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Graduate Leave of Absence (LOA)

Leave of Absence Policy

A student who is a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident of the U.S., and who intends to stop taking courses for a period of time from the program in which he or she is enrolled may request a Leave of Absence (LOA) for medical, family, financial, and/or other personal issues. Immigration laws do not permit international students without permanent residency to apply for LOA status. A shortage of available courses is also insufficient reason for an LOA. (See "Maintaining Continuous Matriculation" in the graduate catalog.) LOA requests must be made in advance of leaving the university.

In addition to this University policy, programs and departments may set their own additional requirements for granting a LOA. Graduate department chairs, program directors, and faculty must carefully consider student requests for LOAs, but they may decide not to support a student's request at the department level. If, however, the program and department agree to recommend a LOA, the student request must then be forwarded to the Dean of the Graduate School and Continuing Studies who approves or denies it.

To initiate a LOA, the requesting student must speak with his/her advisor and write a letter of justification to the program director and department chair. If the program director and department chair support the request, the department chair will write a letter of approval on behalf of the student and submit this letter, with a copy of the student's original letter of request for a leave and the completed LOA Form, to the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School and Continuing Studies. The program and department may include conditions that must be met before the student returns or in the semesters following the student's return.  Once the department chair provides written support of the LOA request, the student has two weeks to complete and submit the LOA Form with all signatures to the department chair. 

Students who are on LOA do not have access to university resources and faculty time, and are not required to pay for Continuous Enrollment during the period that the LOA is in effect. The length of time on the LOA does not count toward the maximum number of years allowed for completion of a degree.

Students must notify the program, department, and the Dean of the Graduate School and Continuing Studies of their intent to return to the University prior to the end date for the LOA, as agreed to by the student's program and department. The program, department, and the dean must approve the student's request to return before the student can register. If the student does not notify the program, department, and dean by the agreed date, he/she will be automatically dropped from matriculated student status and will have to reapply for readmission

The actual length of time permitted for the LOA is determined by the student's program and department. However, the LOA may not exceed two consecutive academic semesters and one summer semester. If a student is granted a LOA before the semester ends, that semester will count as one of the two consecutive semesters. Additional LOAs can be granted by the dean in unusual circumstances.

Course withdrawals are initiated by the student and require signatures from the course instructor, as well as the academic advisor and the Dean of the Graduate School and Continuing Studies. A WD indicates official withdrawal from a course before the end of the fourth week of a semester. WD grades are not counted in the GPA calculation.

WP indicates the grade recorded when a student with passing grades withdraws from a course after the first four weeks of the semester. WP grades are not included in the GPA calculation. WF indicates the grade recorded when a student is failing at the time of withdrawal after the first four weeks of the semester. WF grades are counted as a 0.0 GPA value in the computation of the GPA.

Grades of I (Incomplete) are not allowed if an LOA is approved during a given semester, because students who are on LOA do not have access to university resources. Students who are approved for an LOA during the semester should check with Student Financial Services about the charges for which they are responsible.

All students must have their LOA form signed by the financial aid office regardless of what types of financial support they receive. If a student receives any form of financial assistance, it is that student's responsibility to notify sources about the LOA status. The university is not in any way responsible for this. The Office of the Dean of the Graduate School and Continuing Studies reserves the right to verify all information provided on the LOA contract.

LOA form and instructions can be found under Graduate School Forms on the Graduate School web page at Graduate School Forms.

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