Medical leave is a leave of absence from MIT for medical reasons. Medical leave allows students to focus their resources and time on getting better rather than studying. At many other schools, any student who is hospitalized is automatically given a medical leave from school. But at MIT, we assess each individual case to determine what’s best for the student.
A medical leave is recommended—or is initiated by a student—when the student's medical condition interferes with his or her ability to do schoolwork, manage day-to-day functioning, or live safely in the school environment. A medical leave is often recommended when it becomes clear that a student needs more intensive treatment than is possible while registered for classes.
Medical leaves are processed through Student Support Services (for undergraduates) or the Office of the Dean of Graduate Education (for graduate students) with consultation from the Mental Health and Counseling Service or another area at MIT Medical. A few facts:
- Medical leaves are reevaluated each semester.
- Leaves are usually for a minimum of one full semester but may be as long as two semesters plus a summer.
- Often there are specific requirements for the student to fulfill during the leave, such as obtaining medical treatment and taking courses or working.
For undergraduates, the return process is initiated through Student Support Services. The student is asked to prepare a return application, including a statement about what he or she has done during the medical leave and why he or she is now ready to return. In the case of a student applying to return after a mental-health-related leave, either the chief or the associate chief of Mental Health and Counseling will assess the student’s medical stability, level of functioning, and readiness to return by interviewing the student and, perhaps, by speaking with clinicians whom the student saw during the leave period. This assessment will be provided to the committee evaluating the return.
At times, Student Support Services will require that a student continue in therapy after returning to MIT. The Mental Health and Counseling Service has a support group for students who have recently returned from medical leave.
For graduate students, the return process goes through the Office of the Dean of Graduate Education (ODGE) and must be initiated by July 1 for the fall term or December 1 for the spring term. To begin the process, a student on medical leave should provide ODGE with:
- A letter from his or her clinician stating that the student is well enough to return to academic and campus life. The letter should include some basic information about the clinician’s basis for the opinion.
- A letter from his or her department supporting the return. The student should make this request through the department’s graduate administrator.
Note: As each person’s situation is unique, students are urged to contact the ODGE for specific guidance regarding the content of the required letters. For more information, consult the medical leave section of the ODGE website.
If you would like to learn more information, McLean Hospital's College Mental Health Program has produced a very useful Student Guide to Mental Health Treatment.