Time Away from Princeton: Taking a Leave of Absence

A student may decide to take a leave of absence from their studies at Princeton for many different reasons. These can include, for example, time away to pursue a personal, professional or volunteer opportunity, to recover from a health concern, or to assist in a family matter at home that requires the student’s attention. Regardless of the reason, a student contemplating time away should speak with their residential college dean as early as possible. The dean handles all leaves and reinstatements, and can provide advice on the best way to approach taking a leave. The dean can also assist in connecting a student with resources that could be helpful during their time away from Princeton.

Taking a leave of absence following the successful completion of a semester

A standard leave of absence would commence following the successful completion of a semester, and would typically last for two semesters, due to the sequential nature of Princeton’s curriculum and the structure of independent work. If a student has completed at least one year of study and if they have formally joined an academic department, it is possible to petition for a one-semester leave of absence. Details on all aspects of the leave of absence policy, including information on reinstatement procedures, can be found in the Undergraduate Announcement.

A student with advanced standing eligibility who wishes to take the option of one semester of advanced standing can apply for a one-semester leave of absence. If granted, the leave would take place during the student’s sophomore year in order not to conflict with departmental requirements and independent work. Details and deadlines for submitting the application can be found in the advanced standing section of the Undergraduate Announcement.

Taking a leave of absence during a semester in progress

Making a decision to take a leave after a semester has started requires careful thought and consultation. Depending on timing and circumstance, there may be reinstatement conditions or financial implications for a student to consider, in accordance with policy. Once again, the dean of the student’s residential college can provide advice and assistance. Information on adjustments in charges for the semester can be found under the “Fees and Expenses” section of the Undergraduate Announcement, and students who receive financial aid are expected to consult with the financial aid office in the process of finalizing their leave.

A student who takes a leave of absence, whether the leave is initiated following completion of a semester or after a semester has begun, remains eligible for financial aid following reinstatement.

In the case of health-related leave requests, a student will be asked to consult with their director of student life and University Health Services, and would be expected to follow the recommendations of their treatment providers during their leave. For additional information on leaves of absence for health-related reasons and reinstatement procedures, a student should consult the helpful “Frequently Asked Questions” document on the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students website, available here.

Academic Required Withdrawal and Mandatory Leave of Absence

Policies on required withdrawal for academic reasons and mandatory leaves of absence can be found in the Undergraduate Announcement.

Separation from the University for Disciplinary Reasons

Regulations pertaining to separation from the University for disciplinary reasons can be found in Rights, Rules, Responsibilities.