Grade Point Average

The following grading system is used in computing the grade point average:


Grade Points













*C- does not count toward major requirements
**D is not awarded for graduate work
***X: failed to earn credit, missed final exam
****Y: failed to earn credit, work incomplete

The following notations are ignored in computing the grade point average:
P: Pass with credit
S: Satisfactory: noncredit course
N: No grade, no credit
U: Unsatisfactory: noncredit course
K: Work in progress
W: Withdrawn from course with permission
NR: No grade reported

X and Y Grades

At the end of a quarter a grade of X or Y will be given only if the instructor feels the student has a reasonable chance of passing the course by taking the make-up examination and/or turning in required work. A student will be granted an X or Y grade only in extraordinary circumstances beyond the student’s control. X and Y grades for music courses are granted at the discretion of the instructor; X and Y grades for non-music courses are granted according to the policy of the non-music school.

If a grade of X or Y is to be changed and credit established, the deficiencies should be made up within one academic year following the receipt of the X or Y grade, or the credit is forfeited and the grade is converted to an F. Students planning to graduate within that time frame must complete courses and receive grades before graduating. Incomplete grades remaining at the time of degree conferral will be changed to final grades of F. See Northwestern's Undergraduate Incomplete Grades Policy

Minimum Grade Requirements

Music majors must earn a grade of C or above in all courses required in the major, including all core courses and all major courses, in order to count those courses toward graduation requirements. If a student receives a C- or below in a major course, then takes the course a second time and receives a C or above, the initial C- grade (or below) and course stays on the permanent record and cannot count toward elective requirements. The second (improved) grade does not replace the first, and the same course cannot be counted twice in the degree. A C or above is needed to progress through each quarter of the theory, aural skills, and keyboard skills sequences.

For undergraduate students in a four-year Bienen degree program, a grade of D or above (including P grades) may be used to fulfill undergraduate distribution requirements and electives, with the exception of music education majors, who must earn a grade of C- or above. Undergraduate students in a dual degree program should refer to the regulations of their non-music school for minimum grade requirements for distribution requirements and non-music electives.

Students in the music education program are expected to maintain a grade point average of 2.75 or higher overall and at least a 3.0 in all music education major courses. This average will be checked when students petition for advanced standing during spring quarter of the sophomore year.

Grade Dispute Policy

Undergraduate students who feel they have received an unjustified grade in a Bienen School of Music course should first attempt to resolve the grievance directly with the faculty instructor. If a student is not satisfied with the outcome of the initial dialogues with the instructor, the student initiates a conversation with the assistant dean for student affairs regarding the grade dispute. After meeting individually with the student and the instructor, the assistant dean schedules and moderates a meeting between the student and instructor to discuss and resolve the situation.

If the student is still unsatisfied with the outcome of this meeting, the student may submit a written letter of complaint, as well as all relevant materials, to the assistant dean. This letter will be presented to the Dean’s Council who will make a recommendation to the faculty instructor, which may or may not include a suggestion for a revised final grade. In all cases, the final decision regarding grade changes is made by the faculty instructor.

All grade disputes must be initiated within six weeks of the posting of the grade in question, and all grade disputes must be resolved within the following quarter after the posting of the original grade. Any grade changes should be submitted by the faculty instructor to CAESAR.

Grade Changes

Grades other than K, X, and Y can be changed only to correct clerical errors or if a student makes special arrangements with the instructor to complete requirements for a course. If a student believes a clerical error may have been made, he/she should talk to the instructor who will make the grade change, if appropriate. Review Northwestern's Change of Grade Policy

The P/N Option

P/N indicates “pass with credit” or “no grade, no credit.” Not more than one course may be taken in any quarter under the P/N grade option. Courses with only the P/N option are not counted in the one-course limitation. A maximum of six one-quarter courses in non-music subjects taken under the P/N grade option may be counted toward the degree. Five-year dual degree students follow the P/N guidelines of the non-music school and may not be allowed to P/N distribution requirements; four-year music students MAY use the P/N option for distribution requirements. Switching from regular grading to the P/N option (or vice versa) must be done by the P/N deadline, which is usually the end of the third week of classes.

See Academic Calendar

Music students may NOT take music courses under the P/N grade option, except for those courses graded solely with P/N grades. The P/N grade option is not open to music students who are on academic probation.