Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation
Campus in the fall

Leaves of Absence

Main content start

There are many reasons you may want to take a leave of absence. Perhaps there’s a professional opportunity you want to pursue. Or maybe you’ve been given the chance to volunteer for a cause that matters to you. In other cases, you may need time to deal with a family situation or attend to your health. And still, other times you may be feeling burned out and need to recharge. Whatever your reason, Stanford has a simple process for taking leave and returning to your studies at a later date.

On this page:

How it works

In order to take a leave of absence, you must obtain approval from each degree program department you are enrolled in. 

Leaves are not granted for more than one year at a time unless there are exceptional circumstances (e.g. military service). A leave of absence from the university may not exceed a cumulative total of two years (eight quarters). 

While on a leave of absence, you are considered unregistered and do not have the rights and privileges of registered students. Department and university requirements cannot be fulfilled during your leave period.

See the student policies for additional information: Undergraduate Leaves of Absence and Graduate Leaves of Absence.

Submitting your leave of absence request

Before taking a leave of absence, we recommend:

To request a leave of absence, you must submit a leave of absence eForm in the eForms portal, available via the Axess Student mega-menu. The eForm is electronically routed to the appropriate approvers and, if approved, is processed by the Registrar's Office. Once approved, the leave of absence is effective on the date that you submit the eForm or on the last day you attend classes, whichever comes later.

Approvals

Approvals are made as your request is routed electronically to the relevant approving offices. 

Requests for undergraduate students are routed through the following offices:

If you are a coterm student with both an active undergraduate and graduate program, your request will also be routed to your graduate department for approval. 

Leave of absence requests for graduate students are routed to your graduate department and Bechtel International Center (for international students only). 
 

Deadlines and refund policy

Before the quarter begins

The deadline to submit a leave of absence request for a full tuition refund is the Preliminary Study List deadline

During the quarter

The deadline to submit a leave of absence for a partial tuition refund is the Term Withdrawal deadline. You will receive a prorated refund based on your days of attendance.  

If your leave of absence request is submitted prior to the Final Study List deadline, all courses for that quarter will be dropped. If your leave of absence request is submitted after the Final Study List deadline, you’ll receive withdrawal (‘W’) notations on your transcript for all registered courses. It is important to remember this will be included in your academic progress review. 

After the Term Withdrawal deadline

After the Term Withdrawal deadline (60% of the way through the quarter), a leave of absence is granted only for approved health or emergency reasons with sup­porting documentation. There is no tuition refund for leaves taken after the Term Withdrawal deadline.

Returning early or extending your leave

  • A new leave of absence form must be completed (with the extension portion of the form filled out) if you wish to extend your leave of absence.
  • If you do not submit your leave of absence extension on time (prior to the Final Study List deadline in the quarter you are due to return) and fail to enroll in courses, you will be discontinued from your university program. 
  • If you wish to return in an earlier term than originally requested, you should submit the Early Return from Leave of Absence eForm (located in the Axess eForms portal).