Graduate students must be continuously enrolled in a full-time status, making satisfactory academic progress, and in residence at the Institute during their graduate studies unless they request and receive permission from the Office of Graduate Studies for either Leave or Detached Duty. This includes the summer term.
If a student fails to register for a full-time load of classes (36 units) by Add Day, they will be placed in "Separated/Inactive" status and will be ineligible to be receive a stipend or use Institute facilities. Key cards will be inactivated and a hold may be placed on their paycheck.
To avoid being placed in "Separated/Inactive" status, the student must petition the Graduate Studies Office and resolve their status prior to being reinstated or placed on an approved leave.
Leave of Absence from Graduate Study
If the student needs to take a leave (sabbatical) from the Institute, they must petition through the Graduate Studies Office.
Leaves are granted for a fixed duration from one term up to a maximum of one year. Leaves may be extended only with the agreement of the Adviser, Option Representative, and the permission of the Dean of Graduate Studies.
The student must make arrangements prior to going on leave for their conditions of return. This is not automatic and return from leave is conditional upon the Option and the Adviser's willingness to accept the student for continuing study, and is also subject to the availability of funding and a commitment of advising.
If the student does not return from leave by the end date of the original leave or obtain an extension in a timely manner, then the student will be separated from the Institute.
Students on a non-medical leave (sabbatical) are not eligible for Caltech health care benefits, stipends, or other student benefits. Please refer to the conditions for students on Involuntary Leave or Non-Medical Leave from the Institute.
A medical leave is intended for students to take time away from the Institute for up to one year to focus on their recovery from various health conditions and be able to resume graduate studies once the health issues have been addressed. Extensions beyond one year may be granted in exceptional circumstances and should follow the same procedures. In order to be placed on leave, the student must petition for a medical leave, and get the recommendation of the Caltech Health and Counseling Center, Option Representative, Adviser, and the permission of the Dean of Graduate Studies. Students on medical leave are eligible for Caltech health care benefits for up to one year, but are not eligible for a stipend, unless the leave falls under the Pregnancy Leave policy.
Students qualifying for leave will receive a letter setting out the purpose of the leave, any specific conditions that they must fulfill to be on leave, and the procedure for returning from leave. Conditions that must be met after the return from leave may also be specified.
Students who need to apply for an extension of their leave beyond the terms of the original leave and/or who are requesting special access to campus resources or facilities should complete the petition for Medical Leave Extensions/Exceptions.
If a student is studying or carrying out research or an educational internship at another institution, then they must apply for "Detached Duty" and get the approval of their Adviser and Option Representative.
Students who are unable to complete their coursework or other course of study for a period of time due to a pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions are eligible for a pregnancy leave of absence. Students who are pregnant or who have recently given birth are also eligible for reasonable accommodations.
Students are not required to take a leave of absence, withdraw, or limit their graduate studies because of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. However, students who are disabled due to pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions are eligible to take a pregnancy leave of absence. The Institute provides up to six (6) weeks of pay to students during a pregnancy leave of absence; an additional 6 weeks of pay is available through family bonding leave (see following section).
A pregnant student who wishes to take a pregnancy leave should submit a pregnancy leave petition to the Graduate Office. Medical documentation from the student's treating health care provider may be required.
A student who chooses to take a leave of absence because they are pregnant or have recently given birth shall be allowed an additional period commensurate with the length of the leave, but not to exceed 12 additional months, to prepare for and take preliminary and qualifying examinations and an equal extension of time toward the normative time to degree while in candidacy for a graduate degree, unless a longer extension is medically necessary.
An enrolled student in good standing who chooses to take a leave of absence because they are pregnant or have recently given birth shall return to their program in good academic standing following an approved leave period up to one academic year, subject to the administrative requirements described above, unless there is a medical reason for a longer leave, in which case standing in the graduate program shall be maintained during that period of the leave.
The Institute also provides reasonable accommodations to pregnant students consistent with federal and state law. Reasonable accommodations may include allowing pregnant students to maintain a safe distance from hazardous substances, allowing them to make up tests and assignments that are missed for pregnancy-related reasons or excusing of absences that are medically necessary.
Students may take six (6) weeks of family bonding leave with pay. An enrolled student in good academic standing who chooses to take a leave of absence because of the recent birth or adoption of his or her child may request a bonding leave by submitting a bonding leave petition to the Graduate Office for approval. Bonding leave is in addition to pregnancy leave, providing eligible students with a combined total of up to 12 weeks of paid leave. Students returning from an approved bonding leave shall return to his or her program in good academic standing following the leave, subject to the administrative requirements described above.
Students on detached duty must register for full-time study, and may receive a stipend or salary. The student's funding must be arranged with the Adviser and funding agency. Students on detached duty are eligible for Caltech health care benefits.
Detached duty is allowed for a fixed duration up to a year at a time and renewable with the concurrence of the Adviser, Option Representative, and the permission of the Dean of Graduate Studies. Students must petition the Office of Graduate Studies, agree to the conditions for detached duty, and submit documentation in order to be eligible for detached duty.
Returning from Leave or Detached Duty
All students returning from leave must notify the Graduate Studies Office, the Registrar and their Option Administrator at least six (6) weeks prior to their anticipated return. In addition, in order to return from medical leave, the student will be required to obtain clearance from the Health and Counseling Center and the concurrence of the Adviser and the Option. Students considering returning from medical leave should start the process well in advance of the expected return date.
Permission to return from leave is at the discretion of the Dean of Graduate Studies.