Leave of Absence
Acceptance by a student of Princeton’s offer of admission to the Graduate School implies full commitment to graduate and professional study. Such a commitment, in keeping with the University's express policy of urging rapid completion of studies, involves fulfillment of degree work as quickly as possible, compatible with the requirements of the particular discipline. Continuous enrollment between admission and the completion of degree work is thus considered the norm.
We recognize, however, that circumstances may force students to interrupt their studies temporarily. On the recommendation of a student’s director of graduate studies and other departmental adviser(s), the Graduate School may grant a leave for a term or for a year to a student in good standing. An extension of a leave may be granted if the student requests the extension and the department supports the request, but the total time including any extensions allowed by the Graduate School for a leave may not exceed two years. Leaves are granted for personal reasons, when the student will not be actively pursuing an academic course of study in fulfillment of Princeton's degree requirements. Students on leave are not enrolled or registered students for the period of the leave. Accordingly, no University student benefits continue.
Leaves should be timed, whenever possible, to begin at the end of a term, preferably at the end of a full academic year. If a leave is granted to a student during a term, is inclusive of that term, and begins after the sixth week of the term, the student should expect to be on leave the following term as well. Leaves are not normally granted to students who (1) have completed less than one full term of enrollment in residence, or (2) are scheduled to take their general examination in the term for which the leave is being requested, or (3) will be working essentially full time on their Princeton degree requirements, although away from Princeton (for which in absentia status is normally recommended). Leaves are also not normally granted to students who are about to enter or are already in dissertation completion enrollment (DCE) status, which was instituted specifically for the purpose of helping Ph.D. students finish up degree requirements after the regular period of enrollment has ended.
Reenrollment after an approved leave will not depend on ranking among new applicants but will be subject only to (1) confirmation by the department of the student’s continued professional suitability, (2) a written request from the student to reenroll, and (3) completion by the student of requirements, if any, stipulated by the department and/or the Graduate School as conditions for reenrollment. The student’s written request to reenroll must be received by June 1 for return in the following fall term, and by December 1 for return in the following spring term. Return from leave coincides with the start of the term: for the fall term, reenrollment is effective September 1; for the spring term, reenrollment is effective February 1. Summer returns in the months of July and August may be approved by the Graduate School with the department’s support.
Financial support cannot be guaranteed to a student returning from an approved leave. Normally, however, the Graduate School and the department work together to identify and assure a comparable level of financial support to students returning from leave. Students on leave are urged to keep in touch with the Graduate School and their department about their plans.
If a student does not return to the graduate program after an approved leave ends, the student’s degree candidacy is terminated. A request to return thereafter would entail reapplying to the Graduate School through the annual admission process.
Involuntary Leave of Absence
Princeton provides a range of support services to address the medical and mental health needs of students within the context of the campus community. On occasion, students may experience health needs requiring a level of care that exceeds what the University can appropriately provide. In such circumstances, some students may be advised to consider a voluntary leave. In situations where a student is unable or unwilling to carry out substantial self-care obligations, or presents a substantial risk of self-harm or harm to others, and the student declines to take a voluntary leave, the dean of the Graduate School has the authority to place the student on an involuntary leave. Such decisions may be appealed in writing to the vice president for campus life.