Medical Leave

Medical Leave

A medical leave of absence is a leave from the College to attend to the student’s own physical or psychological health concerns. Students must consult Health Services or the Counseling Service, as applicable under the circumstances, for all medical concerns resulting in a request for medical leave, including those arising from a chronic health condition or disability. Academic deans must refer all requests for medical leaves to Health Services or the Counseling Service, as appropriate under the circumstances.

Health Services or the Counseling Service will review the request for leave and notify the office of the Academic Deans of approved leaves. The notification to the Academic Deans will include the basic parameters of the leave, such as the effective date, and whether or not the student is withdrawing from courses. College Health Services and the Counseling Service will keep the details of the student’s medical condition confidential to the extent possible in compliance with relevant law. Students may be asked and/or choose to provide a written release of information permitting the disclosure of medical information to other offices at the College so that those offices can provide the student with the appropriate resources.

Important additional information on medical leave

  • The length of a medical leave will be determined by the nature or severity of the health concern. A student should allow sufficient time to regain the health and functioning required to manage a full-time academic load in a residential environment. However, a medical leave of absence can be no less than one semester and ordinarily no longer than four consecutive semesters. The College withdraws students after four consecutive semesters away unless they have requested and received an extension of their leave from either Health Services or the Counseling Service. If an extension request is denied by Health Services or the Counseling Service, an appeal may be made to the Dean of Students (or designee).

Note: A request to withdraw from all classes or request for a leave of absence after the 50th day of classes in a given semester would ordinarily result in a leave of absence for the current semester as well as the following semester, absent extraordinary circumstances, as determined by the College at its sole discretion.

Withdrawal from all courses before the 50th day of classes in a given semester will ordinarily result in a leave of absence. The leave of absence will be for the current semester and possibly for the following semester, as determined by the College at its sole discretion.

  • Students who seek to return from a medical leave of absence must receive written medical clearance from Health Services or the Counseling Service. The treating physician or clinician must complete a readiness to return from medical leave of absence form, located on the Counseling Service website for leaves initiated through the Counseling Service and the Health Services website for leaves initiated through College Health Services. This form must be submitted before the student makes an appointment to discuss clearance to return from leave.
  • Students should plan to meet with the appropriate academic dean to discuss their progress toward a degree, given their absence. Students can arrange this meeting by calling the Office of Academic Deans at 413-538-3610 and requesting an appointment. 
  • When a medical leave is authorized by the College on an immediate basis, students are withdrawn from the courses in which they are enrolled and given W’s in place of grades. In extraordinary circumstances, an incomplete for the course may be granted, as determined by the College at its sole discretion.
  • International students should consult with the immigration specialist or the Dean of International Students in the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives before going on medical leave to discuss the impact the leave may have on their immigration status.
  • During a medical leave, the student may decide to take courses at an accredited institution. Students should refer to the credit transfer webpage for information about this option and consult with the registrar’s office.
  • When a medical leave is approved, the student will be allowed up to three days to remove belongings and vacate the residence halls. If additional time is needed, the student should speak with the Director of Residential Life to request extended time to move out. Extending time in the residence halls may affect the amount of any refund due, if applicable, or result in a late stay charge. The College has a list of vendors who provide storage and shipping services.
  • When a medical leave is approved, the College will alert the appropriate offices across campus. This notification will prompt a change to certain College privileges, which may include, without limitation, campus employment, borrowing from the library, access to Kendall, health and counseling services and campus dining. The approval will also prompt Student Financial Services to perform required calculations according to the College’s refund policy. Students should connect with Student Financial Services directly regarding refund requests.

Returning from a medical leave of absence

Students who seek to return from a medical leave of absence must receive written medical clearance from Health Services or the Counseling Service. Health Services or the Counseling Service, as applicable, will then notify the Office of Academic Deans of the student’s request to return. Students must complete the following steps for clearance and approval before they will be able to register for Mount Holyoke classes, request housing, complete an application for financial aid or return to the College.

1. The treating physician or clinician must complete a readiness to return from medical leave of absence form, located on the Counseling Service website for leaves initiated through the Counseling Service and the Health Services website for leaves initiated through College Health Services. This form must be submitted before the student makes an appointment to discuss clearance to return from leave.

2. The student should set up an appointment over the phone or in person to speak with either the director of Health Services or the Counseling Service, as applicable, to discuss the student’s return.

3. If notified by the director of Health Services or the Counseling Service that the student has received medical clearance, the student should complete the Return from Leave form and submit it the Office of Academic Deans. Students who are not cleared to return may appeal the decision to the Dean of Students.

Students are encouraged to request a return from a leave of absence by October 30 to return the following spring semester and March 30 to return the following fall semester. Please note that a request after these dates may limit options for course registration, on-campus housing and/or financial assistance. We encourage students to follow the steps outlined in the Return from Leave form.

The office of Academic Deans will review the Return from Leave form and determine whether the return is approved, with notification to the Dean of Student’s office. Please note that additional holds or flags on a student’s record, whether disciplinary, academic or financial, may prohibit a return to campus. Students must clear those holds with the appropriate offices before returning to campus.

Students may appeal a denial of a return from a medical leave of absence to the Dean of Students. The review team may include any combination of the Dean of Students, Dean of Studies and representatives from Health Services, the Counseling Service and/or AccessAbility Services, among others. If called to participate in a review, the directors of Health Services and the Counseling Service will comply with applicable law governing the confidentiality of student medical information. The student may be requested to complete a written release of information permitting the disclosure of confidential records, including medical records, in order to evaluate the appeal. Upon completing the appeal’s review, the student will receive written notification from the Division of Student Life regarding its outcome.