Family Friendly Policies for PHD Students


A student in a Ph.D. program at Penn is eligible for time off of eight weeks for the birth or adoption of a child. The student must notify the graduate group chair and Advisor/Supervisor in writing, at an early date, of his/her plans to initiate a “Time Off” period, so that appropriate arrangements can be made to cover any teaching/research responsibilities.

A. Normally the “Time Off” period commences within two weeks of the birth or adoption.

B. During the “Time Off” period, the student remains enrolled full-time. In order to facilitate a rapid return, s/he may participate in the program as fully as s/he deems appropriate. By remaining on full-time status, student visa status and loan repayment schedules, if any, will remain unchanged.

C. The student is entitled to academic accommodation including relief from academic requirements, such as postponement of exams and course requirements.

D. A student receiving stipend support is entitled to continuation of support during the “Time Off” period as follows:

1. Students receiving stipends from University/school funds are entitled to draw support for eight weeks during the academic year.
2. Students funded by government grants or other external funding sources are entitled to benefits as determined by the funding agency.


A student in the Ph.D. program at Penn may take an unpaid Family Leave of Absence for the birth or adoption of a child, child care, or care of an immediate family member (spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent) with a serious health condition.

1. Students may take a Family Leave of Absence for one or two semesters.
The student is expected to notify the graduate group chair and adviser in writing of his/her plans to take a Family Leave at an early date, so that appropriate arrangements can be made to cover any teaching/research responsibilities.
2. Family Leave “stops the clock” on the student’s academic requirements, including service requirements, for the duration of the leave.
3. During the period of Family Leave, the student may arrange to continue Student Health Insurance, but is responsible for the payment of his or her own premiums. Upon paying a fee, students on approved Family Leave will retain their PennCard, e-mail accounts, library privileges, and building access.
4. Funding commitments from the institution are deferred until the student returns from Family Leave. Students receiving funding from external sources, such as government grants, are subject to the conditions established by the funding source.
5. Service requirements (e.g., teaching, research) will be met by the student following return from Family Leave.
6. Requests for extension of Family Leave beyond one year, or for repeated Family Leaves, may be made. Approval of an extension, deferral of funding, and continued academic accommodation is at the discretion of the Graduate Dean.

*IMPORTANT: If you anticipate adding a dependent (e.g., newborn) to your Penn Student Insurance Policy while on Family Leave, you must remain in ACTIVE student status at the start of the fall semester. Students should arrange with their school/division to maintain full-time student status for at least 31 days from the start of fall classes, after which time the Family Leave status can be recorded in the Student Records System. After the birth/adoption, contact the SHS Insurance Coordinator to enroll the dependent. The premium for dependent coverage is payable directly to Aetna Student Health.


There is a $50/semester charge for Family Leave (FL).   The School Registrar sends email to Student Accounts at    requesting that the charge be posted and indicating the student’s  name, pennID, and term to be charged with the rate.  The student pays the bill at the Cashiers office in the Franklin Building, or online through the Penn.Pay.

            -Students on FL retain access to Library e-resources and print borrowing.

            -If the student’s Penn Card has expired, and the student desires print borrowing,
              s/he must go to the PennCard Center and pay $30 for a new card.

The student takes the new Penncard to Van Pelt Library’s main Circulation Desk to register for print borrowing.