Leaves of Absence

Leaves of Absence and Withdrawals from Wellesley College

There are many reasons a student might need to request a temporary leave from their studies at Wellesley.  Some common reasons include pursuing professional opportunities such as internships, taking time to address health concerns, engaging in study away from the college, or managing challenges at home or with family.  Regardless of the reason for a potential leave, students should consult with their Class Dean as early as possible about their plans for a leave.    

Leaves of Absence

Any student who has completed one semester at Wellesley is eligible to request a leave of absence; a status that indicates the student is temporarily inactive, but intends to return to Wellesley after a designated period of time. Leave may be taken for as short a period as one semester and as long as two years. At the time a student requests a leave, the student must complete the Request for Change of Status Form indicating the purpose of the leave and the semester of the student’s planned return, in order to allow for the planning required for registration and housing. Depending on the purpose of the leave and the student’s status at the time of departure, the student may be required to follow a particular departure or return processes or satisfy other conditions.

All requests for leaves of absence must be approved by the Class Dean.  Students should request a planned leave by submitting the online form by November 1 for a spring semester leave and by March 1 for a fall semester leave.  If additional time is needed to make a final decision about a leave, students should consult with the Class Dean.

A student may also request a leave of absence at any time during a semester if the circumstances around the leave are unforeseen.  The timing of a leave can have consequences in terms of tuition refunds and whether the semester counts as one of a student's eight semesters, so students should consult with the Class Dean prior to taking a leave after the start of the semester. 

A first-year student desiring to declare a leave before the end of the first semester at Wellesley must consult with the Dean of First-Year Students.  The student may be required to withdraw from the College and in that case, if the student later desires to return to the College, must apply for readmission through the Academic Review Board.  In most cases, the student will be required to take a full year away from Wellesley and return from leave as a first-semester, first year student.

Leaves to Study Away

Students who study abroad during the fall or spring semester and pay tuition to Wellesley are not on leave; however, in the rare instances when an international student studies in her home country a leave is typically required. Students who participate in the 12-college exchange are not on leave.  Students who plan to study abroad for academic credit during the academic year will work with the Office of International Study to complete the approval and application process. More information is available on the OIS website.

All other leaves for the purpose of studying away from Wellesley require the submission of detailed academic plans to the Class Dean. A student on leave for study elsewhere may apply to transfer up to four units of credit per semester, to a total of eight units of credit.  More information about transfer credits is available on the Registrar’s website.  Students leaving to study at least half-time in another institution in the United States may be eligible for federal based financial aid, and should review and follow the procedures on the Class Dean study away website

Leaves for Health-Related Reasons

Students requesting a leave of absence for physical or mental health-related reasons should indicate this on the Request for Change of Status Form, and must follow the process for returning from a leave as outlined below.  The Dean of Students Advisory Committee (DAC) may modify the process based on the DAC’s review of the student’s individual circumstances.

Withdrawals

A student who plans to leave Wellesley permanently (typically to transfer to another institution) should withdraw from the College, rather than go on leave, using the Request for Change of Status Form. If, after withdrawing, a student wishes to re-matriculate at Wellesley, the student may apply for readmission through the Academic Review Board.

Mandatory Leaves of Absence and Withdrawals

Wellesley College may require a student to leave the College under various circumstances, as described below.

Academic Leaves and Withdrawals

The Academic Review Board may require a student who is not of diploma grade standing to be placed on leave.  In doing so, the Board will impose specific conditions to be satisfied before the student may return to the College, such as a specified time away from the College or evidence of satisfactory completion of academic work away from Wellesley.  The Board may also require a student who is not of diploma grade standing and is not making satisfactory progress toward completing degree requirements to be withdrawn from the College, with the expectation that the student will not return to Wellesley.  A student may request reconsideration of the decision only if there is new information available that was not available at the time of the original decision.

