Leaves of Absence (Graduate)
Students on leave of absence are not registered at Stanford and, therefore, do not have the rights and privileges of registered students. They cannot fulfill any official department or University requirements during the leave period.
Leaves do not delay candidacy or master's program expiration dates.
Students on leave may complete course work for which an 'Incomplete' grade was awarded in a prior term and are expected to comply with the maximum one-year time limit for resolving incompletes; a leave of absence does not stop the clock on the time limit for resolving incompletes.
When a student is granted (or placed on) a leave of absence after the beginning of the term, courses in which the student was enrolled after the drop deadline appear on the student's transcript and show the symbol 'W' (Withdraw).
Voluntary Leaves of Absence
Graduate students who do not meet the requirement for continuous registration during the academic year must obtain an approved leave of absence, in advance, for the term(s) they will not be registered. The leave of absence must be reviewed for approval by the chair or director of graduate studies of the student's major department and, if the student is in the United States on a foreign student visa, by the Bechtel International Center. The granting of a leave of absence is at the discretion of the department and subject to review by the Office of the University Registrar. The University may condition its approval of a petition for leave of absence on the student's meeting such requirements as the University deems appropriate in the individual case for the student to be eligible to return such as, in the case of a leave for medical reasons, proof of treatment or an interview with a provider at Vaden Health Center or Counseling and Psychological Services).
New graduate students and approved coterminal students may not take a leave of absence during their first quarter. Coterminal students are required to register their first graduate quarter. However, new Stanford students may request a deferment from the department.
Leaves of absence are granted for a maximum of one calendar year, or four quarters. Leaves requested for a longer period are approved only in exceptional circumstances (for example, mandatory military service). An extension of leave, for a maximum of one year or four quarters, is approved only in unusual circumstances. Extension requests must be made before the expiration of the original leave of absence. Leaves of absence for graduate students may not exceed a cumulative total of two years (eight quarters including summer quarters).
Involuntary Leaves of Absence
An involuntary leave of absence can be imposed in circumstances in which a student:
- presents a substantial risk of harm to self or others or is failing to carry out substantial self-care obligations; or
- significantly disrupts the educational or other activities of the University community; or
- is unable to participate meaningfully in educational activities; or
- requires a level of care from the University community that exceeds the resources and staffing that the University can reasonably be expected to provide for the student's well-being.
Students whose circumstances warrant a review under the Involuntary Leave of Absence Policy, will be apprised, in writing, of University concerns and will be provided an opportunity to respond to concerns in writing or in person or via telephone before a review committee convened by the Dean of Student Life. Students placed on involuntary leave of absence can appeal an unfavorable decision to the Vice Provost for Student Affairs. The University can condition a student's return to registered student status on such requirements as the University deems appropriate in the individual case (such as, in the case of a leave for medical reasons, proof of treatment of an interview with a provider at Vaden or CAPS or its designee). The Dean of Students publishes the full Involuntary Leave of Absence Policy.