Classes and Academics

How to prepare for classes

We learn and remember best when we can attach new information to something we already know. Consequently, the best way to prepare for your classes is to learn as much as you can about your subjects before classes start. Here are a few simple ways to do this: 

Order your textbooks early and get started on your reading. Don’t try to read too much—read slowly so that you can make sure you understand the key concepts. Want to see if you understand a key concept? See if you can explain it to a 9-year old. People who understand things can make them simple. 

Access your courses’ Canvas pages as soon as you can and get a head start on your first assignments. Remember, don’t try to do too much. Instead, work slowly to make sure you understand the key concepts. 

Remember what you already know about the subjects you are taking. Review your high school work in that area, read online introductions or take a crash course.

Establish a calendar and schedule-in your classes and study times. Successful students study like it’s their job on a daily schedule. They also find ways to study more-- often by forming study groups. They also vary their approaches to studying. The best way to do this is to blend reading, note-taking, and practices sets with quizzes--either by making your own, quizzing with a study group, or by putting a flashcard app on your phone.

Popular Questions

Registering for ISP courses

To register in an Independent Study (ISP) Course, please complete and submit the Directed Independent Study and Registration Authorization Form to the instructor of the course. The instructor will then approve or deny the form and send to the Registrar's Office. Once the ISP course is created, you will registered in the course and you will receive an automated email to your WWU email account.

Course Fees

Departments will be making adjustments to course fees according to what is being provided to students in the course. Some fees will not be charged at all, while the majority will either be charged as posted or reduced to a level commensurate with what is provided during remote delivery of the course. You can expect to learn about any course fee adjustments from your professors and on your student account.

What does it mean if a class is asynchronous?

An 'asynchronous' or fully online course is delivered such that students can complete the work at any time in a day (or sometimes a week). These courses do not require that faculty or students be at their computer during the scheduled class time. In a 'synchronous' or remote class students must be online during the regularly scheduled class time. This structure is most like a face-to-face class and can involve typical lectures delivered via Zoom or another tool.

Can I record my class session?

Class material falls under copyright law; recording and posting Zoom-type class sessions without the permission of the instructor is against university policy. If a student needs to record a session as part of an accommodation, the student should work with the instructor and the Disability Access Center to ensure that accommodation can be made.

Where can I print on campus?

Students can use the computers and printers in Haggard Hall 101 and 112. Printers may be available at other locations as well. Students will need to wear face coverings, ensure they are symptom-free, and follow physical distancing and hand-washing and sanitizing guidelines when using computer labs on campus.

Fall Grading Policies

With input from the Faculty Senate and the Associated Students, and with the approval of the Provost, the University will – with the modifications described below – return for Fall Quarter 2020 to the standard and published grading policy posted below. This temporary policy has no bearing on courses graded S/U or on grading in the Fairhaven College, which has its own grading policy.

Requesting P/NP grades:

Students may designate a course as Pass/No Pass by submitting a request with the Registrar’s Office after registering for the course; they may change this designation by submitting the change to the Registrar’s Office at any time through the seventh week of a quarter; for extension program courses, pass/no pass grading designation may be elected up to the end of the seventh week for regular quarter-long courses, or prior to the third class meeting for shorter courses. Students may be advised to stay with a letter grade if required for accreditation, veteran status and benefits, or other purposes.

P/NP grades:

Undergraduate students opting for P/NP (EP/NP*) grading in Fall Quarter 2020 will receive an EP for grades of D+ and above. A grade of D or D- will be recorded as a NP, which will not earn credits or be reflected in the GPA. A grade of F will be recorded as NP on the transcript, will not receive degree credit, and will not be reflected in the GPA. By choosing not to opt for EP/NP grading, a student may have a D or D- reported to their transcript, which will earn credits and be reflected in the GPA. Departments requesting a different minimum grade for credit may petition their Dean and will announce the course grade rubric before the start of classes. This policy has no bearing on courses graded S/U.


A grade of EP* during Fall Quarter 2020 will count towards curricular, major, continuation, and graduation requirements unless noted by a department and included in the respective syllabus.


In Spring Quarter of 2020, the coronavirus pandemic led the university to shift to remote learning, a modality that was new for many faculty and students. These uncharted teaching/learning conditions made it necessary to adopt a temporary grading policy that would accommodate student acclimation to the new learning environment and that would afford students a certain flexibility in how their work in courses would be formally registered. While the challenges brought on by the pandemic have by no means disappeared, the return to some face-to-face instruction, as well as more familiarity with remote and online teaching/learning, supports returning to the standard rank (letter grade) system. The later date by which students must opt for a P/NP grade (Week 7, as opposed to the standard Week 4 reporting deadline to the Registrar), recognizes a continued need for flexibility and the fact that the decision might be better informed after mid-term. As other universities make the same decision, it is also in the best interests of our students to revert to rank grading, retaining some aspects of the flexibility present in the temporary policy (more time to decide on requesting P/NP, etc.).

*EP (Pass – Exceptional Circumstance) is to be used as the P grade in grade submission. It is necessary in order to facilitate the appropriate qualification of the P grade in Banner and DegreeWorks during the period of the temporary grading policy.

  During all quarters in which P/NP interim grading policies are in effect at the undergraduate level, the following policy will apply to graduate level courses, beginning Summer 2020.

