Advising and Satisfactory Academic Progress

First Year Advising
During the 1st year, students meet quarterly with a Student Advisory Committee consisting of the NUIN Assistant Director and one member of the Faculty Advising Committee. This committee advises students regarding course selection, lab rotations, and helps to identify and address any potential problems. Students need not wait for formal meetings to receive advice, but are in fact encouraged to seek out any member of their committee as needed.

Second Year Advising
Second year students meet twice with an advising committee. The purpose of these meetings is to ensure that the transition into the thesis lab is going smoothly, to help in selection of remaining electives, to review deadlines for upcoming milestones, and to specifically address any questions or concerns related to the Qualifying Exam and Thesis Proposal.

Advising for Advanced Students
The NUIN faculty Advising and Progress to Degree Committee exists to “check in” on advanced students and to serve as a resource for advanced students should problems arise that are most appropriately handled outside of the laboratory or thesis committee environment. Students should feel comfortable approaching any member of this committee should the need arise.

Academic Standing

Students must be making satisfactory academic progress in order to remain in good standing in NUIN and The Graduate School (TGS).

All graduate students must satisfy The Graduate School’s criteria for satisfactory academic progress (described here). NUIN students must also satisfy the following NUIN criteria:

▪ Maintain a GPA of at least 3.0. (This is also a Graduate School rule.)
▪ Earn a grade of at least B- in each of the NUIN required core courses
▪ Successfully complete three laboratory rotations
▪ Meet NUIN’s milestone deadlines
▪ Make satisfactory progress on thesis research as determined by a student’s advisor and thesis committee.

A student who is not making satisfactory academic progress is notified in writing of the reason and placed on probation for a specified period of time that depends on the reason for probation. During the probation period, funding is continued. Students failing to return to good standing within the specified period may lose funding, or be dismissed from NUIN in a process formally known as exclusion. Instances of probation become part of a student’s permanent NUIN record.

The following section provides further elaboration of NUIN’s criteria for maintaining satisfactory academic progress.

Students must maintain a GPA of at least 3.0.
This is a rule of The Graduate School. If a student’s GPA drops below 3.0, early in the subsequent quarter s/he will be notified in writing and placed on probation. The student will have three quarters in which to reach the GPA criterion and return from probation. Students who do not successfully remediate their GPA within the allotted timeframe will be excluded from NUIN.

Earn a grade of at least B- in each of the NUIN required core courses
Courses in which the grade earned was below B– will not count toward fulfilling NUIN’s coursework requirement. Per Northwestern policy, however, grades in all courses contribute to the GPA calculation.

Students earning a grade below B– in a NUIN core required course (NUIN 401-1,2,3 and 403) must retake the course and are formally considered to be on probation until the course is passed. Students who do not earn at least a B– in the second attempt will be excluded from NUIN at the end of the quarter.

If a grade below B– is earned in an elective course, the student may retake the course or replace it with another elective. A low grade in an elective will not automatically result in probation.

Complete three laboratory rotations
Students are required to satisfactorily complete at least three laboratory research rotations, a process expected to culminate in the student joining a laboratory to conduct thesis research. NUIN works closely with students to help them succeed in finding prospective laboratories, but completing laboratory rotations and finding a thesis lab is ultimately the student’s responsibility.

Students who fail to find a laboratory after five rotations or four quarters (whichever comes first), or who receive two grades of “No Pass” in the NUIN 590 course associated with laboratory rotations, may be excluded from NUIN.

Meet NUIN’s milestone deadlines
The first major milestone is the NUIN Qualifying Exam. A student has two chances to pass the NUIN Qualifying Exam. Students who do not pass the NUIN Qualifying Exam after two attempts will be excluded from NUIN.

Deadlines exist for the important steps leading up to the Thesis Proposal. Students who do not form their Thesis Committee or receive approval of their Thesis Proposal by the respective deadlines will be notified and immediately placed on probation. Students have one additional quarter in which to complete the requirement or risk exclusion from NUIN. Students who feel there are compelling circumstances that warrant an extension of milestone deadlines may petition the NUIN Advisory Board well in advance of the deadline.

Make satisfactory progress on thesis research
Students should seek frequent and regular feedback from their thesis advisor and are required to meet with their Thesis Committee at least once every twelve months – more frequently if the committee requires. If a student is deemed to be making unsatisfactory progress, the advisor or Thesis Committee Chair will notify the NUIN Assistant Director. In conjunction with the student’s advisor, Thesis Committee, and NUIN Advising and Progress to Degree Committee, a plan with well-defined expectations and deadlines will be developed for reestablishing good standing. The student will receive written notice of the plan and be placed on probation. A failure to satisfy the conditions for reestablishing good standing within the specified period is grounds for exclusion from the program.

In certain circumstances the remediation plan may include finding another thesis laboratory. In such cases, NUIN will provide funding for at most two additional laboratory rotations but does not guarantee that a new thesis laboratory will be found.

Students are expected to complete their PhD work in a timely manner. Consequently, as a student approaches the end of his or her thesis work it is especially important for the student, advisor, and Thesis Committee to agree in writing on a timeline for finishing. If the completion deadline is not met, and had been established at least six months in advance, the advisor and thesis committee may recommend to the NUIN Advisory Board that the student be placed on probation for one additional quarter. A student who still has not completed all PhD requirements by the end of the probation quarter may – with the consent of their advisor and Thesis Committee – continue working toward their degree, but funding is at the discretion of the advisor.

In addition to satisfying NUIN’s criteria for satisfactory academic progress, students must also satisfy those of The Graduate School, described here.