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Medical Leave of Absence

During your time at Vanderbilt University, you may experience life situations, or medical, and/or psychological conditions that significantly interfere with your academic and personal success. In these instances, it may be necessary to take time away from Vanderbilt to focus on your health. A medical leave of absence is intended to provide you with the opportunity to fully attend to your health and wellbeing, away from the stress associated with campus and academic life.

The following guidelines are in place to help undergraduate students, graduate students in the Graduate School, and professional students in the Owen Graduate School of Management, Law School, Peabody College, School of Nursing, School of Engineering, and Divinity School navigate the process of taking a medical leave of absence (Students in the School of Medicine should contact their Dean’s Office).


Initiating an MLOA:

  • Schedule an appointment with your Academic Dean’s Office and/or submit initial request for MLOA to your Academic Dean. Your Dean will work with you to outline expectations for your time away and what is required for your return. You should have a full understanding of these expectations prior to taking leave. **Your school may have additional steps or paperwork to complete.**
  • Your Dean’s Office will submit a request for withdrawal with the University Registrar’s Office.
  • International students should be in touch with International Students and Scholar Services (ISSS) regarding additional documentation required and/or different deadlines.
  • Financial Aid:
    • If you receive financial aid, you must meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards to maintain eligibility and withdrawing from a term may affect your maximum timeframe for federal and institutional assistance.
    • If you are taking an MLOA in the fall, with plans to return from MLOA in the spring, contact the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships to ensure your aid is not canceled for your spring semester.
    • If you do not plan to return from MLOA until the following academic year, you must complete all financial aid applications for that year.
  • If you are on the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) and you take a leave of absence within the first 31 days of the coverage period (August 12-Sept 12), you will NOT be covered under the Policy and the full premium will be refunded, less any claims paid.  If you were enrolled in SHIP at least the semester immediately preceding your leave, you may choose to enroll in a one-time extension of your coverage while you are on MLOA, for up to one year. To extend your coverage, complete and submit the Leave of Absence SHIP Enrollment application with a copy of your MLOA letter from your Dean during Open Enrollment to ensure timely enrollment. If you have questions, please reach out to Student Care Coordination (SCC) or
  • If you are on the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) and you are taking a medical leave of absence at least 31 days after the start of the policy (August 12, 2022), you will remain enrolled in the SHIP plan until the end of the plan year (August 11, 2023).
    • If you decide to remain on MLOA past the termination date of the SHIP plan (August 11, 2023) there may be options to extend your enrollment under SHIP. Please contact SCC.
  • If you have health insurance through another carrier, confirm with this carrier that you will remain covered under your current policy if you are on a leave of absence and not enrolled in classes. If you need alternative coverage options while on a leave of absence, visit
  • Undergraduate students: Visit Housing and Residential Experience in Branscomb Quad to discuss your move-out plan and obtain sign-off. Students taking an MLOA must check out of housing within 48 hours.


During an MLOA:

  • An MLOA provides you with the time to focus on your health and wellbeing and address the concerns that led to your decision to take a leave. It is expected that you will complete a course of treatment to address those concerns, and we recommend that you begin meeting with your providers immediately.
  • Treatment involves continuous engagement with a community medical and/or mental health provider until that provider determines the concerns that led to your leave have been adequately addressed and you can successfully return to the academic environment. While we do not make specific recommendations of length or frequency of treatment, regular engagement in treatment generally consists of more than a few sessions and must indicate progress towards treatment goals. It is expected that you will use your leave to seek the appropriate level of care needed to address your concerns (i.e., partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient treatment, and/or ongoing outpatient treatment), as determined by a medical professional.
  • We recommend you share the MLOA Treatment Provider Report(s) with any and all provider(s) at the beginning of treatment so they are aware of criteria necessary to return to Vanderbilt.
  • While on an MLOA, you will NOT be eligible for student services, including the University Counseling Center, the Student Health Center, and the Center for Student Wellbeing.
  • Students will have access to AcademicLiveCare, a telehealth platform that will allow you to attend behavioral and physical health appointments on a smartphone, computer, or another mobile device, free of charge, for support during an MLOA. If you choose to use AcademicLiveCare for ongoing therapy, it is important that you confirm with your provider before starting treatment that they are willing to complete the documentation required to return to school.
  • If you have questions that come up during your leave, reach out to SCC for support.
  • Should you wish to extend your MLOA, reach out to your Dean’s Office to request an extension.


Returning from an MLOA:

  • Students must submit the following required MLOA documentation to SCC by the relevant deadline below:
  1. MLOA Treatment Provider Report(s) completed by any and all providers who provided treatment during your MLOA;
  2. Completed Release(s) of Information for all Treatment Providers;
  3. A narrative describing your activities while on leave of absence;
  4. A Student Success Plan that outlines your goals to make your subsequent enrollment successful, strategies for achieving those goals, and the support services you intend to utilize upon your return to campus; and
  5. Additional documents, as required by your academic program
  • Once documentation is submitted, SCC will reach out to schedule an MLOA Return Meeting to occur prior to making a determination for approval. During this meeting, students and their Care Coordinator will review recommendations from their treatment providers, review the Student Success Plan, and ensure support is in place for a successful return to campus.
  • Deadlines:
    • Return Term:Must Submit Documentation By:
      FallAUG 1
      SpringDEC 1
      SummerAPR 1
  • SCC, in consultation with the Dean’s Office, will review all relevant information available, including, but not limited to, documentation from treatment and the student’s understanding of their readiness to return to determine whether the condition requiring the medical withdrawal has been addressed sufficiently to allow you to resume your academic career at Vanderbilt successfully.
    • More specifically, this information will be reviewed to determine:
      • Medical readiness: We expect that you will seek medical treatment or participate in a therapeutic program to address the physical or psychological conditions that have affected your ability to succeed academically.
      • Academic and social readiness: We expect that you will demonstrate the ability to cope emotionally and socially when you return to Vanderbilt and that you will be able to engage successfully in your studies.  You can accomplish this while you are on leave by engaging in community service, maintaining a job, and/or participating in educational programs. We expect that you will be able to perform well in a work or study environment that is similar to the one you know at Vanderbilt.
  • If cleared, SCC will notify the Dean’s Office, and the Dean’s Office will give final approval for class registration.
  • Undergraduate Students: Once you are cleared to return, reach out to Housing Assignments by sending an email to
  • Once you return to campus, you will meet with your Care Coordinator, as needed, to continue coordination of follow-up within the Student Care Network and provide support to ensure your return to campus and academic life is successful.


If you have questions, please reach out to Student Care Coordination at 615-343-WELL or