Childbirth and Adoption Accommodation Policy
The Childbirth and Adoption Accommodation Policy is meant to acknowledge the demands upon new parents and provide them with the relief and support they need to successfully complete their academic programs. The policy provides enrolled graduate degree candidates in good academic standing who become parents during their regular period of enrollment a period of accommodation during which teaching and academic obligations are suspended. Administration of and revisions to this policy are the responsibility of the dean of the Graduate School.
The policy provides for two separate accommodations, and students may be eligible for one or both: 1) a 12-week suspension of academic work and 2) an additional term of enrollment and an additional term of financial support.
- 12-week Accommodation
a. Birth mothers are eligible for a 12-week accommodation from the date of birth of the child. An earlier date may be arranged if deemed medically necessary and approved by the Graduate School.
b. Any parent who assumes primary caregiving for a newborn infant or newly adopted pre-school child from the date primary caregiving responsibilities begin up to a maximum of 12 weeks from birth of newborn infant or date of placement of adopted pre-school child. To meet the definition of primary caregiver you must either be a single parent or a parent whose spouse or partner has returned to full-time employment.
The 12-week accommodation must occur during the student’s regular full-time enrollment period (not DCE) and the student must be in good academic standing. In cases where a student’s 12-week accommodation period overlaps with the end of their regular enrollment and the beginning of their DCE status, the student is eligible for only the portion of the 12 weeks that falls before the effective date when DCE status begins. During the 12-week accommodation, students remain in full-time status and continue to receive a stipend and health insurance benefits. Students may opt to take a Leave of Absence immediately following the 12-week accommodation should they need additional time with their family.
In cases where both parents are enrolled graduate students at Princeton, only one is eligible for the accommodation.
During the 12-week accommodation period, eligible students will receive a fellowship stipend paid at the university fellowship rate for students in the humanities and social sciences and at the university assistantship in research rate for students in the sciences and engineering. Students supported on external fellowships or awards are obliged to inform their funding agency and discuss the implications of not maintaining a full-time academic commitment. While many funding agencies defer to institutional policies, some have well-defined guidelines of their own. In those cases, the rules of the granting agency prevail. Finance and Administration at the Graduate School will be available to assist in these discussions. If fellowship benefits are suspended or deferred during this period, and the appropriate documentation is submitted, the Graduate School will assume funding responsibility at the rates noted above.
- Extra Term Accommodation
a. Birth mothers who gave birth during their regular full-time enrollment period (not DCE) and who are at least 12 weeks away from the end of the regular full-time enrollment period.
b. Any parent who assumes primary caregiving responsibilities for a newborn infant or newly adopted pre-school child for at least 12 weeks before the end of the regular full-time enrollment period and within the first year of life or placement. To meet the definition of primary caregiver you must either be a single parent or a parent whose spouse or partner has returned to full-time employment.
This part of the accommodation will extend the standard two years of DCE and is applied per child. For example, a parent who gives birth to or adopts twins would have one additional year (two terms, one term per child) of DCE enrollment. During their DCE enrollment period, eligible students will receive one term of financial support per eligible child. If no other DCE funding is present (external or university), this childbirth accommodation funding will be paid in the first term or terms of DCE. If other funding is available, the childbirth accommodation funding will be paid after other funding options are exhausted. Childbirth accommodation funding (stipend and DCE fee) will be paid as fellowship at the current university fellowship rate for students in the humanities and social sciences and paid as research at the assistantship in research rate for students in the sciences and engineering. Students may take the extra term(s) of enrollment separately from the term(s) of financial support. If students take the extra term of financial support in their first term of DCE status, for example, they would be eligible for the extra term of enrollment at the end of the two-year period and would be responsible for their own DCE fee and support.
Master’s degree candidates in the Woodrow Wilson School, Architecture, Engineering, Near Eastern Studies, and Finance programs are not automatically eligible for an additional term of enrollment or support and will have their requests reviewed on a case-by-case basis. In consultation with the Graduate School, master’s programs may recommend an extension of program length (normally to allow master’s students to finish required coursework and design or research projects) for a term. Provision of financial aid will be at the discretion of the relevant school, department, or program.
Procedures for the Childbirth or Adoption Accommodation
- Students who anticipate requesting the accommodation should first meet with their advisor and director of graduate studies as soon as possible to plan for their time off.
- A student requesting the 12-week accommodation must submit the Request for Suspension for Childbirth or Adoption form to the Graduate School no less than three months before the expected due date or placement date (for adoption). Note that exceptions to the three-month rule may be arranged only in cases of adoption with prior approval by the Graduate School.
- A student returning from the 12-week accommodation after giving birth must provide written intent to the Graduate School to resume full-time studies and provide written certification from the attending physician that she is physically able to resume full-time studies.
- A student who was not eligible to request part 1 of the accommodation but wishes to request part 2 must submit a written request to the Graduate School no less than one month before the start of the caregiving responsibilities. The request must include the dates of primary caregiving, proof of birth or placement of adopted child, and a letter from the employer of the spouse or partner stating when the spouse or partner returned to full-time employment.
Office of Academic Affairs
Policy implemented April 2, 2007; last revised September 19, 2013.