Prior to each academic quarter, students register online through CAESAR. While Graduate Services makes every effort to remind students of relevant registration dates, students are ultimately responsible for adhering to the registration dates and deadlines found on the Academic Calendar.

Graduate Course Load

Graduate students must be registered full-time (3 units or more) for each quarter of residency. Full-time registration ensures students remain in good academic standing and are eligible for financial aid, including scholarships. Students may register for up to 5 units without incurring additional tuition charges. Registration for more than 5 units must be approved by Graduate Services and the student’s faculty advisor, and incurs additional tuition charges.

Permission Numbers and Courses

Some courses might require permission numbers to enroll. Students must contact the course instructor to obtain permission numbers. Other courses, such as independent studies and doctoral continuation, require registration through Graduate Services.

For information on independent studies, and to apply, please see the Petition for Independent Study form.

Registration Changes

Students are responsible for making any registration changes through CAESAR by the designated dates and deadlines found on the Academic Calendar. Students should review their registration carefully in CAESAR before the deadlines to ensure their courses are correct. Students who register incorrectly for courses, and do not drop any incorrect courses prior to the deadline may receive a W (withdrawal) or F (fail) in those courses. The Registrar’s Office does not allow any retroactive registration changes.

Adding classes or changing class sections must be completed within the first week of the quarter, or the deadline listed on the Academic Calendar.

Dropping Courses

Students are responsible for dropping courses and speaking with their advisor to understand the implications. Courses must be dropped through CAESAR before the deadlines found on the Academic Calendar. Students should contact Graduate Services prior to dropping any course after the first week of classes.


Students are allowed to withdraw from Northwestern for reasons ranging from medical issues to professional opportunities.

Students who withdraw may return to the Bienen School of Music within one calendar year of the withdrawal date without having to re-audition or re-apply for admission, as long as the student withdrew in good academic standing. After returning from a withdrawal, students are not guaranteed applied study with their previous studio teacher.

If a student withdraws for one calendar year or more, the applied lessons professor may require a performance audition for re-admission. Music Studies faculty may require an interview and portfolio of completed work for re-admission.

Students who would like to withdraw should contact Graduate Services for assistance with the withdrawal process.