As a graduate school student, I have two professors teaching two separate classes that go from 4:30PM to 5:50pm and 6:00pm to 9:00PM. This happens every one day of the week.

I'm not sure whether I can handle concentrating for 5 hours and I have the option to not take a class but it would delay graduating by a semester.

Do I negotiate with the professor to reschedule or do they have the power to deny it?

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    Do a lot of people in your dept have the same problem? Commented Jan 23, 2021 at 23:39
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    You can ask, but I don't see success. You aren't the only student.
    – Buffy
    Commented Jan 23, 2021 at 23:39
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    They definitely "have the power to deny it." But it never hurts to ask (especially if there are more students in your shoes, as @Azor indicates). Commented Jan 23, 2021 at 23:53
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    Yes, certainly ask (not "negotiate"). Especially for small graduate classes, it might well be possible to change the time. If not, then nothing lost. Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 8:13
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    Usually there is a very compelling reason for such strange hours, so I would not be hopeful of a rescheduling. It's probably way too late to do anything about it anyway. Ideally the schedules should be announced well in advance, but many administrators are reluctant to publish "tentative schedules". Teachers (and the poor junior colleague who got the short straw and is in charge of compiling the schedule for the department) would be open to that, but I am not holding my breath even though getting student feedback on tentative schedules would be optimal. Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 10:03

4 Answers 4


Academic timetabling is a notoriously difficult problem. Professors have several classes to teach, students have several classes to attend. There are restrictions related to classroom sizes, specific equipment (e.g. computer labs). Some professors may have individual restrictions, e.g. can only teach on specific days or hours due to other commitments.

Normally, Professors do not decide their own timetables, but submit their preferences to the Timetabling Office, which then generates a timetable for everyone. Students can also try to submit their requests, but usually as a groups (cohorts), not individually. If you are not happy with your timetable, it is definitely worth trying to change it, but bear in mind that it may not be easy.

However, if you class is scheduled up until 9pm, which is significantly beyond the core hours, you actually have a much better chance of having this class rescheduled, particularly if any of other students attending the same late class have caring responsibilities. Your Student Rep / Student Union Rep / Athena Swan Rep (in the UK) might be able to help you with the process.

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    'Normally, Professors do not decide their own timetables' One consequence of this is that, for all we know, the professor may already have requested rescheduling of the late-evening class, and signs of a groundswell of student support may be just what s/he needs to get his/her request granted. Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 11:42
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    OTOH, at least in Europe, professors often do have certainly flexibility in setting the timetable (and now in distance teaching even more than usually). I really can't hurt to ask (but, as everybody says, don't get your hopes up - it seems highly unlikely that a class is scheduled to run into the night for no compelling reason at all, independently of who did the scheduling).
    – xLeitix
    Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 12:57
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    @xLeitix in parts of Europe perhaps. I teach in Europe, and I most definitely do not have flexibility in setting the timetable.
    – user116675
    Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 14:50
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    "beyond the core hours" really depends on the country. My university schedules tutorials up to 8:30pm on every day but weekends. Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 16:31
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    Creating timetables is NP complete - meaning it's a very hard problem and nigh impossible to fully automate, at least if you want optimal solution.
    – jaskij
    Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 17:04

Yes, you can ask. However, it is likely that professors cannot change the schedule. It is also quite possible that it is too late for anyone to change the schedule. It depends on individual circumstances.

It would be normal for a three hour class to contain a rest break. This may solve your problem.


4:30 pm is an odd time for an evening class to start; chances are that it was selected either specifically to fit into the professor's schedule, or specifically to allow motivated students to attend both the 4:30 class and a 6 pm class.

(For example, some students may find it far more convenient to travel to campus one day a week for a 6 hour session than to travel on two different days.)

In addition to asking if the classes can be rescheduled for your convenience, you might also ask if there other classes you can take towards your degree.

  • While I think the first session started at 8, not 9 as appears to be the case for OPs school, a significant minority of my undergrad classes were 80 (75?) minutes twice/week. Typically these were Tuesday/Thursday classes that were small enough not to need a weekly breakout session with a TA. I don't think all departments used them, but I generally had at least 1 of these a semester. Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 11:28
  • I had quite a few 4:30-to-6 classes that met twice a week. I think the 6-9 slot once a week was more common for classes with a signifiant graduate-student enrollment, but then again this was a school near a large downtown, so getting off work a little early twice a week for 10 weeks to take a class probably wasn't much of an issue.
    – chepner
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 17:45

You can ask, but school room/building scheduling, other students preferences, prof's preference, and other factors will make you look silly and entitled.

If you did not like the schedule you should not have signed up for both of them if they ran back to back.

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    Asking doesn't make one look silly and entitled, throwing a hissy fit if the answer is no does. Also, at many schools the schedule isn't set when you sign up for a course, it gets formulated based on the schedules of the faculty, resources, and students who signed up.
    – pjs
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 1:40

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