Leave of Absence

A leave of absence allows an enrolled student to interrupt his or her studies for a compelling reason, for example, a medical condition or a personal matter. A leave of absence is defined as a temporary separation from the Graduate School. To be eligible for a leave of absence, students should be in good academic standing, fulfilling research, service and course obligations. Students must submit a Request for a Leave of Absence form to the Graduate School office. The form also requires international students to obtain approval from the International Student and Scholar Services office.

The maximum time for a leave of absence is one year and will not be granted retroactively. A student must withdraw from current registered course(s) before requesting a leave. A leave of absence is only granted between terms.

Students must submit a request to return to the Graduate School office at least one month prior to the beginning of that term. If a decision has been made not to return the student should inform the Graduate School office. Failure to petition to return will result in withdrawal and the student will need to reapply for admission.

Unless allowed by the funding agency or source supporting the student’s stipend, a student may not qualify for stipend support during a leave of absence. In all cases, the guidelines provided by the supporting agency will apply. Students are encouraged to consult the agency program officials to determine the specific guidelines governing leaves of absence.

Approved leaves automatically extend milestone deadlines by the length of the leave. This includes university and departmental requirements such as the qualifying exam deadline and prospectus deadline for PhD students, and the degree deadline. Leaves do not exempt students from meeting the residency requirement.

Students may not fulfill any degree requirements including work on a thesis, dissertation, or other degree requirements during the time on leave.

In order to facilitate communication between the student and the Graduate School, access to the campus network will be continued during the leave but will be deactivated if the student does not return.

Students must consult with their health insurance provider about the status of their policy while on leave. Students who have contracted for health insurance through the university should immediately contact the Student Health Insurance Coordinator. Health insurance is subject to federal and state laws and regulations.

Students on an approved leave are not eligible for federal financial aid, including Federal Direct Loans. In some cases, student loans may not be deferred for the entirety of a leave. Students should contact the Financial Aid office for more information.

Accommodation for Students of Faculty who Leave the Institution

In the case where a student has advanced to candidacy, and their faculty advisor leaves the institution prior to completion of their degree, the Thesis/Dissertation Committee is responsible for recommending an appropriate plan for the completion of the degree. The plan should address the following: support of stipend and research funding (including lab space), designation of a primary mentor, and designation of a manager to carry out the plan. This plan must be submitted within six weeks of the faculty member’s resignation and approved by the Dean.

In the case where a student has advanced to candidacy and chooses to leave the institution with their faculty advisor, the student will be required to register for Grad Fee until degree completion. In the case where a student has not yet advanced to candidacy and chooses to leave the institution with their faculty advisor, the student will be required to withdraw and transfer to the new institution.

Withdrawal from the University

Students planning to withdraw must complete the withdrawal form (https://prod.wp.cdn.aws.wfu.edu/sites/275/2017/12/Withdrawal.pdf), which requires obtaining appropriate signatures and submission to the Graduate School office. Students who leave without following this procedure will receive a grade of F, or U if appropriate, in each course in progress. Students who were issued a Graduate School laptop are required to return it to Information Systems. Students will receive tuition refunds according to the stated schedule. Withdrawals must be approved, and students must turn in their identification card and laptop before claiming refunds. Recipients of Title IV federal financial aid should refer to the Return of Financial Aid Funds Policy and the Schedule of Adjustments for Withdrawal at http://grad.financialaid.wfu.edu/policies/A student who withdraws by the drop date as established by the academic calendar will have a grade of WD (withdrawn) assigned for courses in progress. A student who withdraws after the drop date will be assigned a grade of WP (withdraw-passing) or WF (withdraw-failing) for each course in progress. The withdrawal date for a student enrolled on campus will be determined by the date of last active participation. The withdrawal date for a student enrolled in an on-line program will be determined by the last time the student participated in an online discussion or made contact with a faculty member. Simply logging into a course is not determinative of participation in the course.


A student who has withdrawn and plans to return within one academic year must request reinstatement to the Graduate School office at least one month prior to the semester in which they want to re-enter. To be reinstated the student must be in good academic standing and receive approval from the graduate program and the Dean of the Graduate School. The time spent while withdrawn will not count in the maximum time allotted for the degree. After one academic year students planning to re-enter must reapply for admission by the application deadline and must be recommended by the program and accepted by the Dean of the Graduate School.

If a student is approved for readmission within a five-year period, previous coursework may count towards the degree requirements with the recommendation of the program and the approval of the Dean. If the student re-enters after a five-year period, previous courses will not count towards the degree requirements.

Administrative Withdrawal

A student may be administratively withdrawn under the following circumstances:

  • Failure to pay tuition
  • Tenure exceeds the maximum length
  • Failure to maintain continuous enrollment
  • Failure to attend classes or conduct research for a significant period
  • Honor code determination recommends withdrawal
  • Non-academic code of conduct determination recommends withdrawal


A student who is failing to make satisfactory academic progress, determined based on the GPA, multiple Unsatisfactory research grades, or as determined by the program, may be dismissed from the Graduate School.