University Exam Policies and Procedures

Note: Projected and Final Exam dates may include Religious Holidays for some students. NYS Education Law §224-A mandates that faculty make available an opportunity to make up any examination missed because of religious beliefs. To facilitate the preparation of makeup exams, students intending to be absent to observe any of these holidays must notify the instructor by October 15 in the fall semester and February 15 in the spring semester.

Undergraduate and Non-Degree Classes: Exams must be scheduled, except for seminar classes.

Graduate Classes: Exams are optional.

Each school at the University has a Committee on Instruction. These committees determine examination policies and procedures and publish them in school bulletins. There are three basic examination schedules prepared by the University:

  1. Columbia College and the School of General Studies
  2. Fu Foundation School of Engineering & Applied Science
  3. The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and the School of International & Public Affairs

The Projected Exam Schedule will help students plan examinations. Some general principles may help:

  1. Colloquia and seminars do not schedule final exams, but instructors may give them if they wish.
  2. Applied courses such as laboratories, research, and studio classes usually have final examinations during regular class hours.
  3. Courses at or above the 6000 level do not have final examinations, but instructors may give them if they wish.

For further information on final examinations, read your school Bulletin.

Final Examinations

Final examinations are given at the end of each term. The Projected University Examination Schedule provides a tentative guide to final examinations and is available online.

The definitive schedule of final examinations is usually available in early to mid November for the fall term and early to mid April for the spring term. Exams are scheduled according to a University-wide Final Exam Schedule available shortly after midterms. Prior to its availability, students and faculty should consult the Projected Exam Schedule. Students may access their individual exam schedule in SSOL by clicking on "Schedule," then "My Exam Schedule."

Students who have trouble locating a class on either list should contact the instructor to make sure the class has an exam.

Rescheduling Exams

Under certain circumstances, it may be necessary for an instructor to reschedule an exam. Any day or time changes in 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. Schools maintain their own policies regarding when exams can be administered.

Student Exam Conflicts

Students will occasionally have two exams scheduled for the same time. If one of the exams is a departmental exam for a class with several sections, the student should contact the department to arrange a make-up exam. Similarly, no student is obliged to take three exams on any given calendar day. Students with three exams on the same day should print their exam schedule from SSOL and present it to each instructor or department. An attempt will then be made to arrange for one of the instructors to schedule a make-up exam on a different day. Examinations are not rescheduled to accommodate travel plans.

Information for Faculty and Instructors

  • Undergraduate and Non-Degree Classes: Exams must be scheduled, except for seminar classes.
  • Graduate Classes: Exams are optional.
  • All regular classroom assignments for the semester terminate on the final day of classes. The classroom assigned for an exam may not be the same as that used for the class during the regular course of the semester. This may be due to seat-spacing requirements or the scheduling needs for exams that must be scheduled together within a common exam time block.

  • All instructors should be aware of the final exam processes and procedures.
  • Instructors should notify the Registrar of any changes to the exam schedule.