Academic Coursework and Religious Observance Policy

Brandeis University is committed to supporting the religious practices of all of our students.

Historically, Brandeis University has recognized the religious calendars of Judaism and Christianity. Other traditions (e.g., Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism), while not explicitly recognized on the university calendar, are recognized as significant to our students and deserving of accommodation.

It is the policy of the university that instructors strive to support students' observance of their traditions by allowing absence from classes for such purposes; by endeavoring to ensure that examinations, written reports, oral reports or other mandatory class assignments are not scheduled for or due on holy days; and that instructors provide ample opportunities for students to make up work missed on such occasions, without penalty.

The following is a list of guidelines developed by the Committee for the Support of Teaching, with input from the Center for Spiritual Life (chaplaincy) and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, regarding academic coursework and religious observances:

  1. In constructing the academic calendar, religious holy days will not be the sole factor in determining days on which classes will be held or suspended. In the academic calendar, there are some religious holidays that are traditionally indicated as days or partial days when the university is closed (e.g., Rosh Hashana, Good Friday); however, there are many other days of religious importance to members of the community (e.g., Eid, Lunar New Year or Rohatsu) when the university is not closed. Muslim and Jewish holidays begin at sundown of the previous evening and end at nightfall of the day listed. Therefore, a student may have a legitimate reason for missing a class, whether or not the holiday is formally recognized in the university calendar.
  2. Students are expected to review each course syllabus at the beginning of each term and inform instructors within the first two weeks of class if there are any potential conflicts due to religious observance. It is the student’s responsibility to inform the instructor of these conflicts within the first two weeks of the semester. Students who miss class will be required to complete any work that is missed, and they may be required to submit additional assignments to make up for the missed class time.
  3. Should a student need to miss class for religious reasons, the absence should be excused. Classes missed for travel plans are not considered excused absences. Only the dates of the holidays themselves are considered excused absences.
  4. Students must be informed of any exams or due dates that fall on a date immediately after a religious holiday at least two weeks prior to such dates.
  5. If classes will be missed, students must consult with their instructors and agree upon a plan to make up any excused absences. Such plans should be in writing and available to both parties.
  6. If an instructor believes that a student’s request cannot be accommodated, the student must be notified prior to the date in question in writing or by email. Any disagreement over expectations for class attendance and/or coursework should be brought to the attention of the department or program chair.
  7. If an instructor has questions about the nature of a particular holiday or would like a list of major holidays, they should consult either the Center for Spiritual Life (chaplaincy), Office of Academic Services or the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.