Office of the Registrar

Class Attendance

Effective 4/30/2015

The university expects students to attend all regularly schedule class meetings.   Students are responsible for adhering to course attendance policies, just as they are responsible for completing course assignments. Attendance and participation in class (including online courses) are fundamental parts of the learning process and key factors in academic success.

Instructors may require attendance in their courses.  Attendance policies should be clearly stated in each course syllabus, including whether any portion of a student’s grade is based on attendance and/or class participation.  Instructors reserve the right to adjust grades due to unexcused absences, provided they state this clearly in the course syllabus. 

Students who have extended absences from class, whether excused or unexcused, should talk with their instructor to discuss whether successful completion of the course is possible.

While the university has no institutional attendance policy, it does excuse absences in the cases described below.   


Excused Absences

The university recognizes that there are legitimate and verifiable circumstances that may occasionally result in a student’s absence from class.   It is the student’s responsibility to plan their schedules to minimize these absences.  When a student has prior knowledge of an event that will require them to be absent from class, it is the student’s responsibility to inform the faculty member in writing.  This notice should be given as soon as possible, preferably at the beginning of the semester. While students will not be penalized for missing class due to an excused absence, they are expected to be responsible for materials discussed in class.  Students who have missed in-class work, such as tests, quizzes, or laboratory/studio assignments, are expected to make themselves available to make up this work.   In all cases, students are expected to complete all course work in a timely manner and instructors are expected to offer reasonable assistance and deadlines for students to make up missed work in a timely manner.


Excused absences include:

  • Religious observances

In accordance with Chapter 151C, Section 2B of the General Laws of Massachusetts, the university requires that instructors excuse any student absent due to religious observance. This section states:

Any student in an educational or vocational training institution, other than a religious or denominational education or vocational training institute, who is unable, because of his religious beliefs, to attend classes or to participate in any examination, study, or work requirement on a particular day shall be excused from any such examination or study, or work requirement, and shall be provided with an opportunity to make up such examination, study or work requirement which he may have missed because of such absence on any particular day; provided, however, that such makeup examination or work shall not create an unreasonable burden upon such school.  No fees of any kind shall be charged by the institution for making available to the said student such opportunity.  No adverse or prejudicial effects shall result to any student because of his availing himself of the provisions of this section.


  • University-sanctioned or approved activities (for example, intercollegiate athletic games or competitions, student government obligations, required class field trips, presenting at conferences, etc.)
  • Jury duty, military obligations or other governmental obligations.
  • Health procedures 

Students may be asked to provide appropriate documentation from their health care providers, within the limits of the health care provider’s policy.  Note that in accordance with Title IX, absences due to pregnancy or related conditions shall be excused for as long as the student’s doctor deems the absences medically necessary. 

  • Illness or injury to the student; death, injury or serious illness of an immediate family member.

Students may be asked to provide appropriate documentation from their health care providers, within the limits of the health care providers’ policies, or other appropriate offices.  Students should notify instructors as soon as possible in the event of this type of absence.


  • Other emergency or catastrophic events

In the event of an emergency (automobile accident, for example), students may be asked to provide appropriate documentation and should notify instructors as soon as possible.  It is expected that these events will be rare.

Additional information

  • Instructors are under no obligation to allow students to make up work for unexcused absences. 
  • In cases where unusual circumstances cause a student to miss a significant amount of class time for reasons beyond the student’s control, the student should confer with the instructor to determine the best course of action.   In general, students who miss a significant portion of class meetings, whether due to excused absences or unexcused absences, are advised to withdraw from the course in question. 
  • Students should note that failure to attend class does not constitute withdrawal.  Instructors should assign the letter grade of “F” to students who do not drop or withdraw from a course by the published deadlines.
  • Students who are called to active duty service should consult with the Office of Veterans’ Affairs regarding the options of a complete drop of all courses, a full withdrawal or, if appropriate, the application of incomplete grades (note that regular deadlines for making up the incomplete still apply).
  • Student-athletes will notify faculty in advance about possible conflicts between scheduled class requirements and scheduled athletic contests.  At times, competition schedules change on short notice.  In all cases, students will notify faculty as soon as possible of any resulting conflicts.
  • Students who have questions about attendance policies should consult first with the instructor, and then, if necessary, with the department chair.
  • During the add-drop period, with the approval of their department, instructors may drop a student who does not attend the first class meetings (or, in the case of an online course, does not log in and participate in required work) and who has not communicated his or her intention of attending the class to the instructor or to the department chair.