Class Attendance Guideline for Undergraduate Courses

April 30, 2018

Undergraduate student attendance in class is a critical component of the educational experience at the University of Virginia. As such, the following guidelines have been prepared to provide an overview of existing policy and provide guidance to faculty members on addressing class attendance with their students. 

Existing university-wide policy on class attendance is addressed in the following areas: 

  • Undergraduate Record: “Faculty members have the right to establish attendance and participation requirements in each of their classes. Instructors may establish penalties when excessive absences would seriously hinder achievement in any class.” 

    The Undergraduate Record also addresses class attendance for non-enrolled students: “Students may not attend classes in which they are not enrolled, nor may they bring guests to classes in which they are enrolled, without the permission of the instructor.”
  • Policy PROV-008: Teaching Courses for Academic Credit: “Instructors teaching undergraduate courses for academic credit who schedule mandatory sessions outside the regularly scheduled class meeting time (for example, to administer tests in a different classroom or to schedule visiting experts or guest speakers) should, whenever possible, schedule the dates and times of these sessions at the beginning of the term in SIS and include them in the course syllabus. If the additional sessions are not scheduled in SIS and listed on the course syllabus, Instructors must make alternative arrangements to accommodate students who are unable to attend. Mandatory additional sessions must be scheduled within the term (i.e., on or after the first day of classes and preferably before or on the last day of classes); mandatory sessions may not be scheduled on reading days. Mandatory sessions scheduled during the exam period may not take precedence over students’ regularly scheduled exam periods as published on the website of the University Registrar.”

    Policy PROV-008 also addresses academic accommodations for religious observances: “It is the University's long-standing policy and practice to reasonably accommodate students so that they do not experience an adverse academic consequence when sincerely held religious beliefs or observances conflict with academic requirements.  Students who wish to request academic accommodation for a religious observance should submit their request in writing directly to the instructor of the course. Students and instructors who have questions or concerns about academic accommodations for religious observance or religious beliefs may contact the University’s Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights (EOCR) at or 434-924-3200.”

In addition to existing university-wide class attendance policies, the following schools maintain additional policies on student class attendance; each school name below is hyperlinked to the location of the relevant policy online. 

The below guidelines have been created to assist in the creation of class attendance policies. These are intended not as new policy, but instead as a resource for faculty members. The Provost’s Office maintains that individual schools and faculty members have the prerogative to establish attendance policies for their courses, while responsibility for class attendance rests with individual students. 

General Guidelines

  • Class attendance policies should be listed clearly in the syllabus for that course. 
    • This should include a list of all University observed holidays when classes do not meet. 
    • Class attendance policies listed in a syllabus should request students 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.   
      • Specifically relating to planned absences, students should be encouraged to notify the instructor of any planned absences by the end of the first full week of classes. 
    • Students should be encouraged to present his or her explanation for any absences in writing to the course instructor in advance if the reason for the absence could be foreseen, or as soon as possible thereafter if the reason for the absence could not be foreseen.
      • It should be made clear to students that an absence notification alone does not excuse the student from course material, assignments, or examinations. It is the student’s responsibility to follow-up with the faculty member about absences and opportunities to complete missed work as soon as feasible.
  • Instructors may refer students who are, in their opinion, absent excessively or habitually, to the student's academic associate dean. 
  • In general, participation in student groups, clubs, or on athletic teams does not guarantee exceptions to attendance policies, assignment deadlines, exam dates, or other course requirements.
  • Where deemed appropriate by an instructor, students are responsible for making up any work missed due to class absence.


  • Instructors should request that varsity student athletes notify them of their status as varsity athletes within the first week of each semester.
  • Instructors should request that all student varsity athletes provide them a schedule of that semester's varsity athletic competitions.  This is an appropriate time for the student athlete and instructor to have a conversation about the number of anticipated absences, what will be missed in class and how best to make up any missed work or exams.  If the instructor decides the anticipated number of absences do not allow the student to adequately engage in and absorb the course material, the student should be encouraged to drop the course and enroll in another course prior to the end of the drop/add period.
  • Because varsity athletic competitions are scheduled in advance, it follows that instructors have the right to insist, where feasible, that students complete course work prior to the anticipated absence from class.


  • In the event that a student experiences the death of a family member or the loss of someone special, instructors are asked to be flexible in providing accommodations. The student should be encouraged to contact their academic associate dean for assistance, who can notify an instructor that there has been a significant life event and that the student may need time away from class. A student’s academic associate dean may also be able to help find alternative arrangements for completing coursework or being evaluated in a course, assist in a withdrawal from a course, approve a leave of absence for the semester, or approve a withdrawal from the university.

Court, Legal Appointments

  • Instructors are requested to be flexible when considering absences for students who are required to appear for court dates, citizenship hearings, jury duty, etc.


  • Students are expected to notify their instructors if they become incapacitated due to a short-term illness or injury that prevents them from completing an assignment, exam, quiz, presentation, lab, or any graded work or from attending a class where attendance is required.
  • Some students will enter UVA with a chronic illness, or will develop a medical condition that persists; such conditions may have an impact on academic life as well as campus life. Instructors should refer a student with chronic illnesses to his/her academic associate dean and/or notify the academic associate dean if a student seems to be struggling with a long-term illness. The Student Disability Access Center (SDAC) can also be consulted. 

Class absences could fall into a number of categories; the list above is not meant to be exhaustive.