University of Minnesota  Administrative Policy

Mandatory Attendance at First Class Session and Consequences for Absence: Twin Cities, Crookston, Morris, Rochester

Policy Statement

  1. Students are required to attend the first class session in order to receive important information about the course from the instructor. Students must attend the first class meeting of every part of a course in which they are registered (including labs, discussion sections, lectures, and other types of class meetings), unless they have obtained prior approval from the instructor (or department, if appropriate) for an intended absence before the first class meeting. Without such prior approval, a student may lose their place in the class to another student.
  2. If a student wishes to remain in a course from which the student has been absent the first day without prior approval, the student must contact the instructor as soon as possible. In this circumstance, instructors have the right to deny access to the class if other students have been added and the course is full. However, instructors should consider extenuating circumstances that may have prevented a student from attending the first class session and from notifying the instructor in advance.
  3. Absence from the first class session that falls during a recognized religious holiday (e.g., Rosh Hashanah) does not require instructor approval, but the student must notify the instructor in advance regarding the absence and the reason for the absence. In this instance, the place for the student will be retained. (See Administrative Policy: Makeup Work for Legitimate Absences: Crookston, Morris, Rochester, Twin Cities for further information regarding absences).
  4. Students are responsible for officially cancelling their enrollment in any course in which they have enrolled and subsequently been denied enrollment. If any such student does not officially cancel enrollment from the course, the instructor may request that the student be disenrolled.


This policy is not applicable to the Duluth campus.

Reason for Policy

Students are required to attend the first class session to receive important information about the course from the instructor. In addition, because students can enroll and disenroll for courses online, the list of registered students fluctuates. A student’s presence at the first class session is required to clearly indicate the number of students who are committed to taking the course. Instructors can then determine whether any students who were not able to register for a course because all seats were taken may take the place of students who registered but did not attend the first class session.




Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is it mandatory that a student be removed from a class if the student misses the first class session?

    Instructors are not required to request that the student be removed from the class, but it is their prerogative to make such a request by following the instructions in the Procedures section of this policy (Twin Cities) or by contacting the One Stop Student Services on their campus.

  2. How does this policy apply to online courses?

    The policy extends to online courses as well as traditional in-person courses. Students must attend the first class meeting or obtain permission from the faculty member to be absent. For in-person and online remote (synchronous) courses, attendance means the student is physically present for the course. For courses that are delivered online asynchronously, instructors have discretion to indicate on the syllabus the specific action(s) a student would need to take within a specified time period (e.g., posting an online discussion group on academic matters, initiating contact with a faculty member to ask a question about an academic course topic, submitting an assignment, taking a quiz) to be considered as having attended the online course.

  3. How does this policy impact students who add a class during the first or second week of the semester?

    Students may generally add open classes without instructor permission during the first week of the term (fall and spring), and with instructor permission during the second week (fall and spring). Students are not required to attend the sessions prior to registration. Students should communicate with their instructor to determine if any graded work has been missed and what makeup work is available. Students may not attend a course prior to registration.


Primary Contact(s)Jessica Kuecker Grotjohn (undergraduate) 
Toni Abts (graduate)
[email protected] 
[email protected]
Crookston CampusJason Tangquist218-281-8424[email protected]
Morris CampusPeh Ng320-589-6015[email protected]
Rochester CampusJeffrey Ratliff-Crain507-258-8006[email protected]
Twin Cities CampusJessica Kuecker Grotjohn (undergraduate) 
Toni Abts (graduate)
[email protected] 
[email protected]
Responsible Individuals
Responsible Officer Policy Owner Primary Contact
  • Executive Vice President and Provost
  • Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education
  • Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education
  • Jessica Kuecker Grotjohn
    Assistant Director for Undergraduate Education
  • Toni Abts


Officially cancel

Students must cancel (drop) a class if they have been denied enrollment in that course. Students are responsible for dropping a course to officially remove it from their record and may do so online in the course registration system.



Attend the first sessions of courses for which they have registered, or seek prior approval from the instructor if they are unable to attend. Use the course registration system to drop a course they have registered for but will not be attending.


Monitor official course registration lists. Take attendance at first class meeting(s). For asynchronous classes, instructors should follow their syllabus for course engagement requirements in lieu of first day attendance. Respond promptly to students who have contacted the instructor regarding not attending the first class session. Notify students if they have been denied enrollment in a course. Request that students who do not officially cancel enrollment from the course be disenrolled.


Assist with the administrative withdrawal process as requested by instructors.



January 2024 - Comprehensive Review. Minor revisions.

  • Added procedure for Twin Cities for Administrative Withdrawal
  • Updated language around course modality
  • Removed options for faculty to either assign a grade or disenroll student
  • The landscape of online courses has changed significantly since the policy was last updated, therefore the language in the policy was updated to reflect current language regarding modality.
  • Instructors have more than 2 limited options when students do not attend the first day, therefore we removed the options from the policy language.


June 2016 - Comprehensive Review, Minor Revision. More clearly specifies the responsibilities of both the instructor and the student. Added instructor responsibility.


December 2009 - Policy now applies to Crookston.


April 2009