Leave of Absence

To view the University’s PhD Student Leave of Absence Policies, please visit: https://catalog.upenn.edu/pennbook/phdstudentleaveofabsence/

The first step is to complete the Request for a Leave of Absence form

Funding Policy on Maternity/Paternity Accommodations

Wharton Doctoral students who anticipate a need for maternity/paternity “extended funding” (beyond their allotted funded years) are eligible to apply for a “Funding Extension” period.  Eligible students should complete and submit the approved Maternity/Paternity Funding form within 60 days of the birth or adoption of your child. If approved by the Doctoral Coordinator and Vice Dean, students will receive ½ of their normal stipend and 100% of health care fees.  This policy does not cover tuition.  This is a one-time use extension. Students are encouraged to speak with their Doctoral Coordinator to explore their options for accommodation for any time-off periods.

Continuous Registration

Continuous registration as a graduate student is required unless a formal leave of absence is granted by the dean of the student’s school.


A leave of absence will be granted for military duty, medical reasons, or family leave; this leave is typically for up to one year and “stops the clock” on time to completion. Personal leave for other reasons may be granted for up to one year with the approval of the Graduate Dean, but it does not automatically change the time limit. Additional requirements for return may be imposed by the Graduate Dean. No language or other degree examinations may be taken while a student is on leave of absence. A student without an approved leave of absence who fails to register each semester will be considered to have withdrawn from candidacy for the degree; approval by the Graduate Dean and recertification are required for reinstatement.

Dissertation registration takes place in the fall and spring semesters. Dissertation students who are candidates for August degree remain full-time students through August 31st without summer registration.

Time Limits

While the University’s maximum time limit for completion is ten years after matriculation; the Wharton PhD Program is a maximum of eight years for completion.


Graduate students who have been dropped due to time limit may petition the graduate group to return as a student for a maximum of one year in order to achieve recertification and defend the dissertation. (See sections below on Petition for Readmission and Recertification.)

Combined degree students (e.g., M.D.-Ph.D.s) typically enroll full-time in medical school during the first two years of study and do not begin full time Ph.D. course work until the third year; for these students, the ten-year time limit begins at the start of full-time Ph.D. study.

Petition for Readmission after Reaching the Maximum Time to Degree

A student who has been dropped after reaching the maximum time limit may petition the graduate group to return as a student for a maximum of one further year in order to achieve recertification and complete and defend the dissertation.


Faculty members have no obligation to continue working with a student who has been dropped, nor is there any presumption that a graduate group will respond favorably to a petition for re-admission. If a graduate group wishes to recommend re-admission, it must present to the graduate dean a list of faculty members willing to serve as a dissertation committee and a detailed, realistic plan of how the student will, within one year of reenrollment, achieve recertification, pass the dissertation examination, and submit the final copy of the dissertation. If re-admission is approved by the graduate dean, the student must pay Reduced Tuition for two semesters, unless all requirements are completed within one semester. A student may petition for readmission at the time s/he is dropped from the program, or at a later date. The student should be fully ready and committed to completing within a one-year timeframe; enrollment will not be extended beyond that final year, and no further petition for readmission will be considered by the University.


If the graduate group and graduate dean approve the petition for readmission, the student must immediately be recertified. In order to ensure that a student’s dissertation research remains at the frontier of current research in the field, the student must retake and pass the Candidacy Examination, or satisfy alternative recertification criteria designed by their graduate group and approved by the Graduate Council of the Faculties. The new deadline for completion of all requirements for the Ph.D., including recertification, shall be within one year.