Midterm examinations are scheduled by each instructor, based on the pedagogical structure of a course, and might occur anytime between the beginning and the end of the term. Therefore, while many midterm exams may be scheduled around the mid-point of a term (e.g., late October or mid-March), midterm exams may also fall earlier or later in the term, and a course may require multiple exams during the course of the semester.
Because midterm exams have such different timelines and are governed by individual departments and instructors, there is no unified set of University or school policies that govern them. Faculty are advised to have clear policies and practices in place for cases in which students request accommodations due to illness, varsity sport travel, or other extenuating circumstances. If faculty need advice on how to handle individual situations with students, they should contact the student's assigned adviser (who is listed in one of the tabs in the "Photo Roster" section of the CourseWorks site) or the academic dean of the student's school.
If a student misses a midterm exam without notice, the faculty member should immediately alert the student’s advising dean, in case there is an emergency that needs the school’s intervention.
Final examinations occur after the end of classes and follow a predetermined schedule issued by the Registrar’s office. The projected version of this schedule is issued in November for the Fall term and in April for the Spring term. Students are advised that they should not finalize end-of-term travel plans until they know their exam schedules; travel is not an acceptable conflict for a final exam.
If a class includes a final exam, faculty are required to give the final exam during the scheduled final exam period assigned by the Registrar's office. Faculty should not schedule final exams during class sessions because students are expected to have time to prepare for final exams during the reading days, rather than during the period when final assignments, projects, and papers are due during final class meetings. Final exams should not be scheduled during the reading period between the end of classes and the final exam period.
Under certain circumstances, it may be necessary for an instructor to reschedule an exam. Any day or time changes to appointed final exam times must be negotiated with the members of the class. All students unable to take the exam at the agreed-upon time must be given a make-up exam at a time when they are able to attend. Faculty should contact the Office of the Registrar
to request a time change for a final exam.
Student conflicts and emergencies:
Each undergraduate school has policies governing final exams. Some schools limit the number of final exams a student may be required to take on a single day, while others limit the number of final exams a student may be required to take over a 24-hour period that can straddle two consecutive days. Students in either circumstance should meet with their advising deans as soon as possible after the final exam schedule is published in order to initiate the process for arranging a make-up exam, and faculty are expected to cooperate with affected students in finding an alternative time for their examinations. Faculty who have questions about individual student situations may contact the student's assigned adviser for consultation.
If a student is too ill to take a final exam, faculty should refer the student to the assigned advising dean. The advising dean will advise the student on how to apply for an Incomplete (INC) to the Committee on Academic Standing and what medical documentation to provide to support the application. If granted a grade of Incomplete, the student will be allowed to take a make-up exam during the Deferred Examination period at the beginning of the next semester, and faculty will be asked to provide a make-up exam which will be administered by members of the advising offices and returned to faculty for grading.
If a student attends an exam but becomes too ill during the exam to complete it, faculty should refer the student to the assigned advising dean, who will advise the student on whether the student may be granted an Incomplete and will advise the student on the process.
If a student misses a final exam without notice, faculty should immediately alert the student’s advising dean, in case there is an emergency that needs the school’s intervention.
It is expected that faculty will retain students' final exams for at least one year after the submission of final grades, in case students wish to review their final exams and ask questions about their assessment.
Exam Accommodations for Varsity Athletes
Varisty athletes may occasionally request a make-up exam for a midterm exam or, more rarely, for a final exam if they are traveling to represent Columbia University at a competition off campus. Instructors are asked to be responsive to such requests. Some students are able to take the exam at the scheduled time but while traveling with the team. In these instances the exam is given to, and proctored by, the team coach. Alternatively, a make-up exam taken on campus but at a different time may be scheduled. Faculty who have specific questions or concerns about a student's request should contact the student's advising dean (who is listed in one of the tabs in the "Photo Roster" section of CourseWorks).