You are here

Back to Appendix E


Section E.2 of the Graduate School Handbook


It is impossible to list every life circumstance and every academic situation that an individual graduate student might face. It is also impossible to list every situation that a faculty or administrative supervisor might face in a teaching, research, or administrative setting. These guidelines recognize that it is important for faculty and administrative supervisors to retain flexibility in working with individual students to determine the most fitting response to a particular student’s situation. At the same time, this program sets out guidelines that are intended to provide more consistency across the university in managing short-term absences and leaves of absence for funded graduate students. Nothing in these guidelines should be read to require the alteration or diminution of policies presently in place in programs that go beyond what is presented here.

Whenever possible and academically appropriate, these guidelines aim to preserve student status and the student’s means of financial support (including stipend, fee authorization, health care subsidy, and other appointment benefits).

These guidelines recognize that it is often possible to manage difficult life situations and support continued academic progress by allowing a reduced course load and/or shifting a funded graduate student temporarily to a different research project, a different instructional assignment, different administrative duties, and/or to an alternate location (including the student’s home).

In some cases, appointment obligations can be suspended without great harm for the duration of a leave of absence, especially in situations where there is sufficient advance notice to allow for necessary planning. In some cases involving fellows and trainees, it may be possible to reduce scholarly obligations associated with the appointment for the duration of a leave of absence. In other cases, it will not be appropriate and/or possible to manage difficult life situations by temporarily reassigning or relieving funded graduate students of their appointment duties. In such cases, the most appropriate approach will be for the student to take a period of time off from both academic and appointment responsibilities (hereafter referred to as an academic leave of absence). These decisions are best made through consultations among the student and appropriate representatives from the student’s academic unit and, if different, appointing unit.

To be eligible for the leaves of absence described in this document, Ohio State graduate or professional students must:

  • be on fellowship, traineeship or associateship appointments of at least 50 percent FTE paid through the Ohio State payroll system (hereafter collectively referred to as “funded graduate students”)
  • be making reasonable progress toward the degree
  • be in good academic standing
  • be enrolled at the level required to hold the appointment

In the event that a funded graduate student is unable to meet the obligations of his/her appointment because of a reason stated below, the graduate student must contact the appropriate immediate supervisor as promptly as possible to determine the best way to respond to the situation. Reasonable requests for stipend-protected short-term absences or leaves of absence for appropriate duration should generally be approved, without requiring make-up time, for reasons due to:

  • personal illness or bereavement of an immediate family member (Section E.5)
  • personal serious health condition or care of an immediate family member with a serious health condition (Section E.6)
  • childbirth or adoption (for birth mothers, fathers, domestic partners and adoptive parents) (Section E.7)

A request for a stipend-protected leave of absence may be denied due to an inappropriate or unreasonable request, including inadequate documentation (Section E.3); repeated requests for short-term absences or leaves of absence; documented unsatisfactory performance; and/or incompatibility with funding agency or other institutional guidelines (such as requirements applying to international students).

Requests for short-term absences and leaves of absence are handled at the local level. In the case of requests for short-term absences, the academic or administrative supervisor will make the decision. In the case of a leave of absence, the supervisor should consult with the chair of the graduate studies committee in the student’s program of study and the student’s advisor. The appointing unit may designate additional individuals who must approve requests for leaves of absence.

Eligibility requirements, definitions and details pertaining to short-term absences and leaves of absence are explained in sections E.5, E.6, and E.7. Section E.3 provides guidelines applicable to all short-term absences and leaves of absence. Section E.4 explains how leaves of absence will be funded.