How NU Online Passport Works

NU Online Passport uses an authentication method that communicates securely with multiple Web applications.

Each time you begin a session on your computer, you will be automatically redirected to the Online Passport login page on your first attempt to access a Web Single Sign-On enabled service. When you log in, the application checks with the University's directory database to determine if you have a valid NU NetID and password.

The first time you log in during a work session, it will take a few moments for the system to verify your identity, after which you will be redirected to the site you originally wanted to visit. Subsequent attempts to visit Single Sign-On enabled sites during your session will be handled more quickly because you will be "known" to the system.

Once you are authenticated, you can access any Single Sign-On enabled University systems you are authorized to use, without being prompted to log in again (provided you do not exceed the time limits described below).

Time Limits for Login Sessions

For security purposes, NU Online Passport does not allow you to remain logged in indefinitely. There are two time limits for login sessions:

  • Two-hour idle time limit
  • 12-hour session limit

The two-hour limit helps prevent unauthorized access to your session. Once you "open the door" to the University network through NU Online Passport, both you and the network are vulnerable. If you are logged into a public computer and leave that computer unattended, it could be accessed by someone else who would then have virtually unlimited access to University systems through *your* NetID and password.

The 12-hour limit is provided as a convenience for users. By not allowing unlimited login sessions, the 12-hour limit also helps conserve University network resources.

Controlling Cookies in Your Browser

When you are authenticated by NU Online Passport, the system sets a cookie in your Web browser and caches the northwestern.edu domain in your computer. The cookie retains your information for the duration of your login session specifically so you can access other University authenticated Web sites without repeated logins.

When you exit your browser to end your session, the cookie is deleted. For this reason:

  • You must keep your browser window open to stay logged in.
  • You must set your browser to accept cookies.

If you try to log in and your browser is not set to accept cookies, the login screen will be displayed repeatedly until you change your browser settings.

If you prefer, you can accept only cookies from northwestern.edu. Follow the appropriate configuration instructions for your browser:

Browser/version Operating system To control cookies:
Internet Explorer 7.x.8.x Windows Select Tools, Internet Options. Select the Privacy tab. Select Sites. Enter northwestern.edu. Click Allow, then click OK.
FireFox 1.3.6x Windows, Mac OS X From the Tools menu, choose Options. Select Privacy, FireFox will "Remember History" or if you are using custom history settings, click the Exceptions button and type northwestern.edu and then click Allow.
Safari 2.0x or higher Mac OS X From the Safari menu, choose Preferences. Select the Security icon. Select the radio button for Accept cookies only from sites you navigate to.
Mobile Devices Varies

Settings vary significantly based on device, however, most devices maintain cookies by default - consult manufacturer instructions for additional details.

Additional Information

Support Contacts

Support Contact:

IT Support Center
Central service desk for students, faculty, and staff.
847-491-4357 (1-HELP)
Submit a Support Request