Leaves, Withdrawal, and Termination from Program

What kinds of leaves are available, and what processes are involved in requesting/taking leaves?

The Graduate School allows students to take the following sorts of leave, under the following conditions:

A. Personal Leave of Absence (PLOA): Students who find it necessary to interrupt their studies may apply in writing to the Graduate School for a personal leave of absence, preferably at least one week prior to the first day of the semester in which the leave is to be taken, and no later than the last day of the Add/Drop period.  Such requests must be approved by the Department, by completing a Student Petition for Leave of Absence form and submitting it to the DGS.

During the PLOA students remain registered in the eyes of the Graduate School, and are thus liable for registration fees.  Students on PLOAs may not, however, meet the residency status necessary to qualify for financial aid or to meet visa requirements.  International students should consult with their International Student Advisor in the Office of Global Services before requesting a PLOA in order to ensure that their visa requirements will be satisfied. Students are not allowed more than four semesters total, of PLOA; and may only request two semesters of leave at any one time.

The length of time that would otherwise be permitted to complete all requirements for a degree and to graduate generally will be extended by one semester for each semester of approved leave of absence, but approved  PLOAs will not extend the period during which a student will receive promised funding.  No degree requirements can be completed during the PLOA, nor can a student graduate during a PLOA.  However, PLOAs will not alter deadlines relating to the completion of specific course requirements, such as deadlines for completing work in a course for which an “Incomplete” grade was received.

B. Medical Leave of Absence (MLAO): Students whose ability to function successfully or safely in their role as students due to situations involving physical and mental health (including pregnancy, injury, chronic illness) should consider requesting the MLOA. In order to determine whether the MLOA is appropriate, and to initiate the process of taking it, students should contact both the Graduate School Dean’s Office and the Student Health Center or Counseling and Psychiatric Service (CAPS). Students who decide to take an MLOA should submit a Student Petition for Leave of Absence form to the Department and the Graduate School. As in the case of the PLOA, students may request up to two semesters of MLOA at any given time. Students need not disclose any personal information on the form or to their program. The petition must be signed by the DGS and approved by the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in the Graduate School. If the leave is for psychiatric reasons, the student must first schedule a consultation with a CAPS clinician who will make an assessment of the student’s mental health status and, if warranted, recommend a treatment plan; if the reason for leave is due to a physical ailment or condition (e.g., pregnancy, surgery), the student or the student’s physician or health provider must submit an official letter to SHC, attesting to the student’s health status and supporting the period of leave. The appropriate clinician in CAPS or SHC will prepare a letter and submit it to the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in the Graduate School. Requests for MLOA will not be approved without a letter from CAPS or SHC. Any personal medical information or health records should be shared directly with CAPS or SHC, not with the Department.

An approved MLOA will pause the student’s time to complete degree requirements and to graduate; however, a student may not graduate while on an MLOA. After two semesters of medical leave, the leave must be renewed annually. To extend the leave, the student must complete a new Student Petition for Leave of Absence form and request an updated letter from either CAPS or SHC.

C. U.S. Military Service Leave and Re-Enrollment Policy: For purposes of this policy, a “military service leave” is a University-approved withdrawal from all in-progress University classes that is necessitated by service, whether voluntary or involuntary, in the United States Armed Forces, including service by a member of the National Guard or Reserve, active duty, active duty for training, or full-time National Guard duty under Federal authority, for a period of more than thirty consecutive days under a call or order to active duty of more than thirty consecutive days.

A student who is called to active duty or active service in a branch of the United States Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard or Reserve) and wishes to take a military service leave must provide the University with advanced notice of such service and the intention to take a leave of absence. As soon as possible, after receiving military orders that require withdrawal from a program or course of study, a student must contact their academic dean to request a formal leave of absence and attach a copy of the military orders or other appropriate documentation to the request. This advanced notice can be made by the student or may be made by an appropriate officer of the U.S. Armed Forces or official of the U.S. Department of Defense to the University Registrar, but the student is responsible for making sure the dean receives notice. The notice need not include a statement of an intention to return to the University. If military necessity renders it impossible to provide advance notice to their academic dean, the student may initiate a military service leave by providing notice at the first reasonable opportunity, in writing, personally signed, and with a copy of the military orders attached.

Upon receiving notice of a student’s request to withdraw from the University or a program or drop all enrolled courses because of military obligations, the dean shall promptly contact the campus registrar. The campus registrar will review the request and initiate the military service leave of absence by notifying the Office of Student Financial Services and the Office of Student Accounts or equivalent offices at the Law School and Medical Center. The Office of Student Financial Services (or equivalent) will review the student’s eligibility for financial aid funds received before the time of withdrawal and inform the student about the status of their financial aid and actions required to defer loan repayments based on military obligations. Students who are granted a military service leave will receive a 100% refund of tuition and fees charged for the semester or academic term in which they withdraw, but will be charged for housing and meal plan expenses already incurred. If the University determines that it is appropriate to award academic credit for work completed in the semester or academic term in which a student takes military service leave, the student shall not receive a refund for the portion of the course of study for which academic credit is awarded. No refund will be provided until the University receives a copy of the military orders necessitating the withdrawal. Students who are granted a military service leave may be on leave for up to five academic years, after which an extension may be granted with their dean’s approval. To apply for an extension, students must contact their dean. Students who do not request an extension will be withdrawn from the University and at a later date may choose to seek readmission. To seek readmission at a later date, students must contact their dean.

What is the process for withdrawal from student status?

If you do not expect to be able to make progress in academic work, and/or fulfill the conditions for receiving a stipend as set by your fellowship contract, you may voluntarily withdraw from the program; you should confer with the DGS and Graduate School about taking this step. Once you withdraw, you may apply for reinstatement within three years of the withdrawal. If you wish to return to the program after more than three years have elapsed, you will need to apply for readmission (through the same process through which you applied for admission to the program in the first place).

What are the conditions for termination from the program?

Students may be terminated from the program by the Graduate School if they fail to register and/or pay outstanding charges tuition, or for failure to make academic progress (which includes, but is not limited to, failing comp exams, failing to submit and defend the dissertation by the end of the seventh year of full-time enrollment in the PhD Program). Students notified that they are facing termination may avert termination by appealing for, and being granted, further time, or completing the requirements/registration/payment on which they are behind.