Catalog Policies

Leave of Absence

Students who wish to temporarily discontinue their enrollment at CalArts must request a leave of absence through the Office of the Registrar or through Student Affairs, depending on the circumstances of the leave.  Students who receive financial aid must also meet with the Office of Financial Aid to learn whether there are consequences of a leave on their financial aid eligibility or loan repayment, and international students must meet with the Office of International Student Affairs to ensure compliance with their visa status.  Tuition refunds for a semester in progress are granted according to the Withdrawal from the Institute and Dormitory – Refunds policy in the CalArts Catalog.

Students placed on academic or métier warning or probation are eligible to apply for a leave of absence, but their academic status will remain in effect upon their resumption of studies at the Institute.

CalArts allows for leaves of absence in the following categories:  Personal Leaves, Medical Leaves, and Institute-Initiated Leaves.

Personal Leave

A personal leave of absence enables students to work, to travel, to pursue an interest not involving formal studies, or to handle personal or family issues.  Depending on School policy, students may request a personal leave for either one semester or one academic year.  Students who are approved for a one semester leave may request to extend the leave to a full academic year; these requests must be received prior to the start of the second semester of the leave. 

To request a personal leave of absence, students must submit a completed Leave of Absence form to the Office of the Registrar.  Approval of any personal leave of absence is at the discretion of students’ Dean and faculty.

At the end of a personal leave, students may reenroll for the semester indicated on the Leave of Absence form without being required to complete any reenrollment or readmission paperwork.  Students who do not return as expected will be withdrawn from the Institute and subject to the terms of the Withdrawal from the Institute policy.

Students approved for personal leaves of absence during the Add/Drop period will have all in progress courses dropped from their transcript.  Students approved for personal leaves during the Withdrawal period will be assigned “W” notations for all in progress courses.  A personal leave of absence will not be approved after the Withdrawal period has ended.

Medical Leave

Students may be granted a medical leave of absence from the Institute in those instances in which the student’s health is impeding normal academic or artistic progress.  A medical leave may be approved for up to one full academic year.  If medically necessary, students may request to extend a medical leave for up to one additional academic year.  Approval of requests to extend medical leaves beyond one year is made at the discretion of the school, in consultation with the Dean of Student Affairs and in consideration of the physical demands of the student’s program.

To apply for a medical leave, students must complete the Leave of Absence form and provide documentation of the need for medical leave from their treating licensed and relevant non-familial health care professional within 30 days of declaring a leave.  Approval of the leave is at the discretion of the Dean of Student Affairs (or designee).  In cases where a medical leave is denied, or appropriate documentation is not provided, the leave will be processed as a personal leave of absence and will be subject to the Personal Leave policy detailed above.

Upon receiving documentation for a medical leave, the Dean of Student Affairs (or designee) will provide a decision to approve or deny the medical leave in writing.  If the leave is approved, Student Affairs will provide further written communication to the student documenting the reason for the leave, the conditions that must be met to return from medical leave, and the process by which the student will request to return.  Prior to reenrolling, all students on medical leaves will be required to submit medical clearance from their treating licensed and relevant non-familial health care professional stating that, in their professional opinion, the student is now capable of handling the academic and artistic demands of the Institute.  Student Affairs will also communicate approved medical leave status to the Office of the Registrar.

Students approved for medical leaves taking effect during the Add/Drop period will have all in progress courses dropped from the transcript.  Students approved for medical leaves taking effect during the Withdrawal period will be assigned “W” notations for all in progress courses.  In rare cases, and at the discretion of the Dean of Student Affairs (or designee) in consultation with the Registrar, students may be approved for medical leaves taking effect after the end of the Withdrawal period.  Requests for late semester medical leaves will not be considered after the last day of the semester.

Students approved for medical leave will have an administrative hold placed on their registration record to prevent reenrollment without clearance from Student Affairs.  Students intending to return from a medical leave must submit clearance documentation to the Dean of Student Affairs (or designee) no less than one month prior to the start of the semester in which the student intends to reenroll.  The Dean of Student Affairs (or designee) will consider students’ requests based on a review of the entire record, including any new information relevant to the matter, and may impose conditions on students’ reenrollment.

Institute-Initiated Leave

Students are subject to Institute-initiated leave if the Dean of Student Affairs (or designee), in consultation with the School Dean, is persuaded by the evidence that they exhibit behavior which substantially disrupts or impedes the educational process or proper activities or functions of the Institute.  Students may also be placed on institute-initiated leave pending the outcome of a disciplinary investigation if the evidence indicates that they pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others.

In the case of Institute-initiated leave, the Dean of Student Affairs (or designee), in consultation with the School Dean, may state a specific date after which students may seek to reenroll, and may also stipulate conditions that must be met before students may reenroll, including but not limited to a requirement that students provide medical clearance from their treating licensed and relevant non-familial health care professional.  Student Affairs will communicate this decision to the Office of the Registrar.

Unless otherwise specified by the Dean of Student Affairs (or designee), any decision to place a student on involuntarily leave will take immediate effect.  However, this decision is subject to automatic review within seven days by the Provost (or designee), including the Institute Diversity Officer.  Should students choose to challenge the institute-initiated medical leave decision, they may do so through the student Grievance Procedure, but the initiation of a grievance will not delay the effective date of the leave.

Absence without Leave

Students who discontinue enrollment for a single academic semester (fall or spring) at CalArts without following the leave of absence procedures described above will be withdrawn from the Institute and, in accordance with the Withdrawal from the Institute policy, will be required to reapply to the Institute if they wish to return.  Schools and programs are not required to approved readmission of withdrawn students, and all readmitted students will be subject to current policies governing degree requirements and catalog rights.

Policy Category:
Revised Date:
Jan 2017