Leave of Absence
For the procedures for requesting a health leave of absence, personal leave of absence, pregnancy accommodation, or parental relief, please visit the GSAS section of the University Bulletin. Once you open the "Academic Regulations" accordion, scroll down to item P (Leaves of Absence) for all procedures. Visit the Office of Graduate Affairs website for Frequently Asked Questions and a chart of different leave types. You can also use this job aid for help with requesting a leave of absence.
The policies from the Bulletin are also copied below.
Leaves of Absence
Personal leaves of absence up to one year will normally be granted to students in good academic standing who present compelling personal reasons. Students can also take a Health Leave of Absence. Returns from leave may be subject to conditions established at the inception of the leave. A student who has been granted a leave of absence is not considered an active student during the leave. Time spent on authorized leaves of absence will not be counted toward the maximum time permitted to complete degree requirements. If, for any reason, a student must extend a leave of absence, he or she must request such an extension in writing before the leave of absence expires. Failure to do so will result in involuntary withdrawal from the Graduate School. Students who extend their leaves of absence beyond one year may lose departmental funding.
Health Leave of Absence:
Brandeis students may request a voluntary Health Leave of Absence (HLOA) for personal health reasons. A HLOA is intended to give students the freedom to attend to their health and well-being, away from the rigors of the University, so they can later return to campus and be successful in their academic and co-curricular pursuits. HLOAs are coordinated by the appropriate graduate school and the Office of Graduate Affairs. When an individual student’s physical and/or mental health significantly impacts their ability to function successfully or safely as a student, a Health Leave of Absence is recommended. The time away during a HLOA does not count towards total time to degree.
If you wish to remain in the U.S. for medical treatment during your leave of absence, please reach out to the ISSO for guidance. You can be authorized for a Reduced Course Load (carrying no credits) for up to 12 months while maintaining your F-1 status. You must provide medical documentation issued within the past 30 days from your licensed professional who is practicing in the United States, and holds one of the following credentials: medical doctor (MD), doctor of osteopathy (DO), or licensed clinical psychologist (LCP). The documentation is usually in the form of a letter and should recommend that you carry no credits as you pursue medical treatment. Please note you must be authorized for a Reduced Course Load in SEVIS prior to your withdrawal from your classes. A student who drops below a full course of study without the prior approval will be considered out of status.
This policy applies to graduate students at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, and the International Business School. This policy does not apply to graduate students within the Rabb School of Continuing Studies. If a full-time Rabb student needs time away from their program, they should contact their Student Advisor for assistance with program completion options.
The amount of time students take for a HLOA will vary depending on the particular circumstances (such as the nature of the situation, treatment recommendations, and time needed to successfully return to an intensive academic environment). Students are encouraged to take sufficient time to address their health-related concerns before petitioning for re-enrollment.
If students are taking a HLOA during an active semester, they will be withdrawn from their classes. For information on how this impacts tuition, please visit Student Financial Services.
Before Taking a Health Leave of Absence
It is essential that each student review their current health insurance coverage. If the student is covered by Brandeis insurance, the student should contact the University Health Plan office (1- 800-437-6448) to discuss their leave. Otherwise they should contact the insurance provider under which they are covered. Students who have been enrolled in an academic program longer than the first 30 days of a semester are automatically covered (assuming coverage was not previously waived) by the Brandeis University Student Health Insurance Plan (www.universityhealthplans.com) when they convert to HLOA status for the remainder of the plan year. Students who are covered by a family’s employer plan when they convert to HLOA status may need to apply for continuation of coverage (COBRA) with the family’s plan. Enrollment in COBRA is time sensitive. Each insurance plan may be different, so a consultation with your insurance provider before taking a leave is essential.
Request to Begin a Health Leave of Absence
Specific steps should be followed in order for a student to both obtain a HLOA and to return from one. That said, the following procedures provide for an individualized approach for assessing a student’s eligibility to take and return from a HLOA and are designed to be reasonable and flexible.
