Leave of Absence Policies

Students requesting a leave of absence (medical, military, parental, or personal) must submit an email detailing the reasons for the Leave Request to the graduate program director who will forward it to the Graduate Dean for review.

There are several different types of leave that students may request:

Personal, Military, Medical and Family Leaves

Students receiving financial aid should consult with the Office of Financial Assistance to understand how leaves of absences may affect their loans. All students should work with Bursar’s Office to ensure any outstanding balance is settled before their leave goes into effect.  International students requesting a leave of absence should consult with the Office of International Students before submitting their paperwork to the Program Director.  Finally, all students should also consult with their personal health insurance provider about implications for their coverage during any period of leave from the university.

Personal Leave of Absence

Students who find it necessary to interrupt their studies may apply in writing to their Graduate Program Director for a personal leave of absence. A personal leave of absence is defined as any leave of absence other than one granted for medical or family reasons or for military service (see below). The Graduate Director must approve the request for a leave of absence before the petition is sent to the Graduate Dean for review. A total of no more than two semesters of personal leave of absence are allowed in a student's graduate career. Up to two semesters of leave may be granted at any one time. Leaves of absence for personal reasons extend time to degree requirements, including any deadlines regarding qualifying or comprehensive exams.

Additional leaves for medical reasons, family, or military duties, when properly approved, will not be counted against the two semester limit for leaves of absence. No degree requirements can be completed during leaves of absence, nor can a student graduate during a leave of absence. However, personal leaves of absence will not alter deadlines for completing work in a course for which an incomplete grade was received.

Military Leave of Absence

A student who is called to active military duty will be permitted a military leave of absence. The student should report the obligation for military service in writing to the Dean as soon as reasonably possible after the student receives orders. Please consult the Dean to request refunds. The student's courses will be marked with a "WX" grade. Approved periods of military leave of absence will extend the time permitted to complete degree requirements and to graduate.

Medical Leave of Absence

A student may experience physical or psychological conditions that significantly impair the student’s ability to function successfully or safely in his or her role as a student. In such cases, the student may decide that time away from the University for treatment and recovery can help restore functioning to a level that will enable the student to return to the University and perform successfully in and out of the classroom.  The University has an interest in students receiving appropriate care not only for their own well-being, but also for the well-being of the larger community with whom the student interacts.

When a student initiates a MLOA, Villanova University may establish criteria regarding the student’s eligibility for returning to the campus community. The criteria include, but are not limited to, compelling evidence that the condition that precipitated the need for the MLOA has been sufficiently treated or ameliorated to the point where it will no longer adversely affect the student’s or the community’s safety or functioning.

The MLOA request may be made at any time during the semester, but must be completed no later than the last day of classes in a semester, including the requisite evaluation and any related paperwork for the Dean’s office. Requests not completed by the last day of classes will be considered late requests and will be considered for the following semester barring exceptional circumstances.

The Graduate Dean’s office will make the final determination whether the MLOA will be granted, in consultation with University’s health professionals. The Dean's office will specify the terms of the MLOA including conditions for return to the University following the leave. At a minimum, a MLOA will be for one semester and, depending on the timing of the request and the nature of the circumstances, the MLOA may involve additional semesters to allow sufficient time for full recovery, a sustained period of stability, and to increase the student's opportunity for success upon return to the University. When the student seeks to return to the University, the Dean’s office granting the leave will determine whether the student has satisfied the conditions and is permitted to return.

Three steps are required for approval of a MLOA are:

  • The student must schedule an appointment with the Student Health Center or the University Counseling Center for a MLOA evaluation.

  • The student must schedule an appointment with the Dean of Graduate Studies to discuss and review the MLOA request.

  • The student must complete the MLOA Request Form and submit it to the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Approved periods of medical leave will extend the time permitted to complete degree requirements and to graduate.


Family Leave of Absence

The Graduate School offers support for graduate students who need to take leave in connection with the birth of and/or full time care of a new child during their period of enrollment. The goal in offering this support is to allow graduate students to continue their studies with as little disruption as possible. Family leave is intended to enable the graduate student to continue to make progress toward the degree. Consequently, it does not grant additional semesters of funding, nor does it change the length of time permitted to complete degree requirements and to graduate. This policy requires communication and cooperation in good faith between the student seeking the leave, the faculty, and the student's department. The terms of the policy are as follows:

  1. To be eligible for family leave, the graduate student must be the primary and full-time caregiver of a newborn child or a child newly placed in the home.
  2. The graduate student must submit a written request no less than three months before the expected date of the start of the leave (if possible) to the Program Director who will forward it with a recommendation to the Graduate Dean for review.
  3. Graduate students may take up to six weeks of family leave within the first six weeks immediately following the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child. The six weeks of family leave must be taken consecutively immediately following the birth or placement of the new child. Students seeking parental leave shall provide documentation to the Graduate School sufficient to demonstrate that they are the full-time primary care provider of the child.
  4. During family leave, the graduate student may attend classes and work on course assignments to the extent possible, but the student’s program director should advise the professors in these courses to be flexible about attendance and assignment deadlines during the period of leave. Upon the student's request, the student will be granted Incompletes in these courses, with the understanding that the courses should be completed by the end of the following semester.


When a leave is approved prior to the start of a new semester, funding will not continue for the leave period. Students who are approved for any type of leave after the add/drop date may continue to receive funding until the end of the semester when the leave was started.

Funding cannot be “banked” and taking a leave of any kind does not extend funding time upon return. Funding is only available for the original time period offered.


Revised, July 20, 2016

Approved by: 

Adele Lindenmeyr, CLAS Dean

Christine Palus, CLAS Dean of Graduate Studies