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Academic Information and Policies

Leaves of Absence

The University allows graduate students to take leaves of absence with the permission of the graduate group chair and the graduate dean. Students must write to the graduate group requesting the leave; if the chair approves, the request will be forwarded to the graduate dean (i.e., the BGS Director) for approval. The main types of leave are medical, family, and paid time off for the birth or adoption of a child. Under medical and unpaid family leaves, stipends are suspended during the leave period and are guaranteed upon return from leave under the conditions of the original award guarantee, i.e., as long as the student remains in good academic standing. Note that students who have passed the candidacy exam may need to arrange fellowship support from a mentor in order to return; there is no guarantee that the original mentor will be able to provide financial support when the student returns from leave. Students receiving NIH NRSA support in the form of a training grant appointment or individual fellowship must also obtain permission for a leave from NIH.

Medical Leaves of Absence Students who wish to take a medical leave should submit a request to their graduate group chair, including the leave start date and anticipated return date. The student should consult with their lab advisor regarding the timing of the leave, if possible. The graduate group chair will forward the request to BGS, which will follow up with Student Health Services (SHS) and/or Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to obtain a recommendation for the leave. Students who are being treated outside of SHS or CAPS should arrange for a letter from the treating professional(s) justifying the leave to be sent to SHS or CAPS.

Students on medical leave are expected to seek and follow the advice of the graduate group chair or his/her designate to remediate any work and to devise a course of study for re-enrollment. Students are also expected to make appropriate arrangements to continue any necessary treatment during the leave and to arrange for an appropriate support system. In order to return from medical leave, students must contact their graduate group chair, advisor, and BGS at least 30 days prior to the expected date of return. Students must also submit paperwork (links to forms below) and arrange for their treating professional(s) to provide documentation of treatment and progress to CAPS and/or SHS. Students may not return from leave until arrangements are approved by the graduate group to resume the course of study and until BGS approves the return, in consultation with SHS and/or CAPS.

SHS: https://www.vpul.upenn.edu/shs/files/SHS_Return_From_Leave_1471278050.pdf

CAPS: https://www.vpul.upenn.edu/caps/files/leaveofabsencepacket2016.pdf

Questions regarding the processes for leave approvals and returns from leave may be sent to the BGS Administrative Director, Judy Jackson, jajackso@pennmedicine.upenn.edu.

Family Leave University policy allows PhD students to take an unpaid Family Leave of Absence for the birth or adoption of a child, child care, or care of an immediate family member (spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent) with a serious health condition. Details are provided here.

Childbirth or Adoption PhD students are eligible for up to 8 weeks of paid time off in association with the birth or adoption of a child. Details are provided here.