1. Initiate the process by consulting with the appropriate assistant/associate dean of student/academic affairs at their graduate school regarding their request to take a HLOA.
- In this meeting, the assistant/associate dean will review the HLOA process, any impacts on their program, and advise them on any others with whom they may need to meet, depending on their specific circumstances.
- Discussion will also include the return process and date for initiating the return (the time frame can be adjusted as needed). If the student wants to extend their HLOA beyond what was already approved, they need to let the school know at least six weeks before the leave is anticipated to end, communicating in writing with the appropriate assistant/associate dean of student/academic affairs.
2. Then the student should officially apply for a HLOA through Workday.
- If the student is unable to apply through Workday, they should be in touch with their assistant/associate dean to apply in Workday on their behalf.
3. The student’s request must be accompanied by a letter from a licensed health care provider who is familiar with the student’s condition. Acceptable sources include, but are not limited to, the student’s primary care physician, hospital-based physicians and clinicians, Brandeis’ Health Center or Counseling Center’s clinical staff, and private licensed clinicians. The letter must include descriptions of the following:
- History of the diagnosis (date diagnosed, treatment/management up to current date, etc.)
- Detailed description of the diagnosis’ current impact on this student relative to participating in an academically rigorous educational setting and a clear recommendation that the student cannot continue their academic program because of the physical and/or mental health condition
- A recommended treatment plan
- An estimate regarding the time period for a HLOA
4. The Brandeis Health or Counseling Center’s staff reviews the documentation to determine it meets the above requirements, and makes a recommendation to the relevant graduate school’s assistant/associate dean of in their graduate school.
5. The graduate school then makes the final decision regarding whether to approve or deny the HLOA and notifies the student in writing as to the decision.
Once a student has applied for a HLOA and has submitted all appropriate supporting documentation, Brandeis strives to notify the student of a decision within seven to ten business days. The recommended length of the leave will be determined individually, based on each student’s particular situation, as the goal of taking a HLOA is to ensure that the student can later return to campus and be successful in their academic and co-curricular pursuits. If the HLOA is approved, the appropriate graduate school will enact the change of standing.
Graduate student responsibilities:
- The student understands that unless they return or replace any borrowed University Library materials, they will be charged for them.
- If the student has federal and/or institutional loans, they will complete Student Loan Exit Counseling with Student Financial Services (Questions? email@example.com, 781-736-3700).
- If the student is an international student, they will meet with an ISSO advisor and complete the ISSO Withdrawal/Leave of Absence Acknowledgement Form (Questions? firstname.lastname@example.org, 781- 736-3480).
- If the student has taken excused absences (EA) or excused incompletes (EI), they will complete all the incomplete work by the end of the semester in which they are expected to return.
- The student understands that taking a health leave does not forestall any ongoing academic review the program may be conducting.
- The student is not eligible to transfer courses or credits taken at other institutions while on a withdrawal or leave of absence status.
- The student cannot audit courses at Brandeis, conduct or participate in research at Brandeis, or hold a student employee position at Brandeis while on leave.
- If the student is currently maintaining F-1 or J-1 status sponsored by Brandeis, they understand that they must notify the ISSO of their plans to take a leave of absence.
1. The student must contact the assistant/associate dean within their graduate school to petition to return to Brandeis. Goals for a return date should have been discussed in the initial conversation before taking HLOA. The student will review all the necessary steps and documents and will be in touch with their advisor with any questions. The student will then proceed with the return process in Workday.
- If the student wants to extend their HLOA beyond what was already approved, they need to let the school know at least six weeks before the leave is anticipated to end, communicating in writing with the appropriate assistant/associate dean in their graduate school.
2. The student must submit all medical documentation and any other necessary materials by July 1 for a fall semester return or by October 15 for a spring semester return. If Brandeis requires more information, we will reach out to you and all further materials must be submitted by August 1 for a fall semester return and November 15 for a spring semester return. The Workday process will include a secure link to Box for the student to upload their medical documentation.
