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Leave of Absence

Graduate students may take one semester and an adjoining summer session off (i.e. Spring and Summer, or, Summer and Fall) without formal leave approval from the Graduate College, and still hold “continuing student status” from the university.

Exceptions are:

  • international students whose visas require continuous registration (F-1 and J-1)
  • doctoral students who are taking or who have passed their preliminary exams
  • students awarded a fellowship for the term of proposed leave
  • students with an assistantship appointment or tuition and service-fee waiver for the term of proposed leave (unless the assistantship or waiver is withdrawn)

There may exist other program or department rules that would not allow students to take any time off without approval from the director of graduate studies.

Degree students who desire to take another continuous semester off (in addition to the semester and summer session described above), for a total maximum of three consecutive terms, including summer, must file a Graduate Petition for Leave of Absence. The completed petition should arrive in the Graduate College by the tenth-day of the semester for which formal leave is requested (i.e., the third consecutive term to be taken off).

Exceptions are:

International students on an F-1 or J-1 visa must register each fall and spring semester due to visa requirements. Such students must file a Graduate Petition for Leave of Absence for any fall or spring semester they wish to take off, first obtaining written authorization on the petition from the Office of International Services. If remaining in the U.S. such leaves are rarely granted by that office, except for serious illness.

Leaves will not be granted to doctoral candidates who have passed the preliminary exam, except for documented medical or other extraordinary reasons as described below. If this situation occurs, a Graduate Petition for Leave of Absence must be submitted to the Graduate College.

Special procedures and policy exist for the following categories of leave:

  • birth, adoption, or care of a child
  • care of a spouse, child or parent in case of a serious health condition
  • serious health condition of the student
  • orders received by the student from the U.S. government to enter active service with the armed forces in a national or state emergency

See the subsections below for information.

Nondegree students are not eligible for a leave of absence for any reason, although they may take off a semester and adjoining summer session and still hold continuing student status. Nondegree students who take off more than one semester and an adjoining summer session must reapply for admission (no application fee required) if future registration is desired.

Upon receipt of a leave of absence petition from the graduate program, the Graduate College will automatically approve the first leave, up to one year maximum (see exceptions in the next paragraph). At least one term as a graduate degree student must be completed before being eligible for a leave. After returningto the program from an approved leave, a second consecutive leave is not automatic and will only be granted by the Graduate College for medical or other extraordinary reasons. Leaves for more than one year at a time are usually not allowed.

Time spent on leave approved by the Graduate College does not count towards the time to complete the degree.

Students who have already registered for the term for which leave is requested must drop all their courses (hours) before the start of the term to avoid any charges and or grades. If the student withdraws once the term begins a non-refundable fee is assessed. The Leave of Absence petition itself does not withdraw a registered student. Students are responsible for filing the appropriate forms and for the resultant charges.

Students who are on an approved leave of absence will not be covered by the health and personal accident insurance plan until they return to active registration (see CampusCare for contact information).

Students with student loans or deferred loans must obtain approval from the Office of Student Financial Aid and obtain information on any consequences of being on leave.

Students holding a fellowship must also obtain approval from the Graduate College. Generally, university fellows are not eligible for a leave. Additionally, students may not hold an assistantship appointment while on leave.

Students who return from their leave at the expected time should simply register for the term as usual; no special forms are required. Students who wish to return from their leave early should contact the Graduate College, ext. 3-2550 before the start of the term the student will return. A registration time ticket and other information must be created before the student is allowed to register.

Students who wish to extend their leave after the first one ends must file another petition for leave of absence, obtaining all the required signatures.

Leaves of absence are not required for participants in the CIC Traveling Scholar Program.

Petition forms may be obtained from the Graduate College, 606 University Hall, or from the graduate program.

Leave of Absence for Medical or Family Reasons

A LOA for all degree seeking students enrolled in the Graduate College will automatically be approved for the following purposes:

  • The birth of a child, adoption of a child or in cases where the care of a child is required. The LOA may be granted for a minimum of one semester/term but cannot exceed one year.
  • For care of a spouse, child or parent in case of a serious health condition.
  • For a serious health condition that makes the applicant (student) unable to pursue their graduate work.

Proper documentation must be provided with the leave of absence form at the time of submission to the Graduate College.

Students in F-1 or J-1 Visa status are required to be registered in the fall and spring term. However, if a situation emerges such as maternity, illness or family emergency and a LOA is requested, the Office of International Services must approve the request first to assure visa compliance.

The time approved on a LOA will not count in the student’s time to degree. Therefore, the student must submit the LOA petition to the Graduate College for processing. While a department signature is not required if the reason for the Leave of Absence meets one or more of the criteria stated above, the Graduate College encourages students to seek written acknowledgement from the department early in the process on the LOA petition.

Students requesting a leave for less than a semester are advised to meet with their director of graduate studies to reach a mutually beneficial arrangement. Students with specific questions regarding possible options may contact the Graduate College for more information.

Military Leave

A degree-seeking student who must leave the University in order to enter into active service with the armed forces in a national or state emergency (including being called up for the Active Reserve Forces and the National Guard) will be given an indefinite leave. A copy of the orders to report/proof of active service must be attached.

A graduate student who must leave the University in order to enter into active service with the armed forces in a national or state emergency (including being called up for the Active Reserve Forces and the National Guard) during the first twelve weeks of the semester (first six weeks in summer session) will be withdrawn from courses with a full refund of tuition and fees. If called to active duty after that time, and before the end of the term, the student may withdraw from all courses with a full refund of tuition and fees, or, the student may ask the instructor(s) for permission to receive an Incomplete (I) or Deferred (DFR) grade(s). An instructor may assign an I or DFR if deemed academically appropriate and feasible. Alternatively, an instructor may assign a letter grade, if requested by the student, if the instructor deems it to be academically justified.
Deadlines for incomplete grades under these circumstances may be waived upon the discretion of the instructor and the Graduate College. A student who chooses to withdraw from all courses will not receive a “W.”

The refund of tuition and fees for graduate students who receive financial aid from federal and state programs and private foundations will be governed according to the rules and regulations of those organizations. For students who hold fellowships, the Graduate College will make every effort to restore those awards upon return to UIC. Assistantships (teaching, research or graduate) are awarded by colleges, graduate programs, research centers and administrative offices, and graduate students who have assistantships should check with those units about the availability of the assistantships upon return from active military service.

Graduate students living in University residences will receive a pro rata refund for room and board based on the date of withdrawal.

It is the student’s responsibility to present proof of active service status for these actions to occur.