Graduate School

Family Leave of Absence

The family leave policy aims to provide a way of “stopping the clock” for graduate students facing special family needs that require their full-time attention.

It is separate from the parental relief policy, which does not entail a leave.

The family leave policy establishes minimum standards for accommodation for graduate students having family emergencies. It is expected that advisors, academic staff, and departmental leaders will work with sensitivity and imagination to provide more than this minimum (as some are already doing), according to the particular circumstances of the student.

  • A student in the Graduate School at Brown University may take an unpaid family leave of absence for care of an immediate family member (spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent) with a serious health condition.
  • Students may take a family leave of absence for one or two semesters.


The student is expected to notify the DGS in writing of his/her plans to take a Family Leave at an early date, so that appropriate arrangements can be made to cover any teaching/research responsibilities.

  • Family leave “stops the clock” on the student’s academic requirements, including service requirements, for the duration of the leave.
  • During the period of family leave, the student may elect to continue his or her student health insurance coverage, but is responsible for the payment of his or her own premiums. Students on approved family leave will retain their Brown University e-mail accounts, library privileges, and building access.
  • Funding commitments from Brown are deferred until the student returns from family leave. Students receiving funding from external sources, such as government grants, are subject to the conditions established by the funding source.
  • Teaching and research requirements will be met by the student following return from family leave.
  • Requests for extension of family leave beyond one year, or for repeated family leaves, may be made. Approval of extensions, deferral of funding and continued academic accommodation is at the discretion of the deans of the Graduate School.


Any currently enrolled student with a family emergency. Limit of one student per family.

Length of Leave

Up to 2 semesters, duration to be determined in consultation with the advisor and DGS.

Financial Terms

No financial support given during the leave period.


Please use the Graduate School’s standard leave of absence form. Paperwork required for a family leave must be completed with the student’s graduate program, with the Graduate School (see the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, or in the Biology and Bio-medical programs the Associate Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies), and with the Associate Dean of Student Support.