The coterminal degree program allows undergraduates to study for a Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) degree while completing their bachelor's degree(s) in the same or a different department. To qualify for both degrees, a student must complete requirements for both the bachelor's degree and the master's degree as described under their respective sections of this bulletin.
Application and Admission to a Coterminal Master's Program
Undergraduates with strong academic records may apply for admission to a Stanford Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) program that offers coterminal admission via the process outlined below. Any master’s degree granting program may elect not to offer coterminal admission.
An undergraduate is eligible to apply for admission to a coterminal program once all of the following conditions have been met:
- An admitted coterminal student must have a minimum of one quarter overlap between the undergraduate and graduate degree programs. If this is not possible, students should consider applying as an external candidate via the Graduate Admissions process. Such applicants are not coterminal students and coterminal policies do not apply.
- Completion of 120 units towards graduation as shown on the undergraduate transcript, including credit earned from transfer credit, Advanced Placement exams, and other external test credit.
- Completion of six non-Summer quarters at Stanford; or two non-Summer quarters at Stanford for transfer students.
- Declaration of an undergraduate major.
- Students may apply to one coterm program per quarter, and may not apply to another coterm master's program until the admissions process for the initial application has been completed, including the student's response to the offer of admission (if admitted).
Undergraduates interested in applying to a coterm program should contact the coordinator of coterminal advising in Academic Advising. Note that departments may have additional eligibility requirements, so students are encouraged to check with the department prior to applying for the coterm program.
There are two application deadlines in the coterm process: the application deadline that students must submit their completed applications to their departments by, and the quarterly deadline that all admitted coterm applications must be sent to the Registrar's office for program activation. Coterm applicants are responsible for meeting all eligibility requirements and submitting their completed coterm application to the department by the department's coterm application deadline. Coterm applicants should contact their prospective coterm department for more information about the coterm application deadline. Departments are responsible for routing approved coterm applications to the Registrar's office for processing. Approved coterm applications are processed by the Registrar's office every quarter, and coterm department administrators are required to submit approved coterm applications to the Registrar's Office no later than the last day of classes of the quarter prior to the coterm matriculation quarter.
Students who accept an offer of admission and are matriculated into the graduate degree program are assessed a $125 coterm application fee.
Eligibility for a coterm graduate application fee waiver is based on the Financial Aid Office’s evaluation of your need-based aid application. Those from families with income below $125,000 and typical assets for that income range will qualify. The waiver is automatically applied and no special request is necessary.
To apply for admission to a coterm master’s program, students must submit all of the following to the prospective graduate department:
Statement of purpose
Preliminary program proposal
Undergraduate Coterm Application Approval form (submitted with online coterm application)
Two letters of recommendation from Stanford professors
Current Stanford transcript
Note: Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores and additional requirements may be specified by the prospective program, and may be found in the bulletin and on department websites (links to department websites found on the Registrar's web site).
Each department is responsible for its admissions/acceptance decisions for coterm applicants. Once a coterm application is approved, the departments create the coterm application record in Axess (department staff should refer to the Coterm Resources for Staff page). Additionally, the department must route the completed and approved coterm application to the Office of the Registrar by the quarterly deadline.
If the coterm program permits deferral, students may defer admission to the coterm program and the first graduate quarter to a later quarter as long as their graduate career has not yet been activated and if the later matriculation will still meet all University and departmental requirements for coterm admission. Deferring a coterm matriculation may require that students postpone the conferral of their undergraduate degree. If the graduate coterm career has been activated, then deferring to a later term is not an option. Deferral is coordinated with the master's degree program, prior to the program submitting the completed application to the Office of the University Registrar.
First Graduate Quarter
The first graduate quarter is the quarter in which the coterm student first matriculates into their master’s degree program. The first graduate quarter does not necessarily correspond to the first quarter in which a student enrolls in a course in the graduate career, nor is it affected by course transfer (please see Coterm Course Transfer for additional information).
Admitted students must have at least one quarter of overlap in the undergraduate and graduate career prior to conferring their undergraduate degree. For example, if the first graduate quarter for the coterm degree is Spring Quarter, then the earliest that the undergraduate degree can be conferred is the Spring Quarter. Once matriculated, students may enroll in graduate courses, however, enrollment in graduate courses is not required by the University in the overlap quarter. Students should work with their department to complete a Program Proposal that outlines the graduation/program completion plan by the end of the first graduate quarter.
Adding or Changing Master's Degree Programs
Students wishing to add a second graduate program to their academic plans may only do so after the conferral of the undergraduate degree. Adding or changing a graduate program after the conferral of the undergraduate degree can be done via the Graduate Program Authorization petition. For additional information, see the "Changes of Degree Programs" section of this bulletin, the Graduate Program Authorization section of the Graduate Academic Policies and Procedures site, and the Graduate Program Authorization page on the Registrar's web site.
