Leaves of Absence
A student may request a voluntary leave of absence for personal reasons (personal leave) by submitting a written petition via completion of the undergraduate student leave form. International students should consult with the International Student Programs Office regarding visa implications prior to submitting the leave petition.
The Deans may grant a personal leave provided (a) the student is in good standing, in other words does not have to meet special academic or disciplinary requirements as a result of reinstatement, (b) the leave is for one year or less, although special circumstances can be considered for a longer leave, and (c) the leave extends over a period that includes at least one full term. Leaves will not be granted retroactively, and must be filed by the last day of classes of the term.
A petition to return from a personal leave should be submitted six (6) weeks before the first day of the term for which the student intends to return. Return from a personal leave is subject to the approval of the Deans' office.
If a student is unable to complete their coursework due to medical reasons, the student may petition for a medical leave of absence by submitting a written petition via completion of the undergraduate student leave form. International students should consult with the International Student Programs Office regarding visa implications prior to submitting the medical leave petition.
To request a leave, a student can take the following steps:
- Submit the leave form.
- The student should then meet with either:
* The Medical Director of Health Services or designee (for leaves related to medical conditions), or
* The Clinical Director of Counseling Services or designee (for leaves related to emotional, psychological, or psychiatric conditions).
This meeting is to help the student make plans for their treatment during their leave, to discuss the need for any conditions placed on the leave, and to answer any questions the student has about the leave process. After this meeting, the student should give written consent for the Director to communicate their recommendation to the Deans' office by filling out the release of information and records consent form available on the Student Wellness website.
3. The Dean or designee may then authorize the medical leave.
The duration of a medical leave should be determined primarily by the student's improvement in treatment. In general, however, medical leaves are expected to include at least one full term.
The Institute may impose conditions on return from a medical leave, which may include confirmation from the student's health care provider that the student is following the recommended course of treatment, the student's consent for the provider to discuss the student's condition or progress during the leave with Caltech officials, including representatives of Wellness Services and the Deans' Office, and an independent evaluation of the student's readiness to return by a qualified medical professional. Any conditions of return will be specified at the time of the leave approval.
While on Medical Leave
It is the expectation that a student on medical leave will focus on receiving treatment to manage the condition(s) that precipitated the leave.
Return from Leave
This requires the following steps:
- Submitting a completed Return from Medical Leave form to the Deans.
- Signing a release of information form authorizing any treatment providers to communicate with Caltech, including representatives of Health and Counseling Services and the Dean's Office in order to determine the student's readiness to return and recommendations for reasonable accommodations. This form is available on the Student Wellness Services website.
- Submitting a provider recommendation form to either the Medical Director of Student Health Services or the Clinical Director of Student Counseling Services, or their designee. The student's healthcare provider should fill out this brief form to summarize their work together; to outline any progress the student has made in treatment; and to state any recommendations for returning to the Institute. This form is available on the Student Wellness Services website.
- After Student Wellness Services has received the provider recommendation form, the student should schedule a meeting with either the Medical Director of Health Services or designee (for leaves related to medical conditions), or the Clinical Director of Counseling Services or designee (for leaves related to emotional, psychological, or psychiatric conditions). In this meeting, the student and the Director will discuss their healthcare provider's recommendations, and will discuss the need for any continued treatment. The student should sign a release of information form allowing the Director to communicate a summary of this meeting to the Dean. This form is available on the Student Wellness Services website.
- Final approval of the petition is the responsibility of the Dean or designee.
A student returning from a leave for medical reasons will maintain the same academic standing that they had previously-i.e., if on academic probation, the student will remain on probation upon return from leave.
Consistent with Caltech policy and the requirements of Title IX, students who are unable to complete their coursework or other course of study for a period of time due to a pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions are eligible for a medical leave of absence. Students who are pregnant or who have recently given birth are also eligible for reasonable accommodations.
