The MBA Program is a fully immersive, in-person, two-year educational experience and a student’s class attendance and participation are critical components of the HBS Learning Model. Students will learn the most when they are physically present in the classroom and able to engage in person with classmates and faculty members. While full class attendance is expected throughout the two years, the MBA Program recognizes there will be times when a student will need to miss class. All students are required to read and adhere to this policy, which provides details related to all matters concerning HBS class attendance.

Residency Requirement

All MBA students are required to be in residence in the Boston area during the academic term and attend all classes in person unless they have reported an absence or are otherwise approved by the Registrar’s Office for remote attendance.

Reporting Absences

All students are required to notify their instructor(s) in advance of any absences when they will not be physically present in the classroom. When reporting absences using the Student Absence Notification tool, students are required to select the reason that is most consistent with why they will not be present in class on that particular day. For example, if a student will miss a class because they are traveling on the same day as an event or obligation (e.g., wedding, recruiting interview), then the absence may be reported using the event or obligation as the reason for their absence. If a student misses a class because they are traveling with no other obligations on that day or because their travel arrangements were delayed or disrupted, the absence should be reported as “Travel” or “Travel Disruption” respectively.

If a match does not exist in the dropdown menu, students should select “Other.”

In case of an emergency absence when it is not possible to report the absence in advance of class, students should contact and proceed with entering the absence in the system as soon as possible.

Final note regarding travel-related absences: Instances of scheduling travel arrangements that conflict with a student’s class schedule should be rare and avoided whenever possible. Students should not make vacation or other personal travel arrangements that interfere with their class schedule in any way. This includes, but is not limited to, travel to and from long weekends, Winter Break, and Spring Break.

Types of Absences

Excused Absences

There are several reasons a student may be excused from class. Excused Absences have no impact on a grade when used in moderation. Reasons for excused absences are:

  • Birth or adoption of a student’s child.
  • Court summons or jury duty that cannot be postponed.
  • Death in the student's immediate family.
  • Funeral.
  • Illness or medical needs of a child for whom the student is a primary caretaker.
  • Observance due to religious beliefs.
  • Personal illness (see below for details).
  • Recruiting (see below for details).
  • Required military service.
  • Serious illness in the student's immediate family.
  • Wedding day of student or immediate family member.

Excused Personal Illness

Students are encouraged to stay home from class when they are not feeling well. Personal illness absences are designed to excuse a student from class in these instances and include absences due to:

  • Isolation due to COVID or a similar communicable disease requiring isolation by a federal, state or local health authority or by University or HBS policy.
  • Symptomatic illness.
  • Mental health.
  • Physical or mental health emergencies.
  • Appointments with health care providers that could not be scheduled at another time.

Students with frequent excused personal illness absences may be required to provide medical documentation.

Excused Recruiting Absences

When there is a recruiting need that cannot be accommodated outside of class or on an Open Day, students may take Excused Recruiting Absences, which are valid for most recruiting activities related to securing a job, including informational interviews, formal interviews, conferences, sell days, or fundraising for a startup. Students are eligible to miss up to three class sessions for Excused Recruiting Absences in Term 1 of the RC year, no more than 1 per course (some restrictions apply, see below). In Terms 2, 3, and 4, students are permitted to miss up to six class sessions for Excused Recruiting Absences per term, no more than two per course (some restrictions apply, see below). All students must report the absence in advance including a brief statement regarding the reason the recruiting activity could not occur outside of class time or on an Open Day. When the provided allotment of Excused Recruiting Absences has been used in a course or a term, students must report any additional recruiting absences as Unexcused Recruiting Absences.

Important Notes

  • Students may take no more than 1 excused recruiting absence (meaning 1 class session) in Joint Degree seminars, SIPs, the RC course Social Purpose of the Firm (SPF), EC short courses, or EC intensive courses that meet once a week.
  • Allowances for Excused Recruiting Absences do not carry over term to term.
  • Excused Recruiting Absences are not permitted for midterm and final exam sessions (see Absences from Exams).
  • Excused Recruiting Absences are not permitted for the following sessions due to their unique format:
    • RC: START, FIELD Global Immersion (FGI)
    • EC: Kickoff, IFCs, and Bridges

For more information, please see Student Recruiting Policies and reach out to MBA Career & Professional Development ( for help navigating the recruiting process.