Coterm students who wish to change from one master’s degree to another before conferral of the bachelor’s degree must submit an approved request to withdraw from the original degree program using the Request to Permanently Withdraw from Degree Program form, in addition to a completed and approved application for admission to the new program in the same quarter. In this case, all courses, including any prior course transfer from the undergraduate career, remain in the graduate career. The new degree program may choose not to approve all courses towards the new master’s degree program requirements. The student may elect to transfer courses back to the undergraduate career if the bachelor’s degree has not yet been conferred. Coterms interested in doing a coterm program switch should contact the coordinator of coterminal advising in Academic Advising. Note: The discontinued program is listed on the transcript in a 'Discontinued' status, though it is not considered an academic demerit.
Each type of degree offered at Stanford (for example, Bachelor of Arts, Master of Science) has a requirement, called residency for graduate degrees, based on the minimum number of academic units required for the degree. Requirements are described in the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Science (B.S.) and Residency Policy for Graduate Students sections of this bulletin. It is Stanford University's general policy that units are applicable toward only one degree, that is, units may not normally be duplicated or double-counted toward the residency requirement for more than one degree. Courses counted towards the undergraduate degree(s) and graduate degree(s) are separately recorded on the undergraduate and graduate transcripts, respectively.
Students pursuing coterminal bachelor’s and master’s degrees are expected to meet the minimum requirements for each of the degrees, as follows:
- Bachelor's degree: 180 units for the bachelor’s degree
- Dual undergraduate degree: 225 units for the bachelor’s degree
- 45 units (or higher unit-requirement, as determined by the graduate program)
- All 45 units must be from course work completed at Stanford and must be courses at or above the 100-level. Additionally, at least 50 percent of those must be courses designated primarily for graduate students. Department specifications for the level of course work accepted for a particular master's degree program may be higher than the University's specifications. Students may not petition to change the career for a completed course from the undergraduate to the graduate level.
To a limited extent, coterminal students are permitted to move courses between the undergraduate and graduate careers as described in the "Coterminal Course Transfer" section in the Enrollment and Degree Progress tab of this section of the bulletin.
Tuition and Tuition Groups
Coterm students are assigned to either the undergraduate coterm tuition group or the graduate coterm tuition group. The tuition group dictates a student's tuition rates, enrollment policies, access to some University services and benefits, and degree progress standards. A coterm student is subject to graduate tuition assessment and adjustment policies once placed in the coterm graduate tuition group (see below for information about when coterm students are moved into the graduate coterm tuition group).
Coterm students are not eligible for undergraduate special registration statuses (with the exception of Graduation Quarter, if the student is applying to confer both their undergraduate and graduate degrees in the same quarter). Coterm students may only be eligible to apply for graduate special registration statuses once their undergraduate degrees have been conferred.
Tuition and fee information is available on the Office of the University Registrar tuition website.
Undergraduate Coterm Tuition Group
Coterm students are normally placed in and remain in the undergraduate coterm tuition group until the completion of 12 undergraduate full-tuition quarters, or until conferral of the undergraduate degree(s), if that happens earlier. For students with transfer credit (not AP or other test credit), 15 transfer units equals one Stanford quarter. For students with Stanford Summer Quarter units, 15 units equals one Stanford quarter; units earned in multiple Summer Quarters are not added together in this calculation.
Students in the undergraduate coterm tuition group are assessed the undergraduate tuition rate, and may enroll in as few as 12 units and up to 20 units each quarter (regardless of which career courses are assigned to). Students enrolled in over 20 units across both careers are subject to an enrollment hold effective the following quarter.
Graduate Coterm Tuition Group
Coterminal students in the graduate tuition group are assessed either the regular graduate tuition rate or the graduate Engineering tuition rate. Students in the graduate coterm student group are assessed additional graduate or Engineering tuition on a per-unit basis beginning with the 19th unit. Tuition and fee information is available on the Office of the University Registrar tuition website. Once a student is placed in the graduate coterm tuition group, they may not move back to the undergraduate coterm tuition group.
Transitions to the graduate billing group
Coterminal students in the undergraduate tuition group are moved to the graduate tuition group if any one of the following occurs:
Conferral of Undergraduate Degree
Once coterm students have conferred their undergraduate degree(s), they are automatically moved to the graduate tuition group. Once coterm students have been moved to the graduate tuition group, they may not move back to the undergraduate tuition group.
Student-initiated Request (if eligible)
Coterm students in the undergraduate tuition group who have fewer than 12 quarters at Stanford but who want to transition to the graduate tuition rate may request to be moved to the graduate tuition group if they meet all of the below eligibility requirements. If the student meets these conditions, then the student may request to be moved to the graduate billing group by submitting a SU Services and Support Request ticket by the deadline.
Eligibility for coterm billing switch request
- Student must have an active graduate career. Students with a pending coterm application can request to move to the graduate tuition group only after they receive email confirmation that their coterm program has matriculated.
- Student must have met minimum number of units to be eligible (see the chart below). All undergraduate units, including transfer and test credit, are used in calculating unit completion.
- BA, BS, BAH, BSH (including double majors); BAS; BASH: 180 units
- BA + BS or BAH + BSH (official dual degrees): 225 units
- Must submit a SU Services and Support Request ticket to initiate the switch from undergraduate to graduate billing.
When Students Reach their Permissible Limit in Undergraduate Billing
Students are automatically moved from the undergraduate billing group to the graduate billing group once they have completed a certain number of undergraduate quarters.