3. Medical documentation from (an) appropriate treatment provider(s) must include the following information:
- Diagnosis and verification of treatment
- Documentation of current clinical status
- Detailed description of the diagnosis’ current impact on this student relative to participating in an academically rigorous educational setting and a clear recommendation for return or not return. For the purposes of this policy, an “academically rigorous educational setting” refers to one in which regular class attendance is required; students complete academic coursework and assignments on time and to a minimum B- standard, which is typically the lowest passing grade in the graduate schools at Brandeis University; students complete a combination of teaching and research in addition to other degree requirements, such as preparation for qualifying, comprehensive and final examinations; and laboratory research that may include specific chemical classes, physical hazards, or equipment hazards (as applicable). Policies or practices of the student’s School related to academic progress and standards may also be considered in determining readiness to return.
- Effects of any current medication or medical equipment on the educational setting and the student's ability to learn.
- Academic accommodations recommended by the licensed health care professional.
4. The student understands this will be reviewed by the appropriate staff within the Health Center and/or the Brandeis Counseling Center, who may ask to speak directly to the student’s healthcare provider(s), in which case the student will provide a release to do so. The relevant health staff will consult with the return from the health leave committee, which will make a recommendation to the student’s school.
5. If the student would like to return to Brandeis in F-1 or J-1 status sponsored by Brandeis in the future, the student understands that prior to doing so, they must notify the ISSO to request a new I-20 or DS 2019.6. The student understands that each petition to return is considered on its individual merits.
Personal Leave of Absence:
Brandeis recognizes that during the course of their graduate study, a student may request a Leave of Absence (LOA) for personal reasons. A LOA is an agreement regarding a separation between the student and the University for a period of time, usually one semester or one year. The time away during a personal leave does not count towards total time to degree. Students must complete the official request for a personal leave at least two weeks prior to the start of the semester. LOAs are coordinated by the appropriate graduate school and the Office of Graduate Affairs.
Except in the case of a health leave of absence, students in F-1 and J-1 status who wish to maintain that status must always enroll in 12 or more credits, with the exception of their final semester. Please contact the ISSO if you are contemplating a leave of absence that is either personal or related to a health leave.
This policy applies to graduate students from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, and the International Business School. This policy does not apply to graduate students within the Rabb School of Continuing Studies. If a full-time Rabb student needs time away from their program, they should contact their Student Advisor for assistance with program completion options.
Before Taking a Personal Leave of Absence
It is essential that each student review their current health insurance coverage. If the student is covered by Brandeis insurance, the student should contact the University Health Plan office (1- 800-437-6448) to discuss their leave. Otherwise they should contact the insurance provider under which they are covered. Students who have been enrolled longer than the first 30 days of a semester are automatically covered (assuming coverage was not previously waived) by the Brandeis University Student Health Insurance Plan (www.universityhealthplans.com) when they convert to a personal leave status for the remainder of the plan year. Students who are covered by a family’s employer plan when they convert to a personal leave status may need to apply for continuation of coverage (COBRA) with the family’s plan. Enrollment in COBRA is time sensitive. Each insurance plan may be different, so a consultation with your insurance provider is essential.
Request to Begin a Personal Leave of Absence
Specific steps need to be followed in order for a student to both obtain a LOA and to return from one. Since the deadline to officially take a personal leave is two weeks prior to the start of the semester, the student should initiate the process earlier than this by consulting with their faculty advisor or director of graduate studies and/or informing the appropriate assistant/associate dean of student/academic affairs at their graduate school of their request to take a leave of absence. This meeting will review the process and impacts on their program and advise them on any others with whom they may need to meet. The student must officially apply for a LOA through Workday at least two weeks prior to the start of the semester. Extenuating circumstances that necessitate a personal leave during an active semester will be reviewed on a case by case basis, and in these cases, students will be withdrawn from their classes. For information on how this impacts tuition, please visit Student Financial Services.
Graduate student responsibilities:
- You understand that unless you return or replace any borrowed University Library materials, you will be charged for them.
