Taking Time Off

Image of a snowy day at Swarthmore College.

Sometimes students take a leave of absence from Swarthmore. Time away can be a valuable and productive experience. Students who take a leave of absence may engage in a wide range of activities during their time away. Those activities frequently include tending to health concerns, volunteering at an organization, working in a paid job, taking classes at another college or university (see Swarthmore "Transfer Credit" Policy), tending to personal or family concerns, resting, or reflecting.


As you contemplate a potential leave of absence or return from a leave of absence:

  • CLASS DEAN: If you are contemplating taking a leave of absence, then you should talk with your class dean.
  • ADVISOR: Juniors and seniors are encouraged to talk with their academic advisors about potential time away.
  • REGISTRAR ("December Finisher"): If you are contemplating completing your degree requirements in a Fall semester and graduating the following May/June, then you should talk with the Registrar.
  • FINANCIAL AID: If you receive financial aid, then you should consult with the Financial Aid Office staff so that you understand the aid implications of taking time away.
  • INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: If you are an international student, then you should consult with the Adviser to International Students and Scholars, Jennifer Marks-Gold.

With your leave/return decisions or questions, you must contact Asst. Dean for Academic Affairs Liz Derickson.


If you will take a leave of absence, "December Finish," or withdraw, then you must notify Dean Liz Derickson.

Deadlines: November 15 for a Spring semester leave of absence, April 1 for a Fall semester leave of absence. If you are considering a leave of absence after these deadlines, please reach out to Dean Derickson or another dean right away for advice. See below for more important details.


To request return to Swarthmore, you must also contact Dean Liz Derickson well in-advance.

Deadlines: November 15 for a Spring semester return, July 1 for a Fall semester return (April 1 recommended, if possible). See below for more important details.


Be sure to keep reading and (as-needed) responding to your Swarthmore email account. Swarthmore email is our official way of communicating with you.

For more details, please see the below procedures, the Student Handbook, and the College Catalog sections on expenses & faculty regulations 8.5.

Questions? Concerns? Please reach out to your class dean or Dean Derickson - by emailing, calling 610-328-8475 or by stopping by her Parrish West 109 office.