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

Dear Undergraduate and Graduate Students,

We appreciate your patience as the university makes this unique transition to non-face-to-face learning and instruction. NIU faculty are working very hard to maintain the highest quality instruction possible, and we know you have the talent and resilience to be successful this semester.

At the same time, we understand the transition presents challenges for you. We are committed to your success and have promised to be flexible and responsive to your concerns. Toward that end, today we are announcing the following policy changes for grading, withdrawal, incompletes and academic probation.


These changes are effective immediately and apply only to the Spring 2020 semester. The policy changes do not, however, apply to NIU College of Law students, who will receive a separate communication.

Grading Policy Changes

  • All undergraduate and graduate students (except law 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, you 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 you earn the equivalent of a letter grade of C or higher. A grade of U will be awarded if you earn a grade lower than a C in your course.
  • For undergraduate students, grades of S and U will not be factored into your NIU grade point average (GPA). For graduate students, a grade of U will be factored into your GPA.
  • We strongly recommend that you talk to your academic advisor 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 your academic advisors. Our academic advisors will help you determine what is in your own 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 you can use to invoke the S/U option.
  • Please note: You will not be able to revoke the S/U option once selected, so please make this decision carefully.


Spring 2020 Withdrawal Policy

  • Friday, May 1, is the deadline for any course or semester withdrawal request for Spring 2020.
  • Your academic advisor will be responsible for reviewing and granting student requests for course or semester withdrawal. (A “semester withdrawal” occurs when you withdraw from all of your courses.) 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. If you are a graduate student, your requests will be processed by the Graduate School.
  • 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.
  • If you have incompletes in courses that are not needed for graduation, you should contact your academic advisor to explore options.

Academic Probation and Dismissal

  • If you were on academic probation due to your NIU GPA at the end of fall 2019, you will NOT be on academic dismissal if you do not earn the cumulative NIU GPA of a 2.00 by the end of Spring 2020. The academic probation has been extended to Fall 2020. If you are a Graduate student, you are required to maintain a 3.0.

If you have further questions about academic policies, contact your academic advisor. If you’re not sure who your advisor is, check MYNIU, or contact your advising office. For contact information for each advising office, see How to Register.

We’ve made these policy changes with your best interest in mind. During this time, we are committed to you and all members of our Huskie family. Our primary concern continues to be your health, well-being and safety.





Beth Ingram 
Executive Vice President and Provost 

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