Skip to main content


Find answers to common questions about determining pay at Northwestern.

What are pay grades and ranges?

Pay grades combine jobs together that are paid similarly in the market while taking into consideration:

  • Essential functions
  • Required knowledge
  • Work complexity
  • Accountability level
  • Any unique factors of the role at NU
Pay ranges show the span between the minimum and maximum base salaries at Northwestern (NU).

I hear the term “market data." What does this mean?

Market data is reliable and objective data on how similar jobs at other peer organizations are compensated and a key factor in determining how NU sets compensation rates. A job’s essential functions, scope of responsibility, level within the organization, and required experience and skills all determine how a market match job is identified. These factors are evaluated without respect to a job’s title.

What is my pay grade?

Visit MyHR / Pay / My Appointment Detail to find your pay grade.

How is my pay determined?

Determining individual pay is based on multiple factors:

  • Market comparison
  • Knowledge, skills, abilities, and relevant work experience of the employee or candidate
  • Job performance
  • Internal equity
  • Departmental budget

Who determines my pay?

Individual pay rates are determined via a consistently applied and collaborative process involving:

  • Central HR: Compensation Team, HR Business Partners, Talent Acquisition
  • School/Unit HR representatives
  • Managers and Leaders

Central HR assigns grades, reviews University equity landscape, and provides guidelines for setting pay rates.

School/Unit HR representatives and Managers makes decisions for individual pay rates within the guidelines.

Will pay grades ever change?

We review pay ranges periodically, adjusting them as necessary to remain competitive.

Can I request a job review and pay increase? Do I call HR?

The first step is to speak with your manager. Talk to them about why you think a review is warranted. Your manager will then speak to the appropriate school/Unit HR representative who will follow up as needed with Human Resources.

I am a manager, and this information is new to me. How do I address employee questions?

A manager’s first point of contact on pay-related questions should be the Compensation website and their school/unit HR representative.

How can I advance my career at NU?

NU encourages career progression, and the first step is to speak with your manager about your interests. Visit Talent Development for more information. You can also view current postings for a complete listing of open positions.

Why is there a separate pay structure for exempt IT roles?

It was determined that the market reflected wide variances in pay for IT roles, and sufficient unique characteristics of technology positions exist to warrant a separate grading structure.

Why is my job in this grade?

Compensation conducts market analyses to determine appropriate pay ranges and grades for a given role. Positions are assigned to a grade based on the closest match in the market data.

I am an HR representative in a school/unit. Who can assist me with employee questions?

School/Unit HR representatives’ can visit the Compensation website, contact the Compensation team, and/or their HR Business Partner.