Incomplete Course Work


If you find that you are unable to complete your work for a course because of illness, emergency, or reasonable cause, you should discuss this with your instructor and your academic dean. It is sometimes possible for your instructor to issue you an Incomplete, or "I." This will allow you to complete the course work after the semester has finished. There are several issues that you and your instructor should be aware of if you are thinking about requesting an Incomplete.

  • Once recorded, a notation of "I" remains on your transcript even after the final grade is assigned.
  • If you receive an "I" in a course, you forfeit eligibility for Dean’s List honors in that semester.
  • If your work is incomplete and you are also absent from the final examination, the instructor is expected to assign an "X" for the course (see also Absence from a Final Exam).
  • There are specific deadlines for completing incomplete work (see below) and the deadlines for undergraduates differ from those that apply to graduate students.

Deadlines for Completing an Incomplete Course

If you are in a full course load (or overload) and have only one "I" and no other problem grades (X, U, F), the deadline for completing the "I" is the following:

Unless otherwise limited, you will have until the last class day of the 5th week of the subsequent semester to complete the work for the course. If you receive an "I" in the fall, you must complete it no later than the 5th week of the spring semester; if you receive an "I" in the spring or summer, you must complete it no later than the 5th week of the fall semester. However, instructors may set earlier deadlines if they wish, in which case they must make their intentions known to the University Registrar in writing by completing a “Request for Assignment of an Incomplete" form. Instructors have until the end of the 6th week of classes to submit a grade to the University Registrar. If a passing grade is not submitted by this time, the "I" will be converted to "F." An exception to this deadline applies if you are not enrolled for the semester following the assignment of the Incomplete. In that case, the "I" remains on your record until the next semester you are enrolled and converts to "F" if a grade has not been reported by the end of the sixth week of that semester.

If you receive multiple "I" grades or an "I" in combination with another problem grade or grades or while on an approved underload, consider the following:

In order to continue from one semester to the next, students must pass at least 3 courses (2 courses in the 1st semester of enrollment). This requirement is termed "semester continuation" (see Continuation Requirements). Courses in which an "I" is given are not considered passed until a passing grade has been submitted by the instructor to the University Registrar and recorded. Therefore, if you have multiple “I” and/or “X” grades such that you have not received passing grades in at least 3.0 courses, you may be at risk of not being able to continue into the next semester at Duke unless you complete one or more "Is" by an earlier deadline. Students who do not meet semester continuation requirements before the start of the next semester are subject to academic dismissal for two semesters.

If you receive more than one "I," if you receive an "I" in combination with another problem grade (X, U, F), or if you are in a course underload and receive an "I" and are thereby failing to meet semester continuation requirements, you will be notified by your academic dean.  In this case, you will be given the opportunity to complete the necessary work before the beginning of the next semester.

When your continuation at Duke is in question the following policies apply:

  • If you fail to meet semester continuation at the end of the fall semester, you will need to have passing grades recorded in at least 3.0 courses by the day before classes begin in the spring semester.
  • If you fail to meet semester continuation at the end of the spring semester, you will need to have passing grades recorded in at least 3.0 courses by one week prior to the first day of classes for Summer Term II.
  • If you fail to meet semester continuation at the end of the spring semester, you will not be eligible to enroll in Summer Session I, including Study Abroad, unless you have passing grades recorded in at least 3.0 courses before the start of Summer Session I.
  • If by completing incomplete work you meet semester continuation requirements by the beginning of Summer Session II, you may enroll in Summer Session II.

If you have questions about these policies, please see your academic dean.


To obtain an Incomplete, both you and your instructor must agree on the work that remains to be completed and you must agree on a deadline (or deadlines) for turning in that work. You must meet with an academic dean to obtain the Request for Assignment of the Incomplete Form.  You and your instructor should fill out the form and then sign it. Submit the form to your academic dean for approval. Please note that your dean will need to know if you are anticipating other Incompletes to help you plan for any possible continuation problems as outlined above. Incompletes are generally only appropriate for limited amounts of work due late in the semester. Incompletes may not be possible or may not be approved if there are excessive absences or if significant work is remaining.

Last updated: May 13, 2010