Excuse Note Policy

Student Health utilizes a "No Note" policy. We do not issue medical excuse notes for academic deficiencies. In the event of illness of injury that is expected to result in significant academic disruption, the student is advised to contact his or her professor(s) as soon as possible to notify them of the anticipated delinquency. Whether the disruption is a missed test, late assignment, or absence from class, early notification of the professor is very important.

Why we do this

This well-received and successful policy was adopted in 1998 for several reasons:

  • First and foremost is the highly regarded Honor System at Rice. Feigning illness is a form of cheating. An ill student is the only one to be able to determine if they are too ill to fulfill expected academic responsibilities. The student must honestly decide whether or not they can do their work and take responsibility for this.

    • From the Code of Conduct:
      Students are expected to govern their conduct by standards of considerate and ethical behavior so as not to harm or discredit themselves, the University, or any other individual. Moreover, just as the learning environment does not end at the classroom door, neither is the exercise of individual responsibility, civility, and honor limited to the academic domain. In all disciplinary matters, the primary question is whether the student involved met (or failed to meet) the expectations Rice has for its students, as described throughout this Code and in other University policies, regulations and statements.

    • From the General Announcements:
      The university expects all Rice students to exercise personal responsibility over their actions. Their behavior should reflect a respect for the law and for their contractual obligations, a consideration for the rights of others, and shared standards of considerate and ethical behavior.

  • Furthermore, the academic relationship between the student and professor must remain in the classroom. The professor is in the best position to know the student and to judge the student's academic performance. The physicians at Student Health are not able to function as independent and omniscient arbitrators regarding whether a student feels too ill to do their work.

  • An additional consideration is appropriate utilization of limited healthcare resources. A student should not be required to seek medical care solely for the purposes of obtaining an excuse note.


In cases of medical conditions causing severe academic disruption (e.g., withdrawal from school, taking an incomplete, or dropping classes) appropriate documentation will be furnished to the Committee on Examinations and Standings if requested by the student. In all cases strict patient confidentiality will be followed.

Revised 2018