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University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
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Makeup Work for Legitimate Absences: Twin Cities, Crookston, Morris, Rochester

Policy Contents
Effective Date: April 2009
Last Update: June 2014
Responsible University Officer:
  • Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Policy Owner:
  • Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education
  • Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education
Policy Contact:
CONSULTED WITH: Faculty Senate

Printed on: . Please go to for the most current version of the Policy or related document.


  1. Students will not be penalized for absence during the semester due to unavoidable or legitimate circumstances. Such circumstances include illness of the student or his or her dependent, medical conditions related to pregnancy, participation in intercollegiate athletic events , subpoenas, jury duty, military service, bereavement, and religious observances. Such circumstances also include activities sponsored by the University if identified by the senior academic officer for the campus or his or her designee as the basis for excused absences. Such circumstances do not include voting in local, state, or national elections.  Instructors are expected to accommodate students who wish to participate in party caucuses, pursuant to Board of Regents resolution (see December 2005 Board of Regents Minutes, p 147.)
  2. The instructor has the right to request verification for absences.
  3. It is the responsibility of students to plan their schedules to avoid excessive conflict with course requirements.
  4. A student must notify instructors of circumstances identified in (1) as soon as possible and provide documentation if requested by the instructor. In the event that the University declares a pandemic emergency (e.g., flu), the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost or designee may waive the requirement that students are required to have documentation from a health care provider for illness.
  5. If a student is absent due to circumstances identified in (1) and has complied with the notification requirement, the instructor may not penalize the student and must provide reasonable and timely accommodation or opportunity to make up exams or other course requirements that have an impact on the course grade.
  6. The instructor has primary responsibility to decide if an absence is due to unavoidable or legitimate circumstances. If a student believes he or she has been wrongly denied the opportunity to make up work due to disagreement with the instructor about the legitimacy or unavoidability of an absence, the student should pursue his or her complaint using the usual process for appeals of student grievances. Chairs and deans who have questions about what constitutes an excusable bereavement absence, religious observance, or eligible dependent illness should consult with the campus chief academic officer for resolution of the disagreement. In accordance with the policy, final authority rests with the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost.
  7. This policy applies to all course requirements, including any final examination.
  8. Colleges and academic units may establish specific criteria for notice and completion of work to implement this policy.

This policy does not apply to the Duluth campus.


It is in both the University's and the student's interest to outline some academic protections for students when they miss class for legitimate reasons. This policy places parameters around what is a legitimate absence, and reinforces the responsibilities of the instructor and the student.


There are no procedures related to this policy.


There are no forms related to this policy.


There are no appendices related to this policy.


  1. What is appropriate "verification for absences"?

    The instructor "has the right to request verification of absences." That verification can take many different forms (e.g., accident report, note from a doctor, dentist, or other health care provider, jury service notice, obituary notice). The instructor does not have to request verification of absence.

  2. How does this policy address students who participate in team events that are not intercollegiate athletic events?

    Teams that wish to be officially excused from class can seek permission from the Provost. Students who have not been officially excused from class must get permission, in advance, from the instructor to miss class and make up the work. Instructors are not compelled to accommodate students who miss class for participation in athletic events or other university-sponsored events that are not intercollegiate events.

  3. How does this policy address students participating in educational experiences, such as a student government conference, where the student is representing the University of Minnesota?

    Under these circumstances, the instructor has the discretion about whether to allow a student to miss a class session and to make arrangements for any makeup work. The instructor is permitted to do so, but is not obligated to do so.

  4. What if course requirements that have an impact on the course grade (such as participation in classroom discussions) cannot be made up?

    If a student has a legitimate absence and has missed a component of the course (e.g., small group discussion, in-class participation) that cannot be made up in exactly the same manner, the instructor may substitute another activity or assignment for the missed components. For example, some instructors have substituted participation in a blog or on-line discussion for class participation, or assigned a reflective essay. It would be up to the instructor to determine an appropriate substitution, based upon the nature of the course. If no substitution can be devised for a student who has a legitimate absence, the missing component(s) cannot be factored into determining that student's final grade for the course.

