SPS Rules and Regulations of Student Conduct

SPS Student Populations

Students of SPS’s wide offerings of academic programming fall into two categories:

  1. Undergraduate and graduate students who are pursuing a credit-bearing credential:
    1. These students complete an application for program admittance.
    2. Upon program completion credential award is noted on official University academic transcript.
  2. Students in non-credit professional development programs and students-at-large taking individual undergraduate courses:
    1. These students receive approval for attendance by completing an open-enrollment form.
    2. Professional development programs are non-credit and do not receive a Northwestern University transcript.
    3. Individual, credit-bearing undergraduate courses taken as a student-at-large are noted on an official University transcript, but do not automatically apply toward a credential.

All SPS students, as members of the Northwestern community, are expected to conduct themselves maturely and exemplify behavior consistent with Northwestern community standards. As a Northwestern student, you are expected to not only excel in the classroom but to engage in socially responsible behavior and to model exceptional conduct, character, and citizenship on campus, online, and beyond. All members of the Northwestern community are expected to deal with each other with respect and consideration. All SPS students are expected to be respectful of SPS staff time and resources.

SPS students are subject to University-enacted policies and standards, some of which are found in the Northwestern University Student Handbook and on the Office of Student Conduct website. Any violation of these policies, or assisting or encouraging others in the violation of these policies may lead to student conduct action, including discipline.

Prohibited and restricted conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • Endangering self or others, including but not limited to the physical, psychological/emotional well-being of any person
  • Interfering with the learning of others, including but not limited to in-person behavior, online behavior or use of University resources or systems to interfere with the work of another student, a faculty member, or a University staff member, or that otherwise interferes with normal operation of University systems or processes
  • Acts of fraud, misrepresentation, or dishonesty including misuse of University documents or knowingly furnishing false information to the University
  • Unauthorized entry or unauthorized use of University facilities, services, equipment, account numbers, or files, including using a NetID or account assigned to another user or providing another user with access to your NetID or account
  • Theft of or damage to University property
  • Failure to comply to the reasonable request or instruction of a university staff member or emergency personnel acting in an official capacity

Scope of the Code of Conduct

The Student Handbook and SPS Conduct Policies apply to the following situations. SPS reserves the right to investigate and resolve reports of alleged misconduct occurring from the time of a student’s application for admission through the actual awarding of a degree or completion of a course or program (even if the conduct is not discovered until after completion of program or course of study), including, but not limited to:

  • During any part of the academic year, before classes begin or after classes end
  • During time pursuing credit away from the campus
  • During periods between terms of actual enrollment
  • While on leave from the University
  • Behavior occurring either on or off campus or online

Student Conduct Processes

Alleged violations of nonacademic University policy or professional standards by SPS students will be reviewed by the Associate Dean of Student Services and/or designee to determine if a case will move forward. Options include:

  • close the case due to insufficient information;
  • school resolution by Associate Dean of Student Services, and/or designee;
  • refer case to the Office of Student Conduct (OSC) for resolution; or
  • refer case to Office of Equity (including the Deputy Title IX Coordinator).

All cases that involve allegations of violation of the Policy on Sexual Misconduct, regardless of the student involved, are referred to the Office of Equity.

SPS students in undergraduate and graduate credit-bearing, credential programs with cases that have the potential to result in separation from the University, including suspension, will be referred to the Northwestern University Office of Student Conduct (OSC) for further action in accordance with the process set forth in the Student Handbook. Cases that do not have the potential to result in separation from the University will be resolved by the Associate Dean of Student Services and/or designee.

Additionally the Associate Dean, designee, OSC or Office of Equity will determine whether interim actions should be taken while the case is pending (as detailed in the Northwestern Student Handbook and Policy on Sexual Misconduct).

SPS students in non-credit-bearing programs, and those taking individual courses as a student-at-large, are expected to conduct themselves according to Northwestern University policies. Failure to follow University policies shall be considered a breach of terms and conditions for enrollment and Northwestern University School of Professional Studies may, at its sole discretion, immediately remove student from non-credit, and individual course enrollment(s) or implement other sanctions as explained below.