- If you have federal and/or institutional loans, you will complete Student Loan Exit Counseling with Student Financial Services (Questions? email@example.com, 781-736-3700).
- If you are an international student, you will meet with an ISSO advisor and complete the ISSO Withdrawal/Leave of Absence Acknowledgement Form (Questions? firstname.lastname@example.org, 781-736-3480).
- If you have taken excused absences (EA) or excused incompletes (EI), you must finish all work by agreed-upon deadlines with your faculty.
- You understand that taking a personal leave does not forestall any ongoing academic review your program may be conducting.
- You are not eligible to transfer courses or credits taken at other institutions while on a withdrawal or leave of absence status.
- You cannot audit courses at Brandeis, conduct or participate in research at Brandeis, or hold a student employee position at Brandeis while on leave.
- If you are currently maintaining F-1 or J-1 status sponsored by Brandeis, you understand that you must notify the ISSO of your plans to take a leave of absence.
Petitioning to Return
- You must contact your graduate school to petition to return to Brandeis: by July 15 for a fall semester return or by October 31 for a spring semester return. You will review all the necessary steps and documents and will be in touch with your advisor with any questions.
- Students in good academic standing may need to finish incompletes while on leave in order to return.
- If you would like to return to Brandeis in F-1 or J-1 status sponsored by Brandeis in the future, you understand that prior to doing so, you must notify the ISSO to request a new I-20 or DS 2019.
- You understand that each petition to return is considered on its individual merits.
Brandeis Pregnancy Accommodation and Parental Relief:
Brandeis University is committed to supporting pregnant and parenting students. The University acknowledges that pregnancy, breastfeeding, lactation, and parental status are protected under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”), 20 U.S.C. §1681 et seq., and other applicable state and federal laws. Under this Policy, there are different stages of pregnancy during which the University can provide support and accommodations.
Accommodations During Pregnancy
While a student is pregnant, they may require certain accommodations to allow them to continue to participate in University programs and activities. These accommodations relate to medical needs or complications associated with the pregnancy. Pregnant students can request these accommodations through Student Accessibility Support (SAS) (email@example.com 781-736-3470). There are different types of accommodations available depending on the needs of the individual, including but not limited to those related to academics, housing, transportation, parking, and dietary needs. More information on the process for requesting an accommodation can be found on the SAS website.
As with disability accommodations, information about pregnant students’ requests for accommodations will be shared with faculty and staff only to the extent necessary in order to provide the reasonable accommodation. Faculty and staff will regard all information associated with such requests as confidential and not to be shared.
Students are entitled to excused absences relating to pregnancy, childbirth, miscarriage, and/or recovery, for the amount of time deemed medically necessary by their provider. Students will need to provide medical documentation from their medical care providers outlining the amount of time needed for recovery. All medical documentation regarding the pregnancy should go to SAS. Graduate students can work with the Office of Graduate Affairs (firstname.lastname@example.org 781-736-3546), who will help to coordinate the student’s absences with the appropriate departments on campus. Undergraduate students should work with their academic advisors.
After taking approved absences due to pregnancy, childbirth, miscarriage and/or recovery, students will be allowed to return to their program at Brandeis in the same academic status they held before the leave began. To the extent possible, students will be given the opportunity to make up any work they missed while they were on leave. If a class grade is based on attendance, students will not be penalized for their approved absence. However, depending on the length of the absence and timing in the academic year, in some cases it may not be feasible to complete certain classes. In that situation, a student may need to withdraw from a course or take a leave of absence, but will be reinstated to the status they held before the leave and will be allowed to continue in their program without penalty. What adjustments might be appropriate will vary based on the student's needs and the fundamental requirement of the program and coursework in question. International students should work with the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) (email@example.com 781-736-3480) to address any visa concerns that may arise in relation to a leave of absence or otherwise taking time away from the University.
