Under special circumstances, graduate students may apply for leave of absence from formal study at the university for a specific period up to one academic year. Assuming appropriate documentation is provided, the circumstances justifying a leave include but are not limited to personal or family medical conditions, call to active military duty, maternity leave, or death in immediate family. The rationale must be documented by the applicant.
An approved leave of absence preserves the student’s status in his or her degree program, and the time off will not be counted against the time limits for awarding degrees. Consequently, registration is not required during the leave period. A leave may be renewed for up to one additional academic year if the student applies for a leave extension at least four months prior to the end of his or her initial leave. Renewal of a leave is subject to the approval of the program, college, and the Graduate School.
While the Graduate School leave of absence is only necessary for students who will be unable to register for a full academic year, programs may have more strict and specific registration policies and leave of absence policies. Students should also consult their program handbook if there is a legitimate need not to register for any amount of time.
To apply for a leave of absence, a student must download the Request for Leave of Absence Form and submit the completed form with appropriate documentation (e.g. doctor’s letter or military orders) to the program director. The program director will forward the application to the department head and college dean for approval. Upon approval of the dean, the dean forwards the application to the Director of the Graduate School. The Graduate School will notify the student in writing of the approval or denial of the request. If approved, the Leave of Absence will be noted in the student information system by the Graduate School.
Note: Students with financial aid or student loans should confer with the Financial Aid Office prior to requesting a leave of absence to ascertain the consequences of a leave on their loan status. Students should also be aware that any scholarships or assistantships are not guaranteed to be available when a student returns from a leave of absence.