When the Associate Dean of Student Services or designee determines a code of conduct violation allegation will move forward within the School of Professional Studies, the student involved is notified via University email. Notification will typically include a brief description of the alleged misconduct, including the time, date and place the incident allegedly occurred, a list of any University policies allegedly violated, and next steps. Next steps typically include a request for a written response to the allegations and confirmation of meeting with the Associate Dean and/or designee to discuss the case. The list of policies allegedly violated may be modified based on additional information revealed during case review.

Resolution Format

Cases being considered within the School of Professional Studies will be structured as a discussion. The Associate Dean and/or designee will share the information received and gathered and give the respondent an opportunity to be heard and give one’s own account of the situation.

Standard of Evidence

Northwestern University Office of Student Conduct and SPS use the preponderance of the evidence standard in investigations and hearings. This means that the investigator, conduct administrator(s), or panel must determine more likely than not what occurred.


The University expects students to participate promptly and fully in all aspects of the student conduct process. If a student elects not to participate in any part of the process, the case may proceed without the respondent’s participation. Respondents may be held accountable for any outcomes issued, even if they fail to participate.

Determination of Responsibility, Notification and Sanctions

At times, the Associate Dean or designee will communicate outcomes at the end of the scheduled discussion; however, other times, additional time and consultation with additional SPS leaders will be needed to consider all the information and determine outcomes. Outcomes will be communicated in a reasonable timeframe following the meeting. In all cases, students will receive notification of outcome(s) in writing. The Outcome Notification letter will be added to the student academic record.

The Associate Dean and/or designee will determine whether the respondent is responsible for the alleged policy violation and, if so, will issue appropriate sanctions. For SPS undergraduate and graduate credit-bearing and credential-seeking students, see Sanctions in Northwestern Student Handbook.

School resolution of cases for students in non-credit programs and students-at-large taking individual undergraduate courses, will be managed by the program leadership, with sanctions appropriate to the student’s open enrollment and short-term relationship with the school as determined by SPS, which may include removal of approval to register for future SPS non-credit-bearing and/or individual courses and/or immediate removal from the course or program.

Administrative Review

Parties found responsible have the right to request an Administrative Review of the outcome of a code of conduct case as detailed in the Northwestern Student Handbook under Administrative Review.

Administrative outcome reviews for students in undergraduate and graduate credit-bearing, credential programs will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct, and follow the appeals format outlined in the Northwestern Student Handbook.

For students in non-credit bearing programs, and students-at-large taking individual undergraduate courses, administrative outcome reviews will be conducted by the SPS Associate Dean and an SPS academic leader.

For questions about Code of Conduct policies, please refer to the Northwestern Student Handbook and/or contact SPS Associate Dean for Student and Alumni Services.

Student Classroom Conduct

All course participants are expected to behave in a manner conducive to a successful and enjoyable learning experience. Sometimes, relatively harmless things can spoil the classroom dynamic; for example, some students are so eager to participate that they unintentionally dominate class. Students must think about their role in class as an individual student but also as an integral part of a group experience. Some disruptions are of a more serious nature and cannot be tolerated. These policies extend to student interaction with administrative staff. Students should review the Rules and Regulations of Student Conduct. Students with questions about these policies should contact SPS Student Services.

Academic Integrity and Ethics

Academic integrity is fundamental to every facet of the scholarly process and is expected of every student in the School of Professional Studies in all academic undertakings. Integrity involves firm adherence to academic honesty and to ethical conduct consistent with values based on standards that respect the intellectual efforts of both oneself and others.

Ensuring integrity in academic work is a joint enterprise involving both faculty and students. Among the most important goals of undergraduate education are maintaining an environment of academic integrity and instilling in students a lifelong commitment to the academic honesty that is fundamental to good scholarship. These goals are best achieved as a result of effective dialogue between students and faculty mentors regarding academic integrity and sensitivity to the nuances of ethical conduct in scholarly work. SPS strongly encourages students to visit the University’s Writing Place which provides a wealth of information about the proper use of resources. This University published a helpful primer, Academic Integrity: A Basic Guide.

