Leave of Absence

RISD allows for graduate leaves of absences in the following categories: Personal Leaves, Medical Leaves and Administrative Leaves. Graduate Students may apply for a leave of absence for a period of up to 1 year. Students are expected to return to RISD at the conclusion of their leave. A student who has not returned to RISD after their leave will be officially withdrawn. Once a student is withdrawn he/she must re-apply through the Office of Admission. Students can apply for one of the leave categories by meeting with their Graduate Program Director. Taking this step will help to assure readmission with a minimum of difficulty after the leave of absence is granted.

Instructions on Applying for a Leave or request to Withdraw click here.

Students on a Leave of Absence are still considered candidates for the RISD degree even though they are not formally enrolled. If you receive permission from RISD to take classes elsewhere while on leave, you must enroll there as a guest or visiting (non-degree seeking) student, not as a transfer or degree-seeking student. Students can be candidates for the bachelor’s degree at only one institution.

Students who receive Financial Aid must meet with the Financial Aid office to complete the necessary exit interview and to learn whether there are consequences of a leave on their financial aid eligibility or loan repayment. International Students must meet with the International Student Advisor before applying for a leave to ensure compliance with their visa status. A Leave of Absence from RISD could affect the health insurance status for a student. Consult with your health insurance carrier for details.

Students who are granted a personal, academic or administrative leave during a semester will be withdrawn from all classes with a course grade of “W” if it is before the withdrawal deadline (see Academic Calendar). If the leave is after the deadline date has passed for withdrawal from class, the student may have failing grades recorded.

Personal Leave of Absence:

Students who are granted a leave for personal reflection, financial concerns, military duty, academic exploration beyond the programs and classes of the RISD curriculum or off-campus study opportunities that are not recognized by RISD are on Personal Leave. Normally, personal leaves are granted between terms; students are not granted personal leaves during a term for which they are already in classes except under unusual circumstances or emergencies (see Medical Leave of Absence).

Medical Leave of Absence:

RISD, through the Office of Student Affairs, grants voluntary medical leaves of absences through consultation with on-and off-campus medical providers. If a medical leave is issued during an academic term the student receives a course grade of “W” a medical leave is normally expected to last until the end of the semester in which the condition necessitates the leave has been resolved. Students who take a medical leave for psychological or psychiatric reasons are strongly encouraged to take at least one additional semester beyond that; this length of time is intended to allow the student sufficient time away from campus to achieve sustained stability and to engage in activities that will contribute to a successful return.

RISD maintains the right to require a student to take a leave of absence from the college for health or psychological reasons in accordance with the “Guidelines for a Required Leave of Absence for Health or Psychological Reasons.” Each situation will be handled on an individual basis. In order to return, the student must comply with the conditions stated in “Guidelines for Return After a Leave of Absence for Health or Psychological Reasons.” Both of these documents are available from the Office of Student Affairs.

Administrative Leaves:

Student may be asked to leave for reasons of poor scholarship, unacceptable behavior, or non-payment of tuition. See the section on “Academic Standing” for procedures and process regarding dismissal for academic reasons. See the Code of Student Conduct for policy and procedures regarding academic or behavioral misconduct.

Active Military Service Leaves:

In order to support and accommodate RISD students called to active military service, RISD’s policy is the following:
1. Any student required to leave RISD because of a call to active military service will receive a leave of absence and a refund of tuition and fees paid for the interrupted semester of study.
2. Cost of RISD housing and meal plan will be prorated to the effective date of the leave of absence.
3. A place will be held in the student’s department which will guarantee re-admittance to RISD after military service is completed, and at a time in the academic year which best fits with the student’s departmental curricular program.