Requesting an absence from class

Your first commitment at Rensselaer is to your academics and it is essential that you attend all your class meetings.  However, unforeseen events or preplanned opportunities may conflict with scheduled class time.  The decision of whether or not to attend class is yours alone as are the potential consequences.  Missing class should never be taken lightly.  The single greatest contributor to poor academic performance is missing lectures, assignments and exams. For the full policy, regarding absences from classes and final exams, please consult the academic catalogue. 

How do I request an absence from class?

Prescheduled Absences - including but not limited to job interviews, graduate school interviews and/or visits, family reunions, performances, weddings, fraternity/sorority trips, and/or non-sanctioned club or organization functions, and attendance at a professional conference, research or discipline symposium.

  1. Request absence from class directly from the course instructor at least a week in advance.
  2. If the instructor agrees, you're done - no formal excuse is necessary.
  3. If a "formal excuse" is requested, please come to the Student Success Office to fill out a form and attach appropriate documentation at least 3 days in advance.

N.B. There are no "group excuses" or accepting of lists of participants for class excuses.  Each student must discuss the absence with his/her course instructors directly.

Unforeseen Absencesincluding, but not limited to: hospital admission, death of a family member or significant other, serious illness of a family member or significant other, extended illness or physical immobility, documented student illness, family crisis.

  1. Whenever possible contact or meet with your Class Dean.
  2. Fill out the absence request form and attach appropriate documentation.

What happens next?

Excused absence requests are emailed directly to the primary instructor listed for each course in the Student Information System, not TAs nor to all faculty in team taught courses.  A confirmation will be sent to your Rensselaer email.  If your request is not approved your Class Dean will contact you directly.

How do I make up missed work?

Each professor handles missed classes/make-ups differently – consult your instructor directly to make up missed work.  Depending on the assignment/absence it may not be possible to make up missed work.  For example, a group presentation may not be able to be rescheduled.  If an exam is missed, please make arrangements to take the exam a soon as possible.

Excused absence required documentation examples

  • Obituary from local newspaper
  • E-mail from a parent or guardian confirming the date(s) of absence and relationship to the deceased
Family reunion
  • A letter from parent or guardian requesting your presence on a specific date for the reunion.
Health absence
  • All illness- or injury-related absences should be diagnosed and treated in the Student Health Center in order to ensure approval for an excused absence. The Student Health Center will automatically notify the SE office of any approved absences.
  • Documentation from your personal physician, Samaritan Hospital, etc.
  • An invitation addressed to you specifying the date(s) and the location of absence.
  • An e-mail from a parent or guardian stating the reason and date(s) for the absence.
RPI-sanctioned group event or conference
  • E-mail from the Rensselaer Union or sponsoring department.
  • Conference material stating the title, date(s), and location of the event.
Religious absence
  • Because Rensselaer is a non-denominational university that welcomes all faiths, the decision regarding absence from class and laboratories on religious holidays is left to the individual. In the case of conflicts between the university calendar and the individual’s beliefs, students, faculty, and administrative staff will make arrangements to assure that religious participation is not restricted.
Sports absence
  • A student who is a member of an authorized team or organization for which events are scheduled is excused from class attendance during the time actually spent away from the campus or during the hours of the events on campus. The student still has to complete the work that is missed.
Job interview
  • An invitation letter from the company, including interview date(s) and location.
  • We generally do not provide excuses for weather-related absences. If Rensselaer is open, classes are in session and it is expected that students will attend them.
  • We generally do not provide excuses for travel-related absences (late bus/train/flight, dead car battery, flat tire, etc.). You are expected to plan adequately for travel needs.
  • Required documentation can be discussed – please stop by or contact us in advance of your absence.

Missing Final Exams

Student Success does not issue excuses during final exams.  Please contact your Class Dean immediately if you believe you might miss your final exam.  In “extreme circumstances” (such as being hospitalized), your Class Dean may intercede on your behalf and issue a "No Examination Grade".  Your Class Dean cannot intercede because of travel related conflicts.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Student Success by calling (518) 276-8022, stopping by the office in 4600 Academy Hall, or via email.