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Registration FAQ

Do you have questions about registration? Review the frequently asked questions below to find the answers to questions you might be looking for.

Dates and deadlines

Where can I find registration deadline dates?

Check out the Academic Calendar to find registration dates and deadlines.

How do I add a class once a quarter has started?

The first week of each quarter is the Add/Drop or Change of Registration Period (see the Academic Calendar for exact dates), you can make regular changes (add, drop, grading basis, etc.) to your schedule on CAESAR without additional permission. If you are trying to complete a course overload (adding a 5th or 6th class), see Course Load Policies.

After the Change of Registration Period, you will need special permission to add into a class or change the number of units you have registered for in a variable unit course (see “How do I add a class late?”).

How do I add a class late (after the first week of class)?

Adding a class after the first week of the quarter is considered late registration. Late adds are allowed at the discretion of your Dean. It is important to note approval is granted on a case-by-case basis and is not guaranteed. Every effort should be made to add classes before the end of the Change of Registration Period.

To add a class late, obtain signed permission on a Registration Exception Form from the dean or appropriate advising office of your school; bring the form and your Wildcard to the Office of the Registrar where the front desk staff will add you into the course. Proper identification must be provided for office staff to make any changes to your registration – your friends cannot drop off the form on your behalf.

Registration Exception Forms are available at your Dean's office or in the Office of the Registrar.

I missed the grading basis (P/N) deadline. Can I still change my grading basis?

Undergraduate students may change registration on eligible classes (Student Option grading basis) from grade to P/N and vice versa through Friday of the the third week of classes.

There are no exceptions to the PN deadline. The deans will not approve a change from ABC to P/N or vice versa after the deadline has passed.

McCormick School of Engineering students
McCormick School of Engineering students should review the P/N policy outlined here.

The Graduate School
The grading basis deadline for students in The Graduate School is the end of the first week of classes. If you need to change your grading basis after this date, contact your TGS adviser (note: not your department adviser) as soon as possible to determine if a late switch is possible.

Can I drop a course after the drop deadline? What will appear on my transcript if I do?

Late drops are approved on a case-by-case basis by the dean of your school (or advisors, for TGS graduate students).

Courses dropped after the deadline will appear on your transcript with a ‘W’. If you want to drop all classes for the quarter, contact your dean/TGS advisor to get a Withdrawal/Cancellation Form signed (available in the Office of the Registrar). Once you have the appropriate signatures, turn the form into the Registrar’s Office. Tuition refunds will not be granted after the first week of the quarter. For more information, see the Term Withdrawal Policy.

How do I enroll as a part-time student?

Students wishing to be part-time should review the Course Load Policies.

Appointment times

How are appointment times assigned?

Visit the appointment time page to find out when your appointment time scheduled.

Within the groups appointment times are assigned by the last two digits of the student ID and rotated systematically throughout each academic year.

The student ID and rotated systematically throughout each academic year based generally on the following principles:

  1. There are 100 combinations of the last two digits of student ID numbers, 00 through 99.
  2. These 100 combinations are divided into thirds, designated below as A, B, and C.
  3. The groups of student ID’s within each third are rotated over four years of quarterly registrations.
  4. The student ID’s are rotated within each third quarterly.
Group 4 Group 3 Group 2 Group 1
  Fall Winter Spring Fall Winter Spring Fall Winter Spring Fall Winter Spring
Upper PA A B C B A B A C A C B
Middle PA B C A C B C B A B A C
Lower PA C A B A C A C B C B A

What should I do if I have no appointment time?

Appointment times for a quarter are generally added to your CAESAR account on the Thursday before Pre-Registration begins. If you do not see an enrollment appointment by Friday morning, contact Registration & Scheduling at 7-0260 (off campus at 847-467-0260).

What should I do if my appointment time on CAESAR is incorrect?

There are many factors that determine a student's appointment time. You can read about how appointment times are assigned in the Appointment Time Setup Procedure web page . If you feel you have been assigned an incorrect appointment time contact Registration & CAESAR Login Support at 7-0260 (off campus at 847-467-0260).

Why do I have two appointment times?

Each quarter you are assigned two appointment times. The first (earliest) is your pre-registration appointment time. You can register for up to two courses in your major/minor during pre-registration if your major/minor falls in a department that participates in pre-reg. The second appointment time is your regular registration appointment time. You can register for up to 4.99 units of credit during this period. Any additional units of credit can be added during the Change of Registration Period the first week of each quarter.

