Policies for Graduate Students

Rules and Regulations for Leave of Absence (LoA)

[From the Graduate Studies Bulletin]

Leave of Absence (Non-Medical)*

Upon the recommendation of the department, the associate dean for graduate studies may grant a leave of absence to a matriculated graduate student who has not yet completed all requirements for the degree. The leave will ordinarily be limited to one year. Students must register for “985: leave of absence” each semester they are in this category and must pay the designated fee. It should be noted that registration of “985: leave of absence” does count toward the degree time limit.

Medical Leave of Absence*

On occasion, a serious health problem requires a student to go on inactive status before the end of a semester. In that situation, it may be reasonable to give the student a pro-rated refund on tuition and certain fees. Associated with this special consideration is the right of the University to determine (1) whether the leave is justified on medical grounds and (2) whether the student has recovered sufficiently to return at some point in the future.

Any student who wishes to go on a medical leave of absence must petition the student’s school or college. The school or college will then ask the University Health Service (UHS) to review relevant health-related information, some of which may have to be provided by the student. The director of UHS (or his or her designee) will make a recommendation to the school or college regarding the appropriateness of allowing the student to take a medical leave of absence. The recommendation will be based on the seriousness of the health problem and the extent to which the health problem has interfered with the student’s coursework. Contemporaneous evidence of both is required.

The school or college will make the decision concerning the leave petition and will inform the student of that decision, including the effective date of the leave and any other conditions attached to it that are deemed appropriate to the circumstances of the particular case. Such conditions may include, for example, minimum and/or maximum length of time of the leave and/or [non-academic] requirements that must be met before the student can return from leave.

Except in unusual situations, as determined by the school or college in its sole discretion, the petition to go on leave for medical reasons must be initiated by the student before the end of the semester in question.

A student who wishes to return from a medical leave of absence must petition the student’s school or college. The school or college will then ask the UHS to review relevant health-related information, some of which may have to be provided by the student. The director of UHS (or his or her designee) will make a recommendation to the school or college regarding the appropriateness of allowing the student to return from medical leave of absence. The recommendation will be based on evidence that the condition that required the leave is under sufficient control to allow the student to make a successful return. The school or college will consider that recommendation and whether any conditions imposed on the leave have been met, will decide on the student’s return, and will inform the student of its decision.

Except in unusual situations, as determined by the school or college in its sole discretion, the petition to return from medical leave of absence must be initiated by the student at least two and preferably three months before the expected date of return. Students must register for “985: leave of absence” each semester they are in this category and must pay the designated fee. It should be noted that registration of “985: leave of absence” does count toward the degree time limit.

* Leave of absence is an x-time category of registration, which has implications on health insurance eligibility, possible loan deferments, and visa status. X-time is defined as neither a full-time or parttime student, but is used to maintain a student’s place in their graduate program so that they will not be considered withdrawn by the University.

  • Additional Considerations:
  • A Leave of Absence represents permission for the student to be completely absent from all work or duties associated with graduate studies. The student may not utilize the time or expertise of faculty or administrative staff. The Leave of Absence category carries no credit hours, no mandatory health fees, and no current ID card, and the student on Leave may not submit any type of work toward degree requirements. A Leave of Absence is limited to one calendar year unless there is clear indication of extraordinary circumstances.
  • All students who are granted a Leave of Absence must remain registered to maintain continuous enrollment within the University. The Graduate Studies Office cannot complete this registration until the Leave of Absence fee ($60 per semester) is received.
  • As with all registration categories, a Leave of Absence granted for the spring semester of an academic year carries through the summer as well. The student must terminate the LoA by active fall registration. Note that a student may petition to return from leave of absence in the summer and return to full-time student status, but summer defenses are not permitted for students granted LoA in the preceding spring semester.
  • The “time to degree” requirements remain intact while on Leave of Absence. In other words, any semesters spent on Leave of Absence count in the overall time limit allowed to complete all degree requirements. In the case of the Ph.D. degree, all work, including the final oral examination, must be completed within seven years from the date of initial matriculation. Masters degree requirements must be completed within five years from the date of initial matriculation.
  • Students should be aware that LoA is an x-time category of registration, which has implications on health insurance eligibility, possible loan deferments, and visa status.