VII.A. Personal Leave of Absence

Students who find it necessary to interrupt their studies may apply in writing to the Graduate School for a personal leave of absence. A “personal leave of absence” is defined as any leave of absence other than one granted for medical reasons or for military service. Such requests should be submitted at least one week prior to Regular Registration for the semester in which the leave is to be taken, and must be submitted no later than the last day of the Add/Drop period. The student's department or program must approve the request for a leave. When properly approved and officially entered on the transcript, a leave of absence satisfies the Graduate School's registration requirement. It may not, however, confer the registration or residency status necessary to qualify for financial aid or to meet visa requirements. International students should consult with the International Student Advisor, Office of Global Services, before requesting a leave, in order to insure that their visa requirements will be satisfied.

A total of no more than four semesters of personal leave of absence are allowed in a student's graduate career at Georgetown University, whether taken at the master's or the doctoral level. Up to two semesters of leave may be granted at any one time. The length of time that would otherwise be permitted to complete all requirements for a degree and to graduate generally will be extended by one semester for each semester of approved leave of absence, but approved leaves of absence will not extend the period during which a student will receive promised funding. Leaves of absence for medical reasons and for military leave, when properly approved, will not be counted against the four semester limit for leaves of absence.

No degree requirements can be completed during leaves of absence, nor can a student graduate during a leave of absence. However, leaves of absence will not alter deadlines relating to the completion of specific course requirements, such as deadlines for completing work in a course for which an "Incomplete" grade was received.

Once doctoral candidacy has been achieved, the Graduate School will consider requests for a personal leave of absence only if the reasons for requesting the leave would otherwise prevent the student from making significant progress on the dissertation. Such reasons might include illness, family emergencies, and other unforeseen circumstances. Employment and related obligations are not themselves conditions that would normally warrant an exception. A personal leave of absence will not be granted simply for the purpose of extending the time permitted to complete the dissertation.

VII.B. Medical Leave of Absence

The University recognizes that students may experience medical situations that significantly limit their ability to function successfully or safely in their role as students. In those situations,including pregnancy, students should consider requesting a medical leave of absence (MLOA), which permits students to take a break from University life and their studies, so that they may receive treatment and later return to the University with an enhanced opportunity to achieve their academic and cocurricular goals. Students interested in an MLOA should contact their academic Dean’s office as well as the Student Health Center or the Counseling and Psychiatric Service.

Medical leaves are administered according to the University Policy on Medical Leaves. A link to the policy statement can be found on the website of the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs at:

All requests for an MLOA will be reviewed by the medical staff of the appropriate Student Health service so that they can make a recommendation to the Graduate School concerning the request. Students are encouraged to contact either the Student Health Center or the Counseling and Psychiatric Service before submitting a petition requesting an MLOA, but if they have not done so, the petition and any supporting documentation will be forwarded to the appropriate Student Health service. The medical staff may require additional information from the student or the student’s caregiver before making their recommendation.

All students planning to return from an MLOA must contact both the Graduate School and the appropriate Student Health center in advance of their return. Once again, the medical staff may require additional information from the student or caregiver before making a recommendation regarding the request to return.

Approved periods of medical leave will extend the time permitted to complete degree requirements and to graduate. After two semesters of medical leave, the leave must be renewed annually.

VII.C. U.S. Military Service Leave and Re-Enrollment Policy

Georgetown University recognizes that students who serve in the U.S. armed forces may encounter situations in which military obligations force them to withdraw from a course of study and that this can sometimes happen with little notice. This policy applies to all University schools and programs and is intended to recognize, and make appropriate allowances for, students who find themselves in such situations.

1. Military Leave and Refund Procedures

a. Definition

For purposes of this policy, a "military service leave" is a University approved withdrawal from a University course or program that is necessitated by service, whether voluntary or involuntary, in the United States Armed Forces, including service by a member of the National Guard or Reserve, on active duty, active duty for training, or full-time National Guard duty under Federal authority, for a period of more than 30 consecutive days under a call or order to active duty of more than 30 consecutive days.

b. Student Responsibilities

A student who is called up for active duty or active service in a branch of the United States Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard or Reserve) and wishes to take a military service leave must:

Provide the University with advanced notice of such service and the intention to withdraw. As soon as possible after receiving military orders that require withdrawal from a program or course of study, a student must contact his or her academic dean, as well as the Georgetown University Veterans Office, and present a copy of the military orders or other appropriate documentation. This advanced notice can be made by the student or may be made by an appropriate officer of the U.S. Armed Forces or official of the U.S. Department of Defense. The notice need not include a statement of an intention to return to the University. If military necessity renders it impossible to provide advanced notice, the student may initiate a military service leave by providing notice at the first reasonable opportunity, in writing, personally signed, and with a copy of the military orders attached, to the Georgetown University Veterans Office, 3520 Prospect St., NW, Room 224, Washington, DC 20007; by FAX to (202) 687-2797; or by email to:

c. University Procedures

Upon receiving notice of a student's intention to withdraw from courses or a program because of military obligations, the Georgetown University Veterans Office shall promptly contact the appropriate dean and campus registrar, who shall review the notice and initiate the military service leave of the student and notify the Office of Student Financial Services and the Office of Student Accounts. The Office of Student Financial Services will review the student's eligibility for financial aid funds received before the time of withdrawal and inform the student about the status of his or her financial aid and about actions required to defer loan repayments based on military obligations. Students who are granted a military service leave will receive a 100% refund of tuition and fees charged for the semester or academic term in which they withdraw, but will be charged for housing and meal plan expenses already incurred. If the University determines that it is appropriate to award academic credit for work completed in the semester or academic term in which a student takes military service leave, the student shall not receive a refund for the portion of the course of study for which academic credit is awarded. No refund will be provided until the University receives a copy of the military orders necessitating the withdrawal.

2. Military Re-Enrollment Procedures

a. Definition

For purposes of this policy, a "military re-enrollment" is a University approved re-enrollment into a course or program after a military service leave.

b. Student Responsibilities

A student who has taken military service leave from the University or has had studies interrupted because of active duty or active service in a branch of the United States Armed Forces and wishes to re-enroll must:

Notify the University of the intention to return to resume a course of study upon conclusion of duty or service and present appropriate documentation. To qualify for military re-enrollment, a student must provide notice to the University within three years from the time he or she is discharged from military service or is placed on inactive duty of the intention to re-enroll. Notice should be provided in writing to the appropriate academic dean, as well as to the Georgetown University Veterans Office, and should include documentation (including an official certificate of release or discharge, a copy of duty orders, or other appropriate documentation) to establish that the student's withdrawal was related to service in the uniformed services and that the student is able to resume studies [1]. Military re-enrollment guarantees a student who meets these requirements access to the same course of study he/she was in at the time of withdrawal with no re-enrollment fee, unless a student receives a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge or has been sentenced in a court-martial [2]. Any student who did not give written or oral notice of service to the campus Registrar or the Veterans Office prior to withdrawal because of military necessity may, at the time the student seeks readmission, submit documentation that the student served in a branch of the U.S. Armed Services that necessitated the student's absence from the University.

c. University Procedures

A student who meets the notice requirements set forth herein will be granted military re-enrollment in the semester following the notice of intent to return, or, if the student chooses, at the beginning of the next full academic year. Upon returning to the University, the student will resume his or her course of study without repeating completed coursework and will have the same enrollment status and academic standing as before the military leave. The student will be charged the same tuition and fee amounts for the first year after re-enrollment as were charged in the semester of withdrawal [3]. However, if military or veterans' education benefits will cover the difference between the tuition and fee amounts currently charged other students and the amount charged in the semester of withdrawal, the University may charge the amounts currently charged to other students.

If a student is not academically prepared to resume a course of study in which he or she was previously enrolled or is unprepared to complete a program, the University will determine whether reasonable means are available to help the student become prepared. The University may deny the student re-enrollment if it determines that reasonable efforts are not available, or that such efforts have failed to prepare the student to resume the course of study or complete the program. A student who has been away from the University on military service for more than five years (including all previous absences for military service obligations after initial enrollment but including only time the student spends actually performing service in the uniformed services) will not be guaranteed military re-enrollment, but may petition his or her dean for consideration of military re-enrollment [4]. A student who chooses at the conclusion of military service to enroll in a different course of study than the one the student was in at the time of military withdrawal must complete the regular admission and enrollment process for that course of study.


[1]. The University shall determine the adequacy of documentation with reference to 34 C.F.R. Sec. 668.18(g).

[2]. The appropriate point in a course or program for a student to resume studies, the timing of re-enrollment, and the determination of the "same course of study" will be determined by the University taking into account the unique characteristics and requirements of that course or program and the modes in which it is offered (e.g., non-degree vs. degree, evening vs. day program, special program vs. standard program). If the program in which the student was enrolled has been discontinued or is no longer offered, the University will enroll the student in the program that it determines to be most similar to that program or in a different program for which the student is qualified.

