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Academic Policies

Last updated on Apr 11, 2024


Other than in the limited circumstances below, individual instructors determine whether an absence is excusable. Instructors should include their absence policies in the course syllabus and students should discuss any absences with their instructors as early as possible.

Instructors may opt to excuse absences for:

  • Significant personal illness or injury
  • Grave family emergency
  • Religious observance (with prior notice and arrangement)
  • Required court attendance (with prior notice and arrangement)
  • Required military duty (with prior notice and arrangement)

NB: The college recommends that instructors excuse absences for religious holidays so long as students make arrangements for missed work in advance and absences are not excessive.

Instructors typically do not excuse absences for:

  • Travel time for religious holiday observance
  • Voting
  • Job interviews
  • Special family events such as birthdays, weddings, etc.

Instructors may place certain conditions on excused absences:

  • Students may be required to make arrangements for absences and missed work in advance, e.g., by the second week of class for religious holidays or military service, 1-2 weeks in advance for other reasons.
  • The total of excused and unexcused absences may not exceed a certain number of classes or class hours, as determined by the instructor.
  • Students may be asked to provide documentation of their reason for missing class (other than notes for pregnancy-related absences, which should instead be provided to Access / Disability Services, In the case of a COVID-related absence, students may be asked to document that they have disclosed their exposure or diagnosis as required by the CCA Return to Campus Plan.

Students who are concerned that they are being evaluated in a manner inconsistent with the instructor’s attendance policy should consult the instructor, then chair, then dean in accordance with the grade appeal process.Absences due to suspected or confirmed COVID-19

All students who test positive or who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, and some students who have a close contact* with a person positive for COVID-19, must isolate according to CCA guidelines. Students must report their case to the COVID response team using this form, begin isolation or quarantine if appropriate, and notify their instructors of their absence from class. Students with questions about absences related to COVID-19 can contact or their instructors. Instructors are encouraged to be as flexible as possible about excusing COVID-related absences.

Students are expected and responsible for communicating directly with their instructors regarding any absences.

*(close contact: is defined as being within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period)

Pregnancy-related excused absences

Students have the right to an educational environment free from discriminatory treatment based upon pregnancy-related conditions, including childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, pregnancy itself, or recovery from any of these conditions.

Students with pregnancy-related questions are encouraged to contact Access / Disability Services,, for assistance such as: larger desks or temporary access to elevators; advice about attempts to exclude students from classes, programs, or activities; excusing medically-necessary absences for pregnancy-related conditions. Arrangements for international students who require extended or numerous pregnancy-related absences may require consultation with International Student Affairs and Programs.

Other excused absences

On rare occasions, senior leadership from academic affairs, student affairs, or human resources may contact an instructor to excuse a student from class due to a pending student conduct matter, a pregnancy-related condition, or a temporary prohibition from attending class.

It is the intention of the college to offer uninterrupted courses of study to its students; however, in the event that the college is unable to continue some or all academic instruction because of a natural disaster, power failure, fire, strikes, damage by the elements, or other event beyond its control, tuition and other fees are not refundable and damages not payable.

Attendance and Engagement Policy

Terminology: Synchronous vs Asynchronous, In-person vs Online, Hybrid vs Blended Online Instruction

This attendance policy addresses:

  • asynchronous instruction, which occurs without real-time interaction, generally online (prerecorded lectures, discussion forums, etc.)
  • synchronous instruction, which happens in real time (in-person class meetings; real-time, online Zoom sessions, etc.)
  • a mixture of the above delivery modes in terms of
    • Space: hybrid courses combine online and in-person instruction and/or
    • Time: blended online courses combine asynchronous and synchronous delivery

All instructors at CCA are empowered to establish specific attendance and engagement policies in general accordance with this policy and in consultation with their program chair. Students should always refer to the course-specific policy found in the syllabus of each class.

Engagement-Based Attendance for Online and Hybrid Courses

For each three-unit course at CCA, students should anticipate that they will spend an average of nine hours per week between instructional time and time during which they study and complete course assignments on their own or in small groups. Depending on the class and the timing in the semester, students may require more or fewer than nine hours to complete all work.

In an online environment, students demonstrate their “attendance” via regular, sustained engagement (also known as participation) in course discussions and assignments. Instructors outline their engagement expectations and requirements in the class syllabus.

While students can work on their own time on assignments and in some cases can work ahead, they generally cannot successfully complete an online course solely by finishing independent assignments. Ongoing class engagement is expected and required.

Among the measures of engagement that instructors may employ are the following:

  • Participating substantively (as defined by the instructor) in Moodle/online forums on a weekly basis.
  • Critiquing other students’ posted work.
  • Submitting an assignment by its due date.
  • Completing quizzes and exams on time.
  • Engaging in an assigned study/project group.
  • Completing interactive tutorials or computer-assisted instruction.
  • Participating in any synchronous sessions, whether small group or whole class
  • Initiating contact with the instructor to ask questions about course readings or subject matter.

Each missed week of engagement--as determined by the instructor--is equivalent to an absence. Students who are “absent” from 20% or more of a course are automatically eligible to fail it; 20% of a fifteen-week semester is about three consecutive or non-consecutive weeks. A partially-missed week of engagement may be considered equivalent to a late arrival for a synchronous course meeting; multiple partially-missed weeks (usually three) may be considered equivalent to an absence. Students who are unable to engage for any reason are responsible for contacting their instructor as soon as possible. Please note that instructors determine whether missed coursework or activities can be made up.

Attendance for In-person Courses

For each three-unit course at CCA, students should anticipate that they will spend an average of nine hours per week between instructional time and time during which they study and complete course assignments on their own or in small groups. At the beginning of each term, instructors establish how they will measure attendance for their class in consultation with this policy and their program chairs; they communicate this information through their course syllabus.

Regular attendance, as defined in course syllabi, is required. Students are expected to arrive on time and remain in class for the entire period scheduled. The responsibility for work missed due to any type of absence rests with the student. Students who are absent from 20% or more of a course are automatically eligible to fail it; 20% of a fifteen-week semester is about three consecutive or non-consecutive weeks. Multiple late arrivals (usually three) may be considered equivalent to one unexcused absence. Any exceptions are up to the discretion of the instructor.

Credit Hour Definition

An undergraduate studio credit hour at CCA consists of 2 hours in class with an average expectation of 1 hour of work outside of class each week. For a 3-unit studio class this would equate to 6 hours in class and 3 hours outside of class per week during a 15-week semester.

An undergraduate H&S/Seminar credit hour, as well as a graduate studio or seminar credit hour (with the exception of the Masters of Architecture Program), at CCA consists of 1 hour in class with an average expectation of 2 hours of work outside of class each week. For a 3-unit class this would equate to 3 hours in class and 6 hours outside of class per week during a 15-week semester.

It is important to note that the out-of-class time expectations are averages only and may vary depending on the level of the course as well as individual ability and learning style of the student.

Auditing Policy

CCA does not permit students to audit classes. For the alumni audit policy effective Spring of 2020, please go to the Temporary Alumni Course Audit Policy webpage.

Students are advised to check their schedule on Workday before the end of the first week of the term to verify that they are enrolled in the correct classes. Those who discover that they are not registered for a class must submit a completed Add/Drop form to the Student Records Office before the end of the add/drop period if they wish to continue attending the class.

Students who have disregarded the no-audit policy at CCA, will not receive credit for courses they have unofficially attended. Students cannot petition to be retroactively registered in audited classes nor does CCA grant experiential credit. Work completed in a course while unofficially attending will not be allowed to fulfill degree or pre-requisite requirements.