Attendance and Absences

Class Attendance

Individual instructors, course supervisors, and/or departments determine the policy concerning class attendance. This policy is clearly stated on the class syllabus; students should read this policy carefully and should plan on complying with it.

If an issue arises, CLAS first uses the stated policy within the syllabus to help adjudicate a problem.

Students should not expect instructors to adjust their class attendance policies nor to provide make-up exams so that students can leave campus before the end of a semester or to accommodate family or employment activities.

However, University policy does require that students be permitted to make up examinations missed because of illness, mandatory religious obligations, certain University activities, or unavoidable circumstances. Please see the section below for more information.

Documentation for Absences

University Activities, Mandatory Religious Obligations, and Unavoidable Circumstances

Students participating in authorized University activities are expected to give each instructor a statement before the absence signed by a responsible official that specifies the dates and times the student will miss class. Authorized activities include participation in intercollegiate athletic teams, in the marching band and pep band, and attendance at events scheduled by recognized University groups (such as mock trial competitions).

A student with a mandatory religious obligation that interferes with examination times must provide documentation to verify this obligation before it occurs in order to be permitted to make up the examination.

Unavoidable circumstances might include participation in University field trips, service with the National Guard, and jury duty, for example. (Note: Routine employment obligations are not included in this category.) In all such cases, the student needing to make up a missed examination because of unavoidable circumstances, as defined here, should provide the instructor with documentation about the circumstance before it occurs.

Students with unavoidable circumstances such as a family tragedy or involvement in an automobile accident should contact their instructors as soon as possible or ask a family member to do so. The Registrar’s Service Center, 17 Calvin Hall, 319-384-4300, will notify the student’s instructors of the emergency. The student, if able, can also email instructors to notify them of the incident.

If the student wishes, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences may be be contacted so that the office can help facilitate the student’s needs. Please call the Office of Academic Programs & Student Development, 319-335-2633, 120 Schaeffer Hall, if assistance is required. If you anticipate an extended absence, see Withdrawal of entire semester registration.

Short and Long-Term Illnesses

CLAS instructors generally have the right to ask for documentation for most student absences caused by illness. 

  • A student with a long-term illness (or generally those who miss more than five days of classes) should be able to provide a record of appointments or documentation from a health care provider, such as a note stating the student has been under the doctor's care. 
  • Students who do visit Student Health have access to their electronic medical records through MyChart. If they have activated this service, they are able to print off a summary of their appointment dates and times from MyChart. Faculty wishing for documentation for a long-term illness should accept a student's summary of visits as adequate documentation. Student Health is encouraging all students to activate their MyChart account during office visits and summer orientation. UIHC also provides this tool. Students are not required to share specific medical records since they are covered by privacy laws.
  • A student who is absent for more than five days due to an emergency or an illness may request the Registrar's Service Center, 17 Calvin Hall, registrar@uiowa.edu, to notify each instructor of the reason for the absence.

Absences Due to Exam Conflicts

Some courses schedule mid-term examinations outside of the regular class period and sometimes these conflict with a student’s other classes or exams. The University has established policies to govern these situations.

  1. When instructors plan to give exams outside of class time, they should announce the dates and times at the first class meeting and list them on the course syllabus for distribution at the first class meeting.
  2. When there is conflict between an exam scheduled outside of class time and a regularly scheduled course, the regularly scheduled course will take precedence.
  3. During fall semester, when there is a conflict between two exams scheduled outside the regular class times, the course having the lower department number (or letter), or lower course number when the conflict is within the department will take precedence. During spring semester and summer session, when there is a conflict between two exams scheduled outside the regular class times, the course having the higher number (or letter), or higher course number when the conflict is within the department, will take precedence.
  4. When there is a conflict between an exam scheduled outside of class time and other scheduled and required course activities (e.g. performances, meetings, lectures), the required course activity will take precedence.
  5. When there is a conflict between an exam scheduled outside of class time and other scheduled, non-required course activities or personal obligations, the exam will take precedence. However, exams not scheduled and announced in class at least 14 days in advance will not have priority under this policy.
  6. Instructors must offer reasonable options without penalty to students who miss exams due to conflicts described above.

A week for final examinations is set aside at the end of each semester, during which time no classes are held. With the exception of changes authorized by the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Curriculum, all CLAS final examinations must be given during this week, according to the schedule announced by the Registrar.

Students who have a conflict because two or more final exams are scheduled for the same date and time qualify to request a makeup final examination time from their instructors.

  1. However, students are required to contact the instructors of the courses involved to register their intent to take advantage of this opportunity and must do so by October 1 for fall semesters and March 1 for spring semesters.
  2. It is up to the instructors of the courses involved to work in cooperation with their students to schedule appropriate makeup final examination arrangements according to the makeup final examination scheduling policies.