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Northwestern University

Taking Time Off from Your Studies

Students in good academic standing in Weinberg College may generally take time off from their studies and return to Northwestern whenever they choose to do so. No special permission for a leave of absence is required. The College has no formal policy concerning the granting of leaves of absence, and you do not have to provide a reason for taking time off.

For students beginning their studies in the 2022-23 academic year or earlier: If you take a leave and return you would continue to follow the BA degree requirements you started, but there are two exceptions. You would switch to the new BA requirements when you return (1) if you did not complete at least one academic-year quarter (Fall/Winter/Spring) earning grades of C- or higher in at least two 1-unit courses before the absence, or (2) if you were away from NU for more than four years (see the Academic Catalog for substitutions that may be granted after an extended absence).


If you registered for classes for a quarter that you will not be attending Northwestern, you will need to cancel your registration by filling out the online Term Withdrawal Request (Undergraduate) form. The online form and more information about withdrawing for a term can be found on the Registrar's website. 

Be sure to let your academic advisers know of your decision to leave as well.

If you receive financial aid and decide to take time off from your studies, you should inform the Office of Financial Aid and find out what you need to do to ensure your aid is available upon your return. If you signed a housing contract for the time during which you will be away, you should notify Residential Services.

Returning to Northwestern

If you take off one or more quarters during the regular academic year (Fall, Winter, or Spring), you must apply to return to Northwestern. The Registrar's website provides information on policies and procedures related to Former Students Re-Entry, including a link to the online Application for Former Student to Re-Enter (FRET) form. The online FRET form should be submitted well in advance of the start of registration for the term a student intends to return. Those dates can be found on the Academic Calendar.

If your netID expires during the time you are away, it takes several business days to reactivate after the FRET has been approved and processed. It is particularly important for students without an active netID to submit their FRET form as early as possible; you will not be able to register for courses until your netID is reactivated.

All students who plan to enroll in a specific term must be registered in at least one course by the end of the add period (the fifth day of the term) or they will not be allowed to enroll for the term. Consult the Academic Calendar for the add deadline for the term.

Your Weinberg College Adviser can help you with the return process, the transition back to Northwestern, and planning your next steps.

Medical Leave of Absence

Sometimes students are away from Northwestern on a medical leave of absence approved by the Dean of Students Office. In this case, both the Dean of Students Office and the Weinberg dean's office are involved in the re-entry process.

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