When do first time freshman and transfer students register?

First-time freshmen register on the same day during new student week. Transfer students will be advised by their respective schools prior to registration. For transfer students, the registration appointment is based on accumulated units that begin with winter quarter registration.

What if I am graduating next year?

  1. You have completed fewer than 33 units but expect to graduate in the next four quarters (term for which you are enrolling plus three terms)
  2. You have submitted a petition to graduate by the petition deadline. This allowance was made so that students prepared to graduate early have the opportunity to enroll in classes needed to fulfill remaining requirements.

Permission numbers

What is a permission number and how do I get one?

Permission numbers are codes that allow students to add into classes requiring department/instructor consent or closed classes. They are randomly generated numbers that can be as short at two and as long as six digits.

The Office of the Registrar does not issue permission numbers. Permission numbers for courses that require "Department Consent" are obtained directly from the department offering the class. Permission numbers for "Instructor Consent" courses are obtained directly from the professor teaching the class. If a class is closed or you are on a waitlist, contact the department to receive updates on potential openings. If they are able to get you in the class, they will issue you a permission number.

How do I enter my permission number on CAESAR?

  • If the class is not in your shopping cart, enter the 5-digit class number to add the class or use the search function and select the class. The next page will be the Select Classes to Add - Enrollment Preferences page.
  • Enter the permission number in the box labeled Permission Nbr on the right side of the page.
  • Change any other enrollment preferences (e.g. grading basis) and click 'Next' to continue with registration.

If the class is already in your shopping cart, click on the course title hyperlink from your Enrollment Shopping Cart. This will take you to the Enrollment Preferences page.

  • Enter the permission number in the box labeled Permission Nbr on the right side of the page.
  • Change any other enrollment preferences (e.g. grading basis) and click 'Next' to continue with registration.

If you are on the waitlist for a class, drop the course as if you were registered for it (see Drop a Class from your Schedule using CAESAR). Then, re-add the class using the permission number (do not select the waitlist option this time) by following the instructions listed above.

Why doesn't my permission number work when I enter it in CAESAR?

There are several reasons this could be happening.

  • You’re using the incorrect permission number. Double-check that you have entered the number correctly. If you have several permission numbers for different classes, make sure you have entered the number for the correct class.
  • The permission number has been used. Once a permission number has been used successfully to enroll a student in a class, that permission number cannot be used again. If you enrolled in the class with the permission number, dropped it, and are trying to re-enroll with the same permission number, it will not work. The department may have also accidentally given the permission number out to another student who has already used it to successfully register.
  • The permission number has expired. Permission numbers have expiration dates. Though most permission numbers are used well before their expiration date, occasionally expired numbers are given out.

If you need help determining why your permission number is not working, contact Registration & CAESAR Login Support at 7-0260 (off campus at 847-467-0260). To obtain another permission number, contact the department or professor who issued your first permission number.

Waitlists

The class I want to take is full; how can I get on a Waitlist?

Some, but not all, departments at NU create waitlists for closed courses. The Registrar's Office cannot put you on a waitlist for a class.

Many departments use electronic waitlists on CAESAR. Classes that have closed and have an electronic waitlist option on CAESAR will appear in search results with a yellow triangle to indicate waitlist availability.

  • Select the course you would like to waitlist by clicking 'Select.'
  • The Select Classes to Add - Enrollment Preferences page will appear.
  • Check the 'Wait list if class is full' option on the right side of the page.
  • Change any other enrollment preferences (grading basis, permission number) and click 'Next' to continue registering to the waitlist.
  • The electronic waitlist option on CAESAR is only available through the third day of the quarter.

If there is no waitlist option indicated (yellow triangle) on CAESAR, contact the department offering the class directly for more information. For more information, review the Waitlist Tip Sheet.

How do I remove myself from a class waitlist?

Use the Drop function to remove yourself from the waitlist of a class in which you are no longer interested – or if you have received a permission number and need to now enroll in the class. Drop your enrollment in the waitlist just like you would drop from a class in which you are enrolled.

I am on a waitlist and just received a permission number. How do I enter the permission number?