Standards of academic honesty are violated whenever a student engages in any action that jeopardizes the integrity of scholarly work. Such actions include cheating in the classroom or on examinations; the intentional and deliberate misuse of data in order to draw conclusions that may not be warranted by the evidence; fabrication of data; omission or concealment of conflicting data for the purpose of misleading other scholars; submitting identical or nearly identical work for two different courses; use of another's words, ideas, or creative productions without citation in either the text or in footnotes; paraphrasing or summarizing another's material in such a way as to misrepresent the author's intentions; and use of privileged material or unpublished work without permission. Academic dishonesty is a serious matter for undergraduate students committed to intellectual pursuits, and it will be adjudicated in accordance with procedures approved by the School of Professional Studies.

It is the responsibility of every member of the academic community to be familiar with these procedures and to bear in mind relevant policies governing activities not directly addressed herein, such as internships, specific undergraduate programs, and University research. Students are responsible for knowledge of the information provided by the Undergraduate Academic Conduct Committee by which SPS undergraduate students are governed.

Discrimination and Harassment

Northwestern University does not discriminate or permit discrimination by any member of its community against any individual on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, parental status, marital status, age, disability, citizenship status, veteran status, genetic information, reproductive health decision making, or any other classification protected by law in matters of admissions, employment, housing, or services or in the educational programs or activities it operates. Harassment, whether verbal, physical, or visual, that is based on any of these characteristics is a form of discrimination. Further prohibited by law is discrimination against any employee and/or job applicant who chooses to inquire about, discuss, or disclose their own compensation or the compensation of another employee or applicant.

Northwestern University complies with federal and state laws that prohibit discrimination based on the protected categories listed above, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX requires educational institutions, such as Northwestern, to prohibit discrimination based on sex (including sexual harassment) in the University’s educational programs and activities, including in matters of employment and admissions. In addition, Northwestern provides reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants, students, and employees with disabilities and to individuals who are pregnant.

Any alleged violations of this policy or questions with respect to nondiscrimination or reasonable accommodations should be directed to:

Northwestern’s Office of Equity
1800 Sherman Avenue, Suite 4-500
Evanston, Illinois 60208

Questions specific to sex discrimination (including sexual misconduct and sexual harassment) should be directed to:

Northwestern’s Title IX Coordinator in the Office of Equity
1800 Sherman Avenue, Suite 4-500
Evanston, Illinois 60208

A person may also file a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights regarding an alleged violation of Title IX by visiting www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/complaintintro.html or calling 800-421-3481. Inquiries about the application of Title IX to Northwestern may be referred to Northwestern’s Title IX Coordinator, the United States Department of Education’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, or both.

Sexual Harassment

Northwestern University is committed to the maintenance of an environment free of discrimination and all forms of coercion that impede the academic freedom or diminish the dignity of any member of the University community. The University emphasizes this policy specifically as it pertains to the prevention of sexual harassment and to the obligations of all students, faculty, administrators and staff in this regard.

It is the policy of Northwestern University that no member of the Northwestern community of any gender identity — students, faculty, administrators or staff — may sexually harass any other member of the community. Sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute harassment when:

  • Submission to such conduct is made or threatened to be made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual’s employment or education
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used or threatened to be used as the basis for academic or employment decisions affecting that individual
  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s academic or professional performance or creating what a reasonable person would sense as an intimidating, hostile or offensive employment, educational or living environment

For more information on discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment policies and to get help and advice, please visit the Sexual Harassment Prevention Office website or contact:

University Sexual Harassment Prevention Office
Rebecca Crown Center
Room 2-636 (East Tower)
633 Clark Street
Evanston, Illinois 60208-1117

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), all students have certain rights with regard to their educational records. A copy of Northwestern’s student records policy is available at the above link. FERPA grants students the rights to inspect and review their educational records at Northwestern University; request an amendment of their records to ensure the records are not inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of privacy or other rights; consent to release or to restrict disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in their educational records, except under certain limited circumstances when, by law, consent is not required; and file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Northwestern University to comply with FERPA requirements.