Vacation Policy for PhD and Doctoral-level Students

This policy applies to all PhD and doctoral-level graduate students receiving a University stipend (GA, GRF, NRSA, RA/RF, TA/TF), with the exception of students enrolled in the JD and MD programs. This policy only applies to students enrolled in the MD/PhD program during their PhD years.

Drexel University is committed to providing its PhD and doctoral-level graduate students with a healthy work life balance by recognizing the importance of taking time away from research and academic study to recharge. 

The following policy is intended to support Drexel’s graduate students in handling the academic rigor and challenge of their graduate programs.  The policy is also intended to foster enhanced communication between the graduate student and faculty advisor. There are circumstances in which taking vacation/time off would interfere with pre-established requirements or time-sensitive work. Drexel University expects that faculty and graduate students will communicate clearly and exercise good judgment on balancing work expectations/obligations and supporting time off. This policy will serve as the minimum requirement for vacation time available to this population. Any school and/or program can add additional time as they see fit. 

Students receiving a University stipend (GA, GRF, NRSA, RA/RF, TA/TF) are eligible for two weeks of paid vacation time (10 business days) each Academic Year. Vacation may be taken one day at a time or for multiple days at a time up to two weeks.

To promote constructive communication between students and advisors, time off must be approved in advance by the appropriate advisor/program director. Students must submit a written request and receive written permission of approved time off from the program director/advisor. This will also ensure that the time off period does not interfere with academic responsibilities including, but not limited, to course work, research or teaching obligations, and laboratory work.

Drexel University’s calendar includes academic breaks (usually between terms), holiday breaks and closures due to weather or other emergencies. 

  • Graduate students are entitled to observe all University closings for Holidays (see University Holiday schedule). These closings are not to be counted towards the vacation period allowance.
  • Absence due to illness is not considered vacation time.
  • Graduate students are entitled to observe emergency closures. Emergency closures are not to be counted towards the vacation period allowance.

Academic breaks are not considered vacation time/time off. PhD and doctoral-level students may be expected to be in their laboratories or offices during academic breaks and periods when no classes are held. Graduate students should review expectations with their advisor. Students should review the Academic Calendar that pertains to their program of study and work with their faculty advisor or program director to clarify expectations of time off during these periods.

  • Time off must not interfere with teaching assistant duties, including meetings prior to the start of classes.
  • International students who plan to travel outside the United States must submit appropriate documentation to the ISSS office and receive the appropriate permission. See information at the following link, ISSS Office .The information provided on this form will allow the College/School to assist the student in the event he/she is subject to an extensive security clearance prior to receiving the necessary clearance and documentation required for re‐entry into the United States.
  • Unauthorized absences may result in a prorated withholding of a student’s stipend.
  • Off-site or remote work, including travel and participation in academic conferences or meetings, is not considered time off as long it is agreed upon in advance by the advisor.
  • Students who require additional leave beyond what is stipulated above must seek prior approval as outlined in the following statement.
    • Students who wish to take a formal Leave of Absence from the University, for a minimum of one term and/or up to one year, should contact their graduate academic advisor to discuss and submit an official Leave of Absence (LOA) request via the Advisor Visit Tracking (AVT) system by the end of the Course Add/Drop Deadline of the current term. Requests made beyond the course add/drop deadline will be processed for the next term of enrollment, if the leave is more than one term. Students should discuss any academic implications, such as an updated plan of study and time to completion/graduation policies, with their advisor prior to requesting a leave.

Some students may need to work on holidays in order to staff ongoing activities, projects and operations. Graduate students are expected to coordinate their vacation plans with their faculty advisors sufficiently far ahead of time to avoid conflicts at the last minute. Students who work on holidays will be able to increase their vacation days by an equivalent amount of time. 

Students are encouraged to utilize their vacation/time off within a single Academic Year. Students who wish to defer vacation/time off to a subsequent Academic Year should seek permission from their advisor/program director.

Drexel University expects that faculty will support students in maintaining a healthy attitude toward work and life. Should graduate students experience situations of unreasonable demands from faculty advisors that do not comply with this policy, they should initially appeal to the program director/department head. The Associate Dean of Graduate Study and Dean of their College/School can also be consulted should the graduate student require additional support. If the matter is not resolved, graduate students should appeal to the Graduate College.