Dean’s Excuses

I. Yale College Policy Governing Dean’s Excuses 

A Dean’s Excuse is a paper form signed by the residential college dean that authorizes the postponement of written work or exams during term-time. As your Dean, I am only able to grant Dean’s Excuses in certain circumstances, which are outlined in the Academic Regulations of Yale College, here: The circumstances in which I can approve a Dean’s Excuse are limited to the following:

1. Death in the family

If you must hand in an assignment late or miss an exam or quiz because of a death of a near relative, see me.

2. Incapacitating illness

If you are too ill to work, your first priority is to get immediate medical attention. Your health should be your main concern, not your schoolwork. Please inform me about your condition as soon as you are able (an email is fine), and then after you’ve seen your doctor or have been released from the hospital, and once you are no longer contagious, see me to reschedule the work you missed.

3. A comparable emergency

Use your judgment, and if you have any questions, please ask.

4. Off-campus varsity competition

If you are a varsity athlete who must represent Yale at a competition and you have to miss an exam because of it, see me to reschedule. Bear in mind that for papers, problem sets, and other assignments that do not require your presence on campus, you’ll need to plan ahead: we deans aren’t authorized by the faculty to postpone work in such cases.

5. Observance of religious holidays

If you have to take a test or hand in work on a religious holy day, see me to reschedule.

Since I can only issue dean’s excuses within a reasonable period of time after the emergency or conflict, it is crucial that you inform me right away. In any of the five cases above, then, let me know as soon as you are able (a quick email or call will do) so that I am aware of your situation and can help out if you’re running into trouble. I can also help you contact your instructors.

During term time, course instructors may give students permission to make up late or missed work, provided that such work is submitted before the end of the term. While instructors may require that students obtain a Dean’s Excuse in order to postpone an assignment deadline as part of their individual course policies, they also have the authority to grant a postponement themselves. It is important to be aware of instructors’ authority to postpone work during term time, since a Dean’s Excuse can be issued ONLY in the event of one of the circumstances listed above. Finally, it is important to know that Dean’s Excuses can only extend deadlines: they cannot excuse absences, whatever the reason. If you must miss class, it is your responsibility to notify your instructor as soon as possible.

This year is going to provide many fantastic opportunities that may, unfortunately, become obstacles for handing in work on time. Participation in dramatic events, singing groups, and non-varsity athletics will in many cases compete for time that might otherwise be used for studying, writing, or attending classes. In addition, every year many students must attend interviews for jobs, internships, graduate school, etc., and these commitments may also interfere with class work. It is precisely in such circumstances that you should be aware of the authority of your instructor to postpone work: it will be your ONLY means for turning in late work without penalty.  No matter how compelling the circumstances may be, I cannot write Dean’s Excuses for reasons that do not fall into the categories outlined in the YCPS.

This is also an opportune moment to point out that certain times in the semester (such as midterms and finals) will often place heavy demands on your schedules. It is essential that you anticipate and coordinate these difficult periods: problems that arise from not having enough time to complete papers or prepare for exams are specifically excluded from reasons eligible for Dean’s Excuses.  

Be especially careful of situations in which an instructor may say: “it’s fine with me, as long as you get a Dean’s Excuse.”  You will know under what circumstances you will be able to receive one, so you may have to resolve the issue on the spot.  Be VERY careful about assuming you will get a Dean’s Excuse in instances where you overslept for an exam, ran out of time because of rehearsals to finish the problem set, etc., because you will ultimately find yourself in a difficult situation.  The same thing goes for computer malfunctions: back up your work, and make hard copies for your files.  The YCPS is also clear that I cannot authorize a Dean’s Excuse in case of a technological malfunction. 

One last but essential remark about postponing work: at the end of term, everything changesOnly residential college deans can authorize extensions for outstanding work or make-up examinations after the close of the teaching term. I will circulate relevant information about extensions for end-of-term work and make-up final exams by email at the end of the semester. For now, please note that, after the close of regular term time, without WRITTEN permission from me, you will not to be able to postpone a final examination or any other end-of-term project, or regular course work due during the term itself, regardless of instructor permission.

II. How to request a Dean’s Excuse:

Since instructors have the authority to postpone assignments during term time, you should first contact your instructor to request an extension, and then to follow up by requesting a Dean’s Excuse from me if needed.

Please also note that Dean’s Excuses are not retroactive, please do not contact me after you have missed a deadline, assignment, exam, etc. for a dean’s excuse – it will not be approved unless there are mitigating circumstances for why you could not email me beforehand (i.e. hospitalization).

If you find yourself in one of the situations listed above and require a Dean’s Excuse as a result, you must contact the Dean’s Assistant (203.432.056) as soon as possible to make an appointment with me so that we can discuss the Dean’s Excuse. In your request for the appointment and as soon as you know that you need a postponement of written work, you should include in the email clearly explaining your reason for requesting a Dean’s Excuse.

You must fill out a Dean’s Excuse Request Form which can be downloaded in the Forms section of this website or picked up at the Dean’s Office. After you have filled out the form, you can submit it via email to both the Dean’s Assistant and I or bring it directly to the Dean’s Office.