Courses: Incomplete Course Work

Policy

If you find that you are unable to complete your work for a course because of illness, emergency, or reasonable cause, you should discuss this with your instructor and academic dean.  It is sometimes possible for an instructor to issue you an Incomplete, or "I."  This would allow you to complete the course work after the semester has finished.

There are several issues that you should be aware of if you are thinking about requesting an Incomplete.

  • An Incomplete is appropriate for limited amounts of work due late in the semester, and is at the discretion of your instructor and academic dean.  Approval is not guaranteed.
  • An Incomplete is not appropriate and would not be approved if there are excessive absences, significant work remaining, and/or if you are already failing the course.  If you have abandoned or discontinued participation in a course without authorization by your academic dean, university policy stipulates that your instructor is to submit a grade of F.
  • If an Incomplete is approved by your dean and instructor, the notation of "I" will appear on your transcript in place of a grade.  When a final grade is given, it replaces the "I", but the notation "NOTE: I GRADE" will be added to indicate that an Incomplete was originally given.
  • Your instructor will also submit a "reversion grade" at the same time of the Incomplete.  The reversion grade will become the default grade if you fail to submit the outstanding work by the end of the fifth week of the next fall or spring semester of enrollment.  To calculate a reversion grade, your instructor will assign a zero for the missing work and calculate a final grade on that basis.  The reversion grade may be a passing grade or an "F".
  • If you receive an Incomplete in a course, you are not eligible for Dean's List honors in that semester.
  • If you are also absent from the final examination, the instructor will assign an "X" for the course  (see also Absence from a Final Exam) instead of an "I".
  • There are specific deadlines for completing incomplete work (see below) and the deadlines for undergraduates differ from those that apply to graduate students.

Deadlines for Completing an Incomplete Course

The general deadline for submitting the missing work to your instructor is the last day of the fifth week of the subsequent fall/spring semester of enrollment.  This means that incomplete work in the fall must be completed by the end of the 5th week of the spring semester.  Incomplete work in the spring and summer must be completed by the end of the 5th week of the fall semester.  An instructor then has until the end of the 6th week of class to submit a grade to the Office of the University Registrar.  If your instructor does not submit a final grade, the Registrar will post the reversion grade to your record.

Exceptions to the deadline are as follows:

  • Your instructor or academic dean may set an earlier deadline.
  • If you are not enrolled at Duke or are studying away in the subsequent semester, the deadline is postponed to the semester of your return.
  • In cases of voluntary or involuntary separation from Duke and at the discretion of your academic dean, you may be required to complete the outstanding work prior to returning to school.
  • You may not complete work in a course after graduation.  An "I" would remain on your record.
  • Semester continuation may also require you to complete a course and have a grade submitted earlier.  

Semester continuation requires that you pass 2 credits in your first semester and 3 credits in all semesters thereafter in order to continue at Duke.  Students who are unable to do this are dismissed.  If you are given an Incomplete and the reversion grade is a passing grade, then you should consider your course passed.  However, if the reversion grade is an F and you do not meet semester continuation, then the following deadlines are in effect:

  • If you do not meet semester continuation and receive an Incomplete/reversion grade of F in a fall course, a grade must be turned in by 4 p.m. of the day before spring classes begin. 
  • If you do not meet semester continuation and receive an Incomplete/reversion grade of F in a spring course, a grade must be turned in by 4 p.m. on the day one week prior to the first day of summer term II classes.  These deadlines are strictly enforced.

Note that if you do not meet semester continuation in the spring and you are enrolled in summer term I or are scheduled to participate in summer study away, Duke Engage or other program requiring you to be an active student in good standing, an Incomplete/reversion grade of F must be completed and a grade submitted by the first day of summer term I.  If you do not meet semester continuation at this time, your enrollment in summer term I or participation in a summer program will be canceled.  This may have financial repercussions for you.  If you meet semester continuation requirements by the beginning of summer session II, you may enroll in summer session II.  However, if you do not meet semester continuation requirements by the beginning of the second summer term, you will be dismissed for academic reasons.  The Incomplete will remain on your record and you may complete the work due later, up to the end of the fifth week of the subsequent enrolled fall or spring semester.  

If you have questions about Incomplete policies or semester continuation requirements and how they may affect you , consult with your academic dean.

Procedure

If you are having problems completing a course, discuss your situation with your instructor and academic dean to find out if an Incomplete might be appropriate and if there are alternatives.  If your instructor agrees to an Incomplete, you and your instructor should fill out the form below.  Identify specifically what work must be done.  Set an appropriate date by which you can submit your work and the instructor will be available to receive it and submit a final grade.  Your instructor should indicate the reversion grade that you will receive if you do not submit the outstanding work.

You and your instructor should sign the form and then you give the signed form to your academic dean.  Your dean will confirm the appropriate deadline and give final approval, and provide you and your instructor with copies.  Your instructor will then issue an Incomplete and a reversion grade at the time grades are turned in.

Instructors:  To submit a final grade after an incomplete has been issued, you will need to send a grade change letter to the Office of the University Registrar:  http://registrar.duke.edu/faculty-staff/grading

ONLINE FORM: Request for an Incomplete Grade
 
See also:
    •    Absence from a Final Exam
    •    Academic Calendar
    •    Continuation Requirements