Accommodations for Nursing Students
Brandeis is committed to supporting students surrounding their needs in regards to nursing and lactation. Students should work with their program or instructors to find mutually convenient times for them to nurse or pump. Students must be given adequate, excused breaks as necessary and should not be penalized for the need to take time away. Generally a person who is lactating will need two to three breaks during the day, for a period of up to 30 minutes, to express milk. Under certain circumstances, a student may need to provide a doctor’s note if it is medically necessary to pump on a certain schedule.
Nursing students have the right to breastfeed in any public or private location where they are otherwise allowed to be. To support members of our community in regards to lactation, the University provides the private lactation spaces listed below. Additionally, departments can create ad hoc lactation spaces as necessary to support those in their community. Ad hoc spaces can be an office or other space temporarily utilized for the purposes of pumping or breastfeeding. The minimum requirements for lactation rooms (ad hoc or permanent) include having a private space with a door that locks, that has an electrical outlet, good lighting and ventilation, with a comfortable chair and a counter or table. There also should be access to a sink and a refrigerator either inside the space or nearby. Bathrooms are not appropriate lactation spaces.
The following campus locations are dedicated lactation rooms. Individuals must bring their own breast pumps; all rooms have refrigeration, electrical outlets and microwaves for sterilization. Most have sinks nearby.
- Goldfarb Library Room 69-41A
- This room is kept locked. To access the room a key can be checked out at the library’s information desk with your Brandeis ID. For reservations, please check the specific Google calendar for the space and book an available time or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. You may need to ask for directions after obtaining the key as the room is a little tricky to find. The room can accommodate two individuals at one time. The key should be returned to the information desk after use. The room is equipped with a refrigerator and microwave (for sterilization) with a sink nearby.
- Leo Gerstenzang Library of Science Room 128
- This room is kept locked. To access the room, contact email@example.com. The room is located in the science complex through the Student Lounge area and through room 127 accessible with your ID card. Walk through the quiet study area and you will see room 128 on your right. This room can accommodate three people at one time. Kitchen area is next door with access to a refrigerator, microwave (for sterilization) and sink.
- Rabb Graduate Center Room 118
- This room is kept locked. To access the room a key can be checked out with reservations by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org in the English department. The room is equipped with a refrigerator, a microwave (for sterilization) and numerous electrical outlets with a sink nearby.
Discrimination against any member of the Brandeis community who is or who is perceived to be pregnant, recovering from childbirth, or nursing is prohibited under Brandeis’ Policy Against Discrimination, Harassment & Sexual Violence. Anyone with concerns regarding discrimination should contact the Office of Equal Opportunity (email@example.com 781-736-4806). Negative comments related to pregnancy, childbirth recovery, breastfeeding, lactation, or parental status may constitute illegal sex discrimination or harassment. Retaliation against anyone exercising their rights under this policy is prohibited.
Students with concerns about an accommodation request that was denied or an approved accommodation that was not properly implemented can file a grievance with the Office of Equal Opportunity (firstname.lastname@example.org 781-736-4806). For more information, please refer to the Accommodations Grievance Process.
 Some examples may include: breaks during class, as needed; rescheduling tests or exams; excusing absences; and developing a plan for making up missed assignments.
Graduate Student Parental Relief:
To assist full-time graduate students in balancing academic, teaching, and research responsibilities with parenting demands, Brandeis University provides eligible graduate students with support in the form of Parental Relief immediately after their child’s birth, adoption, or placement in foster care (for a child up to the age of six). Parental Relief permits students to maintain full-time status–along with the same level of guaranteed funding and other benefits–with reasonable adjustments to deadlines, completion of course assignments, examinations, and other academic, research, and teaching requirements for up to eight consecutive weeks.
Before taking Parental Relief, international students should consult their ISSO advisor to understand how their specific Parental Relief arrangements may affect their immigration status. Students in F-1 and J-1 status who wish to maintain that status must always enroll in 12 or more credits, with the exception of their final semester. In general, Parental Relief should not impact your immigration status, as long as your program duration remains the same and you do not enroll in fewer than 12 credits; please contact the ISSO for more details.
