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Undergraduate Catalog 2016-2017

Syllabus, Attendance, Absences, and Assessment


There shall be a complete course syllabus for the current term made available to students no later than the first day of class at the beginning of each undergraduate course. Any changes to the syllabus made after the first day of class must be announced and must be clearly represented with the date of the revision. The course syllabus will specify in general terms:

  • a course description including course objectives;
  • the content and nature of assignments;
  • the schedule of major graded assessments (e.g., examinations and due dates for projects and papers);
  • the examination and/or assessment procedures;
  • the mode of communication for excused absences;
  • the basis for determining final grades, including if the plus/minus grading system will be used and the relationship between in-class participation and the final course grade;
  • reference to the list of course-related policies maintained by the Office of Undergraduate Studies.


Students are expected to take full responsibility for their own academic work and progress. Students, to progress satisfactorily, must meet all of the requirements of each course for which they are registered. Students are expected to attend classes regularly. Consistent attendance offers students the most effective opportunity to gain command of course concepts and materials. 

In-class participation may be an ongoing requirement and an integral part of the work of some courses. In-class assessments may occur, sometimes without advance notice. The syllabus will specify expectations about in-class participation and its relationship to the final course grade.

Except in cases where in-class participation forms a significant part of the work of the course, attendance should not be used in the computation of grades; assignment of a course grade on some basis other than performance in the course is prohibited by University policy.  Recording student attendance is not required of the faculty.


Absences from courses in which in-class participation forms a significant part of the work of the course (such as lab or discussion courses) shall be handled by instructors in accordance with the general policies of their academic units. 

An excused absence is an absence for which the student has the right to receive, and the instructor has the responsibility to provide, academic accommodation.

Excused absences must be requested promptly and must be supported by appropriate documentation. Excused absences do not alter the academic requirements for the course. Students are responsible for information and material missed on the day of absence. Students are within reason entitled to receive any materials provided to the class during the absence. Students are responsible for determining what course material they have missed and for completing required exercises in a timely manner.

Events that justify an excused absence include: religious observances; mandatory military obligation; illness of the student or illness of an immediate family member; participation in university activities at the request of university authorities; and compelling circumstances beyond the student’s control (e.g., death in the family, required court appearance). Absences stemming from work duties other than military obligation (e.g., unexpected changes in shift assignments) and traffic/transit problems do not typically qualify for excused absence.

Students claiming excused absence must notify the course instructor in a timely manner and provide appropriate documentation. The notification should be provided either prior to the absence or as soon afterwards as possible. In the case of religious observances, athletic events, and planned absences known at the beginning of the semester, the student must inform the instructor during the schedule adjustment period. All other absences must be reported as soon as is practical. The student must provide appropriate documentation of the absence. The documentation must be provided in writing to the instructor by the means specified in the syllabus.

a. For medically necessitated absences: Students may, one time per course per semester, provide a self-signed excuse as documentation of an absence from a single class (e.g., lecture, recitation, or laboratory session) that does not coincide with a major assessment or assignment due date. For all other medically necessitated absences, students must provide documentation from a physician or the University Health Center, upon request of the course instructor.

b. For all other absences students must provide verifiable documentation upon request (e.g., religious calendar, court summons, death announcement, etc.).

In keeping with USM policy, students shall not be penalized because of observances of their religious holidays and shall be given an opportunity, whenever feasible, to make up within a reasonable time any academic assignment that is missed due to individual participation in religious observances. For all other excused absences, the student must be provided academic accommodation. The accommodation provided should, within reason, neither advantage nor disadvantage either the student or the rest of the class.

If the accommodation is a makeup assessment, it must be timely, at a time and place agreed upon by the instructor and student, cover the same material, and be at the same level of difficulty as the original assessment. In the event that a group of students requires the same makeup assessment, one time and place may be scheduled. The makeup assessment must not interfere with the student's regularly scheduled classes. If makeup work is not feasible, an alternate accommodation for excused absences will be provided. Alternate accommodations will be according to the principles established by the unit offering the course. Students who miss a substantial number of class sessions or course assignments should seek guidance from an academic advisor with respect to academic options.

Extended absences stemming from active military duty are addressed in the USM V-7.00

Policy on Students who are called to Active Military Duty during a National or International Crisis or Conflict. Absences related to a student’s disability are addressed in the VI-1.00(D) University of Maryland Disability & Accessibility Policy and Procedures.

Although the university attempts to accommodate the religious beliefs of all of its members, it functions within a secular environment and is limited in the extent to which it can interrupt its normal operations. The president shall determine when it is appropriate for the campus community to restrict rescheduling examinations or other significant assessments on the dates of religious observance.  


Students can expect to receive a reasonable number of graded assessments or progress reports to permit evaluation of their performance. These assessments shall be returned to the students in a timely manner. Students will have reasonable opportunity to review graded assignments, such as papers and examinations (including the final examination or assessment), after evaluation by the instructor and while materials are reasonably current. Information about assessments and determination of the final course grade will be presented in a course syllabus.

Ordinarily, in-class assessments are given during class hours in accordance with the regularly scheduled time and place of each course. Students are responsible for knowing the information in the syllabus, including dates of assessments and due dates of graded assignments. Assessments may take a variety of forms and need not be classroom-based written examinations. 

Final Examination:  There shall be a final examination and/or assessment in every undergraduate course. Exceptions may be made with the written approval of the department chair or other appropriate unit administrator.

Each faculty member shall retain, for one full semester (either fall or spring) after a course is ended, the students’ final assessments in the appropriate medium. If a faculty member goes on leave for a semester or longer, or leaves the university, the faculty member shall leave the final assessments and grade records for the course with the department chair, the program director, or the dean of the College or School, as appropriate.

All in-class final examinations must be held on the date and at the time listed in the official final examination schedule.  Out-of-class final examination or equivalent assessments shall be due on the date and at a time listed in the official final examination schedule.  Changes to final examination schedules and locations must be approved by the chair of the department or the dean of the College, or the appropriate designee. However, final examinations or assessments may not be rescheduled to the final week of classes or to Reading Day.

Students may seek to reschedule final examinations so that they have no more than three examinations on any given day. It is the responsibility of the student to initiate the rescheduling or be responsible for taking the examination as originally scheduled. When rescheduling is desired, students should first contact their instructors.  Students who encounter difficulty rescheduling examinations with their instructors are advised to contact the dean's office of their academic program for help.  Faculty members are expected to accommodate students with legitimate rescheduling requests.

Resolution of Problems

Any concerns regarding the syllabus, attendance, absences and assessment should be addressed to the course instructor.  In the case of unresolved concerns, students are encouraged to consult the following policies for appropriate resolution.

Relevant University Policies:

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