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. There are three kinds of late or postponed work: (1) work late during term time; (2) work incomplete at the end of term; and (3) postponed final examinations.
Rule Governing Work Late During the Term
When should I speak to my instructor about an extension v. seeking a dean’s excuse?
Instructors may, during term time, give permission to make up late or missed work, provided that such work is submitted before the end of term. Please keep in mind that if you do not feel comfortable discussing your situation with your professor you should contact the Dean directly.
When will I qualify for a Dean’s Excuse?
It is important to be aware of your instructors’ authority to postpone work, since a Dean’s Excuse can be issued only in the following instances, which are outlined in the Academic Regulations of Yale College, here: http://catalog.yale.edu/ycps/academic-regulations/completion-of-course-work/.:
1. Incapacitating Illness or incapacitating condition of any kind.
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 the Dean about your condition as soon as you are able (an email or voicemail 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 the Dean to discuss postponing any deadlines.
2. Death of a family member
If you must hand in an assignment late or miss an exam or quiz because of a death of a near relative, please reach out to the Dean without delay.
3. A Comparable Emergency
Use your judgement about what constitutes a comparable emergency. If you are unsure, do not hesitate to ask the Dean.
4. Observance of religious holy days
If you are unable to take a test or submit an assignment on a religious holy day because of a religious observance, please see the Dean in advance of the holy day to reschedule your deadline.
5. Participation in varsity intercollegiate athletic events
If you are a varsity athlete who must represent Yale at a competition and have to miss an exam because of it, see the Dean in advance to reschedule. Bear in mind that for papers, problem sets, and other assignments that do not require your presence on campus, you will need to plan ahead. Deans are not authorized by the faculty to postpone work in such cases.
When should I request a Dean’s Excuse?
Promptly. In any of the five cases above, notify the Dean as soon as you are able via email or a call to the Dean’s office.
Because the language of the academic regulations is necessarily efficient and judicious, it cannot account for every situation. And so if you think you may qualify for a Dean’s Excuse, but you’re not certain whether your circumstances fit under one of these categories, please reach out to the Dean immediately and come talk to her as soon as possible.
Please also note that Dean’s Excuses are not retroactive.
Can Dean’s Excuses be issued for absences?
No. It is important to know that Dean’s Excuses can only extend deadlines: they cannot excuse absences, regardless of the reason. If you must miss class, it is your responsibility to notify your instructor.
How about other events that are very important to me that may prevent me from submitting work on time?
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 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.
Be 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.
No matter how compelling the circumstances may be, the Dean cannot issue Dean’s Excuses for reasons that do not fall into the categories outlined in the YCPS.
What if I just don’t have enough time to complete an assignment?
Certain times in the semester (such as midterms and finals) often place heavy demands on your schedule. 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.
What if my instructor says, “it’s fine with me, as long as you get a Dean’s Excuse”?
Even in such an instance, a dean cannot issue a Dean’s Excuse unless the student qualifies for one. But always remember that your instructor has authority to postpone a deadline for term-time work.
Can I request a Dean’s Excuse because of technological difficulties?
The YCPS is clear that deans cannot authorize a Dean’s Excuse in case of a technological malfunction. Be prepared for computer malfunctions. Back up your work and make hard copies for your files.
Work Incomplete at the End of Term and Postponement of Final Exams
The rules governing the postponement of work at the end of term are different than those governing the postponement of work during the term. Only residential college deans can authorize extensions for work or make-up examinations after the close of the teaching term (i.e. after the end of reading week). 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 late in the term itself, regardless of whether the instructor has given you permission.