Jul 21, 2024  
2022-2023 Academic Catalog 
2022-2023 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Leaves of Absence and Withdrawal

One Semester Leaves

Students who have attended at least one semester as matriculated students and who are in good or probationary academic standing may choose to be voluntarily absent from the university (“stop out” or not enroll) for one semester (Fall or Spring) without submission of a leave-of-absence petition or any penalty. A student must return the semester following a stop-out semester and continue they enrollment as a matriculated student unless the stop-out semester is immediately followed by an approved leave of absence. If a student does not return in the semester following the one semester stop-out, application for re-admission for the next available admission term is required. If the student is in disqualified status or was disenrolled the previous semester for nonpayment of fees, they can neither apply for a leave of absence nor enroll after the initial absent semester without application for re-admission.

The exception to this rule is that graduate students who have completed all degree requirements except their culminating experience and who either have an RP grade in a project or thesis course or will be taking comprehensive exams may not stop out but must maintain continuous enrollment (see University Policy S17-5). They can do so by taking a 1-unit special session course designed for this purpose. Students should consult their Colleges and Departments  or their majors  to determine the course to take (1290R ). Also consult the section entitled Thesis and Project Work - RP Status . At this stage of the graduate student career, leaves of absence other than medical or military duty will rarely be permitted.

Students who are members of an academic cohort may be restricted by their respective departments or schools in the duration of their leaves. Thus one-semester leaves may not be possible if it is necessary for course enrollment to join a future cohort, which usually would start after one academic year. The individual program director or graduate advisor of the cohort program should be consulted before and after an absence to determine the semester of eligibility to return.

Leaves of Absence

By University Policy S15-3, a formal leave of absence for undergraduate or graduate students in the first or subsequent semesters for medical, care-giving, military service, personal hardship, or educational reasons may be requested by submission of the fully signed and documented Leave of Absence Petition. Submission to the Registrar’s Office must precede the leave period except in the rarely granted cases of retroactive leaves. Leaves can be 1-4 semesters in length (with some exceptions). If a stop-out semester is taken prior to the formal leave, that semester counts in the 4-semester maximum period. Following the leave period, re-enrollment is required to avoid application for re-admission. An early return from leave must be accompanied by written notice to the Registrar’s Office. Students granted a leave are guaranteed a return to their department even if it is or becomes a program restricting the number of applicants.

Graduate students are eligible for all leaves of absence except when finished with all degree requirements other than their culminating experience (thesis, project, and/or comprehensive exam plus any other components required of the major). At that point, neither stopping out (voluntary absence for a semester) nor financial leaves are permissible and students must register for 1 unit of University Studies (UNVS) 1290R or a Departmental 1290R (Thesis/Project Supervision) through special session every semester until graduation (See Thesis and Project Work - RP Status ) to maintain continuous enrollment (see University Policy S17-5). During this stage of a graduate student’s career, leaves of absence for any reason beyond medical or military shall be precluded except under rare circumstances.

Time Limits

Course expiration, as per long-standing SJSU practice, (10 years on undergraduate courses and 7 years on graduate courses) shall remain in effect even for students who have taken leaves of absence. Upon a student’s return, the student’s catalog rights shall pertain to his or her most recent admission date. Graduate students - see the Graduate Policies & Procedures - Time Limits  section for more information on time limits.

Types of Leaves

Documentation and a personal statement are always required (though see certain limitations below). Supporting memos from faculty advisors or mentors may be included but are optional, except in the case of educational leaves.

First-Semester Leaves of Absence

These leaves, which are to be awarded sparingly, are for matriculated students exclusively. Therefore, the student must have been admitted into the university rather than merely applying for admission. Any conditions or provisions imposed on admission status that are still in effect shall carry over to the semester of re-enrollment following the leave.

International Student Leaves

International students must be enrolled in a full course of study (12 units for undergraduate students; 9 units for graduate students) for two semesters annually (summer and winter breaks not included). International students are eligible for leaves of absence only when authorized by International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). Lack of enrollment for any reason other than prevention of the ability to pursue one’s studies by severe medical circumstances shall result in the student having to leave the US. If the student is able to return from abroad at the expiration of the leave period, he or she shall derive the benefits of having had the formal leave, such as avoiding the readmission process. However, other restrictions, such as in the ability to work within the US, may be imposed by federal immigration regulations. International students in need of a leave of absence must first speak with an international student advisor. Walk in advising is available at ISSS in Student Union CPGE.

International students may not take a leave of absence and must remain in the United States except for documented medical reasons. International students must be enrolled in a full course of study (9 units) for two semesters annually. Winter and Summer registration are not required. If you have further questions please contact the International Student and Scholar Services Student Advising.

