Class Attendance and Missed Work


Responsibility for class attendance rests with individual students. Since regular and punctual class attendance is expected, students must accept the consequences of failure to attend. Instructors may refer students who are, in their opinion, absent excessively, to the student's academic dean. Instructors who believe that Incapacitation forms are being inappropriately submitted should consult with the student's academic dean or the Office of Student Conduct.

Absences from class and missed work are accommodated (excused) in five circumstances: 1) significant illness, 2) personal instances of distress or emergency, 3) religious observance, and 4) varsity athletic participation and 5) required court or legal appearances. Detailed information about these policies and notification procedures are below. 

We understand that incapacitation takes many forms, and students may miss class and assessments for a variety of reasons. Please use the Incapacitation Form to communicate with your instructors about your current circumstances. Once you have submitted an incapacitation form, remember that you have 48 hours to communicate directly with your instructor about missed work.

After three full days of missed work, you will be asked to contact your academic dean to reset the form. This limit prompts timely discussions between you and your dean about ongoing incapacitation. The forms will be reset quickly once communication with your dean has been initiated.

There are many other instances where a student may miss a class, e.g., travel to an educational meeting or event, participation in a non-varsity athletic event, attending a sibling's graduation or family wedding, and so on. Absences and missed work for these are not covered by these policies. Instead, in courses where a defined number of absences is permitted, students should make judicious use of these and save these for unavoidable circumstances. Students are also encouraged to discuss any absence (planned or unexpected) with their instructor to determine whether accommodation is possible. The nature of the accommodation (excused absence, make-up exam, substituted work), if any, is to be determined by the instructor in accordance with the attendance policy as outlined in his/her course syllabus. Except for the instances below, excused absences and postponed work are determined by the instructor.

Students who are absent from a final exam are a special case.  Attendance at final exams is required and students whose absence is not excused by their academic dean will be given a failing grade.

Title (and link for more information)


Absence from Final Exams

Students who miss or think they need to miss a final exam in a course must consult with their Academic Dean as soon as possible, but in no case more than 48 hours after a final exam is missed.

Bereavement Policy

Students who suffer a personal tragedy may contact their academic dean for academic accommodations and support.

Court, Legal Appointments Students required to appear for court dates, citizenship hearings, jury duty, etc., should provide documentation to their academic dean and their dean will excuse absences.

Illness, Short Term

Students should notify their instructors by submitting an Incapacitation Form when they become incapacitated due to a short-term illness or injury.    [FORM]

Illness, Long-Term

Students should consult with their academic dean to discuss the use of Incapacitation Forms and other support measures for absences, missed work, and general support for long-term or sporadic medical issues.

Notification of Varsity Athletic Participation

Athletes must notify instructors when competitions will take them away from classes and exams and cause them to miss work.  [FORM]

Personal Instances of Distress or Emergency

Students in extreme distress or who are faced with a personal or family emergency should contact their academic dean for academic accommodations and support.  The Duke Reach network is also available for emergencies.

Religious Observance & Holidays

Students are permitted by university policy to be absent from class to observe a religious holiday.  [FORM]