Voluntary Leaves of Absence

Students may apply for a leave of absence for a term or a year. In preparation, students should discuss their plans with their advisor and with their financial aid officer.

  • Students are not usually approved for a leave of absence during their first year.
  • Leaves of longer than a year are granted only in unusual circumstances, for example, if the student wishes to obtain a separate professional degree or if they are on active service in the US military or other documented military service.
  • Students should consult their financial aid officer concerning the financial implications of going on leave.
  • Students who plan to teach more than six-fifths over the course of a year must apply for a leave of absence and serve as a teaching assistant instead of a teaching fellow.

International Students

Immigration regulations require F-1 or J-1 visa holders to maintain full-time enrollment as a resident student while in the United States. F-1 or J-1 students who are considering applying for leave of absence must speak to an advisor in the Harvard International Office to obtain approval of their application.

Health Insurance

Students are eligible for four months of health coverage through the Student Health Insurance Plan and the Student Health Fee (visit Harvard University Health Services for more information) from the point at which they lose health coverage as a result of taking a leave. Students who take a leave must pay their own premiums and arrange payment directly with Harvard University Health Services.

Leave of Absence for Medical Reasons

In reviewing requests for a voluntary leave of absence for medical reasons, the Office of Student Affairs may consult with Harvard University Health Services and/or the Accessible Education Office, who may consider information from the student’s current and/or former health care providers, if made available by the student.

Family Leave of Absence

Students of any gender enrolled at GSAS may take a Family Leave of Absence of up to two semesters for the birth or adoption of a child, childcare, or care of an immediate family member with a serious health condition. In preparation, students should discuss their plans with their financial aid officer. Students should review the Parental Accommodation and Financial Support program before deciding to apply for a Family Leave of Absence.

  • Students are expected to notify their advisors and their directors of graduate studies as early as possible about their plans to take a Family Leave of Absence so that appropriate accommodations can be made to cover any teaching or research responsibilities.
  • Students are eligible for a departmental G-Year adjustment of one year, regardless of whether they take leave for one or two semesters; requests should be made through their academic program administrator or graduate program coordinator.
  • Academic requirements (such as postponement of exams and course requirements) may be adjusted in consideration of the student’s leave.

CONTACT INFO

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Office of Student Affairs
Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center
1350 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 350
Cambridge, MA 02138

Policy Forms

Application for Leave of Absence