Medical Leaves

These leaves (including physical and mental health leaves) must be supported by submission of the Treating Healthcare Professional’s Verification of Medical Condition Form. Details of the medical condition or the type of healthcare professional consulted should not be included, only that there is a medical condition that justifies the leave and is supported by a State-certified healthcare professional’s authorization with respect to both the severity of the medical condition and the period of need for a leave, as given by means of the Treating Healthcare Professional’s Verification of Medical Condition Form. A semester of pregnancy, maternity, or paternity leave (beyond the first stop-out semester) is acceptable.

Planned Student Educational Leaves

An Educational Leave permits a student to be absent from regular attendance for one or more terms while maintaining continuing enrollment status. Applicants must have an intention to return to formal study within a specified period and a plan for how the time is to be spent. There must be a clear educational objective for award of the leave. At least one supporting letter from an advisor, mentor, or chair from SJSU as well as the consent of the associate dean of the college is also necessary.

The opportunity to apply for such leave is available to all non-international students except those attending their first semester and those in disqualified status.

Leave arrangements must be made in advance with the department in which the student is majoring. Undergraduate students in undeclared status will make leave arrangements with Undergraduate Advising and Success Center (UASC) in Admininstration Building 150. Graduate students will make leave arrangements with the graduate program coordinator in their department.

Primary Caregiver Leaves

In most cases, a healthcare professional’s certification of need for the care must be included by submission of the Treating Healthcare Professional’s Verification of Medical Condition Form, as indicated above.

Personal Leaves

Personal Hardship Leave

This category encompasses a variety of social or financial insecurities, including, but not limited to, financial hardship, temporary job relocation, increased work hours in order to maintain employment, or housing insecurity. A personal statement of understanding is required and must include objectives to resolve the personal insecurity to be able to return successfully to one’s studies.

International Military Service

For international students called to active military duty, leave requests must be supported by a copy of the military orders. Such leaves may not exceed four consecutive semesters.

Retroactive Leaves of Absence

Retroactive leaves may be granted for up to two semesters after the semester of the student’s last enrollment, excluding summer and winter sessions. These leaves shall modify the enrollment status retroactively. After two semesters, the student will be required to reapply and be subject to current application deadlines.

U.S. Military Deployment Leaves

Federal law requires that campuses establish and maintain a policy to accommodate students called to serve on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States. This policy outlines California State University (CSU) campus responsibilities and student rights established by state and federal law.

CSU campuses shall maintain a policy that ensures that students who are members of the Armed Forces are:

  • accommodated if they are temporarily unavailable to attend classes due to military service, or
  • are promptly readmitted to the institution if they must suspend their enrollment due to military service.
  • as provided for in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008[2], students who were previously admitted to the CSU campus but who did not attend, or who attended then left the CSU campus to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States for a period of 30 days or more will be allowed to return to the same program with the same standing they had when they left. Students returning from military leave shall not be required to submit a new application for admission.  
  • students currently serving in the US Armed Forces (particularly those in the Reserve or National Guard) may be called to active duty or be required to fulfill reserve military obligations for periods shorter than 30 days. In recognition of the fact that such service is mandated by state or federal government authorities, absences for these duties shall be considered “excused absences” and shall be accommodated by the CSU campus. This means that the student shall not be penalized for the absence.

Please find the full policy here regarding Military Short Term Leaves, Long Term Leaves, and Readmissions for Military Leaves:  https://calstate.policystat.com/policy/10186624/latest/#autoid-q4vbj 

Withdrawal from the University

Students may withdraw officially from all courses during the first two weeks of instruction without academic penalty (no “W” grade on academic record). Students who have compelling reasons to cancel their registration or who wish to withdraw from all classes after the last day to drop without a “W” grade should consult their instructors, department chair or school director, academic advisor, and, for undergraduates, Undergraduate Advising and Success Center (UASC) in Administration 150. Counseling & Psychological Services might also be sought for assistance.

A completed Petition for Withdrawal form for undergraduates or a Graduate Petition for Course Drop/Semester Withdrawal for graduate students must be submitted. Failure to follow formal university procedures may result in an obligation to pay fees as well as the assignment of failing grades in all courses. Students who leave the university but who do not officially withdraw will receive a grade of “WU” (denotes failure for unauthorized drop or withdrawal) in all of their classes. No personnel actions, grades, or transcript services will be permitted until all financial obligations, such as unpaid fines have been settled. If a student fails to return the semester immediately following withdrawal, reapplication for admission at www.calstate.edu/apply will be required.

Students who receive financial aid must consult with the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office prior to withdrawing from the university regarding any required return or repayment of grant or loan assistance received for that academic term or payment period. If a recipient of student financial aid withdraws from the institution during an academic term or a payment period, the amount of grant or loan assistance received may be subject to return and/or repayment provisions.

Students holding visas must consult with International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) regarding effects on their visa status before submitting a withdrawal petition.

Refer to the section on for Continuous Attendance and Catalog Rights  information about the possible effect a break in attendance may have on requirements for graduation.