Graduate Catalog
Policies, Procedures, Academic Programs
Graduate School Policies
Continuous Enrollment

Unless on approved in absentia or leave of absence status, graduate students in degree programs must be registered continuously at VT during the academic year (fall and spring semesters) and pay the prescribed tuition and fees (See Policy PPM 291). Students working on research/scholarly activity toward their thesis or dissertation should enroll in the number of credit hours that reflects the extent of a student’s study or research activity. The minimum enrollment is for 3 credit hours at VT except in the case of a student who qualifies for Start of Semester Defense Exception. If the student holds a Graduate Assistantship, scholarship, or other form of financial support, the enrollment requirement is typically set by the conditions for that support. Students on Graduate Assistantships must be enrolled for a minimum of 12 credits per semester (see Academic Eligibility to Hold a Graduate Assistantship).

Individual graduate programs may seek approval from the Graduate School to temporarily or permanently exempt some or all of their students from this policy. Such exemptions may be granted to programs that are dominated by distance learning, to programs that are specifically directed at part-time students, to salaried employees qualifying under Policy 4800, or for other appropriate  reasons.

Graduate students who need to break continuous enrollment can do so by applying for a leave of absence or by participating in programs and activities approved by the Graduate School that require absence from the University (in absentia status).

Students who fail to follow this process will be resigned from the university by the Graduate School, and will then need to apply for readmission in order to continue their studies. Readmission requires a positive recommendation from each student's home academic unit, and is not guaranteed.

Leave of Absence

Students sometimes experience situations in which they cannot be continuously enrolled (e.g., health, family emergency, change in parental status, military service, financial hardship, personal or academic reasons, or other reasons). A student may request a leave of absence to suspend activities associated with course work or thesis/dissertation research (see Policy PPM 292). Students on leave of absence are not entitled to use University resources not normally available to the public or alumni (e.g., may not consult with advisors or work on courses or research).  
The  Leave of Absence Request Form must be submitted two weeks before the beginning of the semester for which the leave is requested. The leave of absence must be approved by the student’s advisor and the Department Head or Graduate Program Director for the department before submission to the Graduate School. If the leave of absence request is approved, the continuous enrollment requirement will be relaxed during the period of leave. The Leave of Absence form indicates when the student will return to the program and any conditions the department or the Graduate School may stipulate for the student’s readmission within that time. Leaves of absence may be granted for up to one year at a time. If a leave longer than one year is required, students will need to apply to the Graduate School for readmission.

International students should consult an immigration advisor in the Cranwell International Center or in the Washington DC Metro Area before requesting a leave of absence.