Leave of Absence, Withdrawal, and Childbirth Accommodation

University Policy

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Policy

Students must be registered for any regular semester or summer term during which a degree requirement is completed or University facilities are used unless on an official leave of absence or withdrawing from the University.

Leave of Absence

Students wishing to take a leave of absence should submit a Leave of Absence form to the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences; the leave is effective as of the day the form is received. A student will be allowed up to two semesters of leave of absence; beyond two semesters may be granted in cases of substantiated illness, one-semester maternity or paternity leave, or military service. In exceptional cases, the Director of Graduate Studies of the student’s program should petition the Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

A student who files for a leave of absence from the University before classes start is eligible to receive full cancellation of tuition and fees. Students should refer to the Withdrawal and Tuition Refund Schedule after the beginning of classes. A student who is on leave and who has borrowed federal and/or private loans may be required to begin repayment while on leave.

The period of authorized leave of absence is counted as a part of the time allowed for completion of master’s degree requirements. The period of authorized leave of absence is not counted as a part of the time allowed for completion of PhD degree requirements. Students may not complete any degree requirements in a semester for which they have been granted a leave of absence. PhD students must be registered in the semester in which the final degree requirements are completed, as well as in the preceding semester.

Leaves of Absence for Medical Reasons

A student may need to interrupt their studies for medical reasons. The University can assist a student who is deciding whether to take a medical leave and advise them about the steps necessary for a successful return. A student’s request for a leave of absence for medical reasons must be reviewed by Student Health Services or its designee. Boston University also reserves the right to require an involuntary medical leave of absence if it determines that a student’s continued enrollment would create a significant risk to the health and safety of the student or others.

A student seeking to reenroll after a medical leave must demonstrate to the University that the student’s health permits the successful completion of studies. Documentation needed to support this finding will be determined by Student Health Services or its designee, but will generally include information from the student’s clinician as well as an assessment by Student Health Services or its designee. The decision whether to permit a student to reenroll is within the sole discretion of the University.


Students who wish to withdraw from the University must submit their requests on the Withdrawal/Leave of Absence form. A request for a withdrawal is effective on the day it is received in the appropriate office; charges are canceled in accordance with the University’s published refund schedule, based on the effective date of the student’s withdrawal. Mere absence from class does not reduce financial obligations or guarantee that final grades will not be recorded. A master’s student who receives scholarship aid and who withdraws or takes a leave of absence after the beginning of classes will have the institutional aid canceled. A PhD student will retain the scholarship aid.

Childbirth Accommodation

For detailed information on the Boston University policy, please see the Childbirth and Adoption Accommodation for Full-Time PhD Students. Students can find additional information about accommodation notification procedures on the full-time PhD and MFA or full-time master’s students websites.