Index > Student Academic Policies > Leaves of Absence

Leaves of Absence

RISD allows for leaves of absence in the following categories: Personal, Medical, Administrative, and Military. Students may apply for a leave of absence for a period of up to 1 year (see below for the allowable duration of a military leave). Students are expected to return to RISD at the conclusion of their leave or request a leave extension of up to one more year. Extensions beyond a year may be considered. A student who has not returned to RISD after their leave will be officially withdrawn from the institution.

To apply for a leave of absence, fill out the Leave of Absence Form and complete relevant items below:

  • Meet with Student Financial Services regarding student finances, financial aid eligibility, refund schedules, and/or loan repayment.
  • International students on an F-1 Visa: Meet with the Office of International Student Services. Note that students on F-1 Visas who take a leave of absence may forfeit their F-1 work authorization benefits upon their return.
  • Meet with Student Affairs for a brief advising session.
  • First-year students: Meet with the Dean of Experimental and Foundation Studies.
  • Graduate students: Meet with their Graduate Program Director.

Students already on leave who need to extend beyond their expected return date must complete a Leave of Absence Extension Form.

Note: leaves of absence from RISD could affect the health insurance status for a student.Consult with your health insurance carrier for details.

Leaves of absence may be requested during a semester up until the course withdrawal deadline. Students who are granted a leave of absence within the add/drop period will be dropped from all courses. After the add/drop deadline, students will be withdrawn from all classes. See the Academic Calendar for specific dates. A course withdrawal does not impact a student’s Grade Point Average (GPA) and will appear as a “W” on the official transcript. Leaves of absence after the conclusion of the withdrawal period are granted sparingly and in the case of extenuating circumstances beyond the ability of the student to predict or control.

Students on a leave of absence are still considered candidates for the RISD degree even though they are not formally enrolled. If you receive permission from RISD to take classes elsewhere while on leave, you must enroll there as a guest or visiting (non-degree seeking) student, not as a transfer or degree-seeking student.Students can only be candidates for a degree at one institution at a time.

Personal Leave of Absence

Students who are granted a leave for reasons including but not limited to personal reflection, financial concerns, academic exploration beyond the programs and classes of the RISD curriculum, or off-campus study opportunities that are not recognized by RISD, are on Personal Leave.

Medical Leave of Absence

RISD, through the Office of Student Affairs, authorizes medical leaves of absence through consultation with on-and off-campus medical providers. The length of time a medical leave is expected to last is determined on a case-by-case basis, allowing the student sufficient time away from campus to achieve sustained stability and to engage in activities that will contribute to a successful return.In order to return, the student must comply with the conditions stated in the Medical Leave Reinstatement Guidelines. RISD may choose to take appropriate measures should there be evidence of self-harm or the risk of harm to others.

Administrative Leaves

Students may be asked to leave for reasons including but not limited to poor academic standing, unacceptable behavior, or non-payment of tuition. See the section on ‘Academic Standing’ for procedures and process regarding academic dismissals. See the section on ‘Code of Student Conduct’ regarding academic or behavioral misconduct. Additionally, students expected to return for the upcoming semester, who fail to enroll (and remain out of contact with RISD) will be placed on administrative leave.

Active Military Service Leaves

In order to support and accommodate RISD students (both domestic and international) called to active military service, the leave of absence may be for the duration of the military service. It is not limited to the normal restriction of one year.