Leaves of Absence / Withdrawal

Sometimes students find it necessary to postpone their studies for a while. Some reasons to take a leave may include: time needed for a special project, the need to re-kindle motivation and enthusiasm in academic study, financial difficulties, time needed to renew self-confidence and health, or career experience in an internship or job. A Leave of Absence is requested if/when you must leave the University and plan to return at a later time. A leave is granted upon request, for people who are in good academic standing, for one semester. A request for extension of the leave for an additional semester should be provided before the end of the first semester of leave.

Leaves of absence typically last for at least six months and are not generally granted for more than two years. A leave of absence granted during the semester goes into effect based on the last day a student attends classes.

A Leave of Absence requested before the final drop deadline of the semester carries two implications:

  • that the student on Leave may request return in the next semester
  • that there will be no record of classes and grades for the semester

After the final drop deadline, the notation "W" will be entered for the courses in which a student is registered, and the student may not expect to return to classes until an entire semester has elapsed.

Types of Leaves

Personal (Voluntary) Leave

May be taken if a student is in good academic standing and takes the leave for the up-coming semester or within the first 7 weeks of the current semester. Personal (Voluntary) leave should be requested in writing for a specified period of time. Individual circumstances will determine what kind of leave a student may take (personal or Health related). Students will receive written confirmation of their leave from the ILR Registrar.

Students may return from a personal leave whenever they wish (typically within two years). Exceptions may be granted given individual circumstances. This must be requested in writing by the student.

Required Leave

May be issued if a student is placed on a required Academic Leave of Absence by the ILR Academic Standards and Scholarships Committee (ASSC), usually for one or two semesters. (See Academic Standing).

Required leave may be issued by the University Judicial Administrator for violation of codes of conduct, laws, etc.

Health Leave

May be taken if a student consults with University Health Services (Cornell Health) about this option; the ILR School will grant and readmit a student from a medical leave only upon the recommendation of Cornell Health.

If a student is taking a leave for emotional or psychological reasons, it will usually be for at least six months. Cornell Heath Counseling and Psychological Services will devise a plan with the student to be undertaken while on health leave. Therapy, work, and academic endeavors may be part of the plan. The ILR School will determine what academic endeavors a student may be required to meet while on health leave.

If a student taking a health leave is on Academic Warning, the ILR School may stipulate additional conditions for the leave.


If, in mid-semester, a student decides to withdraw from Cornell University, with no intention of returning, they must submit a letter to the ILR Registrar or Director of the Office of Student Services, stating their intention to withdraw. This letter should be on file prior to their departure.

If a student requests a Leave of Absence or withdraws, it is their responsibility to contact the following offices prior to leaving to find out about possible implications of doing so:

Where to Find Support and Additional Resources

We encourage students to make OSS, 101 Ives, their first stop when questions or problems arise. We are happy to listen and work with all students to help devise appropriate solutions to problems, provide accurate information about and referral to useful university resources. There are many types of assistance available to students on campus. Here are some links to university resources that help students manage academic, financial, emotional, and social issues.