Policy Highlights
  • Graduate students may choose P/NP grading for courses that are normally A-F letter-graded, excluding thesis and research courses. Courses graded S/U cannot be changed to P/NP.
  • To elect P/NP grading, submit a request to the Registrar's Office by the end of the seventh week of the quarter. For short format courses, P/NP may be requested prior to the third class meeting.
  • To request P/NP for undergraduate courses, follow the undergraduate grading policy.
  • A minimum C- equivalent is required to receive a P grade. Programs may specify a higher passing grade, and must communicate that to students by the first day of the course.
  • Beginning Summer 2020, a maximum of 6 credits of P grades may be counted toward degree requirements. All spring 2020 P grades may apply to degree requirements, and do not count against the 6 maximum.


Graduate School Interim Grading Policy

Learning from Home

Learning online will take more motivation and attention than in-person classes, with one of the biggest hurdles being the environment. Home, be it in Bellingham or elsewhere, is where we relax and unwind after a long day of work. But now it's where all the work will get done.

Here are some ways you can create a good learning environment at home:

Set up a “home office” that’s quiet and well lit, away from distractions. If you are not using your phone for class, consider leaving your phone in another room.

Be aware of your notifications. Push notifications on your phone or other device could cause distraction. Be aware of these and consider turning them off while you work/study.

Set up a routine and schedule that includes getting up at a regular time, getting ready (and out of those PJs) and getting to work. 

Manage your time. Time management is an essential skill to have as a student and even more important when you are learning remotely. Managing your time will keep you focused, on track and making progress in your studying and assignments.

Try the time blocking Pomodoro Technique. Essentially, to prevent burnout, work 25 minutes then take a 5-minute break. After four 25-minute segments, take a longer 15-minute break to stretch, step outside, etc.

Make time for lunch instead of snacking through lectures – crinkling can distract other students during a video call.

Don’t work in bed. Doing so can associate work/school stress with what’s supposed to be a relaxing environment – doing work in a different area helps with compartmentalization.

Move around. Getting up at least once an hour to stretch, walk around, etc. will boost concentration and give you a brief mental break. These are additional best practices for healthy distance learning.

Be open to learning new technology. There are many of resources available to help students learn in a remote way including Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Check them out and see how they might help you stay connected.

International Students FAQs

The U.S. government agreed to rescind the proposed July 6 SEVP guidance and return to the status quo as established by the M​arch 9, 2020 policy directive​ and the ​addendum issued on March 13, 2020​. SEVP released an updated F​requently Asked Questions for Stakeholders​ on July 15.

International students previously enrolled​ at WWU for spring quarter, will be allowed to stay in the U.S. or return to the U.S. for either online or in-person courses. Continuing students will not be required to register for face-to-face (F2F) courses to maintain F-1 status and will not require an updated I-20 with comments about the mode of instruction. Continuing students who wish to remain outside of the U.S. for fall quarter and take online courses will be allowed to maintain their F-1 status as long as they register full-time for fall quarter and continue to follow all F-1 regulations.

Incoming,​ new students who were not previously enrolled​ in March who will be entering the U.S. with an initial I-20 record will not be permitted to take 100% of courses online according to ​SEVP’s clarifying questions​ and broadcast message July 24.​ Students starting a new degree program at WWU who wish to enter the U.S. for fall quarter will be allowed to take online courses but must also register for at least one face-to-face (F2F) course to maintain F-1 status. Even if you have F2F classes, there is a possibility that you will not be issued an F-1 visa by the U.S. embassy/consulate, or there may still be travel restrictions in place and entering the U.S. may be difficult.

For new students​ who are planning to register for Fall classes and study from outside of the U.S., you may register for all remote/online classes. We highly recommend this plan as the safest option to get started on your academic path at Western. You can ask to defer your I-20 to Winter quarter and wait to get your visa at a later date. You are not required to take any minimum number of credits from outside the U.S.

Note: Students in our Intensive English Program or Global Pathway Program may have different regulations. Please e-mail with questions about your specific situation.

Yes, based on the U.S. government’s ​agreement to rescind the proposed July 6 SEVP guidance and the updated July 15 ​Frequently Asked Questions for Stakeholders​ as well as clarification ​broadcast message July 24,​ continuing students who were previously enrolled for spring quarter will be allowed to remain in the U.S. or return to the U.S. to take all of their courses online. Based on WWU’s fall quarter course options, most courses will be offered online with limited exceptions for some experiential courses that can be taught safely in-person, such as applied performance classes and some hands-on labs. Your SEVIS I-20 record will remain valid as long as you maintain your F-1 status and enroll full-time.

Continuing students who were previously enrolled for spring quarter but wish to remain outside of the U.S. for fall quarter may take online courses and keep your SEVIS record active as l​ong as you register full-time for fall quarter and continue to follow all F-1 regulations. SEVP has confirmed the university can keep your SEVIS record active and you will be eligible for future benefits such as CPT and OPT as long as you maintain your F-1 status.

Every student’s situation is different. WWU’s International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) office encourages you to contact us to understand your options. If you have additional questions or wish to meet with an ISSS adviser, contact or call 360-650-7971.

If you are an English language student, please contact with your questions.

You can find important dates and deadlines for fall quarter on Western’s registration calendar.