Religious observances

This message was originally sent to all MIT students on February 21, 2023.

Our community encompasses students of many cultures and backgrounds, and MIT supports freedom of religious expression and our students’ right to worship in their chosen faith. To that end, we are writing to share MIT’s policy on academics and student religious observances.

With its basis in Massachusetts law, the policy enables students to follow traditions in their faith by receiving permission from faculty to be absent from classes or to defer academic work or exams if they fall on the same day as a religious holiday or observance. The policy states:

“Any student who is unable to attend classes or participate in any examination, study, or work requirement on a particular day because of his or her religious beliefs is excused from any such activity. The student will be given the opportunity to make up the work that was missed, provided that the makeup work does not create an unreasonable burden upon MIT…The Institute will not level fees or charges of any kind when allowing the student to make up missed work. In addition, students will suffer no adverse or prejudicial effects because they have made use of these provisions.” (from Section 9.12.2 of MIT’s Policies and Procedures)

MIT encourages all members of the community to express their beliefs freely and to respect other community members’ religious practices. We are committed to equal opportunity in education and employment as outlined in the nondiscrimination policy.

The Registrar’s Office and the Office of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life (ORSEL) compiled this partial listing of religious holidays to help students identify potential issues easily. If you find that an assignment due date, exam, or class falls on the same day as an observance in your faith, please contact your instructors at the start of the semester to discuss options and make a plan. For those who need additional assistance, we encourage you to contact Student Support Services (for undergraduates) or the Office of Graduate Education (for graduate students) who can help you navigate discussions with faculty. Lastly, the Chair of the Faculty can assist if needed.

Please contact Thea Keith-Lucas, chaplain to the Institute and associate dean of ORSEL, if you have questions about the policy. Thea is available by email at or by phone at 617-458-1253.