Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update
March 26, 2020
Policy changes for grading, withdrawal, incompletes and academic probation.

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

We appreciate your patience as the university makes this unique transition to non-face-to-face learning and instruction. We know you are
working very hard to maintain the highest quality instruction possible.

At the same time, we understand the transition presents challenges for our students. After consultation with the NIU Faculty Senate, colleges, associate deans, advising directors and other NIU departments, we are announcing today the following policy changes for grading, withdrawal, incompletes and academic probation.

These policy changes are effective immediately and apply only to the Spring 2020 semester. This information is being communicated to undergraduate and graduate students, and we will also be forwarding you a copy of that student communication. These policy changes do not apply, however, to NIU College of Law students, who will receive a separate communication.

Grading Policy Changes

  • All undergraduate and graduate students will be permitted to convert any of their courses to Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading for this semester. This policy applies to all full-semester courses and second-half courses.
  • All faculty will submit their course grades to the Registrar’s Office as usual at the semester’s end.
  • Once final grades have been posted, students will have until Wednesday, May 20, 2020 to choose to move a course or courses to S/U grading.
  • If requested by a student, a grade of S will be awarded if the student earns the equivalent of a letter grade of C or higher. A grade of U will be awarded if the student earns a grade lower than a C in a course.
  • For undergraduate students, grades of S and U will not be factored into the NIU grade point average (GPA). For graduate students, a grade of U will be factored into the GPA.
  • We will strongly recommend that students talk to their academic advisors before making the S/U choice. Minimum-grade requirements in some courses could impact eligibility for admission or retention to certain programs, or be tied to certification requirements, so the decision to use the S/U option should be made in close collaboration with academic advisors. Advisors should be prepared to help students determine what is in their best interest in the short- and long-term.
  • NIU transcripts will include information on the transcript key to indicate the extraordinary circumstances encountered in the Spring 2020 semester.
  • There is no limit on the number of Spring 2020 courses a student can convert to S/U grading. Students can make the decision on a course-by-course basis.
  • The Registrar’s Office will provide additional details and will provide an online mechanism that students can use to invoke the S/U option.
  • Please note: Students will not be able to revoke the S/U option once selected, so please encourage them to make this decision carefully.

Spring 2020 Withdrawal Policy

  • Friday, May 1, is the deadline for any course or semester withdrawal request for Spring 2020.
  • Academic advisors will be responsible for reviewing and granting student requests for course or semester withdrawal. A “W” will permanently appear on the student’s academic record for all courses from which the student has withdrawn. Graduate students will be awarded a WP or WF. Graduate student requests will be processed by the Graduate School.
  • We will handle individual appeals that result from COVID-19 as they come throughout the remainder of the semester. Colleges will process academic withdrawal requests, and the Provost’s office and the Graduate School will review reimbursement appeals.
  • For courses that started in the second half of this semester, the self-service drop time window has been extended to Sunday, March 29.


Spring 2020 Incompletes

  • All grades of incomplete (I) received during the Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 must be cleared within a year of when the grade was assigned, instead of the typical 120 days. All incompletes must be resolved before a degree will be awarded.
  • Students who have incompletes in courses that are not needed for graduation should contact their academic advisor to explore options.

Academic Probation and Dismissal

  • Students on academic probation due to their NIU GPA at the end of Fall 2019 will NOT become candidates for academic dismissal if they do not attain the cumulative NIU GPA of a 2.00 by the end of Spring 2020. The academic probation for those students will be extended to Fall 2020. Graduate students are required to maintain a 3.0.


Again, I thank you for your patience, kindness and willingness to be flexible in meeting our student needs during this time. We are committed to you and all members of our Huskie family. 




Beth Ingram 
Executive Vice President and Provost 

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