Religious Observance Policy

The University Policy on Religious Observance can be found in the The Faculty Handbook, as well as in Academic Programs. Resources for planning for religious holidays are available at the following website:

President Simon's Statement on University Policy on Religious Observance

As we begin each year, I should like to emphasize our continuing commitment to this policy. Whether one ascribes to the tenets of a particular faith or to none, each of us should find security in the tradition of religious pluralism which has characterized American society and which underlies the University's policy.

Our practices must conform to our commitments. Thus, I ask all University personnel to be sensitive to religious observance requests by students, faculty, and staff. Working together as people of goodwill, I am confident that we can continue to build an environment that fosters pluralism and diversity, true to the spirit of MSU.

Lou Anna Kimsey Simon, President

Provost June Pierce Youatt's August 12, 2016 Memorandum Regarding the Michigan State University Religious Observance Policy (pdf)

Excerpt from the Academic Programs Catalog.
General Information, Policies, Procedures and Regulations
    General Procedures and Regulations
        Policy on Religious Observance

It has always been the policy of the University to permit students and faculty to observe those holidays set aside by their chosen religious faith.

The faculty and staff should be sensitive to the observance of these holidays so that students who absent themselves from classes on these days are not seriously disadvantaged. It is the responsibility of those students who wish to be absent to make arrangements in advance with their instructors. It is also the responsibility of those faculty who wish to be absent to make arrangements in advance with their chairpersons, who shall assume the responsibility for covering their classes.

As Michigan State University has become increasingly multicultural, the incidence of conflicts between mandatory academic requirements and religious observances has increased. In the absence of a simple and dignified way to determine the validity of individual claims, the claim of a religious conflict should be accepted at face value. Be aware that some degrees of observance may have a more extensive period of observance. Instructors may expect a reasonable limit to the number of requests by any one student. Some instructors attempt to cover all reasons for student absences from required academic events such as quizzes or exams with a blanket policy, e.g., allowing the student to drop one grade or two quizzes without penalty. If this is meant to extend to religious observances, the instructor should state this clearly at the beginning of the term. If instructors require make-up exams, they retain the right to determine the content of the exams and the conditions of administration, giving due consideration to equitable treatment.