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Kellogg Course Bidding System Rules


The course bidding system is a process for registering in Kellogg's full-time masters degree program classes. The bidding is designed to achieve an equitable and efficient allocation of seats in classes when demand exceeds supply. This document describes the "rules" of this process.


  • Bidding consists of two rounds for each quarter. The second round is followed by three Add/Drop periods, which differ from each other only in the percentage of points refunded.
  • All students enrolled in full-time masters degree programs at Kellogg bid for courses (e.g. 2YMBA, MMM, 1YMBA, Internal Transfers, JD/MBA, MD/MBA) with the following exceptions. Students do not bid for courses for their first quarter of enrollment.
  • Students do not bid on summer quarter classes, individual independent study classes, classes where students are selected by application, some labs, PhD level classes, Part-Time MBA classes, or classes offered by other schools at Northwestern University.

Point Allocations

  • Upon matriculation, first year 2YMBA, MMM, JD/MBA and MD/MBA students receive 2000 points to use during two bidding quarters. There is no carryover of points to the second year.
  • Second year students (including 2YMBA, MMM, 1YMBA, ETDT) receive 3000 points to use during three bidding quarters.
  • Students who study abroad as part of Kellogg’s Full-Time Exchange program will have bid points deducted from their accounts before the start of bidding for the following quarter. The students will be charged either: a. the average amount of points spent by their peers who did not study abroad or b. 1,000 points, whichever is less.
  • Students do not receive additional points or lose points when they (a) waive or substitute for a core course, (b) take more than the minimum number of courses required to graduate, or (c) take a course which is not included in bidding. Student majors have no impact on bidding points or bidding priority.
  • Points may be deducted from a student's bidding account as part of Honor Code Sanctions.
  • A bidding points transaction history is continuously available for each student.

General Bidding Limits

  • A minimum of 1 point must be bid for a class.
  • There is no maximum to points bid for a class, as long as the bid is within the student’s points available.
  • There is no minimum number of class units which must be bid upon.
  • In round one, a student can bid on a maximum of five class units. In round two, a student can again bid on a maximum of five class units, where bid is here defined as retaining a class position or placing points on an open class in round two.
  • Half quarter courses count as one-half unit.
  • A student can bid on different sections of the same course.
  • A student can bid simultaneously on classes that meet at the same time.
  • Course pre-requisites are enforced throughout the system. Course co-requisites are not enforced in the system, but must be met by the end of the Final Add/Drop Period.
  • Maximum class capacity is determined for each class by interest from the first round of bidding. Classroom seating capacity may have been reduced in order to maintain seats for Part-Time students in Evanston Evening classes and/or for Full-Time students who do not bid in that quarter (e.g. JD/MBA, Exchange).
  • Courses held on the waitlist cannot total more than 5 units.

Points Available for Bidding

  • A bidding points account balance is maintained for each student. Points are deducted as a student places a bid.
  • On a successful bid, students are only "charged" the minimum successful bid amount for this round. If a student bids 801 points for a class and the lowest successful bid is 201, then 600 points are returned.
  • One point is "charged" for a class that is under subscribed for this round. If a student bids 31 points for a class and all bidders are granted entry, then 30 points are returned.
  • When a student drops a class previously awarded, a percentage of the points "charged" to that student for the class are returned, with the percentage based on the timing of the drop (see below).
  • When a student drops a class wait list position, 100% of the points bid for that class are returned. Points cannot be used simultaneously to hold a wait list position and to bid on another class.

Tie Break Method

  • To break point ties students are ranked in part on the basis of a random number assigned to each student prior to the beginning of bidding for each quarter.

Round One Bidding

  • Students are awarded seats in a class by sorting all points bid in descending order. The highest bidders are given seats, up to the maximum class capacity. The clearing price for the course in that round is the lowest successful bid at the time of the auction.
  • If a class is oversubscribed, the unsuccessful bidders are placed on the wait list for that class. The points bid become the points held for a waitlist position. Waitlist rank is first determined by points bid in descending order, second by tie-break number.

Round Two Bidding

  • Students can bid points only on undersubscribed classes (e.g. classes with open seats). Students cannot bid on fully subscribed classes. Students cannot bid for a place on the wait list for a fully subscribed class.
  • The auction in round two only involves courses that have bids as the result of having open seats. Open seats are the result of a round one undersubscribed course or from an oversubscribed course in round one that became open because of students dropping from the roster. The auction in round two establishes a second clearing price for that course. The two clearing prices do not interact, but are the price for all the successful bids in their respective rounds.
  • Class seats and positions on the wait list are determined as in round one.

Wait Lists

  • After round one, students can add themselves to the wait list for a closed class at zero point cost. Students cannot assign additional bid points when adding themselves to the wait list for a closed class.
  • When students add themselves to the wait list in round two and beyond, the wait list rank is ordered first by earliest day added to the wait list, then by tie-break number (NOTE – waitlists are not ordered by time, just by day and tiebreak).
  • As other students drop classes and drop wait list positions, students are promoted up the wait list for a class and possibly into a class. This process goes on at every moment in time while the system is open after round one.
  • A student gains entry to a class when he/she is ranked first on the wait list when a position in the class becomes open.
  • The price that the student is "charged" for the class is the number of points that he/she bid on the class (or zero points if he/she added himself/herself to the wait list when the class was closed).
  • A student cannot hold a seat in more than five class units and cannot be on wait lists for more than five additional class units.

75% Refund Add/Drop Period (Add/Drop 1 and Add/Drop 2)

  • After the second round is over, students are asked to drop any class that they do not want as well as any wait list position that they do not wish to maintain.
  • For dropped classes, a refund of 75% of the points spent for the class will be returned for use in a later quarter in the same academic year, but cannot be used in the same quarter as there are no bidding rounds remaining.
  • During this period, students may be promoted from the wait list into the class. They can also add themselves to open classes and wait lists. Points are again returned for any class or wait list position dropped.

50% Refund Add/Drop Period (Add/Drop 3, during the first week of classes)

  • The activity of the Initial Add/Drop Period resumes.
  • For dropped classes, a refund of 50% of the points spent for the class will be returned for use in a later quarter in the same academic year, but cannot be used in the same quarter as there are no bidding rounds remaining.
  • At the end of the Add/Drop 3 period (the end of the first week of class), all wait lists are purged and all points which are holding wait list positions are returned.

0% Refund Final Drop Period (Drop Only, through the fourth week of classes)

  • The Drop activity of the Initial Add/Drop Period continues, but no classes can be added.
  • No refund is returned for classes dropped in this period.

Changes in Class Offerings

  • Occasionally, additional seats may be added to a class maximum capacity after round one. When this happens, students on the wait list will be promoted into the class until it is closed or until no students remain on the wait list.
  • If a class is cancelled, all students are dropped from the class and notified as soon as possible. Points charged for the class are returned.
  • If the instructor for a class must be changed, students are notified as soon as possible. The standard bidding procedures still apply unchanged.

Bidding for Fall Quarter Classes

  • Round One bidding for Fall Quarter classes begins over the summer, usually in early July. Round Two bidding and the Initial Add/Drop Period are completed by the end of July.

New Course Offerings

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