’s possible return to campus.) The Academic Affairs Committee will then determine if re-admittance will be allowed based on the student’s appeal.

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 semester 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 semester (or payment period), and if the student is not academically suspended, the student loses Title IV aid the following semester unless they appeal (see Financial Aid Appeal Process below) to be placed on financial aid probation. 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

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 writing and state why they failed to meet SAP as well as what will change to demonstrate SAP at the end of the next semester. If an appeal is granted, the student will be placed on financial aid probation and allowed to receive Title IV funds for one additional semester. If making SAP is not realistic in one semester, the appeal committee may develop an academic plan 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.

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 wishing to appeal their academic suspension must send a one-page typed letter (email is not acceptable), signed and dated, to the chairperson of the Admissions, Retention, and Honors Committee (ARHC) within three 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 chairperson at this time.

A subcommittee consisting of the ARHC chairperson, one faculty member, and one staff member will be the first to review all appeals.

Once the student has filed an appeal, the committee chair will notify the subcommittee members and arrange a meeting as soon as possible. The student who is appealing may choose to be present when the subcommittee considers the appeal; a request for an outside party to be present at the appeal must be approved by the subcommittee prior to the appeal. If the subcommittee decides the appeal does not merit further review, the student will be notified of the decision.

If the subcommittee determines the appeal warrants further review, ARHC will convene to consider the appeal. Again, the student may choose to be present when the committee considers the appeal; a request for an outside party to be present at the appeal must be approved by ARHC prior to 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 semesters of study, with summer school course work to be computed as part of the spring semester.

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.)



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.

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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