Office of Student Returns

Return from Medical Leave of Absence

Medical Leave of Absence

A Medical Leave of Absence (MLOA) should be considered if a pause in academic coursework may be helpful due to health- related matters. A medical leave of absence is an opportunity to receive appropriate treatment and engage in self-reflection. Duke University hopes that all students will receive effective treatment and apply to return when ready. 

Procedure (Requesting A Medical Leave of Absence)

  1. If you are considering a medical leave, make an appointment to meet with your Academic Dean as soon as possible. In some cases, there may be other options available to you and we want to ensure that you are aware of all of your options before making the best decision for yourself. 
  2. If a medical leave seems like the best course of action, you will need to provide your licensed health care provider with a copy of the “Health Care Provider’s Medical Leave Support Form.”  The form must be completed by a licensed health care provider and returned directly to your Academic Dean at the address or fax number provided to you.  The form is available in your Academic Dean’s office.
  3. Once your leave is approved, contact Duke Housing and Residence Life to schedule a move-out date and make arrangements for returning your room key.
  4. If you are an international student, contact Duke Visa Services at 919-681-8472 or email for assistance.  
  5. Your Academic Dean will withdraw you from your courses, assign "W" notations for all of your courses, and notify your instructors that you will no longer be attending class. A letter will be sent to your home address to confirm your medical leave and provide you with guidelines for return when you are ready to return. Per policy, your parent/guardian will not be notified of your separation from Duke. You are, however, encouraged to share your change of status with them.

Deadline to Request A Medical Leave

The deadline to request a medical leave of absence from a semester that is in progress is 5 p.m. on the last day of classes in that semester. Students may, however, request a medical leave of absence at any time with the understanding that the timing of request may have different implications for the appearance of the transcript.

Transcript implications

The transcript notation for a medical leave of absence is "leave of absence."  If a medical leave of absence is granted for an upcoming semester (i.e., before the first day of classes but after the last day of classes of the previous term), course enrollment for the pending semester will be deleted. If a leave is granted while a semester is in progress, the student will be withdrawn from ALL courses, and a “W” notation will be assigned for each class.  The “Ws” will be recorded permanently on the student record. The deadline to request a medical leave of absence from a semester that is in progress is 5 p.m. on the last day of classes in that semester.

Expected Length of Time Away

Students who take a medical leave of absence should prioritize their heath needs. Duke encourages students to take adequate time for transition, diagnosis, treatment, and stabilization so that the student can return to Duke from a position of strength and without additional interruptions in their degree pursuit. The time away may vary from student-to-student.  To initiate the returns process, students submit application materials according to established procedures and deadline dates applicable to their desired return term and separation category.  Duke will review the application materials and make return decisions based on the standards set forth in those procedures.  Students who take a medical leave are not required to return by an exact term date. If your time away exceeds two years, please contact your academic dean to share your intentions.

Tuition Cost/Refund

Students who are placed on a medical leave during the first or second week of the semester receive 80% of their tuition back. During the third to fifth weeks, they receive 60% of their tuition, and during the sixth week, 20% of their tuition. After the sixth week of classes, no refund will be granted. Students who are enrolled in some type of tuition insurance may  receive a 100% refund from their insurance company, if the leave was due to medical reasons.

Housing Cost/Refund

Residence hall charges are prorated and will be calculated according to the number of days a room is occupied. For more information, contact the Bursar's Office (919-684-3531) and the Office of Residence Life and Housing Services (RLHS) (919-684-4304).

Bursar's Account and Financial Aid

Your treatment is a priority.  As you approach wellness and or stability, please reflect upon your Duke financial matters. Students who need to resolve outstanding balances from terms prior to withdrawal should contact the financial aid office at, or call 919-684-6225 to speak with a counselor about resources that might be available to help clear financial obligations to the University.

The Bursar’s office will be in regular contact during the leave period with any student who has an outstanding financial obligation.  Students with outstanding financial balances will not be eligible to enroll in classes for any future term.

Duke Visa/ International Students

Students holding an F1/J1 Visa should contact Duke Visa Services at 681-8472, or email, to inform them of the pending separation.

Requesting to Return to Duke after a Medical Leave of Absence

Return Procedure

Students may initiate the return process by submitting an application for return. There are three review cycles per year with distinct deadlines. See table above.

Your ability to return to Duke will depend on your review committee’s assessment of your readiness to resume your studies and be a successful member of the Duke community. A determination of your readiness to return will be informed by the opinion of your academic dean, your current treatment provider, Duke's Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and or other relevant Duke healthcare professionals. Your review committee will submit their recommendation to the Office of Student Returns.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Students who have been ill may qualify for accommodations through the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you would like to learn more about this option, please visit the Student Disability Access Office web site at

Application Packet/Materials 

While you are away please be mindful that when you decide to return you will be required to submit a complete return packet that will consist of the following components:

  1. Common Readmission Application to be completed by all students.
  2. Personal statement/Short-Essay Responses.
  3. Medical questionnaire(s) completed and submitted by your licensed health care provider(s)
  4. Health related letter of recommendation(s) written and submitted by your licensed healthcare provider(s).

All materials must be submitted directly to the Office of Student Returns.

Please visit the Office of Student Returns website at to download a Readmission Application and read the Returning Student Checklist and Return Policy.