Skip to Main Content
Navigated to Voluntary Leaves of Absence for Coterminal Students.

Voluntary Leaves of Absence for Coterminal Students


Leaves of Absence can allow a student to take a break from enrollment either before or after a quarter begins. Leaves of absence may not exceed a cumulative total of two years, across both the undergraduate and graduate careers. There may also be conditions associated with a leave which are outlined in greater detail below.

Policy Statement

Coterm students who wish to take a leave of absence are subject to the Leave of Absence policies for undergraduate and graduate students, as described in the Voluntary Leaves of Absence for Undergraduate Students and Voluntary Leaves of Absence for Graduate Students policies. Undergraduates are admitted to Stanford University with the expectation that they complete their degree programs in a reasonable amount of time, usually within four years. Additionally, students pursuing a coterminal master’s degree are expected to complete their master’s degrees within three years after the first graduate quarter as outlined in the Master's Degree Requirements.

Students on leave of absence are not registered at Stanford and, therefore, do not have the rights and privileges of registered students. Students on leave may complete coursework for which an 'Incomplete' grade was awarded in a prior term (unless doing so places an undue burden on the part of an instructor, department, staff, or other university resource) and are expected to comply with the maximum one-year time limit for resolving incompletes; a leave of absence does not stop the clock on the time limit for resolving incompletes.

Leaves of absence are granted for a maximum of one calendar year, or four quarters. An extension of leave, for a maximum of one year or four quarters, is approved only in unusual circumstances. Leaves of absences may not exceed a cumulative total of two years (8 quarters including summer quarters), including both undergraduate and graduate programs. 

Graduate students, including coterm students, must obtain permission from the master’s degree program. A coterm student whose undergraduate degree has not been conferred must also obtain permission from Academic Advising and may not take a leave of absence unless approved for both the graduate and undergraduate leave. Coterm students are permitted to request a leave of absence for their first graduate quarter. 

When a student is granted or placed on a leave of absence after the beginning of the term, courses in which the student was enrolled after the final study list deadline appear on the student's transcript and show the symbol 'W' (withdraw).

Voluntary Leave of Absence

Students may request a voluntary leave of absence for up to one year, or four quarters. All leave of absence requests are subject to approval by the Office of the University Registrar. Students may revoke their request to take a voluntary leave of absence via Axess, within two business days of submitting a Leave of Absence eForm. Except where unexpected circumstances necessitate an immediate leave, students are expected to file for a voluntary leave of absence 30 days prior to the quarter in which the leave will begin. 

A leave of absence may be extended for up to one additional year, or four quarters, provided the student files an extension request and receives approval from the Office of the University Registrar before the end of the initial one-year leave. Leaves requested for a longer period than one year, or four quarters, are approved only in exceptional circumstances (e.g. mandatory military service).

Coterm students who take an approved leave of absence while in good standing may enroll in the university for the subsequent quarter with the privileges of a continuing student. For additional information regarding satisfactory academic progress, refer to the Undergraduate Academic Progress section and the Coterminal Academic Progress section. The university may condition its approval of a leave of absence on the student meeting requirements the university deems appropriate in the individual case for the student to be eligible to return (such as, in the case of a leave for medical reasons, proof of treatment and/or an interview with a provider at Vaden Health Center or Counseling and Psychological Services or its designee).

For a full tuition refund, leave of absence requests must be received by the Office of the University Registrar no later than the first day of classes for the applicable quarter.

Military Leaves of Absence

Any coterminal student who has required military service (international and domestic, including National Guard and reservists) may be approved for a leave of absence to exceed one academic year (4 quarters) if necessary to fulfill a service requirement. For active duty students, any leave of absence quarters related to required military service will not be deducted from the student’s total allowable quarters of leave (two calendar years, up to eight quarters) and students may return to their degree program(s) once the required military service has been completed.

Exception Process

Exceptions to the university's Leave of Absence policy may be requested through the Student & Academic Services Student Exceptions Committee. Full details can be found at

Contact Information

Degree Progress, Office of the University Registrar