Undergraduate quarters are calculated in all three of the below ways:
- Any non-Summer Quarter (full- or part-time) in which a student is enrolled.
- 15 transfer units (excluding AP or other test credit) are equal to one Stanford quarter. Example: a coterm student has completed 10 non-Summer Quarters at Stanford, but also has 30 units of external transfer credit posted to their record; that would mean the student has (for the purpose of coterm billing) 12 quarters completed, and the student would thus be moved to the graduate billing group.
- 15 units of Stanford Summer Quarter enrollment (in a single quarter) are equal to one Stanford quarter.
Once a student has completed 12 quarters (or 15 quarters, if pursuing a dual/concurrent bachelor's degree; see below), they are automatically switched to graduate billing and notified via email. Once students have been moved to the graduate billing group, they may not be moved back to the undergraduate billing group. Students should be advised that external transfer credit and Summer Quarter units can impact how soon they are moved to the graduate billing group, and should plan accordingly.
- BA (including double majors, honors), BS (including double majors, honors), and BAS (including honors) may remain in the undergraduate billing group up to 12 quarters, and are automatically moved to the graduate billing group in their 13th quarter.
- BA + BS (dual/concurrent bachelor's degree) may remain in the undergraduate billing group up to 15 quarters, and are automatically moved to the graduate billing group in their 16th quarter.
Coterm students are traditionally not eligible for reduced graduate tuition rates below 8 units during Autumn, Winter, and Spring quarters prior to conferral of the undergraduate degree. However, coterm graduate students with disabilities covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act may enroll in an approved reduced course load as recommended by the Office of Accessible Education (OAE).
Coterm Students with Research or Teaching Assistantships
Coterm students who are eligible for a teaching (CA/TA) or research (RA) assistantship appointment must be in the graduate billing group in order to receive funding from their department. If a student is not already in the graduate billing group then the student must initiate the request to be moved to the graduate coterm tuition group (see the "Student-initiated Request" section above). Students holding a 20 hour (50%) teaching or research assistantship may not enroll in more than 10 total units. Additionally, once students have moved to the graduate coterm tuition group, they may not be moved back to the undergraduate coterm tuition group even if they no longer hold an assistantship appointment.
See Administrative Guide Memo 10.2.1 Graduate Student Assistantships, and GAP 7.3 Assistantships, for detailed discussion of assistantship policy.
Enrollment and Degree Progress
Starting with the first graduate quarter, students have an active graduate career and an active undergraduate career. Students are responsible for enrolling in courses each quarter, and assigning them to the appropriate career. Courses assigned to the graduate career count towards the master’s degree and courses assigned to the undergraduate career count towards the bachelor’s degree. Students in the undergraduate coterm tuition group may not enroll in more than a total of 20 units for the quarter across both careers. Students in the graduate coterm tuition group may not enroll in more than a total of 24 units for the quarter across both careers. Students appointed to a 20-hour (50%) teaching and/or research assistantship may not enroll in more than 10 units.
Prior to the conferral of the undergraduate degree(s), a coterm student’s academic progress is monitored by the coordinator of coterminal advising in Academic Advising (a unit of the office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education) in conjunction with the student’s advisers and the graduate program. After conferral of the undergraduate degree(s), the student’s degree progress is monitored by the graduate adviser and graduate program.
All courses taken during a quarter, whether enrolled in the undergraduate or graduate career, are used to assess whether minimum academic progress standards, including number of units enrolled and number of units earned, have been met. Students in the undergraduate coterm tuition group are evaluated according to the undergraduate degree progress standards. These standards are described in the "Academic Progress" section of this bulletin. Students in the graduate coterm tuition group are evaluated according to the graduate degree progress standards. These standards are described in the "Minimum Progress Requirements for Graduate Students" section of this bulletin.
Student are expected to maintain an undergraduate grade point average (GPA) which meets the University’s undergraduate standards, and a graduate GPA which meets University and program requirements for graduate progress. Courses which have been transferred from the undergraduate to the graduate career are calculated as part of the graduate GPA, and vice versa.
Coterm Course Transfer
After accepting admission to a master’s degree program, coterm students may request transfer of Stanford courses from the undergraduate to the graduate career to satisfy requirements for the master’s degree and/or from the graduate career to the undergraduate career to satisfy requirements for the bachelor's degree(s). Transfer of courses between the undergraduate and graduate careers requires review and approval by both the undergraduate and graduate departments.
Unless a master’s degree program specifies otherwise in this bulletin, courses taken three quarters prior to the first graduate quarter, or later, are eligible for consideration for transfer to the graduate career. Neither Summer Quarter nor quarters spent on approved full term leave of absence are included in the quarter-back count. In exceptional circumstances, a student may petition the exceptions committee of the Committee on Graduate Studies to transfer courses taken more than three quarters back. No courses taken prior to the first quarter of the sophomore year may be used to meet master’s degree requirements.Individual programs have the discretion to set their own policy regarding course transfer for their coterm master’s students, provided that no student counts a course taken earlier than the first quarter of sophomore year. The program’s policy is stated in the relevant department or program section of this bulletin. Students should visit the Coterm Course Transfer web page on the Registrar's Office website for information about how to request course transfers.