The Parental Relief Policy applies to full-time, enrolled Brandeis graduate students who are making satisfactory progress toward completion of their degree. The policy covers students who experience a child birth or the adoption or fostering of a child under the age of six for whom the student has parental responsibilities. Students are eligible for a Parental Relief period for up to eight consecutive calendar weeks immediately following the child’s birth, adoption, or placement in foster care. If both parents are students, they each are eligible for this relief time and can take it concurrently. Students who give birth are also eligible for pregnancy- and childbirth-related accommodations in the Pregnancy Accommodation policy, and can take Parental Relief concurrently with any Pregnancy Accommodation.
This policy does not apply to graduate students within the Rabb School of Continuing Studies. If a full-time Rabb student needs time away from their program, they should contact their Student Advisor for assistance with program completion options.
How it Works
During the period of Parental Relief, the student will continue to be enrolled as a full-time student. Because the student remains enrolled full-time and continues to pay tuition, this is not a leave of absence. It is instead a modification of deadlines and academic expectations to support the student’s new parental responsibilities. The student will be able to postpone completion of course assignments, examinations, and other academic requirements. The student and their advisor will tailor the Parental Relief to the student’s individual circumstances and the timing of the student’s academic responsibilities. In the case of an international student, consideration must be given to the fact that any extension of the program may affect their immigration status and so they must speak with their ISSO advisor in advance.
Request to Begin Parental Relief
Specific steps need to be followed in order for a student to be able to utilize Parental Relief. First, the student should initiate the process as early as possible by consulting with the assistant/associate dean at their graduate school, their faculty advisor, or the director of graduate studies to inform them of the student’s desire to utilize Parental Relief. This meeting will review the process and impacts on their program, and advise them on others with whom they may need to meet. The student must officially apply for Parental Relief through Workday.
The student must then consult with their advisor to plan the student’s Parental Relief and how the student will meet academic goals and requirements at the end of the Parental Relief. The student is responsible for ensuring that this consultation takes place, and should also initiate this as early as possible.
Once approved and with a plan in place, the Relief period will begin on the date of birth, adoption, or placement in foster care. The student must notify the Assistant Dean within five days of the child’s birth, adoption, or placement in foster care to start the Parental Relief period.
The student must complete the Relief period within eight consecutive calendar weeks of the birth, fostering or adoption. The student may not divide the time period of Parental Relief for use past this time limit. The total Parental Relief period for each birth or adoption is limited to eight weeks; this time limit does not change in the event of a multiple birth, fostering or adoption.
Following the Parental Relief Period
After the end of the Parental Relief period, students are expected to continue their usual graduate study and progress toward completing their degrees. Faculty are encouraged to remain flexible in their expectations of students who become new parents, so that students can meet the demands of graduate study at the same time that they face new demands in their parental roles. Faculty should turn to their graduate schools for guidance on this flexibility.
Nothing in this policy can or should replace communication and cooperation between student and advisor, and the good-faith efforts of both to support the demands resulting from the birth, fostering or adoption of a child. It is the intent of this policy to reinforce the importance of that cooperation, and to provide support to make flexibility possible.
Because Parental Relief is not a leave, students making use of this policy retain the same level of access to: library privileges (borrowing rights, carrel, and electronic collections); Brandeis UNET and e-mail; meeting with advisors; health services and health insurance; Brandeis’s facilities; as well as eligibility for student loans and conference travel.
Students who receive guaranteed fellowship funding as part of their graduate program will continue to receive the same level of funding during their Parental Relief. If a student’s guaranteed funding includes funds from a source external to Brandeis and the source does not permit payment during Parental Relief, Brandeis will provide the student with the equivalent amount. Funding received during Parental Relief is part of the total funding package for the student and will not be extended past the promised duration of program funding. Students who are scheduled to act as teaching assistants, course assistants, or teaching fellows during Parental Relief will not be responsible for performing those duties and will not be paid the additional stipends they receive when doing so. Responsibility for finding a replacement will rest with the individual graduate schools.