Leave of Absence

[changes effective September 4, 2019]

Leave of Absence Policy

The Leave of Absence policy allows undergraduate students to take a leave from Emerson for a period of up to two years. During this two-year period, undergraduate students may be readmitted to the College through the Office of Student Success without having to reapply through the Office of Undergraduate Admission.

Graduate student leaves are granted for up to one year. Graduate students must submit a Request to Re-register to the Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies in the Office of Graduate Studies before they plan to return.

To take a Leave of Absence, students must contact the Office of Student Success (150 Boylston Street, 2nd Floor) to file the appropriate request. Financial responsibility for tuition and fees is determined by the effective date of the leave. Students living on campus who take a leave must vacate Emerson College or contact the Office of Housing and Residence Life to arrange their departure within 24 hours of submitting a leave or withdrawal form. Students will be charged for room and board on a daily basis until they complete the move-out process, including return of their key. Students who have taken a Leave of Absence are not eligible to participate in varsity or intramural athletics, student clubs, student employment, or any Emerson-sponsored activity or organization.

Students considering taking a leave of absence are encouraged to talk with staff in the Office of Student Success or their graduate program director about their options, the process of taking a leave, and the procedure for applying for readmission.

Students may take a leave of absence for a number of reasons. Students taking a leave during a semester due to a physical or mental health condition should file for a Health Leave of Absence. Students taking a leave between terms or for non-medical reasons such as academic or career opportunities, familial obligations, financial difficulties, or other personal issues should file for a personal Leave of Absence.

Health Leave of Absence Policy

Emerson College is strongly committed to supporting students in achieving success in their academic and co-curricular endeavors. When issues related to a student’s health prevent them from successfully completing their studies once a term has begun, the College provides a mechanism whereby the student may take a leave to address their health concerns. A Health Leave of Absence (HLOA) allows a student to withdraw fully from classes and other College activities to take the time they need to regain their ability to actively participate in, and benefit from, the academic and community life of the College. In addition, it provides students the opportunity to receive appropriate support upon their return to the College to increase the likelihood of a smooth and successful re-entry.  

  1. Students who seek a mid-semester leave of absence from the College because of a physical or mental health condition must contact the Office of Student Success to discuss their intention to take a Health Leave of Absence (HLOA) and file a HLOA request form.  International students will be directed to contact the Office of International Student Affairs (OISA) before filing the HLOA request form since taking a leave can have significant implications for student visa status.    
  2. Students who file for  a HLOA after the close of the add/drop period will receive a grade of “W” (Withdraw) for all courses attempted during that semester. Transcripts will indicate “Leave of Absence.”
  3. The financial implications of taking a leave of absence or withdrawing from the College are determined by the last date of attendance as confirmed by faculty.
    • The College’s standard charge/refund policy applies to students taking a leave or withdrawing for any reason, including a HLOA. The Office of Financial Aid will adjust the financial aid of those students who receive financial aid in accordance with federal regulations. These adjustments may result in a balance due, a credit balance, or no balance to the College.
    • The Office of Student Success will provide an estimated calculation of the financial adjustments to the student. The Office of Student Accounts will determine the final balance.
    • If a student has purchased tuition insurance through the College’s partner vendor, A.W.G. Dewar, Inc., or any successor vendor, and the Office of Student Success has processed an HLOA, the College will certify the school portion of the student’s insurance claim. It is the student’s responsibility to file the claim directly with the tuition insurance vendor and provide all requested documentation. Claim forms can be obtained from the Office of Student Success or directly from the vendor.
    • If a student has taken a personal Leave of Absence from Emerson College rather than a Health Leave of Absence but submits a tuition insurance claim, the Office of Student Success will review the circumstances to determine whether it is appropriate to reclassify the student’s leave as a HLOA. If the Office of Student Success determines that it is appropriate to recategorize the leave as a HLOA, the student must comply with all aspects of this HLOA policy and readmission process.
  4. Timing of the leave of the absence
    • While it is generally expected that students filing for a leave of absence for any reason will do so before the published leave/withdrawal deadline for the term, the Office of Student Success may grant exceptions to the deadline for students seeking a HLOA if their health condition prevented them from meeting the deadline or its onset occurred after the deadline and before the end of the term.
    • If a student files for a HLOA in the fall term after the published withdrawal deadline, the College will generally expect the student to remain on leave of absence during the spring term to address the health condition that necessitated the leave. If a student is able to submit the Health Readiness to Return form completed by their medical provider by the last day of fall classes, they may submit a written request for a waiver of this requirement to the Office of Student Success. The College will make an individualized assessment of each waiver request based on the specific facts and circumstances of that student. Students will receive a response no later than one week prior to the start of spring classes.  (Please note that the College is closed for winter break after fall grades are submitted until the first week of January.)

      If a student files for a HLOA in the spring term after the published withdrawal deadline, the College will generally expect the student to remain on leave until at least the fall term, not enrolling in summer sessions, to address the health condition that necessitated the leave. If the student wishes to enroll in summer coursework and is able to submit the Health Readiness to Return form completed by their medical provider no later than 14 calendar days before the start of the summer session they wish to register for, they may submit a written request for a waiver of this requirement to the Office of Student Success.  The College will make an individualized assessment of each waiver request based on the specific facts and circumstances of that student. Students will receive a response no later than one week prior to the start of the summer session in which they are interested.
  5. Students living on campus must vacate
    • Emerson College housing or contact their Residence Director to arrange for their departure within 48 hours of filing for a leave.  If the Residence Director is not available, students should contact the Office of Housing and Residence Life at 617-824-8620 or reslife [at] emerson.edu. If extenuating circumstances (e.g., a hospitalization) do not allow for move-out arrangements to be made within 48 hours, the student must contact the Office of Student Success as soon as they are able to discuss options. Students who do not properly complete the check-out process may be responsible for fines.
  6. While on a leave of absence, students cannot participate in varsity sports or curricular, extra-curricular, or co-curricular activities and cannot work through the student employment program. The student ID will be turned off when the leave of absence is processed. Should a student on a leave want to visit campus, they will need to arrange to do so via Emerson guest policy. Access to Emerson email and eCommon access will be available for the duration of the leave of absence.
  7. To return from a HLOA, students must comply with all aspects of the HLOA readmission process, including the submission of the Health Readiness to Return Form completed by the student’s medical provider.