Voluntary Leaves of Absence

The University recognizes that there may be times when students have compelling reasons to interrupt their studies to focus on other activities, such as attending to a serious health issue, caring for a new child or completing mandatory military service. In these instances, students should consult their adviser (if they are in the College) or area dean of students, who will help them determine whether a voluntary leave of absence is appropriate. All leaves of absence must be approved by an area dean of students in advance of the student’s break in their studies.

Students who are approved for a voluntary leave of absence may qualify for a full or partial tuition refund according to the schedule published by the Office of the Bursar (http://bursar.uchicago.edu/tuition-refund-schedule).

Availability of student health insurance (U-SHIP) during a leave of absence will be governed by the student health insurance policies at the time the leave is taken. Other University privileges, facilities, and services are not available to students on leaves of absence, unless otherwise indicated. Students on a voluntary leave of absence cannot hold work-study or maintain University student employment positions.

Leaves of Absence in the College

Students in the College can normally receive permission to take a voluntary leave of absence for up to eight consecutive quarters or eight cumulative quarters if more than one leave is taken. Petitions may be granted to extend a leave for up to 12 cumulative quarters for students fulfilling a military service requirement, religious obligations, as a reasonable accommodation for a disability, or otherwise as required by law.

Additional important details on leave of absence procedures and deadlines are provided on the College website (http://college.uchicago.edu/advising/leave-absence-withdrawal).

Leaves of Absence in the Graduate Divisions and Schools

The following types of voluntary leave are generally available to graduate students. Graduate students should consult their area dean of students for procedures particular to their division or school. 

Personal Leave of Absence. Students may apply for a personal leave of absence for any reason. A student may be approved by their dean of students for a leave of absence of up to four academic quarters.

Medical Leave of Absence. Students may apply for a medical leave of absence if temporarily unable to continue in their program due to illness or injury. A student may be approved for a medical leave of absence by their dean of students for up to four academic quarters.

Parental Relief Leave of Absence. A student who becomes a parent during their program may request a one-quarter Parental Relief Leave of Absence to care for the new child, and pregnant students for whom it is medically necessary, may request a Parental Relief Leave of Absence during pregnancy. Such leaves may be granted by the area Dean of Students of the student's school or division. Students are still eligible for University privileges during a Parental Leave of Absence. (For more information, refer to the Graduate Student Parent Policy.)

Military Leave of Absence. Students may apply for a military leave of absence in order to fulfill service in armed forces. This includes students from countries outside the United States who leave for service in their country’s armed forces.

Curricular Degree Leave of Absence. Students may apply for a leave of absence to pursue another degree program that is integral to their Ph.D. The appropriateness, relevance, and length of time of the additional degree should be evaluated by the student’s primary program and requires written endorsement by the program. A student may be approved by their dean of students for a curricular degree leave of absence for up to three years. 

For Ph.D. students who matriculated prior to summer quarter 2016, leaves of absence do not extend their eligibility to register beyond the total of twelve years from entry into the Ph.D. program (or ten years for students in the School of Social Service Administration). For students who matriculated in summer quarter 2016 or after, leaves of absence can extend their eligibility to register beyond the total of nine years from matriculation into a Ph.D. program.

University Facilities Use and Voluntary Leaves of Absence

Certain rights and privileges extended to registered students are generally not available to students on a voluntary leave of absence unless they have received written permission from their Dean of Students or the Dean of Students in the University.

  • Students on voluntary leave of absence do not attend classes.
  • Students on voluntary leave of absence are not eligible for University housing. 
  • Students on voluntary leave of absence cannot participate in Recognized Student Organizations (RSO) activities that are not otherwise open to the public.
  • Athletic facilities are available to students on voluntary leave of absence for a fee.
  • Career Advancement and UChicagoGRAD resources are generally available to students on voluntary leave of absence.
  • Borrowing privileges at the library are available for a fee.
  • Students on a medical leave of absence who are enrolled in U-SHIP may access the on-campus Student Health Service (SHS) and Student Counseling Service (SCS) through the remainder of the plan year in which their medical leave of absence was granted (i.e., August 31st). These students will be assessed the quarterly Student Life Fee for access to these on-campus health services. For more information, see the Student Health Insurance Policy section.
  • The USITE Computing Clusters are not available to students on a leave of absence. Email access continues for two quarters. Computer workstations are available at the Regenstein Library to anyone with library access. After one year, all mail files, personal Web pages, and online directory data are deleted.