Class and laboratory attendance for first-year students is mandatory. A first-year student will receive a grade of "Y" (failure) whenever the number of unexcused absences in a course exceeds twice the number of weekly class meetings for the course.
For students beyond the first year, attendance policies are determined by the instructors of the various courses. The instructor’s class attendance policy must appear in the syllabus and at a minimum must allow for the University’s excused absences listed below. Enforcement of such attendance policies lies with those instructors. If the instructor thinks a student has too many absences (total of excused and unexcused), then the instructor should discuss the student’s attendance with the appropriate Assistant or Associate Dean of the instructor’s college in order to determine if the student should withdraw or receive an incomplete.
Where possible, students should inform their instructors if they plan to be late or absent from class. In all cases, students should be prepared to provide documentation to petition for excused absences to the appropriate Assistant or Associate Dean of their college. Excused absences do not count toward a failure in the course for first year students. Absence from class does not release the student from work assigned. Students who miss an in-class obligation (exam, presentation, etc.) due to an excused absence will not be penalized - the instructor may offer a make-up test, arrange an alternative time for a presentation, exempt a student from the assignment, or provide another arrangement.
The University’s list of excused absences for all students includes the following:
- participation in NCAA athletic competitions
- participation in special academic events (e.g., conferences, field trips, project competitions)
- participation in official university business (e.g., student representatives attending meetings related to university governance)
- attendance at significant events involving the immediate family (e.g., funerals, weddings)
- religious holidays - see the University’s policy on Religious Holidays
- college-approved participation in placement activities (e.g., job interviews, graduate school interviews, attending job fairs)
- legally required absence (jury duty, court appearance, short-term military service)
- documented serious illness or disability (see below how to document)
If instructors want to verify that the absence qualifies as an excused absence under the university list, or verify that the student is permitted to participate in the activity, they should contact the designated Assistant or Associate Dean of the student’s College.
The College of Professional Studies has separate attendance policies for FastFoward courses and the online degree programs. The College of Nursing has a separate attendance policy for the online RN to BSN program. Graduate Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has separate attendance policies for online degree programs.
Documenting a Serious Illness or Disability
The Student Health Center does not provide notes to excuse absences for students missing class due to their visit to the Student Health Center, or to excuse class absences due to most common illnesses. The Student Health Center will also not provide notes to excuse absences for medical conditions that were not treated at the Student Health Center. The purpose of this policy is to eliminate unnecessary visits from students whose sole purpose is obtaining class absence notes for their professors.
Some illnesses may legitimately prevent a student from attending classes, but are not serious enough to require evaluation and treatment from the Student Health Center. Students often provide self-care, which is very appropriate for many common illnesses such as cold, viral infection, or uncomplicated flu. Students should inform their instructors if they are missing class for a common illness. Instructors have the discretion to decide if the absence due to a common illness is excused. If a student wishes to appeal the instructor’s decision, the student may do so by contacting the instructor’s Department Chair or Program Director, who will consult with the appropriate Assistant or Associate Dean of the instructor’s college, before deciding the outcome of the appeal.
If in the judgment of the Student Health Center staff, the student will be out of class due to a serious illness or medical condition, as opposed to a common illness, the Student Health Center staff will contact the appropriate Assistant or Associate Dean, who will then contact the instructor. The Student Health Center communication to the Assistant or Associate Dean will serve as the documentation needed by the Dean (see below). If the student is seeing an off-campus health care provider, the student will provide the documentation from that provider to the appropriate Assistant or Associate Dean, who will then contact the faculty member.
Examples of serious illnesses may include (but are not limited to):
- Mononucleosis, which may require bed rest and/or removal from campus
- Hospitalization and/or surgery
- Highly contagious diseases (e.g., chicken pox, measles)
Mental Health Concerns. The University Counseling Center will use clinical judgment as to whether there is a legitimate need for the student to miss class for reasons related to mental health. If in the judgment of the University Counseling Center staff, the student should be out of class due to a mental health condition, the Counseling Center staff will request a written release of information from the student. With a signed release, the Counseling Center staff may then contact the faculty member or the appropriate Assistant or Associate Dean, who may contact faculty accordingly.mThe University Counseling Center will not typically validate the legitimacy of a student having missed classes for mental health reasons retroactively, before the student has been to the Counseling Center. The fact that a student is in treatment at the Counseling Center or with an off campus mental health provider will not, in itself, justify the student missing classes. The recommendation for missing classes will occur only when the mental condition necessitates it. If the student is seeing an off-campus mental health care provider, the student will provide the documentation from that provider to the appropriate Assistant or Associate Dean, who will then contact the faculty member.
If the duration of the absence due to serious medical illness or mental health concern undermines the student’s ability to complete the academic work required, the appropriate Assistant or Associate Dean will encourage the student to pursue a Medical Leave of Absence – see policy on Medical Leaves of Absence.
Documenting Disabilities. Students who are registered with Learning Support Services (LSS) or the Office of Disability Services (ODS) must provide accommodation letters from those offices to their instructors (in advance of absences) in order for subsequent disability-related absences to be considered excused. Students who are newly struggling should be encouraged to register with the appropriate office for any future concerns. Accommodations are not typically retroactive.
Students with learning disabilities, other neurologically-based disorders, and those disabled by chronic illnesses are encouraged to contact Learning Support Services (LSS). Students with physical disabilities, including but not limited to visual impairments, hearing loss, and mobility limitations, are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS). Depending on the type of disability, there are different processes for disclosing and documenting the disability with the University.
- For students with learning disabilities, neurologically-based disorders, and disability due to chronic illness, these guidelines, as well as certification forms for certain specific disabilities, please refer to the
University Policy for Students with Disabilities.
- Students with physical disabilities can refer to these guidelines.
Provost September 17, 2016; Technical correction March 1, 2017; February 28, 2019; Approved by Board of Assistant and Associate Deans February 4, 2019