Any registered student may request a Medical Leave. Medical Leave will be granted when a student is unable to, or chooses not to, participate in campus life for reasons of physical or mental health. The student must provide appropriate medical documentation, acceptable to MIT, to support the leave. Undergraduates should submit requests for Medical Leave to Student Support Services (S3); graduate students should submit these requests to the Office of Graduate Education (OGE). S3 will respond to requests from undergraduates; OGE will respond to requests from graduate students. They will make decisions to approve or deny these requests in consultation with MIT Medical, and always based on an individualied assessment of the student.
Students cannot use Medical Leave to circumvent or supplant the procedures of the Committee on Discipline (COD), the Committee on Academic Performance (CAP), or the Graduate Academic Performance Group (GAPG). A student who faces requirements resulting from actions of the CAP and GAPG or decisions of the COD that are put in place around the time of an approved Medical Leave will need to satisfy those requirements when making a request to return from leave.
In determining when a student can return, MIT will make an individualized assessment of the student’s medical and academic situation. In general, most students who take Medical Leave remain away from MIT for at least one semester.
A graduate student may take a Medical Leave for a maximum of twelve months, normally comprising two semesters plus one summer. Under exceptional circumstances, a graduate student may apply for one additional semester of Medical Leave. Extensions of Medical Leave are generally not granted to graduate students who are unlikely to be able to return to satisfactory participation in campus life within an additional semester, with or without reasonable accommodations.
Expectations during Medical Leave
MIT usually expects students on Medical Leave to seek treatment outside of MIT Medical during the leave. Students are encouraged to consult with clinicians at MIT Medical, in collaboration with outside medical providers, to develop and follow through on a treatment plan. Students are expected to work with S3 or OGE to clarify the expectations and plan for the leave. S3 or OGE may individually determine other leave requirements that reflect the student’s needs and circumstances. A student whose medical circumstances are coupled with academic challenges may benefit from coursework at another institution, and, in some cases, this will be required. MIT will send the student a letter that documents the leave and return plan that was developed with the student.
Certain resources of the Institute are available only to registered students. Students on Medical Leave cannot live in, or be employed in, MIT-owned or -affiliated housing (including fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups), attend classes, participate in UROP, access Athena and MIT-licensed software, or use an MIT ID card. Students on leave may stay in contact with, and visit, individuals on campus, such as their advisors and other faculty, staff, deans, heads of house, friends, and alumni. As a general matter, students on leave may participate in MIT activities that are open to the public. Students on leave may continue to use their MIT email address, but they may need to contact either the academic department, S3, or the OGE to maintain this privilege, depending on the length of leave.
International students should consult the International Students Office (ISO) to obtain current regulatory information early in the process of requesting a Medical Leave. International students who are authorized for Medical Leave and want to remain in the U.S. for medical treatment are usually eligible to obtain “Authorized Reduced Courseload” from the ISO under United States Department of Homeland Security visa regulations. This can continue for up to a total of twelve months during their academic program. To continue to remain in the U.S., the Medical Leave must be updated each term, with a new letter from the student’s clinician. This allows the ISO to obtain proper visa authorization for the student to remain in the U.S. while the Medical Leave continues. This authorization does not allow students to work, and they must maintain their health insurance coverage.
If an international student continues to need Medical Leave after a total of twelve months, the student will probably not be eligible to remain in the U.S. When the student is able to begin studying full time again, they may need to get new documents to reenter the U.S.
MIT will prorate tuition for students taking Medical Leave, consistent with the Registrar’s proration tables. See the official MIT policy on costs and tuition adjustments located on the MIT Registrar’s website.
A student on an approved Medical Leave is no longer registered for classes and no longer eligible to receive funding from or through MIT, including research assistantships or teaching assistantships. Under most circumstances, external fellowship funding is also suspended. However, students should contact their fellowship administrators directly to ask about applicable policies, since some fellowships pay stipends directly to students.
A student on Medical Leave must also contact Student Financial Services (SFS) to ensure that all charges for the term are paid in full or to ensure that a satisfactory payment arrangement is in place.
A student with education loans should contact SFS to request an exit interview with a student loan officer. Exit interviews are required of all MIT student loan borrowers who are on Medical Leave. SFS can discuss options that may prevent loan delinquency while a student is on a Medical Leave.
Students who did not waive the MIT Student Health Insurance Plan (MIT SHIP), formerly the MIT Student Extended Insurance Plan, while registered may continue this coverage during the period of Medical Leave for two consecutive semesters and a summer. After that, a student may request approval for one additional semester of coverage. This request must be made in writing to the Student Health Plans Office. MIT may grant the extension to students who provide documentation showing that they are actively engaged in appropriate treatment and are likely to be able to return to satisfactory participation in campus life at the end of that additional semester. Coverage for family members, including a student’s spouse, partner, and/or children, is not available to students on a Medical Leave.
