Leaves of Absence

Students take time away from their studies for a wide variety of reasons, including to:

  • Work on a political campaign
  • Manage a medical concern
  • Fulfill a family obligation
  • Pursue career-related opportunities
  • Complete military service
  • Take a break

Students typically take a leave for a full academic year. Individual circumstances may require more or less time; the length of the leave is determined by the school. Students on leave should remain in contact with their advisor and update them about plan changes. The return from leave process supports students in a successful re-entry to academic life at Penn. When preparing to return, students must consult their school advising office to develop a plan that includes connection with appropriate resources.

While interrupting one’s studies to take time away may seem intimidating, a leave is a means to the successful completion of a degree, not a barrier to graduating. Students considering a leave should take time to think carefully about their goals for the time away and for when they return. Speaking with an academic advisor is an important first step. Students should also consult others important to their decision-making process, such as family members or, if the student intends to address health concerns during the time away, their healthcare provider(s). Your school advising office will help you connect with other campus resources as you prepare to take a leave of absence, such as Student Financial Services, Housing, and International Student and Scholar Services.

Procedures for requesting a leave vary by school.

School specific policies