Religious Observance & Holidays


Students are permitted by university policy to be absent from class to observe a religious holiday. This policy reflects the University’s commitment to being responsive to our increasing diversity and to enabling students’ spiritual development. Accordingly, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences and the Pratt School of Engineering have established procedures to be followed by students for notifying their instructors of an absence necessitated by the observance of a religious holiday.  

Students who miss class to observe a specified religious holiday are expected to make prior arrangements with their instructor to make up any work missed, as follows.


  • At the beginning of each semester, you should notify each of your instructors of any religious holiday(s) that will necessitate your absence from classes that semester.  Instructor policies regarding class attendance vary widely; you are responsible for being aware of individual faculty policies and for communicating any intended absences for religious observance.
  • During a semester, as a religious holiday approaches, you should send an official notification to your instructor that you will miss class in order to observe a religious holiday by completing and submitting this form.  The form should be sent no later than one week prior to the date of the holiday.


  • When you submit this form, your instructor will be notified by e-mail and a copy will be sent to you.  A copy will also be placed in a file which your academic dean may access.  In completing the form, you may find it useful to consult DukeHub, where you can view your class schedule to obtain the name and number of the course and the name of the course instructor.
  • Because religious holidays are scheduled in advance, instructors have the right to insist, where feasible, that you complete the course work prior to the anticipated absence in accordance with the course attendance policy.
  • Since absence from class due to observance of a religious holiday is excused according to University policy, no dean's excuse is required. If an instructor is unwilling or unable to excuse your absence from class, you should consult your academic dean.  It is the responsibility of each instructor to communicate the University policy to his or her students and to accommodate reasonable requests.
  • Your electronic signature on the form affirms your compliance with the Duke Community Standard.

This procedure cannot be used during the final exam period, given the time limitations inherent in completing end-of-semester assignments or making up a missed final exam. You are expected to take final examinations at the scheduled times and to complete end-of-semester work by the deadlines set by the instructor.  In the event that a religious holiday should fall during exam week, contact your academic dean well before the scheduled assignment or exam.

Religious Holidays

The university recognizes that the various religious traditions observed by our diverse student body include more holidays than can easily be included on a list. Moreover, we recognize that in some faiths observances vary by tradition and country and in accordance with the lunar calendar. However, as a guide to faculty and students in the planning of their courses and assignments, members of the campus ministry have identified the dates of major religious holidays that occur when classes are being held during the academic year. This list is not a designation of religious holidays recognized by the University; nor is it meant to be all inclusive. The list is merely an aid for planning purposes.


Bodhi Day Thursday, December 8, 2016
Lunar New Year Saturday, January 28, 2017 
Nativity of Christ (Orthodox) Saturday, January 7, 2017
Ash Wednesday Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Good Friday Friday, April 14, 2017
Ganesh Puja Monday, September 5, 2016
Navaratri Saturday, October 1, 2016
Dawali Monday, October 31, 2016
Maakar Sankrantri Saturday, January 14, 2017
Holi Monday, March 13, 2017
Shivaratri Saturday, February 25, 2017
Ram Navami Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Islamic Holidays*  
Eid-Al-Adha Sunday, September 11, 2016
Eid-al-Ghadeer Friday, September 19, 2016
Day of Aashoraa Friday, October 11, 2016
Jewish Holidays  
Rosh Hashanah Sundown October 2-4, 2016
Yom Kippur Sundown October 11-12, 2016
Sukkot Sundown October 16-23, 2016
Simchat Torah Sundown October 24-25, 2016
Purim March 11-12, 2017
Pesach Sundown April 10-18, 2017
Yom HaShoah Sundown April 23-24, 2017

* All Islamic and certain Hindu and Buddhist holidays are calculated on a lunar calendar and are approximate.

Traditional Jews also observe a work-free Sabbath, beginning every Friday night shortly before sundown, and lasting for 25 hours.

See also: