Leave of Absence Policy

Leave of Absence

A leave of absence (LOA) is a period of non-enrollment and therefore, students on a LOA are not considered to be making progress towards their degree(s). The term of the leave is for a period of up to one year. Each request for leave will be evaluated by the Student Affairs Deans to determine the conditions of the leave, including duration of time, effective date and return date. Students granted a LOA are expected to use that time to address the life events and circumstances which precipitated the need for time away from the curriculum.

Students may need to take a LOA for medical, personal, parental, programmatic or administrative reasons. Leaves of absence do not exceed one academic year.  Since all situations and circumstances are different, LOA requests are handled on a case-by-case basis. Students should not presume that their request for a LOA will be approved. Students considering a leave of absence should make an appointment with the Dean of Students or Associate Dean for Students to discuss the options available given their individual circumstance. Leaves of absence are not ordinarily granted in order for students to attend another University to pursue other coursework or another degree or to pursue a job or business opportunity.

Students may not participate in coursework or rotations while on a leave of absence. Students on Leave of Absence may not reside in the residence hall, or utilize University facilities or resources including the library, and fitness center.  In addition, under certain circumstances students may not be allowed on Tufts University campuses.

A completed TUSM leave of absence form (available in the Office of Student Affairs) with the required signatures must be submitted to the Registrar prior to the LOA. All financial aid recipients must meet with a financial aid counselor to discuss the impact of the Leave of Absence on their financial aid status and possible loan repayment requirements. Financial clearance must be obtained from the Bursar’s Office and clearance for health insurance must be obtained from the Student Advisory and Health Administration Office for all students before going on leave.  Students should review the Health Insurance Policy for Students on Leave of Absence, as published in this handbook and in the Student Advisory and Health Administration Office.  The Leave of Absence does not become official until the Registrar (or designee) signs the form. Students who are on leave of absence are responsible for providing the Registrar with up to date address information. 

Personal Leave of Absence

A student who has experienced a family emergency, illness, death, or who encounters other unforeseen circumstances that require the student to take time off from school, may request a personal leave of absence. The term of the leave is for a period of up to one year.  

Medical Leave of Absence

A student in good academic standing may request a medical leave of absence.  A medical leave of absence is granted by the Dean of Students upon the recommendation of a student’s treating physician. The Dean shall collect pertinent data from the treating physician and may request a second opinion from an administratively approved physician to document the necessity for such leave. If the opinions of the two Physicians differ, the Dean of Students and the student shall accept the opinion of the administratively approved physician.

The purpose of the medical leave is to enable students to seek treatment for a health-related condition that interferes with medical school work. The term of the leave is for a period of up to one year. The Leave may be extended for up to a second and final year, based upon the recommendation of the student’s treating physician in consultation with the Dean of Students.


Students may be placed on administrative leave as a result of action taken by the Student  Ethics  and  Promotions  Committee  or  by  the  Dean  for  Students in the circumstances that a student’s continued enrollment poses a risk to the health and safety of themselves or others or causes a significant disruption to members of the TUSM community. Students who have been placed on LOA for administrative reasons must meet the stated conditions of return.

In addition, if a student fails to submit a completed Leave of Absence form they will be automatically be placed on an administrative leave.


Certain combined degree programs (e.g. M.D./Ph.D.) require students to take a leave from the medical school while completing their coursework. M.D./Ph.D. students must complete all outstanding M.D. requirements, including taking Step 1, before going on leave and must complete all Ph.D. requirements (including dissertation defense) before returning to the medical school curriculum. 

Return from Leave Guidelines  

Students returning to the preclerkship curriculum must notify the School of intent to return from leave at least 60 days in advance.   Students returning from a leave to the Clerkship phase of the curriculum must contact the Registrar by December 15th to enter the scheduling process and obtain the scheduling calendar. Note that students returning to the Core Clerkship year must have a passing USMLE Step 1 score prior to entering the lottery. In order to participate in the clerkship scheduling process students must take the USMLE Step 1 exam no later than December 15th. Lack of financial clearance may result in denial of participation in clinical scheduling or starting classes/rotations. 

The student must receive clearance in order to return from leave of absence. Financial clearance must be obtained from the Bursar’s Office and clearance for health insurance and immunization requirements must be obtained from the Student Advisory and Health Administration Office for all students returning from leave.

Students who do not return from a leave of absence on or before the date on which the leave expires will be considered to have withdrawn which is a final separation from the Medical School.  

A student on a medical leave of absence who seeks reentry into the School must provide documentation from his or her primary care physician and/or treating physician certifying that the student has been medically cleared to return to the School. The School may require that the student be evaluated by medical care providers of its own choosing before permitting the student to resume his or her studies. The final decision to readmit a student from a medical LOA resides with the Dean of Students, after a thorough review of the documentation submitted by the student.

A student on an administrative leave of absence who seeks reentry into the School must provide the required documentation as outlined by the Dean of Students and/or the Student Ethics and Promotions Committee. The final decision as to whether a student may reenter the curriculum resides with the Dean of Students and/or the Student Ethics and Promotions Committee, whichever is appropriate given their situation.


Students considering permanent withdrawal from the school must meet with the Dean for Students to discuss their plans.  Students withdrawing to transfer to another medical school must provide a copy of the acceptance letter. All financial aid recipients contemplating withdrawal are required to meet with a financial aid counselor for an exit interview to discuss their rights and responsibilities in regard to their student loans. In addition, students must meet with representatives from the Student Advisory and Health Administration Office, and Bursar’s Office, prior to withdrawal from TUSM. Student initiated withdrawals require a completed withdrawal form. If a withdrawn student wishes to return to the Medical School, reapplication is required and the former student is subject to the conditions of the normal admissions process. 

Administrative Withdrawal

Students who fail to meet annual registration requirements, or comply with the LOA return conditions, will be administratively withdrawn. This is a final separation from TUSM.

If a student who had been given an extension on their leave of absence does not return to full time status in the subsequent year, the student is considered withdrawn from TUSM.