Leaves of Absence

Leaves of absence are defined as a temporary separation from the University for a minimum of one quarter and a maximum of one year. Students who need to interrupt their progress towards degree may petition for a leave of absence. There are three types of leaves:

  • Personal Medical Leave of Absence: For students who must temporarily interrupt progress toward degree due to a physical or mental health need.
  • Family Medical Leave of Absence: For students who must temporarily interrupt progress toward degree to extend absence post-childbirth, care for a newborn, adopt a child, or care for a family member. This leave of absence is separate from the parental accommodation policy and may be taken in addition to a parental accommodation. The parental accommodation is not considered a leave of absence. Please see the parental accommodation section of this guide.
  • General Leave of Absence: For students who elect to temporarily interrupt their progress toward degree for a non-medical and non-family care reason

9.1 Leave of Absence General Policies

All leaves of absence must be approved by the appropriate University offices/programs. The procedure for requesting a leave and the specific approvals required depend on the type of leave. The general policies that apply to all leaves of absence are:

  • Leaves of absence are granted for no less than one quarter and no more than one year.
  • No leaves will be granted retroactively. In certain circumstances and when the appropriate approvals are granted, students may retroactively withdraw from coursework. Note that mid-quarter leaves of absence with an "Effective Date" through the end of the 6th week of classes will result in an entry on the transcript documenting the withdrawal date. Leaves of absence with an "Effective Date" after the end of the 6th week will result in the withdrawn courses, with grades of "W", being posted on the transcript along with the withdrawal date.
  • During a leave of absence, students are not permitted to enroll at the University and will not be considered active students.
  • International students who apply for a leave of absence must consult with the International Office. International students taking a leave of absence for medical reasons (and with documentation from a healthcare provider) will need to receive approval from the International Office and may be eligible to remain in the country for up to 12 months while on leave. International students taking a leave for non-medical reasons may have their status terminated and may need to depart the U.S.
  • Students on an approved leave of absence are not eligible for federal financial aid, including Federal Direct Loans. In some cases, student loans may not be deferred for the entirety of a leave. Students should contact Student Financial Services for additional information.
  • Approved leaves of absence automatically extend milestone deadlines by the length of the leave. This includes the qualifying exam deadline and prospectus deadline for PhD students, and the degree deadline for Master's and PhD students. Leaves of absence do not exempt students from meeting the residency requirement or other TGS degree requirements.
  • Students on a leave of absence are not to fulfill any degree requirements during the time on leave. If a student plans to be away from the University to work on a thesis, dissertation, or other degree requirements, this would not constitute a leave of absence and would require enrollment.
  • A student on a leave of absence will have limited access to University facilities normally available to enrolled students:
    • NetID: The NetID will be deactivated after a period of time following the start of the leave of absence, following the NUIT NetID Expiration schedule.
    • Library: Students on a leave of absence may obtain a Borrower's Card to access the University Library if needed and approved.
    • Health Insurance: Students who are on an approved leave of absence are permitted to remain enrolled in NU-SHIP for the year in which they start on a leave and elect to re-enroll for one subsequent year. Students may apply for coverage in fall quarter through the Health Insurance Office. Students who elect to re-enroll for a subsequent year are not eligible for the health insurance subsidy.
    • University Housing: Students taking a leave of absence who reside in University Housing must contact the Graduate Housing Office as soon as possible to determine what options are available during the leave of absence.
  • Students on leave of absence must request return in advance of the quarter in which they wish to return.  Instructions and the timeline for requesting a return from leave are detailed below.
  • Students who fail to petition to return after a leave of absence will be withdrawn (discontinued) from The Graduate School and need to apply for readmission in order to return.

9.2 Medical Leaves of Absence

9.2.1 Personal Medical Leave

A student who must temporarily interrupt their progress toward degree due to a physical or mental health need must petition for a medical leave of absence. Medical leaves of absence are initiated through the Dean of Students Office. International students on a visa must also have their leave approved by the International Office. The process for a student to petition for a personal medical leave of absence is as follows.

  • Student should consult with academic program's Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or DGS designate.
  • Student must submit the Request for a Voluntary Medical Leave of Absence form, found on the Dean of Students Office website.
  • The Dean of Students Office will work with the student and The Graduate School to review the request.
  • At the end of the approved leave period, the student must petition for reinstatement through the Dean of Students office.

9.2.2 Family

A student who must temporarily interrupt progress toward degree to extend absence post-childbirth, care for a newborn, adopt a child, or care for a family member should petition for a family leave. Family medical leaves of absence must be approved by the student's program of study and The Graduate School. International students on a visa must also have their leave approved by the International Office. The process to petition for a family medical leave of absence is as follows:

  • Student must submit the “Petition for Absence” form via TGS Forms in CAESAR. The program's DGS (or DGS designate) will review the form, after which The Graduate School will review.
  • The Graduate School will notify the student (and the program) of the approval status and, if approved, provide a written communication to the student outlining the details of the leave.
  • At the end of the approved leave period, the student must petition for reinstatement by contacting TGS student services via email at least 6 weeks before the start of the quarter in which they plan to return.

9.3 General Leave of Absence

A student who wishes to temporarily interrupt their progress toward degree for a non-medical and non-family care reason may petition for a general leave of absence. General leaves of absence must be approved by the student’s program of study and The Graduate School. International students on a visa must also have their leave approved by the International Office. The process to petition for a general leave of absence is as follows:

  • Student must submit the “Petition for Absence” form via TGS Forms in CAESAR. The program’s Director of Graduate Study (DGS)  or DGS designate will review the form, after which The Graduate School will review.
  • The Graduate School will notify the student (and the program) of the approval status and, if approved, provide a written communication to the student outlining the details of the leave.
  • At the end of the approved leave period, the student must petition for reinstatement by contacting TGS student services via email at least 6 weeks before the start of the quarter in which they plan to return.