Leaves of Absence

Students are expected to maintain continual enrollment at the University until completion of their graduation requirements. Students may take vacation days during each academic year, as defined by the Academic Calendar and the Student Handbook. Unused vacation days do not carry over to the following year. Master’s thesis and doctoral students may be granted additional vacation leave, which must be discussed with academic advisors at least four weeks prior to the proposed vacation (no formal leave of absence request is required for vacation leave).

Under personal or exceptional circumstances, students may apply for a leave of absence with the understanding that the student will return to the University at the end of the leave period. There are five types of voluntary leave and any leave of absence requests are approved by the dean. Students who plan to apply for a leave of absence should consult with their GPC prior to requesting a leave of absence. Students should complete at least one semester or session of study before applying for a leave of absence. 

General Leave of Absence

Students are allowed only one general leave of absence which may be approved for up to one year. Applications for a leave of absence must be received by the Office of the Registrar prior to the leave date, or students may receive a failing grade for courses enrolled for that semester. This may also affect benefit entitlements. The course change policy and add/drop deadlines will be applied, for information on deadlines, please see Course Changes (Add or Drop).

Students on a general leave of absence do not receive a stipend and must vacate housing if the absence is greater than 90 days. Upon approved return to the University, housing will be reallocated according to availability. At least two weeks prior to return to the University, students must confirm their return date with Graduate Operations, GPC and academic advisor. Students who do not return to the University by the approved return date will be dismissed for abandonment of program.

Medical Leave

Short term periods of medical leave (defined as five or fewer days) do not require supporting documentation. Longer periods of medical leave require supporting documentation from a treating health or medical health professional. 

Should students suffer from an illness or disability that requires frequent or lengthy absences that impact their ability to complete academic requirements, consideration will be given to an extended leave of absence to include the current semester, but no longer than 12 months. Should additional extended medical leave be required, a detailed medical report from the KAUST Medical Services must also be supplied with the application.

Approval of medical leave for 30 days or less will not generally result in a reduction in a student stipend. For longer periods of leave (or multiple episodes of leave with the same underlying condition) stipends will not be payable after the first 30 days.

If medical leave is not approved students may consider applying for a general leave of absence if the circumstances warrant the application.

Maternity Leave

Enrolled female students may be eligible for six week maternity leave with evidence of an expected delivery date. Commencement of maternity leave should begin no earlier than two weeks prior to the birth of the child, however, exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. While on maternity leave, students will receive full stipend and will retain benefits, including housing, medical insurance, and school privileges for eligible dependents. Students seeking additional leave (such as the remainder of a semester), may apply for an additional general leave of absence for this period. Following an approved maternity leave, students must confirm their return date to Graduate Operations, GPC and academic advisor.

Students are not eligible for maternity leave and its associated benefits in their first semester of study. Students who have given birth prior to the onset of the academic year are permitted to begin studies if no more than the first two weeks of the semester are missed. Students who are pregnant upon acceptance to the University but have not yet enrolled may apply for a deferral of maximum one year due to maternity leave. If the deferral application is approved, no stipend would be paid during the deferral period. Absences of more than one year requires students to reapply for admission.

Bereavement Leave

The University recognizes that students may be unable to attend to their academic studies due to the death of a child, spouse, or parent. In these situations and supported by appropriate documentation, a short bereavement leave with no effect on student status or stipend may be approved. Bereavement leave is seven days, exclusive of travel days. Students requesting additional time may also apply for compassionate leave. Upon return to the University, students must provide Graduate Affairs Operations with a copy of an official death certificate or similar document.

Compassionate Leave

The University recognizes that students may encounter extenuating personal circumstances that make them unable to attend to their academic studies. In certain situations and supported by appropriate documentation, compassionate leave may be approved.

Involuntary Leave of Absence

The Dean of Graduate Affairs may place a student on an involuntary leave of absence at any time if such an action is deemed reasonably necessary for the protection of the University community or for the personal safety or welfare of the student involved.