  5. Can the format of a makeup exam be different than that of the regular exam (e.g., open-ended vs. closed-ended questions)?

    Yes. The structure of makeup exams may differ from the format of the regularly scheduled exam, and is at the instructor's discretion.  The instructor has flexibility with the nature of makeup exams. The key point is that an instructor has provided the opportunity for makeup work due to legitimate excuses. The instructor may, but is not obligated to, inform a student who will be taking a make-up exam that the format will be different.

  6. Can a makeup assignment be different than the original assignment?

    Yes. The course instructor may determine that the nature of the makeup assignment will differ from the original assignment. In some cases, it would not be possible for a student to complete the original assignment (e.g., to review a theatre production which the student was unable to attend), and the instructor may determine an acceptable substitute assignment. The key point is that the instructor has provided an opportunity for makeup work due to legitimate excuses.

  7. How many excused absences is too many for one course?

    This is at the instructor's discretion.  Instructors are most knowledgeable about the needs of the course and how much time away is too much for a student to be able to complete the course successfully.  Instructors are not obligated to accommodate a student who has missed so much of a course that making arrangements for makeup work would not be reasonable.

  8. The policy mentions "bereavement." For what relationships would bereavement apply in this policy? 

    This is also at the instructor's discretion.  The death of a close family member is usually included in the absences related to bereavement circumstances.  In addition, there may be other circumstances when a student is affected by the death of a person who was close to the student, and was not a relative (for example, the death of a roommate or friend).  The student is responsible for explaining the circumstances and requesting to be able to make up the work. 

  9. Is attending wedding, particularly an out-of-town wedding, considered as an excused absence?  

    Attending a wedding is not in itself an automatically excused absence.  Being part of a wedding party, or you yourself getting married, is not automatically an excused absence.  The consideration of wedding attendance as a legitimate absence for which makeup work would be accommodated is at the instructor’s discretion.

  10. What options does a student have if the student believes he or she has been wrongly denied the opportunity to make up work due to disagreement with the instructor about the legitimacy or unavoidability of an absence?

    The student can seek advice from his or her academic adviser about options.  As one option, students may bring their concerns to the appropriate department head or director of undergraduate studies. Students may also choose to consult with the Student Conflict Resolution Center (SCRC) for advice and guidance.  The SCRC assists students with resolving problems, and an ombudsperson in the SCRC can provide confidential guidance about possible options. See for SCRC contact information.

  11. Is there an official list of religious observance related to legitimate absences?

    For questions about religious observances in general, as well as questions related to religious observances around bereavement or weddings or other events, the Office for Equity and Diversity can provide helpful guidance.


Primary Contact(s)
Crookston Campus
Morris Campus
Rochester Campus


Intercollegiate athletics
Sports teams organized and funded by the institution through the athletics department. Intercollegiate does not refer to or include recreational sports, intramural sports, club sports, or other special interest sport clubs or organizations.


Provide reasonable and timely accommodation for makeup work for legitimate absences. Maintain consistency in how this policy is applied to all students enrolled in the course.
Plan schedules to avoid excessive conflict with course requirements. Notify instructors of circumstances related to absences as soon as possible. Provide documentation of absence, if requested by the instructor.



June 2014 - Comprehensive Review. Clarifies the instructor responsibility for accommodating student absences due to medical conditions related to pregnancy, supporting a request from Kim Hewitt. Moves the sentence re: instructors having the right to request verification to a separate bullet. Adds instructor and student to the Responsibilities section.
January 2011 - Comprehensive Review. Expands allowable absences to include caring for student's dependent. Documentation required only when requested by instructor. Responsibility for determining whether absence is legitimate rests with instructor.
May 2010 - Expands the application of this policy to final exams, in addition to all course requirements, since legitimate absences can occur anytime during the academic year.
December 2009 - Policy now applies to Crookston.
April 2009

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Last modified on February 16, 2015