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:

  • 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 your 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.

If you are considering a leave, take time to think carefully about your goals for your time away and for when you return. Speaking with an academic advisor in the Wharton Undergraduate Division is an important first step. You should also consult others important to your decision-making process, such as family members, or if you intend to address health concerns during your time away, your healthcare provider(s). Your school advising office will help you connect with other campus resources as you prepare to take a leave of absence, such as Student Financial Services, Housing, and International Student and Scholar Services.

Leave of Absence Policies

  • The length of a leave of absence is determined by the Wharton Undergraduate Division, but please note the following:
    • The minimum time frame for a leave of absence is one semester.
    • Incoming first-year students may only take a leave for a full academic year.
    • Students wishing to extend their leave beyond the original time frame must contact the Undergraduate Division in writing and include the reasons for the extension request.
  • Students on leave of absence will have their PennCards deactivated and access to University services and facilities restricted.
  • Students on leave may not participate in and/or hold leadership in registered University organizations. This also includes all Wharton clubs and organizations.
  • Students cannot receive Penn credit away for courses taken at another institution while on leave of absence
  • Students returning from a leave in the summer cannot receive Penn credit away for courses taken at another institution that summer.
  • Students who are not in good academic standing at the time of the leave of absence request will return to the same academic standing status they held (i.e., Probation or Drop Warning) when they left.
  • Students who take a leave of absence with incomplete grades must complete all coursework prior to returning.
  • Financial reimbursement or credit may be issued when a leave is approved early in a semester. Consideration for a tuition refund or credit is based on the number of weeks completed in a semester.
    If you left within Percent refund/credit of tuition & fees
    First two weeks of class 100%
    Third and fourth week of class 50%
    Thereafter 0%
  • Students are responsible for contacting offices such as housing and dining directly for information about refunds or credits for non-tuition charges.
  • Students on a financial hold will not be able to return from a leave of absence until the hold has been removed.
  • Per the Sunset Policy, students must complete all baccalaureate degree requirements within eight (8) years of their original date of matriculation. Students who do not complete their degree requirements within this time frame will be withdrawn from the University.

Leave of Absence Deadlines

Students considering a leave of absence are strongly encouraged to request a leave prior to the start of the semester in question. If a student is granted a leave after the semester has started, the following deadlines apply:

  • Students who request a leave of absence prior to the drop deadline (end of the fifth week of the semester), are responsible for dropping their courses in Path@Penn.
  • Students who request a leave of absence after the drop deadline but prior to the withdrawal deadline (end of the tenth week of the semester) will be withdrawn from their courses, with a notation of “W” on their transcript for those courses.
  • Requests to take a leave of absence after the withdrawal deadline will be considered only in extremely extenuating circumstances and only with the proper supporting documentation.

Leave of Absence Procedures

Requesting a Leave of Absence

To request a leave of absence, follow these steps:

  1. Review the policies above and then meet with an advisor in the Wharton Undergraduate Division to discuss your request to take a leave of absence.
  2. Complete the Leave of Absence Request Form and be sure to fully explain the reasons for your request and how you plan to use your time away from the University.

Once the leave of absence request has been approved, students will receive a confirmation letter outlining the terms of the approved leave and any conditions that must be met prior to making a request to return from leave.

The SFRS website provides a list of other offices students may need to contact as they prepare to take a leave of absence. Students are required to review this information and follow up as necessary.

Returning from a Leave of Absence

To request a return from leave, students must complete the leave of absence return form. Students should refer to their leave of absence letter for information on their return, including dates and conditions. The deadlines for submitting a request to return are as follows: July 15 for the fall term; November 15 for the spring term, and April 1 for the summer term. Students wishing to participate in Advance Registration for the semester in which they plan to return, must submit their return request at least two weeks prior to the beginning of the Advance Registration period.

Please refer to the return from leave of absence page for more information.