[3]. The appropriate tuition and fee amounts will be reflected on the bill that the student receives.

[4]. This cumulative leave of absence restriction shall be interpreted and applied with reference to 34 C.F.R. Sec. 668.18(c) and (e), which set forth rules for calculating cumulative absence due to military service.

VII.D. Parental Leave Policy for Graduate Students

The Graduate School offers support for graduate students who need to take leave in connection with the birth of and/or full time care of a new child during their period of enrollment. The goal in offering this support is to allow graduate students to continue their studies with as little disruption as possible. Parental leave is intended to enable the graduate student to continue to make progress toward his or her degree. Consequently it does not grant additional semesters of funding, although under certain circumstances funding may be deferred. Nor does it change the length of time permitted to complete degree requirements and to graduate. This policy requires communication and cooperation in good faith between the student seeking the leave, the faculty, and the student’s department.

The terms of the policy are as follows:

1. To be eligible for parental leave, the graduate student must be the primary and full-time caregiver of a newborn child or a child five years old or younger newly placed in the home.

2. The graduate student must submit a written request no less than three months before the expected date of the start of the leave to the Graduate School’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

3. Graduate students may take up to six weeks of parental leave within the first six weeks immediately following the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child. The six weeks of parental leave must be taken consecutively immediately following the birth or placement of the new child. Students seeking parental leave shall provide documentation to the Graduate School sufficient to demonstrate that they are the full-time primary care provider of the child.

4. During parental leave, the graduate student may attend classes and work on course assignments to the extent possible, but his or her program director should advise the professors in these courses to be flexible about attendance and assignment deadlines during the period of leave.

Upon the student’s request, he or she will be granted Incompletes in these courses, with the understanding that the courses should be completed by the end of the following semester.

5. Graduate students may request a voluntary medical leave instead of, or in addition to, parental leave. Taking either a voluntary medical leave or a parental leave may have implications for a student’s health insurance. Students should consult with the Student Health Insurance Office prior to requesting either option. Approved periods of medical leave will extend the time permitted to complete requirements for the degree and to graduate.

6. International students should consult with the Office of International Programs about the visa consequences of receiving either voluntary medical leave or parental leave. This consultation should occur prior to the submission of the request for parental leave to the Graduate School.

7. Doctoral Graduate Assistants. The following additional terms apply to graduate students in a Ph.D. program with an assistantship:

a. If the student elects to receive assistantship funding during the semester of parental leave:

    • The doctoral graduate assistant will continue to receive his or her assistantship stipend during the six weeks of parental leave.
    • During the period of parental leave, the doctoral graduate assistant will be relieved of the service requirement of his or her assistantship. During the remainder of the semester (before and/or after parental leave), the doctoral graduate assistant’s program will assign him or her to assistantship duties, consistent with the academic nature of assistantship appointments.
    • The granting of requests for parental leave will not affect tuition scholarships held by graduate assistants.

b. Alternatively, the student may decline assistantship funding during the semester of parental leave, deferring that funding to a one-semester extension of the period of support.

Students supported by external research grants, fellowships, or awards must follow the policies of their funding agency. Many funding agencies and organizations defer to the institutional policies of the student’s university, but if a funding agency or organization has its own policy, the rules of the granting agency or organization will prevail. If fellowship benefits are suspended or deferred during this period, and the appropriate documentation is submitted, the Graduate School will assume funding responsibility for the period during which the student is on an approved parental leave.

VII.E. Leave Policies for Doctoral Graduate Assistants

Graduate assistantships offer doctoral students research and teaching opportunities that are an important part of their educational program. Doctoral Graduate Assistants are therefore considered to be students, not University employees.

As part of their academic training, doctoral students who hold an assistantship have a service obligation to assist in teaching, research, or other matters of an academic nature for 15 hours per week. Doctoral students holding assistantships have no paid vacation time, and should schedule their vacations during school holidays or the summer; not during the semester. Faculty should make every effort to honor university holidays for doctoral graduate assistants, however, in the event that doctoral graduate assistants' work (e.g., in labs) must continue during university holidays, they should be given an equal number of days off that are convenient to research and teaching demands at other points during the period of appointment. Doctoral graduate assistants who work during the summer should be compensated in addition to their regular, academic year assistantships and enrolled in the appropriate FICA-exempt graduate assistantship category.