Academic Standing

Minimum Grade Requirements

Students must earn a grade of C or higher for courses to count toward the student’s degree requirements. Two grades of C or below in applied studies may result in dismissal. Graduate students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.

Academic Probation

Academic probation constitutes notice of unsatisfactory academic performance, and warns that minimum standards for graduation are not being met. In most cases, two or more grades below C (including C-, U, and Y grades) in any one quarter, or a drop below the minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, are grounds for probationary status. Students who do not demonstrate significant academic improvement as outlined in the academic probation letter by the end of the probation period may be dismissed from the Bienen School of Music.

Graduate Services reviews students’ academic progress each quarter.

Academic Suspension & Dismissal

The Academic Review Committee reviews academic progress candidates for probation and students on probation. The Committee consists of three to five faculty members, and is convened by the Assistant Dean for Admission, Financial Aid and Graduate Services.

Students who do not make satisfactory degree progress may be suspended or dismissed from the University by vote of the Academic Review Committee. Dismissed students may submit a written appeal to the Director of Graduate Studies no later than 10 days from the date of dismissal. The Academic Review Committee reviews the appeal and informs the student of their final decision within 14 days of receipt. Dismissed students’ official transcripts may include the designation “Dismissed for Academic Performance.” Suspension terms are handled on a case-by-case basis.

Academic Integrity

Students in violation of academic integrity guidelines are subject to penalties ranging from reprimand, failure of a course, and suspension or dismissal from the University. Faculty are responsible for reviewing and reporting all suspected violations of academic integrity. Read the complete statement of the University’s principles regarding academic integrity. For further details on the academic integrity policy and guidelines, consult the Northwestern University Student Handbook.

Students may be required to submit their work electronically in addition to, or in place of, printed form. All student work may be analyzed electronically for violations of the University's academic integrity guidelines and may also be included in a database for the purpose of testing for plagiarized content. Students should be careful when using websites as sources for scholarly papers. Always ask course instructors about their individual policies for using web content as a legitimate source.

Procedure for Handling Violations of Academic Integrity

In line with Northwestern University policy, the Bienen School of Music manages cases of alleged violations of academic integrity in the following manner:

  1. If a faculty member suspects a graduate student has been involved in a violation of the academic integrity guidelines, the allegation should be reported immediately to the Office of Music Admission, Financial Aid and Graduate Services. All cases must be referred within one month of the date of the alleged incident, or within one month of the date the faculty member becomes aware of it—whichever is later. No action is taken on any case if more than one year has elapsed since the alleged incident.
  2. The faculty member and Assistant Dean for Admissions, Graduate Services and Financial Aid review the evidence. If the assistant dean determines there is sufficient evidence to merit a charge, they invite the student to a meeting to discuss the case.
  3. If the assistant dean concludes the charge is still valid after the meeting, the student and instructor are informed. The instructor determines how the violation affects the course grade.
  4. If the student’s home school is the one in which the course is taught, the assistant dean determines a sanction, which ranges from a letter of reprimand to suspension for one or more quarters, dismissal from the program, marking the transcript, revocation of an awarded degree, or other possibilities. If the student is in another school at the University, the assistant dean passes the materials and a summary of the case to the appropriate administrator in the home school to determine a sanction.
  5. Students may appeal the finding and/or the sanction to the appropriate administrator or dean by formal letter within 10 days of the sanction. During the time of appeal, any possible grade change and/or sanction is suspended. At any point in the process, students are not allowed to change the grading basis or drop the course in which the alleged violation occurred.
  6. Students may further appeal to the Provost on one of two possible grounds: there was a procedural error at some point in the process, or the sanction is manifestly at variance with the finding. The Provost considers the appeal, and renders a final decision.

When Bienen School of Music students are accused of an academic integrity violation by another school within the University, the other school determines whether a violation has occurred, and determines the grade to be received. The case is then referred to the Office of Music Admission, Financial Aid and Graduate Services in the Bienen School of Music, which may decide on further action.