Religious Observance Policy

The University Policy on Religious Observance can be found in the The Faculty Handbook, as well as in Academic Programs.

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

Michigan State University is a home for a vibrant, diverse, and multicultural community of students, faculty, and staff, and we value and actively support that diversity, including the diversity of spiritual expression and practice. Therefore, it is the policy of the University to enable students and faculty  to observe those days set aside by their chosen religious faith. 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. 


This policy states institutional and individual expectations for faculty, academic staff, and students to enable students and faculty to observe those religious days set aside by their chosen religious faith.

The faculty and staff must be sensitive to the observance of these observance days so that students who absent themselves from classes on these days are not disadvantaged in any way. Students who miss class, assignments, or exams to observe a religious day must be accommodated in ways that include, but are not limited to, the following: 

(1) Professors and instructors should make every effort to avoid scheduling exams and oral presentations during the major religious days on campus (Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc.). If a professor has scheduled such an exam or oral presentation, exams must be reasonably rescheduled without academic penalty.

(2) Absences may not be counted as a missed class in any course in which attendance is a measure of academic performance. 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, or allowing a certain number of “unexcused” absences during the course of a semester. This kind of policy should not be applied to religious observances, as this penalizes religions with more observance days that require absences than others. 

(3) Reasonable extensions of time must be given, without academic penalty, for missed assignments; students must be allowed to schedule presentations around such absences. Make-up work should be appropriate and not more difficult than the original assignment.

(4) It is the responsibility of those students who need to be absent to inform their instructor at least two weeks before the observance day, make arrangements in advance with their instructors, and to catch up on any material discussed and assignments given during that class period. Accommodations must never fundamentally alter an essential requirement of the course or academic program.

(5) All faculty must refer to this religious policy in their syllabi as well as provide the deadline in the syllabus by which students need to inform instructors of a conflict. Faculty should remind students of the deadline during the first day of class.

(6) Orientation programs for new students -- including the orientations for international students -- must inform incoming students about this policy and urge them to check for conflicts before the deadline for informing their instructors. 

Information on religious days:
There are members of many faiths at the university, including Bahá’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikh, their associated branches and more. Information about the dates of observance is available on the religious observance calendar webpage maintained by the Office of the Provost.

Please note that Jewish religious days – including the weekly observance of the sabbath - begin at sundown the evening before the date listed. Shabbat, the Jewish sabbath, is observed weekly from before sundown on Friday to sundown (when three stars are visible) on Saturday and during this time observant Jews are required to refrain from work, use of electricity and other activities. Be aware that more observant Jews will have a more extensive period of observance for some religious days and will need to take time off. 

Islamic religious days are based on the lunar calendar and will be celebrated approximately around the dates listed. During Ramadan, faculty should make final exam accommodations for students who fast and request such accommodations. Students should have the opportunity to reschedule a late afternoon exam in the morning, and vice versa.