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:

  • Medical Leave of Absence: For students who must temporarily interrupt progress toward degree due to a physical or mental health condition.
  • Family 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 policy.
  • General Leave of Absence: For students who elect to temporarily interrupt their progress toward degree for a non-medical/non-family care reason

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:

  • General and family leaves of absence are granted for no less than one quarter and no more than one year. Medical leaves are generally granted for a minimum of two quarters.
  • No leaves will be granted retroactively. Mid-quarter leaves of absence with an "Effective Date" through the end of the sixth 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 Leaves of absence with an "Effective Date" after the end of the sixth week will result in withdrawn courses, with grades of "W", being posted on the transcript along with the withdrawal date.
  • Medical leaves of absence must be requested by the deadlines established by the Dean of Students office.  General and family leaves may be requested in the current quarter before the course withdrawal deadline for that quarter (as published in the University's academic calendar), but not after the due date has been reached for the final assessment for any one course in which a student is enrolled.
  • During a leave of absence, students are not permitted to enroll at the University and will not be considered active students.
  • 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.
  • International students who apply for a leave of absence must consult with the Office of International Student and Scholar Services. International students taking a leave of absence for medical reasons (and with documentation from a healthcare provider) will need to receive approval from  the Office of International Student and Scholar Services and may be eligible to remain in the country for a period of time 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 Graduate Financial Aid 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 extend deadlines that have passed as of the date the leave goes into effect, nor exempt students from meeting TGS degree requirements.
  • A student on a leave of absence has limited access to University facilities normally available to enrolled students, including:
    • 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 the 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.

Medical Leave of Absence

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. The process for a student to request a medical leave of absence is outlined on the Dean of Students, Medical Leave of Absence website.

Family Leave of Absence

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 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 Office of International Student and Scholar Services. The process to petition for a family leave of absence is as follows:

  • Student must submit the “Petition for Absence” form via TGS Forms in GSTS. 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.
  • 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.

General Leave of Absence

A student who wishes to temporarily interrupt their progress toward degree for a non-medical/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 Office of International Student and Scholar Services. 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 GSTS. The program’s Director of Graduate Studies (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.
  • 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.