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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.  The last day to request an Incomplete is the last day of class in the semester for which the Incomplete is requested.

  • An Incomplete is appropriate for limited amounts of work due late in the semester, and is at the discretion of your instructor and academic dean.  Approval is not guaranteed.  An Incomplete is not appropriate and would not be approved if there are excessive absences, significant work remaining, and/or if you are already failing the course.  If you have abandoned or discontinued participation in a course without authorization by your academic dean, university policy stipulates that your instructor is to submit a grade of F. 
  • If an Incomplete is approved by your dean and instructor, the notation of "I" will appear on your transcript in place of a grade. When a final grade is given, it replaces the "I", but the notation, "NOTE:  I GRADE" will be added to indicate that an Incomplete was originally given. 
  • 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 and documented on the 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 an 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 an 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.  If you do not complete the work by the date of determining continuation, then you will be determined as NOT meeting semester continuation requirements and thereby dismissed for two semesters.   

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 summer study away, Duke Engage, or other program requiring you to an active student in good standing, an Incomplete must be completed and a grade submitted by the first day of summer term 1.  If you do not meet semester continuation at this time, your enrollment in Summer 1 or participation in a summer program will be canceled. 
  • If by completing incomplete work you meet semester continuation requirements by the beginning of Summer Session II, you may enroll in Summer Session II.  However, if you do not meet semester continuation requirements by the beginning of the second summer term, you will be dismissed for academic reasons.  The Incomplete will remain on your record and you may complete the work due later, up to the end of the 5th week of the subsequent enrolled fall or spring semester. 

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


If you are having difficulty completing a course, discuss your situation with your instructor and academic dean to find out if an Incomplete might be appropriate and if there are alternatives.  If your instructor agrees to an Incomplete, you and your instructor should:

  • Complete the form obtained from your academic dean. 
  • Identify specifically what work must be done. 
  • Set an appopriate date by which you can submit your work and the instructor will be available to receive it and submit a final grade.
  • You and your instructor should sign the form and then give the signed form to your academic dean to keep on file. 
  • Your dean will confirm the appropriate deadline and give the final approval, and provide you and your instructor with a copy. 
  • Your instructor will then issue an Incomplete at the time grades are turned in. 

Instructors:  To submit a final grade after an Incomplete has been issued, you will need to send a grade change letter to the Office of the University Registrar:

Last updated: May 3, 2021