Non-Academic Leave

Non-academic leaves are normally taken for personal reasons or to work or travel, and are intended for students not planning to obtain academic credit while away. However, under certain circumstances, students on non-academic leave may take courses that count toward Mount Holyoke's degree requirements.  Please carefully read the Credit Transfer section (below) for more detailed information.  A student on non-academic leave from Mount Holyoke is still considered a candidate for the Mount Holyoke degree and, if taking classes elsewhere on leave, must enroll as a guest or visiting (“non-degree-seeking”) student, not as a transfer or degree-seeking student. Students can be degree candidates at only one institution. Please see Transfer Policies for further information, including the applicable transfer limits during leaves.

During the semester of a student's approved leave, the Office of Academic Deans will send an Intentions Form to her mailing address.  She must complete this form and return it by the deadline in order to be eligible to return to the College at the end of her leave.  

How to Apply

A student seeking a non-academic leave should first consult with her Class Dean (call x2855 for an appointment). It is beneficial for a student to discuss her reasons for requesting a leave, her plans for time away, and her plans for returning to the College. A student must then complete and submit the Non-Academic Leave Application, which requires her Class Dean's signature. For a fall semester or academic year leave, a student should submit the application by May 15. For a spring semester leave, the application should be submitted by November 15. However, since non-academic leaves are sometimes needed to cope with sudden emergencies, exceptions to the deadlines may be made by the Office of Academic Deans. In these situations, the effective date of a student’s leave is set in consultation with her class dean.

Every student granted a non-academic leave of absence will receive a written confirmation of her leave, sent to her MHC email account, stating the terms and conditions of the leave. Students are responsible for reading all materials sent to them and complying with any special requirements.

International students should be aware that their immigration status may be affected by taking a non-academic leave, and thus they should consult with the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives before finalizing their plans.

Credit Transfer

Students may take courses at another accredited institution in the U.S. while on non-academic leave of absence, but they are not guaranteed credit for such work. Students should contact the Office of the Registrar regarding the credit approval process.

Academic credit is not granted for courses taken abroad while on non-academic leave.  Exceptions are sometimes granted in cases where the student receives advance approval from the Academic Administrative Board to study part-time abroad while living at her home outside of the U.S.  Students interested in qualifying for this exception must apply, in advance of their course work abroad, via petition the Academic Administrative Board.   Students interested in transferring credit for full-time study abroad must apply in advance for academic leave through the McCulloch Center.

Students who anticipate requesting credit after a non-academic leave should bring relevant materials back to Mount Holyoke (papers, syllabi, reading lists, etc.). If there are further questions about the content or level of a course, these materials may be critical to decisions about credit transfer. 


Students must arrange for their host institution or program to send an official transcript directly to the Office of the Registrar at Mount Holyoke upon completion of their program. When credits are transferred to a student's Mount Holyoke record, the name of the host institution, the period during which the student studied there, and the total number of credits awarded are documented. The registrar will assign a specific number of credits to each course for purposes of a student’s degree audit, but only the total number of credits for each semester will appear on her Mount Holyoke transcript. The grades for these courses are not recorded on the transcript.

Mount Holyoke may not release copies of transcripts sent by other institutions, either to a student or to anyone else. The transcripts sent to Mount Holyoke are held for a limited period of time and then destroyed. Students who have studied at another institution will always want to request two transcripts, one from Mount Holyoke and one from the host institution, to have a complete official transcript. Students who study abroad are advised to have an official transcript issued to them personally, and may want to obtain extra official copies to keep on hand for future use.

Length of Leave

Ordinarily, students are granted a non-academic leave of absence for up to two semesters. Students who wish to extend their leave or return to Mount Holyoke early must submit a written request to the Office of Academic Deans.

If you enter another institution as a transfer student, you must withdraw from Mount Holyoke; should you decide to return, you must apply for readmission. If you are thinking about transferring, you should meet with your Class Dean to discuss this decision. Should you decide not to return to the college, you must complete the necessary withdrawal procedures.