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Parental Accommodation

Parental Accommodation suspends all academic requirements for a twelve-week period, thereby allowing Arts and Sciences PhD and DMA students to devote their full attention to the demands of new parenthood. The spirit of this accommodation is to relieve new parents of all academic concerns, and effectively to pause all such obligations during this time period so that the student may return to academic work still in good standing.

Students in years one through seven who give birth, adopt, or become legal guardians or foster parents, as well as students whose spouse or partner gives birth, will have all responsibilities associated with their doctoral program suspended for twelve calendar weeks. Any exceptions to this policy must be reviewed by the student, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Parental Accommodation begins after the date of birth, adoption, or guardianship, but must begin no later than three months after this date. Students may be granted additional time in the event of illness or disability relating to childbirth under other GSAS policies, such as leaves of absence.

Students who anticipate requesting an accommodation should meet with their advisor as soon as possible to plan for their time off. Departments may not offer an alternative period that is shorter than that provided by the GSAS policy. Students also should communicate to their advisor their requested revised plan and timeline for completion of the PhD or DMA degree. Students in poor academic standing prior to the accommodation may be required by their department to take additional steps upon their return in order to return to good standing. Though parental accommodation temporarily suspends requirements, students are still expected to fulfill departmental requirements in a timely fashion.

So that GSAS and the department can make appropriate arrangements, students should submit the Parental Accommodation form to the GSAS Office of Student Affairs no later than four months before the start of the accommodation. This requirement allows GSAS and the department to make teaching or research replacement arrangements. Parental Accommodation is not granted retroactively.

The following provisions apply:

  • Suspended academic responsibilities include class attendance, exams, other course-related requirements, teaching, lab work, or work toward the dissertation.
  • Students in their GSAS multiyear fellowship years (usually years one through five) will be required to suspend responsibilities for their teaching and teaching assistant training for the accommodation period. Students in the natural sciences in their GSAS multiyear fellowship years (usually years one and two) are also required to suspend responsibilities for their teaching and teaching assistant training for the accommodation period. Natural Sciences students who are on external fellowships receive the accommodation as allowed by the conditions of their funding agency (for example, NSF, NIH, HHMI, etc.). In such cases, GSAS and the department will cover any portion of the twelve-week accommodation not funded by the grant or external fellowship. Students requesting an accommodation that would occur while on a GSAS Dissertation Writing Fellowship should contact the Office of Student Affairs (gsas-studentaffairs [at] columbia.edu) prior to submitting their application.
  • During the period of accommodation, full-time student status is preserved. Student health insurance, and housing eligibility are retained.
  • Students using the Parental Accommodation are given extra time toward the completion of the MA, MPhil, and PhD or DMA degrees equivalent to the amount of time of the period of accommodation under this policy. This extension does not apply to housing, which is not controlled by GSAS. Questions pertaining to housing should be directed to Columbia Residential.
  • The period of accommodation applies to calendar weeks, rather than academic weeks. If a Parental Accommodation overlaps with an academic break, the break period will still count toward the period of accommodation; however, the student will be granted additional time toward the completion of degree, regardless of when the accommodation occurs.
  • Students on an external fellowship or other non-Columbia funding (e.g., NSF, NIH, Fulbright, SSRC, etc.) should inform the external award agency and comply with any policy and conditions of the funding agency. If external funding is suspended or deferred during the accommodation period, then GSAS may assume funding responsibility. Provide a copy of the funding agency's letter that indicates that funding is suspended or deferred to the GSAS Office of Student Affairs (gsas-studentaffairs [at] columbia.edu).

New parents may also take an additional semester of accommodation, without funding, for the subsequent semester following the conclusion of the initial accommodation period. Students who elect to take an additional semester of unfunded accommodation will retain eligibility for housing, health coverage, and access to university facilities; however, they will be responsible for paying the Matriculation & Facilities tuition and health fees for the semester. Students will not be eligible to work for their departments or as research assistants during this time.

The Parental Accommodation does not affect a student's ability to request a leave of absence to begin after the accommodation period has ended. Additionally, the for Parental Accommodation will run concurrently with New York State Paid Family Leave benefits provided to current appointed student officers; that is, student officers on PFL will not collect additional benefits from New York State while receiving funding for a parental accommodation from GSAS.

All questions, forms, and requests for additional information should be directed to the GSAS Office of Student Affairs (gsas-studentaffairs [at] columbia.edu).

Note: Doctoral students who are not in Arts and Sciences programs and who are in years one through seven who give birth, adopt, or who become legal guardians or foster parents, as well as students whose spouse or partner gives birth, may request an extra semester for completion of the MA, MPhil, and PhD degrees. This extension does not apply to housing, which is not controlled by GSAS. Doctoral students in non-Arts and Sciences programs, including those in Architecture, Preservation and Planning; Business; Communications; Engineering and Applied Science; Nursing; Physicians and Surgeons; Public Health; Social Work; and Teachers College, should contact their director of graduate studies or the associate dean of their school to determine conditions for parental accommodation that may include class attendance, course assignments, exams, teaching and teaching assistant training, and other academic requirements, as well as research and lab work.