Undergraduate Education at Penn State Penn State University Penn State University Office of Undergraduate Education Printer friendly version of the Undergraduate Education at Penn State mark.
Topical Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Class attendance is a critical element of student success and one of the most important ways students learn and understand course materials. Students may need to miss a class meeting to participate in a regularly scheduled university-approved curricular or extracurricular activity or due to unavoidable or other legitimate circumstances (including participation in local, state, and federal governmental elections and religious observances) as defined by University Faculty Senate Policy 42-27 (see also Senate Policies 44-25 , 44-30, and 44-35, and Procedures AAPP F-4 and F-5 for situations related to examinations).
When an absence or other circumstance covered in such policies results in a student being unable to complete an evaluative event that contributes to the final grade, the student or their representative is expected to inform their instructor, who is expected to provide the student, within reason, the opportunity to complete missed evaluative events.
The instructor may require use of the class absence form. Even if the absence meets the expectations of University policies listed above, in some situations, making up missed classes or missed evaluative events may not be possible.


  1. Instructors should clearly communicate their expectations and policies related to class attendance and evaluation in their syllabus at the beginning of the semester. Class attendance may be required regardless of the format of the class or course. Online course attendance may go beyond course login to include documentable participation in class activities, such as interacting with the instructor, interacting with enrolled students, completing assignments with due dates, and participating in online discussions on a regular basis.
  2. Students who know in advance that they will miss a class or evaluative event in accordance with Senate Policy 42-27 and want the opportunity to complete work that impacts their grade must communicate this information to instructors in a timely manner. In situations where making up a missed evaluative event is possible, students may be required by instructors to inform them in advance of the evaluative event using the class absence form or other form of written notification.
    1. In verifying that a student's absence is in accordance with Senate Policy 42-27, instructors should be sensitive to a student's privacy and well-being, especially for legitimate circumstances such as illnesses, accidents, or family emergencies. Instructors may require students to provide documentation with the class absence form or other written notification, except for the following situations:
      1. Students are not required to provide any information that would reveal private health information or to provide a document containing the signature of a clinician.
      2. University Health Services (UHS) does not provide verification of illness or injuries. Verification will be provided only for serious illnesses for which UHS clinicians provided services, or when UHS has received such documentation from outside providers.
    2. When making up work is possible, the instructor and student should determine how the evaluative event will be completed given the circumstances of the absence. Instructors may require that the event or assessment be completed in advance of the absence.
    3. Absences may ultimately affect student performance in a class. Instructors will determine when irregular attendance or missed evaluative events are negatively affecting a student's grade in the course and will communicate this issue to the student accordingly.
    4. Reweighting the course grade by not including the missed assignment(s) usually is inappropriate. Completion of all assignments ensures the greatest opportunity for students to develop understanding and content mastery and supports the university's desire to enable students to make responsible situational decisions without endangering their academic work.
  3. In emergency situations where a student does not have advance knowledge of an absence the student (or a representative if the student is incapacitated) must notify their college or campus contact of the situation in writing and meet to discuss the implications of any absence for making up the evaluative event as soon as reasonable. Instructors should communicate their expectations for notification and meetings in such situations in their syllabus or in writing in course materials, while recognizing that such emergent situations may require flexibility.
  4. False claims of legitimate or unavoidable absence may be considered academic integrity violations (Senate Policy 49-20AAPP G-9).
  5. Students may appeal an instructor's decision to make up an evaluation or assessment under the Grade Mediation and Adjudication Policy and Procedures (Senate Policy 47-20, AAPP G-10).
  6. Students who provide verified orders requiring a short-term absence for military service and are unable to make arrangements with instructors for making up missed evaluative events are eligible for administrative cancellation of the course(s) and 100% of the tuition for the course(s) will be refunded to the student. These students should notify the Director of Academic Affairs or Associate Dean of their college or campus who will notify the University Registrar's Office. For orders requiring absences lasting longer than two weeks, students may pursue a military withdrawal directly through the University Registrar's Office.

Note: As of Fall 2002, University Health Services (UHS) no longer provides verification of illness forms for minor illnesses or injuries. Verification will be provided only for serious illnesses for which UHS clinicians provided services, or when UHS has received such documentation from outside providers.

Senate Policy: 42-27, Class Attendance
Senate Policy: 44-25, Conflict Final Examinations
Senate Policy: 44-30, Non-final Examinations
Senate Policy: 44-35, Conflict of Non-final Examinations
Procedure: AAPP F-4, Conflict Non-final Examinations
Procedure: AAPP F-5, Evening Examinations
Procedure: R-4, Religious Observances
Undergraduate Advising

September 1998: Taken from the 1997/98 Student Guide to University Policies and Rules
Revised: ACUE (9-5-02)
Revised: ACUE (8-7-08)
Revised: ACUE (6-2-16); Effective Fall 2016
Revised: ACUE (3-1-18)
Revised: ACUE (10-1-2020)
Revised: ACUE (4-1-2021)

Previous Version of E-11