Office of the University Registrar

Religious Accommodations Policy

University of Washington Religious Accommodations Policy

It is the policy of the University of Washington to reasonably accommodate students’ religious observances in accordance with RCW 28B.137.010.

The law requires that educational institutions must develop policies to accommodate student absences to allow students to take holidays for reasons of faith or conscience or for organized activities conducted under the auspices of a religious denomination, church, or religious organization, so that students’ grades are not adversely impacted by the absences. The law also requires that UW post information about its policy on its website, and that faculty include the policy or a link to the policy in course or program syllabi (sample language below).

Faculty must reasonably accommodate students who, due to the observance of religious holidays, expect to be absent or endure a significant hardship during certain days of the course or program. “Reasonably accommodate” is defined as coordinating with the student on scheduling examinations or other activities necessary for completion of the program and includes rescheduling examinations or activities or offering different times for examinations or activities.

Any student seeking reasonable accommodations must provide written notice through the Office of the University Registrar Religious Accommodations request process within the first two weeks of the beginning of the course, of the specific dates of absence due to religious accommodation. The OUR administers this process on behalf of the provost.

Religious Accommodation Request form (UWNetID required)

Examples of Reasonable Accommodations

  • Request to turn in a paper early, prior to a due date that conflicts with religious observation.
  • Request to adjust the date of exam due to conflict with religious observation on a particular date.
  • Request to reschedule a required activity that is necessary for completion of the course or program.

Reasons to deny a request could include:

  • Student would miss too many class periods and participation, if assessed as part of their grade, would be negatively impacted.
  • Request would require the instructor to change course requirements for the requester and the student is expecting different course content or requirements due to their absence.
  • Student is asking for accommodation to extend outside of the dates of their religious observance or holiday.
  • Request would create an inequity among students in the class or could lead to abuse of sharing exam questions. For example, if a student is asking to take an exam in the evening as an accommodation, ideally they will take the exam the night before, as opposed to after the day it was given, and the instructor should not be expected to create a separate exam for them.

Students who have requested and been denied a religious accommodation and wish to file a complaint should contact the Civil Rights Investigation Office. This office is responsible for investigating complaints that a University employee has violated the University’s nondiscrimination and/or non-retaliation policies, including a failure to accommodate a student under this policy.

Syllabus Statement Language

State law requires faculty to provide students with the University’s language about religious accommodations or a link to the Religious Accommodations Policy webpage in syllabi or elsewhere. The following language closely mirrors that of the law itself and was developed in close collaboration with Faculty Senate and the Attorney General’s office.

Syllabus Statement Language: [DO NOT AMEND] “Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy ( Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (”