KULC Academic Accommodation for New Parents
To enable graduate students who are new parents to maintain their student status and to facilitate their full participation in coursework, research, and clinical training.
This policy will apply to all enrolled graduate students, regardless of gender or marital status. Other situations related to family life will continue to be covered by a general leave of absence. Depending on a student's academic program, the timing of a new child's arrival, and the availability of family support in caring for a child, a student may choose, for academic and/or personal reasons, to take a leave of absence rather than utilizing the Academic Accommodations for New Parents policy.
The University of Kansas acknowledges that the years spent in graduate and professional degree programs can coincide with the years in which students begin and raise families. KU wishes to assert itself as an institution that values family-friendly policies for students, faculty, and staff by adopting a graduate-student-specific policy outlining the academic accommodations available for new parents. This policy illustrates KU's commitments to graduate-student well-being and to diversity and inclusion, which will allow the institution to recruit and retain the highest quality students.
Communication and cooperation between students, advisors, and graduate programs is crucial to successful navigation of new parenthood in graduate school. This policy should not replace that communication. Rather, it should reinforce the importance of that cooperation, offer a formal mechanism to enable appropriate accommodations, and encourage flexibility from all involved parties. Students, academic programs, and departments are expected to work with sensitivity and imagination, making good-faith efforts to articulate and meet the needs of graduate-student parents. Students are expected to be proactive in articulating specific accommodations that will enable them to remain in good standing and maintain satisfactory progress toward a degree.
The University of Kansas will grant graduate students an academic accommodation period of up to six (6) weeks due to the arrival of a new child (e.g., arrival through childbirth, adoption, or the placement of a foster child). If both parents are graduate students at KU, each may arrange for an academic accommodation period for the same child and those accommodation periods need not be taken concurrently. This is an academic accommodation only: students should be advised to consult with administrative units on campus concerning how an academic accommodation period may affect employment, financial aid, non-immigrant status, or other concerns. New parents who find they need more time away from their academic responsibilities may take a leave of absence.
The specific provisions of this accommodation period will be determined through consultation between the student, advisors, and departmental officers. During this accommodation period, students will continue to be enrolled at their established academic status (i.e., full-time or part-time) and retain all benefits of such status. This is not a leave of absence because the student remains enrolled, continues to pay tuition, and is expected to return as soon as possible to academic work.
The academic accommodation period may be granted as a brief period free from academic responsibilities, a revised academic, research, or clinical schedule, or a combination of these. This policy provides academic accommodation only. It does not alter or modify the university's employment policies concerning paid or unpaid time off. Students employed on campus should consult with their employers if they need to request time off from work.
The academic accommodation for new parents has three components which apply to all active graduate students.
- New parents who arrange for an academic accommodation period may also request a one-semester extension of graduate program and Graduate Studies requirements, time limits, academic work, and milestones (including, but not limited to, Master's Exams and Comprehensive Exams). Students should consult with their Directors of Graduate Studies (DGSes) to determine whether this extension is necessary and to specify the date on which it begins. If a student wants this extension, the student must notify the department of the extension request no later than the date on which the student returns from the academic accommodation period. Departments will submit this extension request for approval by their School or College.
- New parents who arrange for an academic accommodation period will be able to maintain their established enrollment level (full-time or part-time) until the end of the accommodation period or the end of the semester, whichever comes first. They will thus retain access to all KU facilities and privileges for which they are eligible (including, but not limited to, student health insurance, libraries, email, and parking), and they will continue to be students at their established level for all university matters involving financial aid (e.g., loan eligibility and deferment) and immigration (e.g., immigration requirements). However, if new parents must also take time off work, it may result in a loss of funding.
- To arrange for an academic accommodation period, new parents should work with their advisors, principal investigators, and department officers to propose an academic accommodation that meets the student's needs. The proposal should make arrangements for course completion and for satisfaction of research and/or clinical obligations during the academic accommodation period. Students are encouraged to discuss how the academic accommodation may affect time-sensitive research or clinical projects and the feasibility of continued participation in these same projects.
Students must submit the completed Academic Accommodation for New Parents Form to their department. Individual programs and departments will review their students' requests and, along with the student and other necessary parties (e.g., advisors, instructors), determine the academic accommodations to be provided. These discussions must also detail the type of academic engagement and progress expected from the student during the academic accommodation period.
Following departmental review:
- If a program decides to approve a student's request the form, bearing the student's and DGS's signatures, and the accommodation plan must be submitted to the appropriate school or College for tracking. The plan will outline the specific accommodations being provided for the student, as well as the academic program's expectations for the student (if any). It must clearly state the dates (up to six (6) consecutive weeks) for which the accommodation is being granted.
- If a program determines that a leave of absence is more appropriate, but the student continues to prefer an academic accommodation, the student's request and the department's rationale for encouraging a leave of absence must be submitted in writing to the appropriate school or College and to the Office of Graduate Studies for review. The Dean of the student's school or College, in consultation with the Vice Provost of Graduate Studies, will have final decision-making authority. KU prohibits retaliation of any kind against graduate students who request or receive an academic accommodation for new parenthood.
Accommodation periods must begin within one (1) calendar year of a new child's arrival.
The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression, and genetic information in the University's programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies:
Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access
1246 W. Campus Rd.
Lawrence, KS 66045
785-864-6414 711 TTY
This policy applies to all graduate students whose programs are governed by the Office of Graduate Studies. It does not apply to students in first professional programs, such as J.D. or Pharm.D. students. Those students should consult the administrators who oversee those programs.
Accommodation periods must be taken as a whole and may not be broken into smaller sections.
This policy does not supersede applicable provisions of the GTA Memorandum of Agreement. Graduate students who are employed by KU must comply with applicable federal and state regulations as well as employment policies held by the Kansas Board of Regents and the University of Kansas.
03/09/2021: Updated link to Leave of Absence policy.
06/25/2020: Change Dean of Graduate Studies to Vice Provost of Graduate Studies.
04/05/2018: Linked the related form.
03/16/2017: Policy Created.