All course transfer requests must be submitted to the Student Services Center no later than the Late Application to Graduate deadline of the intended bachelor’s degree conferral quarter. Course transfers between careers are not possible after the bachelor’s degree has been conferred. Undergraduate credit from transfer courses or tests may not be transferred to the graduate career.
Advising, Program Proposal, and Time Limit
In the first graduate quarter, a coterm student must be assigned an adviser in the master's program for assistance in planning a program of study to meet the requirements for the master's degree. The plan is outlined on the Program Proposal for a Master's Degree, which is approved by the master's program by the end of the first graduate quarter. The preliminary program proposal from the coterm application may inform the Program Proposal, but does not satisfy this master’s degree requirement. The course of study for each student’s master’s degree should be outlined on the student’s Program Proposal form. The decision as to which courses a program approves in the student’s master’s program proposal, including changes from the typical curriculum, is within the purview of the department or program. The conversation between the student and the student’s graduate adviser is important in this regard.
The master’s program proposal must meet University minimum requirements for the master’s degree, including at least 45 units taken at Stanford, all courses at 100-level or above, 50% of units designated primarily for graduate students (typically 200-level or above). All courses must be in the graduate career.
All requirements for a master’s degree must be completed within three years after the first graduate quarter. An extension requires review of academic performance by the department or program, and is within the discretion of the program. See policies in the "Master’s Degrees" section of this bulletin.
Leaves of Absence and Reinstatement
Coterm students who wish to take a leave of absence are subject to the Leave of Absence policies for undergraduate and graduate students, as described in the "Leaves of Absence and Reinstatement (Undergraduate)" and "Leaves of Absence (Graduate)" sections of this bulletin. Graduate students, including coterm students, must obtain permission from the master’s degree program. A coterm student whose undergraduate degree has not been conferred must also obtain permission from Academic Advising, and may not take a leave of absence unless approved for both the graduate and undergraduate leave. Coterm students are permitted to request a leave of absence for their first graduate quarter. Leaves of absence are granted for a maximum of one calendar year, or four quarters. An extension of leave, for a maximum of one year or four quarters, is approved only in unusual circumstances. Leaves of absences may not exceed a cumulative total of two years (8 quarters including summer quarters), including both undergraduate and graduate programs.
Coterm students who are seeking to reinstate into both their undergraduate and graduate degree programs must follow both sets of policies as described in the "Leaves of Absence and Reinstatement (Undergraduate)" and "Leaves of Absence (Graduate)" sections of this bulletin.
Students must apply for conferral of each degree separately by filing an Application to Graduate in Axess by the deadline for the expected graduation term(s). The deadlines are available in the Academic Calendar. The master's degree must be conferred simultaneously with, or after, the bachelor's degree. Coterm students may not confer the master's degree prior to the conferral of the undergraduate degree. Coterm students should refer to the Coterm Student Graduation Checklist web page on the Registrar's Office website for important information about items needed for degree conferral.
Leaves of Absence and Reinstatement (Coterm)
A Leave of Absence allows a student to take a break from enrollment either before or after a quarter begins. There may also be conditions associated with a leave, which are outlined below. Undergraduates are admitted to Stanford University with the expectation that they complete their degree programs in a reasonable amount of time, usually within four years. Additionally, students pursuing a coterminal master’s degree are expected to complete their master’s degrees within three years after the first graduate quarter as outlined in the "Time Limit for the Completion of the Master’s Degree" section of this bulletin.
Leaves of absences for coterms may not exceed a cumulative total (across both careers) of two years or eight quarters.
COVID-19 Policies for Coterm Leave of Absence in Academic Year 2020-21
Coterms in the undergraduate tuition group are considered undergraduates with respect to academic policies. Coterms in the graduate tuition group are considered graduate students for the purpose of academic policies. For more information about tuition groups, when tuition groups can switch from undergraduate to graduate, and instructions for how to check which tuition group a student is in, see the Registrar's Coterm Tuition Assessment website.
All coterm students wishing to file for a leave of absence must submit a Coterm Leave of Absence eForm (available in the eForms portal in the Student tab in Axess). Coterms should discuss any plans for a leave with an undergraduate or coterm advisor and also their coterm master's department. International coterms should also discuss leave of absence plans with the Bechtel International Center.
Coterm Students in the Undergraduate Tuition Group
Any approved leave of absence taken during academic year 2020-21 is not counted against a student’s maximum allowable eight quarters of leave.
Coterms in the undergraduate tuition group are expected to enroll in three of four quarters during the 2020-21 academic year, with one quarter considered the student's Flex Term. If students are unable or elect not to enroll in three quarters, then they must apply for a leave of absence for those quarter(s). Leaves of absence information for International undergraduates can be found below.
Coterms in the undergraduate tuition group may take one quarter away from Stanford with no enrollment without having to file for a leave of absence (LOA), this term being considered the student's Flex Term. If students take more than one quarter away from Stanford, then a Leave of Absence eForm (available in the eForms portal in the Student tab in Axess) is required, or the student would be discontinued for no enrollment in their second quarter with no enrollment. See the Discontinuation and Reinstatement section below for more information.
Coterm Students in the Graduate Tuition Group
Coterm students in the graduate tuition group re expected to enroll based on the guidelines for graduate students for academic year 2020-21.
Any leave of absence taken during academic year 2020-21 is counted against a student’s allowable eight quarters of leave.
Students should be aware that a leave of absence, other than for pregnancy or parental leave, does not automatically extend the candidacy period (please refer to the GAP).
Students on leave of absence are not registered at Stanford and, therefore, do not have the rights and privileges of registered students. Students on leave may complete course work for which an 'Incomplete' grade was awarded in a prior term (unless doing so places an undue burden on the part of an instructor, department, staff, or other university resource) and are expected to comply with the maximum one-year time limit for resolving incompletes; a leave of absence does not stop the clock on the time limit for resolving incompletes.
When a student is granted or placed on a leave of absence after the beginning of the term, courses in which the student was enrolled after the final study list deadline appear on the student's transcript and show the symbol 'W' (withdraw). For additional information regarding satisfactory academic progress, refer to the "Academic Progress" section of this bulletin. Information on tuition refunds is available in the "Refunds" section of this bulletin.
International undergraduates are expected to enroll in three consecutive quarters during the 2020-21 academic year. If undergraduates are unable to or elect to not enroll in three consecutive quarters, they must apply for a Leave of Absence for those quarter(s). International undergraduates are required to consult with a Bechtel International Center immigration advisor well before requesting a Leave of Absence. The Leave of Absence may complicate an international student's legal status and ability to remain and work in the U.S.
Voluntary Leave of Absence
Students have the option of taking a voluntary leave of absence for up to one year, or four quarters, upon filing a Leave of Absence form with the Office of the University Registrar and receiving approval. Students taking a voluntary leave pursuant to the involuntary leave of absence and return policy have a two business day revocation period after submitting an LOA eForm, and may revoke their request to take a voluntary leave by returning to their submitted eForm in Axess and clicking "Cancel." Additionally, students may have additional conditions imposed by the Dean of Students and/or the Vice Provost for Student Affairs.
Except where unexpected circumstances necessitate an immediate leave, students are expected to file for a voluntary leave of absence 30 days prior to the quarter in which the leave will begin. The leave may be extended for up to one additional year, or four quarters, provided the student files a Leave of Absence Extension eForm (available in the eForms portal in the Student tab in Axess) before the end of the initial one-year leave. Leaves requested for a longer period than one year, or four quarters, are approved only in exceptional circumstances (for example, mandatory military service). Leaves of absence for coterm students may not exceed a cumulative total of two years (eight quarters including Summer Quarters) across both the undergraduate and graduate academic careers.
Coterm students who take an approved leave of absence while in good standing from a quarter for which they have registered in advance and do not wish to attend may enroll in the University for the subsequent quarter with the privileges of a continuing student. For coterm students who wish to withdraw from the current quarter after the beginning of the term, courses in which the student was enrolled after the final study list deadline appear on the student's transcript and show the symbol 'W' (withdraw). For additional information regarding satisfactory academic progress, refer to the "Academic Progress" section of this bulletin. In either situation, the University may condition its approval of a petition for leave of absence on the student's meeting such requirements as the University deems appropriate in the individual case for the student to be eligible to return (such as, in the case of a leave for medical reasons, proof of treatment and/or an interview with a provider at Vaden Health Center or Counseling and Psychological Services or its designee). Coterms who wish to withdraw from the current quarter, or from a quarter for which they have registered in advance and do not wish to attend, must file a Leave of Absence e-form (in Axess).
Information on tuition refunds is available in the "Refunds" section of this bulletin. For a full refund, petitions must be received by the Office of the University Registrar no later than the first day of classes for the quarter.
Discontinuation and Reinstatement
COVID-19 Policies for Coterm Discontinuiation in Academic Year 2020-21
In academic year 2020-21, a coterm in the undergraduate billing group may be discontinued from active status in their academic degree program if the student:
fails to be enrolled by the study list deadline of their second term away from Stanford; or
fails to be approved for a leave of absence by the start of the term of their second term away from Stanford; or
voluntarily terminates undergraduate studies; or
is dismissed for academic reasons; or
is expelled from the University.
Students who fail to be either enrolled by the final study list deadline of their second term away from Stanford, or who fail to submit a Leave of Absence eForm by the published deadline in their second term away from Stanford, must apply for reinstatement; more information about the coterm reinstatement process can be found in the Coterm Reinstatement section of the Registrar’s website.
This policy is applicable to the four quarters in academic year 2020-21 only; additional policy will be published prior to academic year 2021-22.
The University is not obligated to approve reinstatement requests from students. Coterm applications for reinstatement are reviewed by both the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and the coterm master’s department, and are further subject to the approval of the Faculty Senate Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policy or its designees. The Committee or its designees may determine whether the application for reinstatement will be approved or not, and/or the conditions a student must meet in order to be reinstated. Reinstatement decisions are within the discretion of the University and may be based on the applicant's status when last enrolled, activities while away from campus, the length of the absence, the perceived potential for successful completion of the program, as well as any other factors or considerations regarded as relevant to the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, the Committee, or their designees.
Students who have been expelled from Stanford University are not permitted to apply for reinstatement.
Coterm students who wish to terminate study (e.g., for transfer to another institution) should submit a properly endorsed Request to Permanently Withdraw from Degree Program eForm (available in the eForms portal in the Student tab in Axess).
Coterm students with an active undergraduate program may request to withdraw from both of their active degrees (bachelor’s and master’s) or only from their graduate program. Coterm students with an active undergraduate program may not withdraw from only the undergraduate program and keep the graduate program active.
Involuntary Leave of Absence and Return Policy
In effect as of January 4, 2020
Stanford University is committed to the safety, health and well-being of the campus community. The University recognizes that students may experience situations that significantly limit their ability to function successfully or safely in their role as students. In such circumstances, students should consider requesting a leave of absence. A leave of absence permits students to take a break from the University and their studies, so that they may address the issues that led to the need for the leave and later return to the University with an enhanced opportunity to achieve their educational goals. Students will be given the option to take a voluntary leave of absence before a decision is made with respect to an involuntary leave.
Involuntary Leave of Absence
Requiring a student to take a leave of absence is rare and, subject to Section III, only happens when current medical knowledge and/or the best available objective evidence indicates to the Senior Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students or their designee (hereinafter, Dean of Students) that there is a significant risk to the student’s health or safety or the health or safety of others, or the student’s behavior severely disrupts the University environment, and no reasonable accommodations can adequately reduce that risk or disruption.
Consistent with Stanford’s Nondiscrimination Policy, Stanford prohibits unlawful discrimination on the basis of any type of disability or any other characteristic protected by applicable law in the administration of the University’s programs and activities. Stanford offers a range of resources, support services and accommodations to address the physical and mental health needs of students. However, on rare occasion, a student’s needs may require a level of care that exceeds the care the University can appropriately provide. Where current knowledge about the individual’s medical condition and/or the best available objective evidence indicates that a student poses a significant risk to the health or safety of a member of the University community, where a student is unable or unwilling to carry out substantial self-care obligations and poses a significant risk to their own safety not based on mere speculation, stereotypes, or generalizations, or where a student’s behavior severely disrupts the University environment and the student does not want to take a voluntary leave, the Dean of Students has the authority to place a student on an involuntary leave of absence. Before placing any student on an involuntary leave of absence, Stanford will conduct an individualized assessment, consulting with the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) to determine if there are reasonable accommodations that would permit the student to continue to participate in the University community without taking a leave of absence.
The Dean of Students may be notified about a student who may meet the criteria of an involuntary leave of absence from a variety of sources including, but not limited to, the student, the student’s academic advisor, Residential Education staff, Graduate Life Office staff, an academic department, or a member of the University’s threat assessment team. If the Dean of Students deems it appropriate, these procedures will be initiated.
Procedures for Placing a Student on an Involuntary Leave of Absence
The Dean of Students will consult with the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) prior to making a decision to impose an involuntary leave of absence.
The Dean of Students will issue a notice to the student in writing that an involuntary leave of absence is under consideration. The written notice will include the reason(s) why the student is being considered for an involuntary leave, contact information for OAE, which can provide information about accommodations, and a copy of this policy. In addition, the notice will provide contact information for the Process Resource, an administrator outside of the decision-making process with knowledge of Stanford’s involuntary leave of absence process who will serve as a neutral process resource to answer any student questions about the process from referral through return to Stanford. In the written notice, the student will be encouraged to respond before a decision regarding a leave of absence is made and will be given a specified time period within which to do so.
The Dean of Students will consider potential accommodations and/or modifications that could obviate the need for an involuntary leave of absence, such as the option to take a voluntary leave of absence, academic accommodations, housing and dining accommodations, and modifications to University policies, rules, and regulations. Examples of academic, administrative, and housing accommodations that may be facilitated through the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) can be found on the OAE website.
The student may be asked to execute an Exchange of Confidential Information Consent Form providing Stanford personnel temporary authority to get information from the student’s healthcare provider(s) regarding issues relevant and appropriate to the consideration of an involuntary leave of absence when there is a need for the University to have access to that information as part of the interactive process and individualized assessment. If a student refuses to execute an Exchange of Confidential Information Consent Form or to respond within the timeframe set by the Dean of Students, the Dean may proceed with the assessment based on information in the Dean’s possession at the time.
The Dean of Students will also confer, as feasible and when appropriate in a particular matter, with individuals regarding the need for an involuntary leave of absence. Although each case will vary, conferring individuals could include:
Residence Deans, or Graduate Life Office Deans;
With appropriate authorization, representatives from Stanford’s Vaden Health Center (Vaden);
With appropriate authorization, the student’s treatment provider(s) or other health care professionals;
Member(s) of the University’s threat assessment team; and/or
Such other individuals as may be appropriate in an individual matter.
In each case, the Dean of Students will confer with a representative from the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) with expertise in mental health disabilities.
Particular attention will be paid to the criteria for imposing an involuntary leave of absence, specifically:
whether current knowledge about the individual’s medical condition and/or the best available objective evidence indicates that a student poses a significant risk to the health or safety of a member of the University community;
whether a student is unable or unwilling to carry out substantial self-care obligations and poses a significant risk to their own safety not based on mere speculation, stereotypes, or generalizations; and/or
whether a student’s behavior severely disrupts the University environment.
The individualized assessment as to each factor, based on reasonable judgment that relies on current medical knowledge or on the best available objective evidence, should ascertain: the nature, duration, and severity of the risk or disruption; the probability that the risk or disruption will actually occur; and whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures will adequately mitigate the risk or disruption so as to eliminate the need for an involuntary leave of absence.
The Dean of Students will give significant weight to the opinion of the student’s treatment provider(s), including those identified by the student, regarding the student’s ability to function academically and safely at the University with or without reasonable accommodations. If the Dean of Students determines that the information provided by the treatment provider(s) is incomplete, requires further explanation or clarification, or is inconsistent with other information in the student’s record, the Dean of Students, with proper authorization, will contact the treatment provider(s) to obtain additional information. In certain circumstances, the University may require the student to undergo an additional evaluation by an independent and objective professional designated by Stanford, if the Dean of Students believes it will facilitate a more informed decision.
Following these consultations and based on a review of the relevant documentation and information available, the Dean of Students will make a decision as to whether the student should be placed on an involuntary leave of absence, and will provide written notice of this decision to the student. The written notice of decision will include information about the student’s right to appeal and to reasonable accommodations during the appeal process. The review and notice of decision under this policy should be done in a reasonably timely manner. Where students have been asked to remain away from the University while the review is underway, every effort will be made by the Dean of Students to reach a decision within one week, provided the student responds in a timely manner to requests for information and, if appropriate, evaluation.
If an involuntary leave of absence is imposed. The written notice of decision to the student will set forth the basis for the decision and a time-frame for when the student must leave the University and when they may be eligible to return to the University and the conditions and/or requirements the student will need to satisfy to be eligible for return. The written notice will also inform the student of their right to reasonable accommodations in the return process and will provide contact information for OAE and the Process Resource. The length of the leave will be determined on an individual basis.
If an involuntary leave of absence is not imposed. The Dean of Students may impose conditions and/or requirements under which the student is allowed to remain at the University.
Within one week of receiving the decision of the Dean of Students, the student may submit an appeal of the decision in writing to the Vice Provost for Student Affairs or the Vice Provost’s designee, who may not be the Dean of Students. The written request for appeal must specify the particular substantive and/or procedural basis for the appeal, and must be made on grounds other than general dissatisfaction with the decision of the Dean of Students. The review by the Vice Provost for Student Affairs or the Vice Provost’s designee will be limited to the following considerations:
Were the proper facts and criteria brought to bear on the decision?
Is there any new information not previously available to the student that may change the outcome of the decision-making process?
Were there any procedural irregularities that materially affected the outcome of the matter to the detriment of the appellant?
Given the proper facts, criteria, and procedures, was the decision a reasonable one?
After reviewing the matter fully, the Vice Provost for Student Affairs or the Vice Provost’s designee will issue a written decision affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision to place the student on an involuntary leave of absence. The Vice Provost’s decision shall be final, and no other appeals or grievance procedures are available.
Implications of an Involuntary Leave of Absence
Student status. Students on a leave of absence generally retain their admitted student status; however, they are not registered and therefore do not have the rights and privileges of registered students.
Housing. Consistent with Stanford’s policies and procedures, students assigned to a University residence are subject to the terms of the University Residence Agreement. However, as set forth on the Registrar’s Office Leave of Absence website, students with medical disabilities (including mental health disabilities) that require University medical services may petition to remain in campus housing for one term while on leave. Students who leave the University before the end of a term may be eligible to receive refunds of portions of their housing charges. Eligibility criteria for refunds are set forth in the Residence Agreement which is found on the Residence Agreement website.
Effective date(s) of leave. A student must leave the University within the timeframe set forth by the Dean of Students. The leave will remain in effect until (1) it is determined after an individualized assessment that the student is able to return to the University with or without reasonable accommodations and (2) the student has complied with any University requirements applicable to all students returning from a leave and all of the conditions mandated by the Dean of Students and/or the Vice Provost.
Notification. At any time during the leave process, the Dean of Students may notify a
student’s parent, guardian, emergency contact, or other individual, consistent with the law, if notification is deemed appropriate.
Association with the University while on leave. Unless expressly permitted by the Dean of Students in writing, students on an involuntary leave of absence are not permitted to be present at the University and are not permitted to engage in any University-related activities, including on-campus employment.
Coursework taken while on leave. Consistent with Stanford’s policies and procedures, academic credit for work done elsewhere may be allowed towards a Stanford degree. Students should refer to the “Transfer Work” section of the Stanford Bulletin and consult with the Registrar’s Office and their department prior to taking any coursework while on an involuntary leave of absence.
SUnet ID privileges. Unless expressly prohibited by the Dean of Students in writing, students on leave generally may retain their SUnet ID privileges, including their Stanford email account.
Transcript notation. Students on a leave of absence will have a notation on their transcript that reads “Leave of Absence.”
Tuition and fees. Consistent with Stanford’s policies and procedures, students who leave the University before the end of a term may be eligible to receive refunds of portions of their tuition. See the Registrar’s Tuition Refunds page for a schedule of refunds.
