Involuntary Leaves of Absence
On this page:
- Involuntary Leave of Absence
- While on Leave of Absence
- Returning to School
- Agreements to Engage in Treatment
Involuntary Leave of Absence
Under certain circumstances, a student may be placed on an involuntary leave of absence. An involuntary leave of absence is not a disciplinary sanction. However, an incident that gives rise to a leave of absence, whether voluntary or involuntary, may subsequently be the basis for disciplinary action. A student who prefers to take a voluntary leave of absence for medical reasons rather than to be placed on an involuntary leave of absence for medical reasons is ordinarily allowed to do so. Transcripts do not distinguish between voluntary and involuntary leaves of absence. Students are notified in writing that they have been placed on involuntary leave. A student may petition the Harvard Griffin GSAS Dean of Students for reconsideration, generally within five calendar days, and may appeal a final decision to the Dean of the School.
An involuntary leave of absence may be required for the following reasons:
1. Medical Circumstances
- If (i) the student’s behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of any person or has seriously disrupted others in the student’s residential community or academic environment; and (ii) either the student’s threatening, self-destructive, or disruptive behavior is determined to be the result of a medical condition, or the student has refused to cooperate with efforts by the Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) or other clinicians to determine the cause of the behavior.
- The student is not cleared to return to enrollment and/or residence at the Harvard Griffin GSAS following either: (i) a hospitalization or emergency room visit that raises serious concerns about the student’s health or well-being; or (ii) other circumstances that raise serious concerns about the student’s health or well-being and reasonably call into question their ability to function as a student in the Harvard Griffin GSAS environment. For more information about the process of clearance to return to enrollment and/or residence after a hospitalization or emergency room visit, see the Clearance for Return policy.
The decision to place a student on an involuntary leave of absence for health-related reasons is made in consultation with HUHS (which may consider information from the student’s current and/or former health care providers, if made available by the student) after an individualized assessment of all of the pertinent factors such as: the nature of the student’s conduct; the nature, duration and severity of the risk; the likelihood of potential injury; and whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures will mitigate the risk such as a reduced course load or course modifications. However, reasonable modifications do not include changes that would fundamentally alter the academic program or unduly burden Harvard Griffin GSAS resources or staffing capabilities or, with respect to the required level of care or monitoring, that would exceed the standard of care that a university health service can be expected to provide.
2. Failure to Adhere to the Terms of an Agreement to Engage in Treatment
The student’s continued enrollment and/or residence is conditioned on the student’s agreement to meet the expectations set forth in an agreement to engage in treatment, such as following the recommendations of the student’s treatment team, and the student has failed to adhere to the terms of that agreement.
3. Alleged Criminal Behavior
The student has been arrested on allegations of serious criminal behavior or has been charged with such behavior by law enforcement authorities.
4. Risk to the Community
The student has allegedly violated a Harvard Griffin GSAS disciplinary rule, and his or her presence on campus poses a significant risk to safety or to the educational environment of the community.
The student’s term bill is unpaid, and the student has not made arrangements acceptable to the School to address the issue.
Failure to provide medical documentation of required immunizations.
7. Unfulfilled School Requirements
The student has not met an academic or other School requirement including, without limitation, attending class or participating in required activities, and has not taken steps acceptable to the School to meet the requirement.
8. Failure to register and enroll
Either the student has not registered as required at the beginning of each term or by the seventh Monday of the term they fail to:
- register for a minimum required course load
- withdraw from their academic program
- have an approved application for non-resident status (traveling, leave, study at another Harvard school).
Students who fail to register, withdraw, or submit an application for non-resident status for a second consecutive term will be withdrawn on the seventh Monday of the next term.
Students who have been withdrawn must apply for readmission to Harvard Griffin GSAS and pay any relevant fees.
The decision to place a student on involuntary leave is made by the Dean of Students in consultation with the chairperson of the Administrative Board or such other person as the Dean designates and other officers of the University, as appropriate. As noted above, in the case of an involuntary leave of absence for medical reasons, the School will consult with an appropriate person at Harvard University Health Services. The decision to place a student on an involuntary leave of absence for failure to register and enroll will be made by the Dean of Academic Programs.
While on Leave of Absence
Students who go on leave of absence during the academic year are charged tuition and/or any applicable fees, per the Leave of Absence policy. Students receiving scholarship or other financial aid should consult the Financial Aid Office concerning the financial implications of going on leave. Foreign students should consult the International Office concerning their status.
The date a student goes on leave will affect the student's health insurance through Harvard. For details, review the Leave of Absence policy on the HUHSP website, or contact the Student Health Insurance Office, Member Services, at 617-495-2008 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Libraries and other facilities normally may be used only by students who are currently registered. Students on leave may not participate in extracurricular activities. Exceptions to this rule must be specifically approved in advance by the School. If so instructed by the Dean of Students, a student on leave must remain away from the University campus.
