You are here: American University Student Affairs Dean of Students Medical Temporary Leave Guide

Temporary Medical Leave of Absence

When students experience medical or mental health complications that significantly impact their ability to engage academically, they may consider taking a temporary medical leave.

A temporary medical leave of absence is:

  • Initiated prior to the start of the semester, or up until the last day of the add-drop period, and lasts for the duration of the semester (up to 1 full year)
  • A commonly explored option by students who are experiencing varying levels of medical or mental health concerns, the mitigation of which may be positively impacted by taking a break from academics and engaging in therapeutic services
  • Dictated by the Academic Rules and Regulations

A temporary medical leave of absence is NOT:

  • Applied to acute health care concerns (e.g., sick with the flu, strep throat, food poisoning)
  • Used for a portion of a semester (e.g., starting classes late, not attending classes for a few weeks in the middle of a term)
  • Issuance of excused absence letters to faculty for medical appointments

To request a temporary medical leave of absence, a student should:

  • Contact their Academic Advisor to request a temporary leave, discuss their academic progress, and implications to their graduation plan
  • Provide documentation to the Office of the Dean of Students (DOS) from their healthcare professional(s) outlining the anticipated treatment plan; documentation will be assigned to a DOS staff member for review
  • Respond to outreach from the DOS staff member; meet to discuss the provided treatment plan and discuss leave process; final steps of the temporary medical leave of absence process will be shared with the student following their DOS meeting

Using Time Effectively on Leave

A temporary medical leave is an opportunity for students to intentionally tend to their health and wellness. Our goal is for students to return with refined coping strategies, connection(s) to healthcare professionals, and a renewed sense of excitement for their academic and community engagement. 

  • Students are expected to participate in medical and/or mental health treatment while away from campus
  • Healthcare professionals may recommend the student seek a part-time job, internship, or take classes locally as part of their care plan; students may seek a Medical Permit to Study at Another Institution if coursework is deemed appropriate by the healthcare professionals, and courses must be approved by the student's academic unit prior to enrollment

Returning from Leave

Step 1: Submit Return Documentation

  • Ask your care provider to complete our Readiness to Return form which can be submitted to our office by e-mail, physical mail, or fax

Step 2: Schedule a Meeting with a Member of DOS

  • To ensure that we have sufficient time to review your documentation and discuss necessary supports, please schedule an appointment with us before the start of the semester in which you hope to return
  • Your appointment can be scheduled as a phone call, virtually, or in-person through our booking page

Step 3: Complete DOS Meeting

  • In your meeting, you will review your documentation and any supportive measures you are hoping to utilize when you return
    • If additional information is needed based on the circumstances, our staff will provide guidance on submitting documentation