Graduate School

Leaves of Absence

The Graduate School recognizes that during the course of their graduate study a student may need to request a leave of absence.

Students considering taking a leave of absence are encouraged to make an appointment with one of the associate deans from the Graduate School. Students may also be referred to other offices as needed, such as the Office of Financial Aid and the Office of International Students and Scholars Services.


Additional details on Leaves of Absence can be found in the Graduate School Handbook (see section on Leaves of Absence).

Graduate School Handbook

Categories of Leaves

This leave is granted for family needs. (Please note, Family Leave is separate from Parental Relief, which is an accommodation, not a leave.) 

Medical leave is granted for a serious illness or injury encountered by a graduate student.

Learn about Medical leave

Professional development leave is granted for an approved educational or professional development opportunity that advances a student’s academic goals.

Probationary leave is granted to students who may be struggling with academic performance.

Personal leave is an elective leave taken for personal reasons not covered by the other type of leaves listed.


Leaves of absence should be requested at least four weeks before the start of the semester in which the leave is to be taken. Students experiencing an urgent medical or personal matter may request a medical or personal leave of absence at any time. 

Steps to Initiate a Request

other than for Medical Leave

  • Student completes the appropriate Leave of Absence Request form in UFunds.The Department Chair and the program DGS will approve the leave request through UFunds to indicate awareness and approval of the leave request. 
  • The completed form will be reviewed by the Graduate School, with approvals made by the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs

Additional Step for Students with Federal Title IV Aid Funding or Prior Federal Student Loans

The Request form requires a signature from the Office of Financial Aid. Students should add Peter Baron or Ryan DePasquale as a recommender. They will provide information on student loan repayment deferral status changes while on leave. 

Additional Step for International Students

Request form requires a signature from the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISSS). Students should add Kelsey Dennis or Sonja Paulson as a recommender. For Medical Leaves, the Graduate School will contact OISSS for review and approval. International students seeking a Medical Leave are encouraged to review with OISSS, as well.


All students in good academic standing are eligible to apply for a leave of absence. Leaves of absence requests from students who have completed less than one full term or who are not in good academic standing will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Length of Leave

Leaves of absence are normally granted for up to one year (one or two semesters and a summer term). Leaves of absence are not regularly granted for the summer term only.

Student Status

Students on a leave of absence are not active students. Students on leave retain their admitted student status; however, they are not registered and therefore do not have the rights and privileges of registered students. Because individuals on leave are not active students, taking a leave may have significant implications for student loans as well as for visas for international students.

Academic Obligations

All types of leave “stop the clock” on a student’s academic requirements, including service requirements such as a Teaching Assistantship or Research Assistantship, for the duration of the leave. Teaching and research requirements can be met by the student following a return from leave. Students on leave may be expected to complete academic work from previous terms (e.g. incomplete grades) before readmission.

University Privileges

Students on all types of leave are granted continued access to Brown University libraries and email, unless otherwise noted, for the period of the approved leave. 


Students who take an approved leave of absence and who were previously insured under the Student Health Insurance Plan for the enrollment period immediately prior to taking the leave of absence are eligible to enroll in the Student Health Plan for a maximum of one (1) year while on leave. A student is responsible for the payment of the premium (unless on Medical Leave). It is not possible to extend enrollment in the Student Health Plan beyond this one (1) year even if the leave is extended further. 

Financial Terms

No financial support will be given during the leave period. Students in master’s programs need to consult closely with the Office of Financial Aid regarding the implications of a leave for financial aid, student loans, and the Brown policy regarding tuition refunds.

International Students

A student in F-1 or J-1 status seeking a leave of absence is required to contact the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISSS) as soon as possible for advising and to have the Request signed by that office.