Students going on leave are reminded that all degree candidates, whether currently registered or not, are expected to maintain a satisfactory standard of conduct.
Following an individualized assessment, the School may require students who are on leave for medical reasons to comply with a treatment plan during their time away.
Returning to School
A student in good standing on a voluntary leave of absence ordinarily may return by notifying the Office of Student Affairs 12 weeks in advance of the start of any term, although it remains the student’s responsibility to ensure that they have adequate time to complete the degree within the time limits established by the School.
Students who were not in good standing at the time a voluntary leave of absence was granted and students who were placed on an involuntary leave of absence must petition the Dean of Students for permission to return to the School and must demonstrate that the circumstances that led to their leave have been satisfactorily addressed and that they are ready to resume their studies. The decision whether to allow a student to return is made by the Dean of Students in consultation with the chair of the Administrative Board or such other person as the Dean designates.
Ordinarily, students who were placed on an involuntary leave for failure to register and enroll will be permitted to return the following term once they have satisfied the unmet requirements that led to their leave. In these instances, students may consult with the Associate Director of Academic Programs to confirm what unmet requirements must be addressed.
If the leave, whether voluntary or involuntary, was for medical reasons, then the student must petition the Dean of Students for permission to return to the School and must demonstrate that the circumstances that led to their leave have been satisfactorily addressed and that they are ready to resume their studies. In addition, so that the School may conduct an individualized assessment of their circumstances, students on medical leave ordinarily will be required to consult with HUHS (and to grant permission to HUHS to obtain their relevant treatment records and communicate with their treatment providers) so that a professional assessment about the student’s productivity during their time away and readiness to return can be shared with the School. In addition, if the School learns of serious concerns about the health or well-being of a student who either has been hospitalized or visited the emergency room or whose behavior reasonably calls into question their ability to function as a student in the GSAS environment, then the School similarly may require the student to consult with HUHS (and to grant permission to HUHS to obtain their relevant treatment records and communicate with their treatment providers). For more about the process of clearance to return to enrollment and/or residence after a hospitalization or emergency room visit, see Clearance for Return Policy.
The purpose of such consultation is so that a professional assessment can be shared with the School about the student’s readiness to return and function in the student environment with or without reasonable accommodation. Note that while the input of a student’s treatment provider is an important consideration in the petition process, HUHS clinicians may have special knowledge of the University context to which students will be returning. In all such cases, the decision whether to allow a student to return is made by the [Dean of Students] in consultation with [the chairperson of the Administrative Board] or such other person as the Dean designates. Any student whose petition to return from a medical leave of absence is denied will receive a written explanation of the decision and may submit a written appeal of the decision to the Dean of Students or their designee within five calendar days based on the following grounds: (a) new materially relevant information has become available and/or (b) there is reasonable evidence of a procedural error in the decision-making process.
Any disciplinary matter must be resolved before a student on leave of absence will be allowed to return and, if the student has been required to withdraw while on leave of absence, any conditions for return after a required withdrawal also must be satisfied.
Students returning from a leave who wish to apply for financial aid must notify the Financial Aid Office and file the necessary application forms by mid-April for the following fall term and by October 1 for the following spring term. Late applicants cannot be assured that their aid will be available in time for registration payment deadlines.
Students who have been granted a leave and who have borrowed money through Harvard must submit an annual loan deferment form to the Student Loan Office upon their return to Harvard. Deferment forms may be obtained through either the Student Loan Office or the Financial Aid Office and must be completed and certified by the Registrar immediately following registration. Failure to file a deferment form upon return will cause payments to be due on loans and could affect future borrowing eligibility.
A student will not be allowed to register in the University again until all previous term's bill charges have been paid and no loan is in default.
Agreements to Engage in Treatment
The School may condition a student’s enrollment and/or residence on certain terms or conditions, as set forth in a written contract between Harvard Griffin GSAS and the student, when the student’s conduct or circumstances have caused heightened concerns about the student’s safety and/or well-being and (a) the appropriateness of the student’s continued enrollment and/or residence or (b) the student’s readiness to return to the Harvard community. The agreement to engage in treatment may include, among other things, compliance with a medical treatment plan, regular consultations with health care professionals, communication with administrators, and limited disclosure of relevant medical information, on a need-to-know basis, such as compliance with treatment and restrictions on certain activities. The decision to require such an agreement is arrived at in consultation with HUHS after an individualized assessment of the nature of the student’s conduct and circumstances and any other pertinent factors.