Mandatory Medical Leaves

Wellesley College and its partners provide a range of support services to address the physical and mental health needs of students within the context of the campus community. On occasion, students may experience health needs requiring a level of care that exceeds what the College and its partners can appropriately provide. In such circumstances, students may take a leave of absence. In situations where a student is unable or unwilling to carry out substantial self-care obligations, where current medical knowledge and/or the best available objective evidence indicates that a student poses a significant risk to the health or safety of others, or where a student poses an actual risk to their own safety and the student does not want to comply with treatment plan or take a leave voluntarily, the Dean’s Advisory Committee (DAC) has the authority to place the student on a mandatory leave of absence. Before placing a student on a mandatory medical leave of absence, an individualized assessment using a collaborative process will be conducted by the College to determine if there are reasonable accommodations that would permit the student to continue to participate in Wellesley’s campus community without taking a leave of absence. A student wishing to appeal a decision related to a mandatory medical leave, may appeal in writing to the Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students.

Financial Leaves

Student Financial Services may require a student who has not met a financial obligation to the College to be placed on leave.  Return is contingent on meeting all outstanding financial obligations or agreeing with the College on a satisfactory payment plan, as accepted in writing by Student Financial Services. 

Administrative Leaves, Suspensions, Dismissals, and Expulsions

The Dean of Students or her designee may place a student on leave for behavior that violates College rules and regulations or the rights of others (including the responsibility to respond to appropriate requests and recommendations of the College’s administrative staff); or if the student’s continuing presence at the College constitutes a risk to the health, safety, or general well-being of the student or others in the College community.  Such a leave may be for a stated period of time, or the Dean or her designee may place conditions on such a leave, and the student will not be permitted to return to the College until all such conditions are met to the satisfaction of the Dean.  The Dean or her designee may also dismiss for an open-ended period of time (with the possibility of return at an unspecified future date) or expel (with no possibility of return) a student who has egregiously or repeatedly failed to maintain academic or behavioral standards.  In all such cases, the Dean or her designee will provide the student with a written statement of the reasons for her determination and, if appropriate, the conditions which must be fulfilled for the student to return to the College.  In all such cases, the student will be allowed to request that the DAC review the Dean’s decision and to provide information to the DAC in support of a request to be allowed to return to the College.  A student may request reconsideration of the decision only if there is new information available that was not available at the time of the original decision.  

Honor Code Suspensions, Dismissals, and Expulsions

A student found to be in violation of the Honor Code may be suspended for a given period of time, or dismissed for an open-ended period of time (with the possibility of return at an unspecified future date) or expelled (with no possibility of return), in accordance with the published procedures of the Honor Code Council.  A student may appeal the decision in accordance with the published procedures of the Honor Code Council.

General Provisions Related to All Leaves and Withdrawals:

  • International students in non-immigrant (F-1 or J-1) status who separate from the College lose their eligibility to remain in the United States in F-1 or J-1 status at Wellesley College. The student's record in the Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) may be terminated. International students must consult with the International Student & Scholar Advisor BEFORE any action is taken to separate from the College. Please see information regarding immigration regulations for international students or contact the International Student & Scholar Advisor for more information.
  • Refunds of portions of the comprehensive fee may be available, depending on the effective date of the leave, in accordance with the scale published annually by Student Financial Services.  After the eighth week of the semester, refunds are no longer available, and the semester counts as one of a student’s eight semesters in residence, despite the lack of completion of coursework.
  • Students who go on leave must be in good financial standing before their request to return from a leave can be approved.
  • A student who goes on a leave of absence cannot remain in residence on campus more than 48 hours after the effective date of the leave.
  • Students on leave are in a temporary inactive status which means that they are not eligible for campus services or housing, may not actively participate in campus organizations, and are not eligible for student employment.  Students who visit campus while on leave, as long as their leave permits it, are considered guests.
  • A student on a mandatory withdrawal, suspension, or dismissal may not be permitted to transfer credit to Wellesley for academic work done while away from Wellesley.
  • A leave may be extended for no more than four consecutive semesters.  If a student’s leave exceeds four semesters, the student will be withdrawn from the College.
  • A student placed on a leave of absence or required to leave the College will be notified in writing (typically by email) of this decision and of the reasons for it.
  • Transcripts do not report any leaves of absence or withdrawals from the College.  Transcripts do report suspensions, dismissals, and expulsions of all kinds.  Students going on leave after a semester has begun but before the drop deadline for that semester will not have any notation of that semester's courses on their transcript; after the drop deadline, the courses will be noted as "withdrawn" on the transcript.
  • The College’s policy is to notify custodial parents/legal guardians in the case of any leave, suspension, expulsion, or dismissal.
  • Students on probation for disciplinary or academic reasons at the time of their leave will resume their probationary status upon their return for the duration of the assigned probationary period.
  • A student planning to be enrolled at the College, whether continuing or returning from a leave, must be registered by the last day of the regular registration period for the semester they plan to return.  Active students not registered by those deadlines ordinarily will be placed on personal leave for the coming semester.