If you are on a waitlist and have received a permission number from the department to enroll in the class, add the class as if you were registering for it for the first time: Select the class to add. On the Select Classes to Add – Enrollment Preferences page, enter the permission number in the box labeled Permission Nbr on the right side of the page. Change any other enrollment preferences (e.g. grading basis) and click 'Next' to continue with registration. This will remove your waitlist status and add you to the course.

Miscellaneous registration questions

I have a registration hold on my account, how do I get it removed?

From the Student Center homepage on CAESAR, click on ‘View My Holds’ on the right side of the screen. The next page will display all of your holds along with information on how to remedy them. You must get a registration hold lifted before you will be able to register for courses.

What do I need to bring to the Office of the Registrar to get my registration exceptions processed?

To get your registration exceptions processed, come to the Office of the Registrar in the East Tower of 633 Clark Street (by the clock tower on south campus). Bring your signed form(s), any permission numbers, and your Wildcard. If you do not have your Wildcard, you may also use your driver’s license/state ID or passport to verify your identity. You must bring proper identification; Registrar staff cannot make alterations to your registration/record without verifying your identity. Do not send your form along with a friend. It will not be processed.

I want to enroll in classes with a Time Conflict (ie: Slightly overlapping Meeting times) but CAESAR won't let me, how can I register?

CAESAR will not allow you to register for any courses that conflict, even by a few minutes. To override this, get a Registration Time Conflict Permission form signed by the professors of BOTH courses that overlap – even if you will never miss one of the classes. If you cannot get approval from both professors, you will not be able to take one of the classes. Once the form is signed, bring it to the Office of the Registrar as early as the beginning of your enrollment appointment and no later than the end of the Change of Registration Period (end of the first week of classes).

Registration Time Conflict permission forms are available online or in the Registrar's Office.

If you believe a time conflict exists due to an incorrect class time on CAESAR, please notify the department offering the class. The Registrar's Office can only update times on CAESAR when notified directly by the department. If the time is not corrected on CAESAR, you will need to fill out a Registration Time Conflict permission form.

I am trying to register for a class, but when I search for it, there is no ‘Select’ button. What do I do?

First, check to make sure you are searching under the Add Classes – Enter Search Criteria, found under the Enroll option on CAESAR and not searching from the Search for Classes option found on the left of your Student Center homepage.

If you are searching from Enroll, Add Classes – Enter Search Criteria, check to make sure you have not already placed the class in your enrollment shopping cart. If it is in your shopping cart, select the class and choose Proceed to Step 2 of 3 to continuing registering for the course.

I have dropped and added courses in CAESAR - when will Canvas reflect my enrollment changes?

All courses and enrollments managed in CAESAR are updated in Canvas, but updates do not appear in real time. If a change is made in CAESAR, it may take up to 24 hours to be updated in Canvas. Updates are scheduled to occur Monday through Friday at approximately 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.

I’m searching for a class I know is being offered, but it doesn’t come up. How can I find it?

There are a few reasons this might be occurring:

  • The class is closed. If you have selected the “Open Classes Only” option on search, courses that are closed will not appear. To view a closed class in search, uncheck the “Open Classes Only” option.
  • The Course Number option is set on “is exactly.” Even if you know the full course number (e.g. 120-1), change “is exactly” to “contains” and search again.
  • The search might be too specific. Choose fewer options and try again.

If none of these options works, contact the department to verify the status of the course or contact Registration & CAESAR Login Support at 7-0260 (off campus at 847-467-0260).

How do I delete a course from my shopping cart?

From the Student Homepage, click on ‘Shopping Cart’ under ‘Enrollment’. The Select Term page might appear, if it does, select the appropriate term. The next page will be the Shopping Cart page. Click the box next to the course you want to delete then click the “Delete” button.

How do I add a Course Overload (5th/6th Class)?

See Course Load Policies.

Why won't CAESAR let me register for my 5th Class?

Regardless of school, no student can register for more than 4.99 units until the Change of Registration Period (the first week of classes for a quarter). See Course Load Policies. Once the term begins, most undergraduates may register for up to 5.5 units of credit. WCAS students, additional restrictions may apply. See the WCAS Rules and Policies for Overloads and Underloads page.

I turned in a course overload form and need to edit/change classes, but CAESAR won’t let me. How can I fix this?

The Office of the Registrar will have to process any changes after your course overload has been processed. Come back to the office with your Wildcard and the front desk staff will be able to help you.

