Carnegie Mellon University

Enrollment Services

Information for Faculty & Staff

Enrollment Deferral & Leave of Absence Process

Various personal situations may sometimes require a student to request an enrollment deferral or voluntary leave of absence. For both deferrals and leaves, undergraduate policies and practices are different from those guiding graduate students. The guidance below is intended to assist advisors and administrators with decision-making regarding these processes. In all cases, we encourage students to speak with their academic advisor or associate dean about possible implications and to ensure a successful return.

Enrollment Deferral

What is a Deferral of Enrollment? 

Newly admitted students may request to defer their enrollment, or postpone attending CMU. Requests for deferrals must be submitted prior to the undergraduate or graduate program deadlines, and no later than the first day of classes. 

First-year undergraduate students enter the university during the fall semester. Approved deferrals typically are granted for one year, and will secure the student's place in the incoming class for the following fall. 

Graduate student deferral processes and deadlines vary according to college and program. Students should contact their department for information. 

For both undergraduate and graduate students, financial aid eligibility will need to be re-evaluated upon enrollment. 

Requesting a Deferral

Undergraduate Students

To start the deferral process, a student should email to request an official enrollment deferral/gap year request form. The form must be completed before the first day of classes. The student should make sure they've completed the enrollment reply form and submitted their $800 deposit through the Where Am I in the Process? portal. The Office of Admission will inform the student of the deferral decision within three to five business days after the form is submitted. Questions about deferrals may be submitted to the Office of Admission

Graduate Students

There is considerable variability related to graduate student deferral and leave practices and policies across different colleges and programs. Graduate students should refer to their program’s student handbook for details and speak to a program advisor or head.  Some departments do not grant requests for deferrals; however, students may elect to re-apply for admission in a subsequent year.

New Undergraduates

New Graduate Students

Deferral of Enrollment

Admitted undergraduate students may request a deferral by contacting

New graduate students should refer to their program’s student handbook for details and speak to a program advisor or head. Some programs do not permit deferrals.

Timing Considerations

  • Fall deferrals only
  • Request must be made prior to the first day of classes 
  • Deferrals for a one-year period, up to two years
  • Timing considerations vary; student should contact their program advisor or head for requirements
  • In all cases, deferrals may not be requested or granted after the first day of classes


References & Links

Admitted Student FAQs Graduate Program Handbook

Voluntary Leave of Absence

What is a Voluntary Leave of Absence?

Students must sometimes interrupt their studies for a variety of reasons. A student may take a leave from Carnegie Mellon by either taking a leave of absence (departing the university temporarily with the firm and stated intention of returning) or by withdrawing from the university (departing the university with no intention of returning).

Students are encouraged to speak to their academic advisor to assist with decision-making. More details about the leave of absence and return from leave process can be found on The HUB website.

Requesting a Leave of Absence

Those choosing to take a leave of absence should first contact their academic advisor to discuss their plans while on leave and to work out any conditions that may be necessary for a smooth return to Carnegie Mellon. A Leave of Absence form must be completed with the appropriate signatures and submitted to The HUB via email.

By policy, any student can take a leave of absence and they must indicate their intended semester of return when taking a leave. Colleges/departments have the ability to place limitations and/or parameters on the return at the time of the leave.

In all cases, international students should consult with the Office of International Education (OIE) prior to taking a leave, if possible. Students should visit The HUB website to view information about tuition adjustment, financial aid adjustment, fees and campus services, as they relate to leaves of absence.

Undergraduate Students

Graduate Students


New and continuing undergraduate students may request a leave of absence on or after the first day of classes. Students must consult with their academic advisor and submit to The HUB a completed Leave of Absence form (with signatures/approvals).

New and continuing graduate students may request a leave of absence in accordance with the policies and practices of their program or department. Students should consult with their advisor/department head and submit to The HUB a completed Leave of Absence form (with signatures/approvals).

Timing Considerations

  • Request must be made on or after the first day of classes
  • Student must indicate when they plan to return, which must be approved by the department/college
  • Students should understand the financial implications (such as tuition adjustment policies and financial aid eligibility, as applicable) of taking a leave of absence (visit Tuition Adjustment Policy webpage for information)

References & Links