Childbirth Accommodation and Adoption Policy
The Childbirth Accommodation and Adoption Policy consists of two parts:
1) A 12-week suspension of academic work for birth mothers to acknowledge the demands on and accommodate the needs of female Ph.D. and master's graduate students who give birth.
- Effective date: April 2, 2007
- Eligibility: Any full-time non-DCE enrolled female graduate student who anticipates childbirth is eligible. Childbirth and the subsequent 12-week suspension of academic duties must occur during the student’s regular full-time enrollment period, not in DCE status. 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.
- Process: To begin planning for the accommodation period, the student is strongly encouraged to initiate conversations with advisors, the director of graduate studies (DGS) and the Graduate School approximately five months prior to anticipated childbirth. The student is required to submit a written request no less than three months before the expected due date for the suspension of academic work to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Normally, the accommodation period begins on the date of the child's birth, or on an earlier date requested (i.e. for medical reasons) and approved by the Graduate School. Documentation is required from University Health Services (UHS) and/or an outside health care provider (with permission in writing that allows contact by a UHS physician and the Graduate School Office).
- Financial Support: Students holding any type of University financial support will continue to receive support for 12-weeks.
- 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. The Associate Dean for Administration 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.
- To the extent that her health and the health of the infant will allow, this accommodation does not preclude the student from pursuing academic work –-even if it is at a lower level than prior to the birth.
- Return to Full-Time Studies: Before the end of the 12-week period, the student must declare her intent to resume full-time studies and provide written certification from the attending physician that she is physically able to resume full-time academic work.
- If the 12-week period does not provide the student sufficient time to resume her studies on a full-time basis, then the GSO, in consultation with the student's department and advisor, is authorized to put the student on Leave of Absence.
2) Financial support plus extension of academic deadlines for birth mothers or primary caregivers to provide relief to graduate students faced with the additional time demands of being the primary care-giver for an infant during the critical first year of life.
- This benefit will not automatically extend to Master’s students. Master’s degree candidates in the Woodrow Wilson School, Architecture, Engineering and Finance programs will have their cases 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.
- Effective date: April 2, 2007
- Accommodation: One additional term or terms of support (determined by the number of children) will be available beyond the normal length of the academic program, provided that progress to that point has been satisfactory. This will extend the standard two years of DCE and is applied per child. A parent who gives birth to or adopts twins, for example, would have one additional year (two terms, one term per child) of DCE enrollment and the guarantee of financial support during this period. The accommodation begins with the extended enrollment status (DCE).
Eligibility: Any full-time non-DCE enrolled female graduate student who has given birth to or adopted a baby during the regular enrollment period of her doctoral program on or after April 2, 2007, is eligible. A full-time enrolled non-DCE male graduate student who has been the primary caregiver of a newborn or adopted baby during the regular enrollment period of his doctoral program can apply for extended financial support upon suitable declaration of that responsibility.Note: Families in which both parents are graduate students may receive only one of these accommodations, that is, either the childbirth or adoption accommodation for the mother or the primary caregiving accommodation for the father, but not both.
Process: To begin planning for the accommodation period, the student is strongly encouraged to specify intent to request extended financial support with advisors, the DGS and the Graduate School as soon as possible. The student is required to submit a written request for accommodation to the associate dean for academic affairs no less than one month before the start of her/his care giving responsibilities; appropriate documentation is required.A male graduate student must provide appropriate documentation: an initial letter of request for the caregiving accommodation, including a statement of when the primary caregiving took place; proof of birth or adoption of the child; and a letter from the mother’s employer, academic advisor or department chair stating when she has returned to full-time employment or full-time academic studies.
- Financial support (stipend and tuition) at the current level will be provided by the Graduate School for humanities and social science Ph.D. students or by the department (either through AI and/or AR appointments) in the natural sciences and engineering.