Grading Policy

Authorized Grades
All course work at Northwestern University School of Law is graded on a 4.33 grading scale.  The authorized letter grades and their assigned numerical values are:

A+ 4.33
A 4.00
A- 3.67
B+ 3.33
B 3.00
B- 2.67
C+ 2.33
C 2.00
D 1.00
F 0.00
I 0.00

Authorized grade entries also include:

  • W - Withdrawal
  • CR - Credit
  • NC - No credit
  • I - Incomplete (Exam not yet taken or research paper not yet submitted; grade will convert to F at the conclusion of the following term)
  • IP - In progress (Grade not yet received. Delay approved by faculty and Dean of Students; grade will convert to I at the conclusion of the following term)
  • K - Continuation Course

Mandatory Curve Policy

  1. First-Year Courses
    • In first-year required doctrinal courses, the mean will be 3.35, with a permitted range of 3.3 - 3.4.
      • Faculty are also required to adhere to a mandatory distribution of no more than 5% A+ grades (rounded up) and at least 10% B- and below grades (rounded down).
    • In Communication and Legal Reasoning (CLR) and Common Law Reasoning courses, the mean will be 3.45, with a permitted range of 3.4 - 3.5.
  2. Upper-level doctrinal courses, including 1L Electives
    • In all upper-level doctrinal courses with enrollments of 13 or larger, the mean will be a 3.55, with a permitted range of 3.5 - 3.6.  A doctrinal course is a lecture course in which the grade is primarily based on an exam.
  3. No other courses are subject to a mandatory curve.

Good Academic Standing/Rules on Academic Disqualification

To maintain good academic standing, a student's grade point average must meet or exceed 2.25.  GPAs are rounded to the nearest thousandth (3.4994 rounds to 3.499; 3.4995 rounds to 3.500).    Complete details regarding our policies on maintaining good academic standing and rules on academic disqualification may be found in sections 2.08 and 3.02 of our Rules and Regulations (pdf).

Reporting of Class Rank
Class rank is not computed, nor is any entry concerning class rank recorded on the official record of any student.

Honors - Class of 2003 and subsequent

Summa cum laude
4.200 CGPA

Magna cum laude
3.970 CGPA

Cum laude
3.650 CGPA

Honors - Classes of 2001 and 2002
Honors are conferred under a transition rule during the 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 academic years as follows:

Summa cum laude
(at the discretion of the faculty)

Magna cum laude
4.00 CGPA but at least the top 3%

Cum laude
3.63 CGPA but at least the top 30%

LLM Honors

An LLM student who earns a 3.500 cumulative GPA or higher will be awarded the degree of Master of Laws with Honors.

Order of the Coif
The Northwestern University School of Law Order of the Coif dates from 1907 and consists of those faculty members elected to the Order.

Consistent with National rules, the Northwestern Chapter may elect to membership any graduating senior who has completed at least 75% of his or her law studies in graded courses and whose grade record ranks in the top 10% of all graduating seniors of the school.

The Northwestern Chapter need not select the maximum eligible and elects only those eligible who, in the opinion of the voting members of the Chapter, are deemed truly worthy of the honor. The Chapter takes into consideration law school activities contributing to the total legal education of the candidate.

Dean's List
Dean's List, like Latin Honors and Order of the Coif, is awarded exclusively to students pursuing a JD degree.  JD students may qualify for Dean's List recognition as follows:

  • Fall/Spring Semesters: A full-time JD student may be placed on the Dean's List for a particular semester if s/he is enrolled in at least 9 semester credits of law coursework and his or her grade point average for that semester is 3.500.
  • Summer/Intersession:  Dean's List will not be awarded for Summer or Intersession.