Absence due to Religious Beliefs

Students shall be excused from class, review, or an exam due to their religious beliefs (Chapter 151c, Section 2B, of the Massachusetts General Laws). It is the responsibility of the student to inform the instructor of any such conflicts. Students who will miss class, review, or an exam for religious reasons will be offered an opportunity to make up the work without penalty, provided that the makeup opportunity does not constitute an unreasonable burden on the instructor or the School. Students should alert the instructor to any religious absences during the first week of classes, or whenever the dates of exams or reviews are announced.

The student’s absence notification should be made in writing and should state: (i) the specific accommodation being requested, (ii) the religious practice or belief the student is observing, and (iii) the particular date(s) on which the student will be absent. Please note that the length of time between the submission of the absence notification and the date of the student’s absence may affect whether it is reasonable to provide the student an opportunity to make up the work.

Students are asked to consider that it is more difficult to arrange appropriate makeup opportunities in some course formats – for example, those that have group assignments or a significant experiential learning component –so students should consider their need to be absent for religious observances as they plan their schedule each semester.

Students who are requesting extensions on assignment deadlines related to the observance of their religious beliefs should submit such requests during the first week of classes, or whenever the dates for such assignments are announced.  While instructors generally will try to accommodate such requests, advance notice is required, and the length of time between when the submission of the request and the date of the assignment may affect whether the extension is permitted.

We recognize that the faith traditions observed by our diverse community include more holidays than can be captured adequately in a list. In addition, some observances vary by tradition and by country and are defined by the lunar calendar. However, to assist in identifying religious observance days, the Harvard Divinity School has compiled a Multifaith Calendar that is intended to capture the dates of many religious observances.