Leaves of Absence
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:
- Submitting Your Leave of Absence Request
- Deadlines and Refund Policy
- Returning Early or Extending Your Leave
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. You will have access to online resources such as Axess, Canvas, and your Stanford University email account. However, because you are considered unregistered, you do not have physical access to Stanford facilities, such as campus libraries, recreational facilities, buildings, offices, and housing residences or dormitories.
Department and university requirements cannot be fulfilled during your leave period, with the exception of working on incomplete grades. Students on leave may complete course work for which an 'Incomplete' grade was awarded in a prior term (unless doing so places an undue burden on the part of an instructor, department, staff, or other university resource) and are expected to comply with the maximum one-year time limit for resolving incompletes; a leave of absence does not stop the clock on the time limit for resolving incompletes.
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:
- Notifying the Financial Aid Office to adjust your award if you are using federal student loans and/or a federal TEACH grant.
- Adjusting your housing assignment if you live in Stanford student housing.
- Contacting Vaden Health Services’ Insurance and Referral Office if you are covered by Cardinal Care.
- If you are an international student, we strongly encourage you to review the leave of absence guidelines listed on the Bechtel International Center website. Before requesting your leave of absence, you must speak with a Bechtel Center advisor.
To request a leave of absence, you must submit a leave of absence eForm in the Student eForms portal, available via Axess (My Academics > Petitions & Forms). 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 you listed as your last date of attendance or your indication that you did not attend classes this quarter on your leave of absence eForm. Please make sure to accurately select your last date of attendance, as this can affect tuition and potential refunds.
Approvals are made as your request is routed electronically to the relevant approving offices.
Requests for undergraduate students are routed through the following offices:
- The Dean of Students Office
- Academic Advising
- Bechtel International Center (for international students only)
- Registrar's Office
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).
The Registrar’s Office provides the final approval on all Leave of Absences therefore the status is not effective until the Registrar’s Office has approved it. You can check the status of your submission via your eForms portal.
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 has a last date of attendance prior to the Final Study List deadline, all courses for that quarter will be dropped. If your leave of absence request has a last date of attendance 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.
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.
- In order to return to your studies:
- Undergraduate students should visit Academic Advising’s Returning to Stanford page and complete a Request to Return and Register form.
- Graduate students need to submit an Application for Reinstatement in Graduate Study (pdf). Approval is contingent upon departmental sign-off. Both an application fee and reinstatement fee apply.
- In order to return to your studies:
- 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 Student eForms portal).