The Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate's Committee on Courses of Instruction (COCI) has set forth regulations that outline FINAL EXAMINATION REQUIREMENTS AND PROCESSES FOR CONDUCTING ALTERNATIVES TO A FINAL EXAMINATIONRegulation 772(link is external) of the Academic Senate states that a written examination, not to exceed three hours, is required in all undergraduate courses. The examination must be given during the examination period scheduled by the Registrar's Office, unless COCI grants a variance (see section3.2.1). Final examinations are not required in graduate courses, but are optional at the discretion of the instructor. If a graduate course has a final exam, COCI does not need to approve any changes to the final exam schedule, but the department should notify Classroom Scheduling at sends e-mail).

WHEN CREATING A NEW COURSE, an instructor must submit a course proposal and a syllabus. In the appropriate section of the course proposal, the instructor should select one of the options:

  1. a written final exam conducted during the final exam period at the officially scheduled exam time for the course;
  2. an alternative method of final assessment (along with a short description of that method); or
  3. no final exam of any kind (please explain in the Justification section).

The syllabus should indicate the type of final assessment method for the course (and the relative weight of the final assessment on students’ final grades).

Note that a final paper assigned in lieu of a written final exam cannot be required to be completed or turned in during the regular semester's period of formal instruction nor during the reading/review/recitation (RRR) period; final performances and presentations may be scheduled under certain circumstances before or during RRR week (see Section 2.1.12), but instructors are encouraged to use the RRR week as much as possible for synthesis, review, and revision of papers or projects for final student assessment.


1. Permanent Change

If an instructor decides to replace a regular, written final exam with an alternative method of final student assessment, such as a term paper, oral exam, take-home exam, or final project for a particular course, on a permanent basis, then the instructor should submit a proposal with the appropriate sections completed and provide a new syllabus. Similarly, if the instructor decides to reinstate a regularly scheduled written final exam for a course that has been previously approved with an alternative method of final examination or no final examination, on a permanent basis, then the instructor should submit a course proposal.

2. Temporary Change (last revised 10/11/11)

If an existing course has been approved with a written final exam and an instructor wishes to change the final assessment method for a particular semester, the department chair may approve an alternative method, such as a term paper, oral exam, take-home exam, or final project, for that semester. Similarly, the chair may also approve a regular, written final exam for a course that has been previously approved with an alternative method, for a particular semester. Such approvals by the chair may be done on a semester-by-semester basis indefinitely. COCI has authorized department chairs to approve such changes and has implemented the following procedures in order to allow more flexibility for instructors, release classrooms for other instructors, and reduce conflicts for students. The procedures require departments to establish a process to review, approve, and monitor requests for alternative final assessment methods. The department should also notify Classroom Scheduling ( sends e-mail)) about any temporary changes.

The following PROCEDURES implement this change and supersede older procedures (dated April 17, 1998 and September 26, 2008) pertaining to one-time variances for alternative final assessment methods.

These procedures provide for the approval of alternative final assessment methods on a semester-by-semester basis in undergraduate courses as follows:

  1. As a guiding principle, department chairs should approve an alternative final assessment method only if that method is pedagogically sound.
  2. The department chair is not authorized to waive the final examination requirement, schedule the final examination outside the final examination period, make a change in examination group, or conduct a common final. Such changes require the approval of the Committee on Courses of Instruction.
  3. In addition, permanent changes in final assessment methods for any course require the approval of the Committee on Courses of Instruction (see Section
  4. Department chairs should approve alternative final assessment methods for courses offered by his/her department before the semester begins. If a change is made to the method of assessment outlined in the syllabus after instruction has begun, the instructor will be required to offer the examination using both methods.
  5. Alternative final assessment methods must be announced in the course syllabus given to students at the beginning of the semester.
  6. Final examinations in any format must not be due during the regular semester’s period of instruction or during the reading, review, and recitation (RRR) period, with the exception of final student assessments through performances, studio critiques, or some oral presentations that cannot be otherwise scheduled during the final exam period (see Section 2.1.12 for details).
  7. The Office of the Registrar will provide departments with a Final Exam Preview, a turn-around document listing courses with classrooms scheduled for final examinations. The department will be asked to indicate on the form which courses that are approved by the chair for alternative final assessment methods will not require classrooms for the examination along with a brief description of the alternative final assessment method. After the department chair has signed the form, it should be returned to the Office of the Registrar before the end of the fifth week of classes. Upon request, the Office of the Registrar will provide the Committee on Courses of Instruction with copies of these documents.
  8. The Committee on Courses of Instruction retains the right to revoke the authority of a department chair to grant semester-by-semester approvals of alternative final exam methods if the privilege is abused.


SR 770. No student shall be excused from assigned final examinations, except as provided in SR 772(D).

SR 772.

A.  Final examinations are required in all undergraduate courses, except as provided elsewhere in this Regulation. Whenever practicable each such examination shall be written and must be completed by all participants within a previously announced time limit. Examinations in non-laboratory courses may not exceed three hours’ duration.

B.  Examinations are normally not required in laboratory courses or their equivalent, as individually determined by the appropriate Committee on Courses. At its option, the department concerned may require a final examination in any laboratory course, subject to prior announcement in the Schedule of Classes for the term in question.

C.  With the approval of the appropriate Committee on Courses and upon recommendation of the department concerned, the final examination may be omitted in any undergraduate course or set of courses either once or for a longer period.

D.  At the end of the term in which a student is expected to be graduated, the student’s major department may examine the student in the field of the major, may excuse the student from final examinations in courses offered by the department during that term, and, with the approval of the appropriate Committee on Courses, may assign a credit value to such general examination.