Note: DO NOT drop a class to add another once your course overload has been processed. You will not be able to add another course without coming in to the Office of the Registrar. Dropping a class might result in losing your spot if you cannot get into the other class for some reason.

I didn't take classes last quarter and now CAESAR won't let me register. How do I re-enter?

Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters constitute the regular academic year at Northwestern. It is assumed that degree seeking students will register for each quarter of the regular academic year. If you do not register for a regular academic year quarter you are de-activated as a student.

Fill out an Application for Former Student to Re-Enter form to be re-activated at NU and set up to enroll. FRET forms are also available at the Registrar's Office. You must fill out your FRET form 6 weeks before the first day of registration for the quarter you wish to return. For more information, see Re-Entry for Former Students.

How do I know if I can P/N a class?

Please see the Pass/Not Pass regulations.

How do I change the grading basis (e.g. ABC to P/N) or number of units for a course (e.g. 1 to 2 units)?

  • From the Student Homepage on CAESAR, select ‘Enrollment’; the term if applicable; ‘Edit’.
  • Choose the class you would like to edit on the ‘Classes you are allowed to edit’ page and click 'Proceed to Step 2 of 3.'
  • If the course you are editing has a discussion section, the Select a Class to Edit - Related Class Sections page will appear listing discussion sections you can switch into.
  • If you do not wish to change discussion sections, click 'Next' to continue. The Select a Class to Edit - Enrollment Preferences page appears.
  • To change grading basis: For classes offering the ‘Student Option’ grading basis, choose the grading option you prefer from the drop down menu on the right side of the page, click 'Next' to continue.
  • To change the number of units on a variable unit course: Enter the number of units on the right side of the page, click 'Next' to continue.
  • Confirm the changes you have made and click 'Finish Editing' to complete the process.

For detailed instructions with screenshots, view the Editing Classes Tip Sheet.

How do I change the Discussion/Lab section for a course in which I am registered?

Do not drop the class and attempt to re-enroll – use the Edit function on CAESAR.

If the class is closed, you will not be allowed to add the class again without permission. It will be at the department’s discretion whether to give you a permission number to get back in the class.

  • To change your discussion/lab for a class, select 'Enrollment: Edit' from the Student Homepage.
  • Choose the class you would like to edit on the ‘Classes you are allowed to edit’ page and click 'Proceed to Step 2 of 3.'
  • The ‘Edit Class Enrollment Options’ page will appear listing all classes you are allowed to edit. Choose the class you would like to edit to see available sections.
  • Proceed to Step 2 of 3. Select the appropriate section on the Related Class Sections page.
  • Confirm the changes you have made and click 'Next' and ‘Finish Editing’ to complete the process.

How do I enroll in a School of Professional Studies course?

To request enrollment in a School of Professional Studies course, submit a Dual Registration Form signed by the dean of your school or appropriate representative (WCAS advisors can sign). The Registration Department keeps all received Dual Registration Forms on file until the start of the next quarter. If there is space available in the course after all SPS students have registered, day school students are added to the course by the first day of the quarter. You will be notified if there is an issue with your registration (e.g. the course is full, there is a time conflict). If you don't hear from the Registrar's Office, check CAESAR to verify your enrollment.

Please note: The earlier you are able to submit your Dual Registration Form to the Registrar's Office, the more likely you will be to get any available seats in the class.

In addition, remember to be as clear as possible:

  • If this is your 5th or 6th class, remember to have the dean sign approval for a course overload on the Dual Registration Form.
  • If you would like a course dropped to swap for the SPS course, include the course you wish to drop on the form.
  • If you want to list multiple courses in case your first preference is full, indicate this along with your preference order.

**Failing to indicate these preferences may cause a delay in adding you into the course which may result in the course filling up before we receive clarification of your wishes.

I am a grad student, how do I register for a course outside my career?

The Graduate School (TGS) Students are no longer required to secure signatures to enroll in classes offered by McCormick, Medill (Undergraduate classes), Communication, SESP, Music or Weinberg. Instead:

  • Secure a permission number from the department offering the class,
  • Enroll yourself via CAESAR.

TGS Graduate students wishing to enroll in classes offered by any other NU school should secure the signature of the department offering the course and of their TGS advisor on a Dual Registration Form. Submit the signed form to the Office of the Registrar to be enrolled in the class. For graduate students in other programs, please see Cross School Registration guidelines.