Returns from Leave

Students on leave are eligible for return from leave for a two-year period, and many students who take a leave will have no requirements attached to their return.

All students intending to return from a leave should complete the Request for Return from a Leave of Absence FormThe deadline for completing the Request for Return from Leave of Absence Form is March 15 for return in the fall semester and October 15 for return in the spring semester.  Students on leave who do not indicate their intent to return on the Request for Return from Leave of Absence Form by the appropriate deadline date will be continued on leave for the following semester.

Conditional Leaves

In some cases the College may establish specific conditions for return from a leave if the circumstances of the student’s departure warrant it. The goal of such conditions is to prepare the student for a successful return to the College. Students placed on conditional leaves may have additional deadlines by which to submit documentation or complete tasks after completing their Intent to Return from Leave Form.  Students on conditional leaves should consult their leave letters and/or follow-up with their Class Dean after completing their Intent to Return from a Leave Form.

Academic Leaves

Students with academic conditions should submit evidence that they have fulfilled their conditions to their Class Dean.  Typically, documentation to address academic conditions are due by June 1 for a fall return and January 1 for a spring return

Medical Leaves

If the leave is physical or mental health-related, any conditions or requirements for reinstatement will be based on an individualized assessment of each student including consideration of current medical knowledge and/or the best available objective evidence, including, as appropriate, how the student’s situation has changed or developed, to support a successful return. Careful consideration will be given to the opinions and recommendations of the student’s treating physician or mental health professional, if available.  Students on a medical leave should follow the instructions given in their leave letter and pay particular attention to deadlines for submitting documentation.

Once having been cleared to return from a medical leave, a student will ordinarily be required to satisfactorily complete a full semester at Wellesley before the student is allowed to be at the College for winter session or summer session, or to participate in an approved study abroad program.

Financial Leaves

Return from a financial conditional leave is contingent on meeting all outstanding financial obligations or agreeing with the College on a satisfactory payment plan, as agreed to in writing by Student Financial Services.  Students who are eligible for financial aid must also have completed their aid application for the term in which the student intends to return.

Reapplication

Students who are withdrawn or dismissed from the College may apply for readmission at some later date, and readmission will be considered in light of the reasons for withdrawal or dismissal.  Students seeking readmission after withdrawal or dismissal should contact the Associate Dean of Students for Academic Integration and Advising for guidance about the appropriate procedures. If the student was on any kind of conditional leave prior to their withdrawal or dismissal, the student must fulfill all the conditions of the original leave as part of the readmission process.

Appealing Denial of a Request to Return

In the rare circumstance that a student’s request to return from a leave is denied on grounds of health or safety or on academic grounds, the decision may be appealed on the grounds that new information is available or there was a procedural error.  Appeals should be submitted in writing to the Vice President and Dean of Student Life within two weeks of receiving notification of the denial.