Unexcused Absences

Unexcused Absences occur when a student is unable to be physically present in the classroom for a reason other than an Excused Absence reason listed above. Reasons for Unexcused Absences include:

  • Conference.
  • Legal matters other than court summons or jury duty.
  • Recruiting in excess of the allotted number of Excused Recruiting Absences per class and per term (see above).
  • Travel disruption (e.g. cancelled flight).
  • Vacation/travel.
  • Wedding day, other than a student’s own or in the immediate family.
  • Other, to be used for any reason not expressly noted in this policy (e.g., board meetings).

Absence from Exams

All RC and EC students are required to take exams as scheduled. Section instructors may not excuse students from exams or make private arrangements for make-up exams or alternate exam conditions. All exam absences, extensions, and makeup exams must be coordinated in advance with the Registrar’s Office. In the event of an emergency on the day of an exam, students should notify their instructor and the Registrar’s Office as soon as possible.

As RC exams must be taken in person, RC students with a personal illness on the day of the exam should contact the Registrar’s Office before 8:00am that morning.

Excused Absences from Exams

Excused absences from exams are permitted only in the following extreme and unavoidable situations:

  • medical reasons.
  • birth or adoption of one's own child.
  • death or serious illness in the student's immediate family.
  • a court summons.
  • military orders.

Students who anticipate an exam absence due to one of these reasons must provide documentation supporting their unavoidable absence and should inform the Registrar’s Office before the scheduled exam.

Other Exam Absence Requests

Requests for exam absences or alternate arrangements for any reason other than those listed above must be approved in advance by the Chair, MBA Required Curriculum (for RC students) or Chair, MBA Elective Curriculum (for EC Students). Students may initiate a petition to request an exam absence by contacting the Registrar’s Office.

Makeup Exams

Makeup exams are scheduled by the Registrar’s Office for excused exam absences, personal illness on the day of the exam, and for any exam absence petitions approved by the RC or EC Chair. In the RC, makeup exams are prepared in coordination with the Course Head for students with approved absences. Makeup exams are administered only after the regularly scheduled exam date and time and may have different content than the original exam.

Absences Due to Religious Beliefs

In accordance with Chapter 151C, Section 2B of the General Laws of Massachusetts, any student in an educational or vocational training institution, other than a religious or denominational educational or vocational training institution, who is unable, because of his/her religious beliefs, to attend classes or to participate in any examination, study, or work requirement on a particular day shall be excused from any such examination or study or work requirement, and shall be provided with an opportunity to make up such examination, study, or work requirement that s/he may have missed because of such absence on any particular day; provided, however, that such makeup examination or work shall not create an unreasonable burden upon such school. No fees of any kind shall be charged by the institution for making available to the said student such opportunity. No adverse or prejudicial effects shall result to any student because of his/her availing himself/herself of the provisions of this section.

Remote Attendance

The MBA Program’s policy on remote attendance is meant to preserve the immersive HBS learning experience while providing reasonable flexibility to students. Students with an Unexcused Absence are not permitted to attend class remotely under any circumstances. Remote attendance is possible in only two cases:

  • Passive remote attendance is allowed for students who have reported an Excused Absence in advance of class. These students are required to have their camera and microphone turned off at all times, are not permitted to participate, and will not receive credit for attending class that day.
  • Full remote attendance may be approved by the MBA Program for a very limited number of reasons, such as a positive test for COVID or a similar communicable disease requiring isolation by a federal, state or local health authority or by University or HBS policy, a return from Maternity or Parental Leave, absence on the day of a religious holiday, or an extraordinary emergency causing a student to be unable to attend class for multiple days in a row. It will only be permitted with prior approval. A student who is approved for full remote attendance will be required to log in remotely with their camera and microphone turned on for the full duration of each class session, they will be expected to fully participate at all times, and they will receive credit for attending class. For more information regarding approval for full remote attendance, please visit the attendance requests page (login required).

Ordinarily, the maximum length of time a student may be approved for remote attendance each year is four weeks. Remote attendance and participation may not be available for all class sessions, such as those taking place in Batten Hall, certain simulations/exercises, or upon special request by the faculty due to the sensitive nature of a particular class discussion.

