A leave of absence allows students who must interrupt their studies for a compelling reason—for example, a sustained medical condition that prevents attendance or a personal matter requiring absence from campus—to be exempt from the Continuous Registration requirement. Leave for a given semester cannot be processed at any time after the final day of classes for that semester.
Students who intend to take a leave of absence must notify GSAS by submitting the Leave of Absence Form to gsas-studentaffairs [at] columbia.edu. Until students are informed by the Office of Student Affairs that the leave has been processed, they should assume that they are registered and will be expected to fulfill their academic and/or financial responsibilities, including completing coursework.
Leaves of absence may be taken for one or two semesters; under unusual circumstances, students may apply for a third or fourth semester of leave. A student's total period of leave may not exceed two years (four semesters).
Students who take a leave of absence or who do not register for the semester are not considered to be active Columbia students, and will not be able to fulfill requirements for the degree while they are not registered and/or on leave. In addition, students will not receive any financial aid, including stipends, or loan disbursements while on leave.* If a student is receiving funds from an external source, it is their responsibility to verify their funding agency's rules concerning leaves of absence.
Students who have not registered for any classes or an enrollment category by the end of the change of program period will not be allowed to enroll that term and must file for a leave of absence or withdrawal.
*Funding-eligible doctoral students on medical leave may in some circumstances be able to receive support for the student health insurance premium for one semester. Please see the Health Insurance tab below for further details.