FAQ for Leave of Absence Policy

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What is the Leave of Absence policy?

The Leave of Absence policy provides for approved time that graduate students can be away from their studies for up to one year (defined as three consecutive terms, with summer counting as one term) for personal, family, financial, or other compelling reasons. An extension of one term may be granted. Time on an approved Leave of Absence will not count towards a student's time limitations for degree completion and advancement to candidacy.

How long has this policy been in place?

This policy went into effect fall 2012.

Who is eligible to take a Leave of Absence?

A Leave of Absence may be granted to students for personal, family, financial, or other compelling reasons. Leaves are not granted for students who simply want to take time off from graduate study. To be eligible, students must be seeking a graduate degree, have completed at least one full term of enrollment prior to the date a leave is to begin, be in good academic standing and be making reasonable progress toward their degree.

What are the benefits of taking a Leave of Absence?

The main benefits of a Leave of Absence are that 1) the student is guaranteed return to the program (assuming other university obligations are met, e.g., debts), and 2) the time taken on an approved Leave of Absence does not count in the time limitations for degree completion and advancement to candidacy. In addition, because the student and his/her advisor develop a plan for the student’s return (e.g., revised plan of study), transitioning back to the program should be smooth.

I was admitted to a program, but cannot begin the program until a later date than I had anticipated.  Should I take a Leave of Absence?

No. Only current students (i.e., students who have completed at least one semester) are eligible for a Leave of Absence.  Individuals who were admitted into a program but have never attended may defer enrollment up to one year in accordance with the admission policy for graduate students, described in the University Catalog.

Do I need to request a Leave of Absence if I will not register for one term only?

No. The enrollment policy requires that students enroll for at least one term each year (three consecutive terms, with summer counting as one term); therefore, a student may leave the University for one or two terms and be in compliance with the enrollment policy.  A Leave of Absence benefits students by protecting their place in their program and by requiring a plan for their return, which encourages students to return as planned.  A student who takes a Leave of Absence, however, is not an active student and does not have the rights and privileges of registered students, including access to the libraries, recreation center and health services, or the ability to fulfill degree requirements, such as taking qualifying exams or submitting a dissertation/thesis.  Further, a Leave of Absence may have consequences for a student’s financial aid, loan repayment, immigration status, etc.  Before making a decision, the student should consider all potential implications of a Leave of Absence as well as other enrollment options, including part-time enrollment or being absent for one or two terms without taking an official Leave of Absence.

How do I request a Leave of Absence?

Students can access the Leave of Absence application through the Student Tools & Courses tab in Flashline (under the Make a Request channel). A link is also available on the Graduate Studies Forms Library. The request must be approved by the student’s, department chair/school director and college dean, as well as the Dean of Graduate Studies. The reason for the request is confidential, and should remain in the student’s department/school file.  A plan for re-admission, including any conditions that must be met, should be put in writing and kept in the student’s department/school file. The request should be submitted as soon as possible, but no later than the last day of classes in the term during which the leave has been taken. A retroactive Leave of Absence will not be granted.

Am I eligible for a Leave of Absence if I have earned a grade of IN, IP, W, SF or NF?

To be eligible, a student must be in good academic standing and be making reasonable progress toward the degree. Grades of IN, IP, W, SF or NF are generally not indicative of good academic standing or reasonable progress toward the degree, but will be considered on a case-by-case basis when determining eligibility.  Depending on the circumstances, a student may be eligible with such grades (e.g., the grades are related to the circumstances that necessitate a Leave of Absence).

Why doesn’t the Request for Leave of Absence form require documentation of the reason for my leave?

In order to maintain student privacy, the reason for requesting the leave, as well as any documentation in support of the reason, should be kept between the student and the department and/or the college. Documentation should be filed with the department/school or college.

How can I tell if a Leave of Absence has been approved?

Students will receive email notices when a Leave of Absence request is submitted, and when it is approved, rejected or returned for clarification/correction. In addition, students can check the status of a request at any time by visiting the application through Flashline.

How long may I be away from the University during a Leave of Absence?

A Leave of Absence will allow a student to be away from their studies for up to one year (three consecutive terms, with summer counting as one term). If the program approves, the student may receive a one term extension.

I am enrolled in a dual degree program.  Do I need to request a Leave of Absence from each program?  What if one is approved and the other is denied?

Students only need to submit one request, but it must be approved by both programs in order to receive a Leave of Absence. If a request is denied by one program, the student should do what s/he perceives to be in his/her best interest, including continuation with full-time studies, part-time enrollment, being absent for one or two terms without taking an official Leave of Absence or withdrawing from the program(s) and applying for admission at a future date.

How will an approved Leave of Absence be entered into my student record?

Graduate Studies places a “hold” on the student’s record to prevent further registration and to convert the student’s status from active to inactive.  

Will an approved Leave of Absence appear on my transcript?

A Leave of Absence will not appear on the transcript.

I was granted a Leave of Absence, but I have an IN grade.  How will the deadline for completing the work be changed?

If an extension is needed, it is the student’s responsibility to communicate this to the instructor who assigned the IN grade. If the instructor agrees to change the deadline for completing the work, the instructor is responsible for communicating the extension to the Registrar’s Office, per existing departmental policy.

What do I do if I need an extension on my Leave of Absence?

Students may be eligible to receive a one term extension. The student must submit a Leave of Absence request prior to the expiration of the leave, and select “extension.” The request must be approved by the student’s department chair/school director and college dean, as well as the Dean of Graduate Studies.

What do I need to do in order to return from a Leave of Absence?

A student on an approved Leave of Absence must complete the Graduate Re-Enrollment form in order to register for classes and have the rights and privileges of registered students.

What if I don't return from my Leave of Absence as planned?

If a student does not receive an extension and does not return to the graduate program, s/he will be considered as having permanently withdrawn from the University. To be reconsidered for graduate study, s/he will need to submit a new admissions application. Programs may require new admissions materials (e.g., goals statement, letters of reference), or allow the student to re-use the materials that were submitted with the student’s original application.  The student is responsible for contacting the program to determine which materials may re-used and which materials will need to be newly submitted, and for sending that information to Graduate Studies when they apply.

I was granted a Leave of Absence. Will I receive notification before it expires?

Graduate Studies will send an email reminder to a student before the leave expires. The department/school and college are copied on the email.