Dean's Notes, Exam Excuses, and Incompletes

Occasionally an undergraduate may experience personal, health, or other circumstances that impact their ability to complete academic work. The policies and options available to students vary depending on the nature of the student's situation and the timing and kind of academic work in question.

Information related to students with conflicts with assessments due to religious observance and those with registered disabilities is available in the links on the navigation bar on the left. 

Conflicts During the Semester

Dean's Notes

Faculty have jurisdiction over academic practices within their courses. However, Deans of the College and Student Support Services may at times provide dean's support notes on behalf of students who are experiencing personal or health circumstances that impact their ability to complete academic work. Students should consult course syllabi and speak with their instructors about their individual circumstances before reaching out to a dean. Students must request notes from via a meeting with a dean -- either during the College's academic advising hours or by meeting with a dean in Student Support Services. 

In the unfortunate event that a student has experienced the passing of a loved one, the Dean of the College can send a bereavement notice to all the student's instructors and their assigned advisor. (The University holds a weekly non-clinical, non-religious Bereavement Group that students may attend at any time.) A student may request that a bereavement notice be sent to their instructors by meeting with a dean as described above or writing to [email protected]

During the Finals Period: Exams and Other Kinds of Assessments

Final Exams

Per faculty rules, the College is solely responsible for determining whether a student's absence from a final examination is excused. Faculty and students may call the main College number (401.863.9800) or write to [email protected] regarding excused absence (ABS) inquiries and a dean will follow up with them. In emergency situations, students who are unable to contact their professors must contact the main number above and/or send an email to [email protected] as soon as possible. One of the deans authorized to grant exam excuses will determine whether or not an exam excuse is warranted.

Final exam times are known at the start of each term and students should schedule end of semester travel around their final exam schedule. Travel plans are generally not an excuse for missing a final exam except in extraordinary circumstances (e.g. pandemic impacts on international travel). Any such exception will be carefully vetted and documented by one of the deans authorized to grant exam excuses.

Make-up exams for approved exam excuses are administered by the Registrar in the second week of the subsequent fall or spring term. The Registrar's Office informs students by email of the date, time, and location of make-up exams.

Courses with ABS notations are counted toward academic standing at the beginning of the subsequent term. If a make-up exam is not completed by midterm of the subsequent semester, the ABS will be changed to an NC (no credit).


In cases where a student has outstanding work in a course other than a final exam, a course instructor may choose to grant a grade of Incomplete. As noted above, only an authorized dean may excuse a student from a scheduled final exam. The authority to grant an Incomplete rests with the course instructor, who may simply enter a notation of INC when submitting a student's final grade.

An Incomplete from the fall that is finished by the following February 1st will improve a student's academic standing (e.g. from Warning to Good Standing). Spring semester Incompletes must be completed by the following July 1st in order to count toward academic standing. If a student finishes an Incomplete by the stated deadline but the faculty member does not submit a grade by that time, the Chair of the Committee on Academic Standing may change the student's academic standing if the faculty member confirms that the work was completed and received by the deadline.

Incompletes made up after the stated deadlines but within one academic year from the time the Incomplete was granted do not change the student's academic standing. However, they do count as completed courses. Credit for Incompletes finished after the one-year deadline must be approved by the Committee on Academic Standing. Please know that grade changes when the original grade was a grade other than an incomplete (for instance, an NC, or any other grade of A, B, C) are rarely approved by the Committee on Academic Standing.

Students and faculty members should be aware that thesis-related independent study courses taken in the first semester of senior year, if not completed by the end of the semester, result in a transcript grade of "INC." Also, transcripts by the Registrar at the end of the seventh semester bear such Incompletes. If this presents a problem with post-graduation plans, students are strongly encouraged to register for a single-semester thesis course in the semester they will complete the thesis work.