Leave of Absence

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 changes in plans. 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.

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

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. Approximately five percent of each graduating class spends at least one semester on leave from Penn during their undergraduate studies and more than three quarters of students who take a leave return within two years to complete their degree.

Students considering a leave, take time to think carefully about their goals for the time away and for when they return. Speaking with an advisor in the College Office is an important first step. Students should also consult others important to their decision-making process, such as family members, or if they intend to address health concerns during the time away, their healthcare provider(s). The College Office will help students connect with other campus resources as they prepare to take a leave of absence, such as Student Financial Services, Housing, and International Student and Scholar Services.

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