Meal Plan. Consistent with Stanford’s policies and procedures, a meal plan refund is based on the date when a student moves out of University residence and is approved under conditions as specified in the Residence Agreement. Students with questions about residential meal plan refunds should contact the central office of Stanford Dining.
Visa Status. International students (F-1 and J-1 Visa holders) placed on an involuntary leave of absence must speak with a Bechtel International Center advisor regarding their visa status.
Request for Return
For general requirements applicable to all students returning to Stanford after a leave of absence, undergraduate students should refer to the Returning to Stanford website. Graduate students should consult with their academic department and a Graduate Life Office Dean. In addition to the general requirements all students must meet when returning to Stanford after a leave of absence, as well as any conditions mandated by the Dean of Students and/or the Vice Provost for return from an involuntary leave of absence as outlined below in section II.C, students seeking to return from an involuntary leave of absence for reasons of personal or community health and safety may be required to submit additional documentation related to the factors set forth in section I.A.6 as part of an individualized assessment. OAE will work with the students to provide reasonable accommodations in the return process as necessary.
A student must make a written request to the Dean of Students to return to the University. Generally, a student will not be allowed to return until one full quarter has elapsed or until the leave period in the involuntary leave of absence notification has elapsed, and all conditions and/or requirements are met.
The Dean of Students may require the student to provide evidence that the student, with or without reasonable accommodations, has sufficiently addressed the issues that previously established the criteria for imposing an involuntary leave of absence as set forth in section I.A.6, above. The Dean of Students may also ask, confer with, or seek information from others to assist in making the determination. The information sought may include:
At the student’s discretion, documentation of efforts by the student to address the issues that led to the leave
With appropriate authorization, release of academic records to inform treating clinicians
With appropriate authorization, release of treatment information to the extent necessary to determine if the student has sufficiently reduced the risk or disruption that led to the need for the involuntary leave
With appropriate authorization, consultation with Vaden to the extent necessary to determine if the student has sufficiently reduced the risk or disruption that led to the need for the involuntary leave
Consultation with OAE
All returning students must meet the essential eligibility requirements and any technical standards of the University and, if applicable, the relevant school or department, with or without reasonable accommodations. If the Dean of Students is not satisfied that the student is ready to return to the University, the student will be notified in writing of the decision, including the reason for the decision, within a reasonable time after the student has submitted a request for return and required documentation.
A student not permitted to return may appeal the decision to the Vice Provost for Student Affairs following the procedure in section I.A.9.
Scope of the Policy and Relationship to Other University Policies
A leave of absence is an administrative process; it is not a disciplinary process. This policy and these procedures are not intended to be punitive and do not take the place of disciplinary actions that are in response to violations of Stanford’s Fundamental Standard or other policies or directives, nor do they preclude the removal or dismissal of students from the University or University-related programs as a result of violations of other University policies or school or departmental protocols. This policy does not limit the University’s ability to place enrollment holds on students for reasons beyond the scope of this policy and nothing in this policy relieves a student of any financial obligations to the University that were in place at the time the involuntary leave of absence was imposed.
Nothing in this policy limits the power of the University to take administrative action to ensure the safety of the Stanford community. In exceptional circumstances, where the health or well-being of any person may be seriously affected, or where physical safety is seriously threatened, or where the ability of the University to carry out its essential operations is seriously threatened or impaired, the President or the President’s designee, may summarily suspend, dismiss, or bar any person from the University or University-related programs. In all such cases, actions taken will be reviewed promptly, typically within one week, by the appropriate University authority.
In situations involving an imminent or ongoing threat of harm to the student or any other member of the University community, the Dean of Students, in the exercise of his or her reasonable judgment, may require a student to be immediately prohibited from entering Stanford’s campus or facilities utilized for University programs or activities while the individualized assessment and review described in section I.A. are taking place. Such students will receive the written notice described in section I.A.2 as quickly as possible.
Requests for Reasonable Accommodation
Stanford is committed to providing equal access to all participants in University processes, including students with disabilities. Students with disabilities should contact the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) to request accommodations. Information about the support services OAE provides, types of accommodations offered, and appropriate documentation for accommodations, can be found on the OAE website: https://oae.stanford.edu/.
As noted herein, students placed on an involuntary leave of absence may have additional conditions and/or requirements they must meet prior to returning to the University, in addition to any University requirements applicable to all students returning from a leave.
- Undergraduate Students should consult the Returning to Stanford web page for generally applicable deadlines, information and resources.
- Graduate Students should consult with a Graduate Life Office Dean and their department for generally applicable deadlines, information and resources.
Students who are placed on an involuntary leave of absence may want to consult with the following offices, where appropriate:
- Office of Accessible Education (OAE)
- Financial Aid
- Student Financial Services
- University Housing
- Vaden Health Center (Vaden)
- Academic Advising
- Graduate Life Office
- Bechtel International Center
The Process Resource will be available to assist all students who are placed on an involuntary leave of absence with their questions about the process to return and resume their studies and life at Stanford.
Coterminal students whose first graduate quarter occurred prior to Autumn 2015 are subject to coterminal policies as indicated in the previous version of this bulletin. See the Stanford Bulletin 2014-15.