A pregnant student who wishes to take a medical leave should submit a completed after obtaining a recommendation from the director of Wellness Services. Medical documentation from the student's treating medical provider is required.
The Institute also provides reasonable accommodations to pregnant students consistent with federal and state law. Reasonable accommodations may include allowing pregnant students to maintain a safe distance from hazardous substances, allowing them to make up tests and assignments that are missed for pregnancy-related reasons or excusing of absences that are medically necessary.
An enrolled student in good academic standing who chooses to take a leave of absence because of the birth of his or her child may request a bonding leave by submitting a completed petition form for approval.
The Dean or designee may determine that it is necessary to place a student on an involuntary leave in a variety of circumstances, including when a student demonstrates behavior that poses a threat to health or safety, causes significant disruption to the Caltech community, for the personal safety or welfare of the student involved, as an interim measure, or as a result of a disciplinary action.
The Dean may impose an involuntary leave in appropriate circumstances, such as where a student's behavior: (1) has, or threatens to, cause significant property damage; (2) significantly disrupts the Caltech community; (3) presents a substantial risk of harm to self or others; (4) indicates the student is unable or unwilling to carry out self-care obligations; or (5) violates a Caltech policy or the honor system. An involuntary leave also may be imposed when that the student requires a level of care from the Institute community that exceeds the reasonable accommodations, resources and staffing that the Institute can reasonably be expected to provide for the student's well-being.
Review and Decision Process
In making an informed decision to place a student on involuntary leave in such circumstances, the Dean will conduct an individualized assessment and consider relevant information including information provided in a timely manner by the student. If the conduct has been the subject of an investigation under an Institute process or procedure, the Dean will consider the findings and conclusions reached in that process.
The Dean may consult with other Institute personnel, including but not limited to, security and residential life personnel, staff, faculty, and other individuals or departments. If appropriate and feasible, the Dean may seek cooperation and involvement of parents or guardians of the student.
Medical information, including medical information provided in a timely manner by the student, may be considered if the behavior is associated with a physical or mental condition. In appropriate cases, the Dean may consult with the director of Wellness Services, or designee, and/or require a physical or mental evaluation from a health professional if the Dean believes such an evaluation is necessary in order to make an informed decision. Students are expected, if necessary, to sign a release of information to facilitate discussions between Caltech and the health professional conducting the evaluation. The Dean will also consider whether relevant risk factors can be eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level through reasonable accommodation.
The student will be advised in writing of the decision to impose an involuntary leave. The Dean may stipulate conditions that must be met before the student may return. An involuntary leave may be a permanent separation from the Institute (i.e. expulsion); for a specific duration or until certain conditions have been met. If the involuntary leave is not a permanent separation, the student will be advised of the length of the leave and/or any conditions for return.
If the Dean determines that a student's continued presence is likely to pose a substantial risk to the safety and well-being of the student or others, the Dean may place the student on an emergency interim leave before a final determination is made. The Dean will make reasonable attempts to meet with the student and consider relevant information, including in appropriate cases medical information provided by the student, before deciding on an emergency interim leave. An emergency interim leave will remain in effect until a final decision has been made.
Return from Leave
A student on involuntary leave will not be allowed to return until the Dean makes a fact-specific assessment of the circumstances, considers relevant risk factors, and concludes that the student does not pose a significant disruption to the functioning of the Institute community and/or does not pose a substantial risk to the health and safety of the student or others. The Dean will consider relevant information, including information provided by the student. In cases where a student has a physical or mental condition associated with the behavior triggering the leave, the Dean will also consider whether the relevant risks can be eliminated by a reasonable accommodation. The student will be notified in writing if the Dean determines that the student will not be permitted to return from a leave or will be permanently separated from the Institute.
A decision by the Dean to place a student on involuntary leave may be appealed in writing within ten days to the vice president for student affairs (or designee). If the leave is imposed as a sanction resulting from a finding of responsibility under an Institute process any applicable limitations on grounds for appeal will apply.