Parental Accommodation

Parental Accommodation allows Arts and Sciences PhD and DMA students to devote their full attention to the demands of new parenthood. This time is not considered a leave of absence, since students remain registered and funded. Students with a medical issue requiring leave of absence should see the policy here.

  • The parental accommodation suspends all academic requirements, including but not limited to coursework, exams, and teaching responsibilities, for a twelve-week period. The intention of this accommodation is to relieve new parents of all academic and professional concerns, and effectively to pause all such obligations during this period so that the student may return to academic work still in good standing.
  • It supplements  this twelve-week pause with an equivalent period of time toward the completion of the MA, MPhil, and PhD or DMA degrees, and with one additional semester of funding eligibility (not a funding guarantee). A student with one period of Parental Accommodation is required to complete the MA degree in two years plus the accommodation period, the MPhil in four years plus the accommodation period, and the PhD in nine years plus the accommodation period. Though parental accommodation temporarily suspends requirements, students are expected to fulfill departmental requirements in a timely fashion when the period of accommodation has concluded.
  • Parental Accommodation does not provide additional funding automatically, or an extension on housing eligibility. It does not allow additional time to degree beyond that mentioned above.

Students who anticipate requesting Parental Accommodation should meet with their advisor as soon as possible to plan for their time off. Students should provide their advisor with a written request describing a revised plan and timeline for completion of the PhD or DMA degree.

Parental Accommodation begins on the date of birth, adoption, or guardianship. So that GSAS and the department can make appropriate arrangements, students should submit the Parental Accommodation form to the GSAS Office of Student Affairs at least four months before the expected start of the accommodation. This requirement allows GSAS and the department to make replacement arrangements for teaching or research assistant assignments. Parental Accommodation is not granted retroactively. 

GSAS does not allow departments to offer an alternative period that is shorter than that provided by the GSAS policy. Any exceptions to the parental accommodation policy or timeline must be reviewed and approved by the student, the Director of Graduate Studies in the student’s department, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. 

  • Departments may require students in poor academic standing prior to the start of the accommodation period to take specific steps upon their return to return to good standing. Departments must provide such students with a written description of these steps and the timetable for their completion. 

The following provisions apply:

  1. Suspended academic responsibilities include class attendance, exams, other course-related requirements, teaching, lab work, and work toward the dissertation.
  2. Students in their GSAS multi-year fellowship years are required to suspend responsibilities for their teaching and their teaching assistant training during the accommodation period. (Note: GSAS fellowship years for students in the humanities and social sciences are usually years one through five; for students in the natural sciences, they are usually years one and two.) Students may not take on additional compensated work while being relieved of their teaching and other academic work during a Parental Accommodation.
  3. Effective Fall 2021, students who receive Parental Accommodation will be granted one additional semester of funding eligibility; eligibility in post-guaranteed-funding years does not guarantee an appointment. A student who took a parental accommodation in Fall 2021 or later, and whose child or children meet the childcare subsidy eligibility rules, may apply for the subsidy during their additional semester of funding eligibility.
  4. While Parental Accommodation provides an extension of the standard time to degree and an additional semester of funding eligibility, it does not guarantee an additional semester during which a student receives funding, insurance, or any other benefits that come with the standard GSAS fellowship. 
  5. Students must register for the appropriate registration category just as they would if they were not taking a period of accommodation. This is necessary to preserve full-time student status and to retain student medical insurance and housing eligibility.
  6. The extension of time toward the degree does not apply to housing, which is not controlled by GSAS. Questions pertaining to housing should be directed to Columbia Residential.
  7. The period of accommodation applies to calendar weeks, rather than weeks of an academic term. If a period of Parental Accommodation overlaps with an academic break (including summer), the break period will be included in the period of accommodation.
  8. Students on an external fellowship or other non-Columbia funding (e.g., NSF, NIH, Fulbright, SSRC) should inform the external award agency well in advance of the period of accommodation. They should expect to receive accommodation from the funding agency in accordance with its policy. If the external award agency will cover only a portion of the standard funding, GSAS and the department will cover any portion of the twelve-week accommodation period that is not funded by the external fellowship or grant. If such external funding is, in its entirety, suspended or deferred during the accommodation period, then students should confer with GSAS to determine whether GSAS will assume funding responsibility. To initiate discussion, provide a copy of the funding agency's letter that indicates suspension or deferral of funds to the GSAS Office of Student Affairs ([email protected]).
  9. New parents may also extend their period of accommodation for one semester, without funding, immediately following the conclusion of the initial 12-week period. The unfunded extension will not change a student’s eligibility for housing, health coverage, and access to university facilities. Students taking the unfunded extension will register for Matriculation and Facilities (M&F), and will be responsible for paying their tuition, student medical insurance, student health service fee and all other applicable university fees. Additionally, students will not be allowed to work for their departments or as research assistants during this time. As an extension of the initial period of accommodation, the unfunded semester does not affect funding eligibility (i.e., students only receive one additional semester of funding eligibility per accommodation).
  10. For matters of temporary accommodation relating to childbirth, students should contact the Title IX Office. In the event of illness or a need for a personal leave of absence, students should make use of the GSAS leave of absence policy. A leave of absence will usually begin following the accommodation period.

The period of Parental Accommodation will run concurrently with any other applicable State and Federal leave benefits. In other words, student officers on Parental Accommodation cannot collect additional State or Federal leave benefits while simultaneously receiving funding from GSAS. 

All questions, forms, and requests for additional information should be directed to the GSAS Office of Student Affairs ([email protected]).

Note: The preceding applies only to Arts and Sciences doctoral students. Doctoral students in non-Arts and Sciences programs, including those in Teachers College and in the Schools of Architecture, Preservation and Planning; Business; Communications; Engineering and Applied Science; Nursing; Physicians and Surgeons; Public Health; and Social Work, should contact their director of graduate studies or the associate dean of their school to determine conditions and procedures for Parental Accommodation.