Students who choose to continue their MIT Student Health Insurance Plan coverage will be responsible for premium payments that will be billed in monthly installments. Coverage will be discontinued if the student fails to pay premiums in a timely manner.
MIT will notify a student’s academic advisor, academic administrator, and/or other relevant offices that the student has taken a Medical Leave. MIT will also notify the International Students Office when an international student is granted a Medical Leave. These notifications will not include details about the reason for the leave.
Policy and process when MIT mandates Medical Leave
In rare instances, MIT may deem it necessary to mandate a Medical Leave when a student is unable to participate in campus life due to medical issues. No student will be required to take a Medical Leave without an individualized assessment and consideration of reasonable modifications or accommodations which, if accepted by the student, would be expected to enable the student to participate in campus life. Among accommodations the Institute will consider are whether the student may safely complete their course work and/or research while living off campus and/or whether they might succeed with a reduced course load. Circumstances in which MIT might consider a student for a mandated Medical Leave include, but are not limited to, situations in which a student’s medical condition causes them to exhibit behavior that:
- Harms, threatens to harm, or seriously endangers any person, including themselves, or that demonstrates an inability to care for themselves;
- Significantly or repeatedly disrupts the educational, residential, and other activities of MIT; or
- Demonstrates an inability to engage in a medically recommended level of treatment while maintaining participation in daily activities at MIT.
The decision to mandate a Medical Leave will be made jointly by the Vice President and Dean for Student Life and the Vice Chancellor. They will consider information and recommendations provided by medical professionals, MIT staff/administrators, and the student using an individualized approach free of generalizing stereotypes. They will provide the decision to mandate a Medical Leave to the student in writing. The decision will explain the rationale supporting the decision, the details of the leave, and any conditions the student is expected to satisfy prior to requesting to return.
A student who disagrees with the Institute’s decision to mandate a Medical Leave may submit an appeal, or review request, to the Chancellor, but the leave decision will remain in effect while the appeal is pending. The Chancellor must receive the appeal within seven working days of the decision to mandate leave, unless the Chancellor agrees to accept a late review request due to exceptional circumstances. The student must make the request in writing and include detailed information describing the rationale for the request to overturn or modify the leave decision. The Chancellor may meet with the student if deemed appropriate, review all pertinent materials associated with the leave decision, and consult with others who may have useful information. The Chancellor may affirm, overturn, or modify the leave decision within ten working days from the date of receipt of the request, although this period may be extended due to staff availability or unusual circumstances. The Chancellor’s decision will be communicated to the student in writing and shall be final.
Requesting return from Medical Leave
MIT fully expects that all students on Medical Leave who wish to return, including those on mandated leave, will do so. The student must submit documentation to return by June 15 for the Fall Semester or November 15 for the Spring Semester.
Undergraduates: For undergraduates, S3 coordinates many facets of the return process, but the final decision to allow a student to return rests with the CAP, based on guidance from MIT Medical. As part of this process, the student must provide letters of support from outside providers showing compliance with the expectations that were established at the time the Medical Leave was taken and a letter from the student’s academic department supporting the student’s return. In order to protect confidentiality, medical letters of support should be sent to S3, but any comprehensive medical records should be forwarded directly to MIT Medical and/or Student Mental Health and Counseling. Letters from outside providers are an important factor in the request to return, as is the assessment from MIT Medical. Ultimately the CAP’s main consideration will be whether the student is able to effectively and safely participate in campus life, with or without reasonable accommodations. Students requesting consideration for financial aid should contact SFS about the financial aid application process and deadlines. Students who want to live on campus should submit a Return from Leave Housing Application in the semester prior to their return. Housing decisions will be made based on availability each semester, but every effort will be made to facilitate a return to housing. If the CAP decides not to approve a student’s request to return, the CAP will reconsider this decision only if substantial new information becomes available. A request for reconsideration, along with the new information, should be submitted to S3, and the Chair of the CAP will review the documentation. The Chair’s decision will be communicated to the student in writing and shall be final.
Graduate students: For graduate students, requests to return will be reviewed and acted upon by OGE, based on guidance from MIT Medical. The process for returning from an approved Medical Leave is similar to the process of initiating a leave. OGE requires two documents: an outside clinician’s letter stating that the student has substantially progressed in treatment and supporting the student’s return to studies and campus life, and an academic program letter supporting the student’s return to the academic and research program. In order to protect confidentiality, medical letters of support should be sent to OGE, but any comprehensive medical records should be forwarded directly to MIT Medical and/or Student Mental Health and Counseling. Letters from outside providers are an important factor in the request to return, as is the assessment from MIT Medical. Ultimately the OGE’s main consideration will be whether the student is able to effectively and safely participate in campus life, with or without reasonable accommodations.