Overview and Philosophy

Some students may be considering a request to take a leave from their medical education for an extra year to do research or other scholarly work or to obtain an additional degree. In general, the School of Medicine is supportive of students extending their program for a year. The purpose of this guideline is to describe the process for requesting an extended program.

Students who are enrolled in the MD/PhD program are excluded from this policy.


Planned extensions are best suited to take place between third and fourth years, and are strongly discouraged between the second and third years.  You will be responsible for the Graduation Requirements of the Class that you will join upon your return.

Please also carefully review the CSP policy related to dual-degrees:

‘All students who interrupt medical school to obtain a second degree prior to the start of the 3rd year are required to complete all the requirements for the first 2 years of medical school and pass the USMLE Step 1 prior to starting their second degree coursework.

When returning to medical school, all students enrolled in a second degree are required to complete their second degree coursework and be in “filed to graduate status” (for their second degree) prior to enrolling in either the required 3rd year clinical courses or 4th year courses (except for 4th year clinical didactic experiences), for medical school. Exceptions to this must be approved by the CSP.’


  1. Notify the Associate Dean of Student Affairs (and/or his/her designee) as soon as you are considering a request to extend your medical education for any of the above reasons and no later than 6 months before the start of the medical school academic year that you otherwise would have been enrolled in.

  2. Schedule a meeting to discuss your extension with the Associate Dean of Student Affairs (and/or his/her designee) or the Vice Dean for Medical Education. Be prepared to discuss the following:
    1. The specific program you are considering (name, duration, geographic location and exact start date),
    2. The rationale for enrolling in such a program for your career path,
    3. How you plan on supporting yourself financially (including having health insurance) during this time, and
    4. Your understanding of the implications of interruption of your medical education on your trajectory through medical school (make sure that you have reviewed this with the Pre-clinical and/or clinical curriculum managers and the Registrar)

  3. After you get verbal approval from the Associate Dean of Student Affairs (and/or his/her designee) or the Vice Dean for Medical Education, if you decide on pursuing this option, you will need to complete School of Medicine leave paperwork.
    1. Please meet with the School of Medicine Registrar to determine the type of leave you are requesting and eligibility.
    2. The paperwork must be completed and returned to the School of Medicine Registrar prior to the starting term of your approval leave.
    3. Leave paperwork requires authorization from the appropriate Curriculum Manager, Financial Aid Office, the Registrar's Office and the Associate Dean of Student Affairs (and/or his/her designee) or the Vice Dean for Medical Education.
      1. Your Curriculum Manager may require an in-person meeting to review your plan to address all graduation requirements and to review the steps necessary to transition back to medical school.