Leave of Absence and Withdrawal

RISD allows for undergraduate and graduate student leaves of absence in the following categories:

  • Personal Leaves
  • Medical Leaves
  • Administrative Leaves
  • Active Military Leaves

Steps to Apply for a Leave or request to Withdraw:

1. Fill out a Leave of Absence/Withdrawal form and submit the form directly to Student Affairs, located on the 3rd floor of Carr House.

2. Students must meet with Student Affairs once the form is submitted.  Taking this step will help to assure readmission with a minimum of difficulty after a leave of absence is granted. The Student Affairs office is located on the 3rd floor of Carr House or by calling 401 454-6600.

3. International Students (F-1 Visas): International Students must meet with the International Student Advisor before applying for a leave or withdrawing to ensure compliance with their visa status.  International students that will be taking a leave of absence from RISD should note that they may forfeit their F-1 work authorization benefits upon their return.  Please contact the Office for International Student Services for details.

Duration of the Leave

Undergraduate and 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 or request a second leave of up to one more year. A student who has not returned to RISD after their leave will be officially withdrawn. Once a student is withdrawn an application to return is considered as if it is a new application and will be reviewed by the committee on Academic Standing in addition to the other offices that review such readmit applications.

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Students who are granted a personal, academic or administrative leave during a semester will be withdrawn from all classes with a course grade of “W” if it is before the withdrawal deadline (see Academic Calendar).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. For information on refund schedules contact the Student Accounts Office.

Financial Aid

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.

Health Insurance

A Leave of Absence from RISD could affect the health insurance status for a student. Consult with your health insurance carrier for details.

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 authorizes medical leaves of absence 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.” The length of time a medical leave is expected to last is determined on a case-by-case basis, allowing the student sufficient time away from campus to achieve sustained stability and to engage in activities that will contribute to a successful return. 

Deadlines for requesting a medical leave are November 15 for Fall semester and April 15 for Spring semester..

RISD maintains the right to require a student to take a leave of absence from the college for physical or psychological health reasons in accordance with the “Guidelines for a Required Leave of Absence for Health or Psychological Reasons.” In order to return, the student must comply with the conditions stated in the “Medical Leave Readmission Guidelines,” 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 page on Academic Standing for procedures and process regarding dismissal for academic reasons. See the Code of Student Conduct in the Student Handbook 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 curriculum program.