Consecutive and Prolonged Absences

Two or more consecutive days of Excused or Unexcused absences require special action by a student.

  • Students who will be absent from class for two or more consecutive days should contact to discuss the nature of their absences and how to balance their circumstances with the school’s academic requirements.
  • If a student will be absent for two or more days due to an emergency, medical condition, or disability, they should contact Student & Academic Services ( for access to available support resources.
  • In some cases, students may be asked for documentation to support their need to miss consecutive days of class.

Impact of Absences

It is important to remember that while an absence may be excused, frequent excused absences can impact class participation, the ability to master content, and thus — as an indirect consequence — a student’s grades. Unexcused absences are typically factored into grade calculations by faculty and could impact a student’s standing in the MBA Program. The impact of absences may include:

  • A lower course grade.
  • A designation of a Category III or a Category IV for an egregious amount of absences, especially unexcused absences, unreported absences, or a combination of the two, when the total number of classes missed in a single course exceeds approximately 10%.
  • A designation of No Credit for a course.
  • Review by the Academic Performance Committee.
  • Ineligibility for academic honors, the Dean’s Award, some fellowships, and other privileges and forms of recognition and support at HBS.

Emergencies and School Closings

HBS is a largely residential campus and MBA classes usually take place as scheduled, regardless of adverse conditions, even if other parts of the University are closed. If classes are in session, students are expected to attend class as usual or report an absence from class per this Attendance Policy. Examples of emergencies that could disrupt classes include (but are not limited to):

  • Severe weather conditions in which the Governor of Massachusetts declares a state of emergency (hurricane, tornado, severe snowstorm).
  • Loss of power (electricity, heat, etc.) in classroom buildings.
  • Disruption in the use of classroom facilities due to fire, bomb threat, or other emergency situations.

If such an event disrupts classes for a given day or time period, the MBA Program may announce a Modified Attendance Policy, a Modified Schedule, or both. HBS Alert is a mass notification system for the HBS community that will contact all members of the community via phone, email, and text message in times of serious emergency or crisis on campus, and/or incidents affecting campus operations. Anyone with an HBS email address is already enrolled in HBS Alert. Students should be sure to update their Classcard to include any phone numbers and email addresses at which they wish to be notified.

Modified Attendance Policy

A Modified Attendance Policy will be announced by the School in advance of taking effect. It is declared, in most cases, when travel conditions for students who live off-campus are deemed potentially unsafe. The Modified Attendance Policy does not apply to students who live in HBS dorms, Soldier’s Field Park, One Western Ave., or within reasonable walking distance, or to students who are traveling and are unable to return to the Boston area (e.g. flights are cancelled or delayed). In such instances, students are expected to be physically present in the classroom or to properly report their absence (e.g. Travel Disruption). Students who live off-campus are advised to use their judgment about whether it is safe to travel to campus. Off-campus students who judge it unsafe to travel to campus may opt to attend class remotely or be absent from class. Absences for off-campus students due to a Modified Attendance Policy are excused, providing they are properly reported. When declared, a Modified Attendance Policy option will appear in the drop-down menu for off-campus students to use when reporting their absences. Off-campus students who may be tardy should communicate directly with their faculty member.

Modified Schedule

If a modified schedule is announced (e.g., delayed start of classes, moving a class or classes to the next day, early end of classes, etc.), students will be notified through one or a combination of the following:

  • Email from the MBA Program.
  • “Alert” on myHBS (which will appear at the top of the dashboard).

Failure to Comply

A pattern of behavior illustrating a failure to follow this policy, including failing to give proper notice of an absence or misrepresenting the reason for an absence, is considered a violation of HBS Community Values and the MBA Honor Code and may result in a formal review by the MBA Program of a student’s attendance record. Students who exhibit such a pattern of behavior will be contacted regarding corrective actions they will be required to take and/or any formal review of their attendance record that occurs. Potential corrective actions include, but are not limited to: immediately reporting unreported absences, contacting their faculty to discuss the course material they have missed, meeting with Support Services to discuss available support resources, attending meetings with MBA Administrators and/or Faculty Program Chairs, or writing petitions to explain the nature of their absences. Failing to comply with these or other required actions may result in disciplinary action or an involuntary leave of absence.