Class Attendance Guidelines
The university expects students to attend all regularly scheduled class meetings. The authority to excuse absences rests with the course instructors, subject to the requirement to reasonably accommodate class absences as set forth in these guidelines. 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 and remote courses) are fundamental parts of the learning process and key factors in academic success. Students should consider whether they will be able to fully complete the requirements of the course prior to enrolling in the course and should recognize when circumstances will not allow for them to fully participate in the course due to absences. In such cases, the student should work with their academic advisor to determine other options. UMass Boston adheres to federal and state law regarding accommodations. Absences related to disability accommodations will be handled in accordance with the Ross Center for Disability Services. Absences related to Title IX regulations will be handled in accordance with the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX.
These guidelines apply to all undergraduate students at University of Massachusetts Boston.
Students are required to attend courses. Any course using multiple instructional methods as outlined below will use the attendance criteria for all instructional methods assigned to the course:
For the purpose of these guidelines, attendance in online courses includes:
- Submitting an academic assignment;
- Taking or submitting an exam;
- A posting by a student showing the student’s participation in an online study group;
- Participating in or posting by a student in a discussion forum showing the student’s participating in an online discussion about an academic matter;
- Initiating contact (email, in-person, or other documented contact with the instructor to ask a substantive question about the academic content studied in the course (instructor discretion);
For purposes of these guidelines, attendance in hybrid/BeaconFlex courses includes:
- Attending a class in-person or virtually where there is an opportunity for direct interaction between the instructor and students (encouraged to be present and visible for the entire class with your video camera turned on when attending virtually);
- Submitting an academic assignment;
- Taking or submitting an exam;
- A posting by a student showing the student’s participation in an online study group that is assigned by the University or attending a study group that is assigned by the University;
- Participating in or posting by a student in a discussion forum showing the student’s participation in an online discussion about an academic matter;
For purposes of these guidelines, attendance at in-seat and virtual courses is:
- Attending a class in-person or virtually where there is an opportunity for direct interaction between the instructor and students (encouraged to be present and visible for the entire class with your video camera turned on when attending virtually).
Students should know:
- 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 questions about an attendance policy of a course should consult first with the instructor, and then, if necessary, with the department chair.
- Any appeal regarding the instructor’s attendance policy is to be made to the department chair first and only after that, if the student wishes to pursue the matter, to the Dean of the college. 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-wide attendance policy, it does excuse absences in the cases described below. In these cases, faculty are legally obligated to provide reasonable accommodations to allow for students to make up work and assignments missed for these reasons.
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.
Excused absences include:
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.
Please click here to submit a request for a Notice of Notice of letter due to a religious observance. Please note that a Notice of Absence request for to a religious observance should be submitted at least two weeks in advance of the anticipated date(s) of absence.
University-sanctioned or approved activities
Instructors must reasonably accommodate students whose class absence resulted from formal participation in scheduled activities of officially recognized groups such as athletics teams and performing groups. Student athletes who will be absent due to team/sport related activities should contact the Assistant Athletic Director for Student Athlete Academic Success to discuss and facilitate conversation with faculty.
For example: Jury duty, military obligations, Visa or citizenship or naturalization processes, or other type of court subpoena. Students will be asked to provide documentation that supports their absence for these types of matters. Click here to request a Notice of Absence letter due legal/government obligations.
While students will not be penalized for missing class due to an official 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. An instructor that allows for the lowest test score to be dropped from the grade average, may allow a student with an excused absence on the day of a test to drop that score in lieu of making up the test. Students may contact the Dean of Students Office who will work with their instructors to offer reasonable assistance and deadlines for students to make up missed work in a timely manner when due to an excused absence.
Other Reasons for Absence and Requesting a Notice of Absence letter from the Dean of Students Office
The Dean of Students Office will issue a Notice of Absence (NOA) letter to faculty as a courtesy to students with several days of absences when appropriate documentation has been provided by the student, for absences that will span beyond 3 consecutive days.
A Notice of Absence is NOT the same as an Excused Absence and does not mean that an absence will be excused by a faculty member. Instead, this is left to the faculty member’s discretion. The Dean of Students Office asks for flexibility and reasonable assistance in making up missed work once the student has returned to class, though the student is responsible for contacting their faculty members themselves.
It is the prerogative as well as the responsibility of each faculty member to establish a clear policy for each course of instruction regarding the nature and extent of student participation that will be expected and required.
Faculty should note that notification from the Dean of Students Office is not required to allow for an excused absence or extension for personal or medical circumstances. We encourage students to work directly with their faculty whenever possible to discuss flexibility for extenuating circumstances.
Health Procedures or extended illness or injury of Student
The Dean of Students office will not send a Notice of Absence letter for short-term absences or injury or illness lasting less than 3 consecutive days.
COVID-19 Related Absences
The following two types of absences are considered excused absences that should be reported directly to your instructor. These types of absences do not need to be reported to the Dean of Students Office:
- Absences of a student, following current CDC guidelines and campus COVID-19 policy, that are because of quarantine upon contracting COVID-19. These absences do not require a note from a medical provider; and
- Absences of a student who has to care for a dependent family member due to the dependent’s COVID-19 quarantine or a COVID-19 related closure of a dependent-care facility (e.g., childcare, K-12 school, elderly care home). Instructor may request verification of a facility closure.
Given the changing nature of the COVID-19 virus, unavoidable student absences are likely to be part of the ongoing learning landscape. Students are expected to uphold academic integrity in reporting COVID-19 related absences and are expected to notify their instructors as soon as possible in the event of these types of absences. Faculty are expected to accommodate students’ COVID-19 related excused absences to the greatest extent possible so that students can make up missed work and not fall behind.
Pregnancy or Related Conditions
In accordance with Title IX, absences due to pregnancy or related conditions shall be excused for as long as the student’s health care provider deems the absences medically necessary. Students should contact the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX to make arrangements for absences, including if an Incomplete may be required.
Death of a Family Member/Student Bereavement Leave
The purpose of these guidelines is to provide students the time to attend bereavement services of family members. While we understand that grief impacts every student differently, we are not trying to attempt to quantify the impact the death of a loved one has had on any student. Students should use their discretion about the need to take more extended time through mechanisms such as withdrawal or a leave of absence (graduate students).
We are aware that students will experiences other types of loss that are not addressed by these guidelines, and in those cases, we encourage faculty to be sensitive to a student’s grief. Although absences for death of non-relatives are not eligible for an official Notice of Absence, students may need to make individual choices about taking time away that are consistent with their emotional needs.
Students will be eligible for an official Notice of Absence letter from the Dean of Students office for the period outlined below if documentation (e.g., an obituary or funeral program) can be provided. However, as always, the decision about whether bereavement related absences will be excused remains at the discretion of the individual instructors.
Length of Bereavement
- Up to five (5) days of bereavement leave in the event of the death of an immediate family member including a parent, legal guardian, spouse/life partner, child, sibling, or grandparent.
- Up to three (3) days bereavement in the event of the death of an extended family member, such as an uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, or cousin.
Relatives in law and step relatives in categories are covered by these guidelines. Students who need to travel outside the country may request up to four additional absences days. These days will be approved based upon a documented travel itinerary.
- Instructors are under no obligation to allow students to make up work for unexcused absences. Notice of Absence letters sent by the Dean of Students office do not excuse students from class or ensure that make-up work will be permitted. Again, this authority rests with each instructor. A Notice of Absence Letter is intended to provide information to the instructors and can be used to help the instructor determine whether to excuse the absence and/or allow the student to make up the work.
- 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.
- 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 do not attend class and do not drop or withdraw from the class will be subject to an NA grade and are financially responsible for the course.