Medical Leaves of Absence

Medical Leave of Absence A student who must interrupt their studies for medical reasons must complete the following process:

  1. Student must submit to the Dean of Students documentation from a licensed medical provider indicating a diagnosis of a medical condition and a recommendation by the treating medical provider that the student take a medical leave of absence. The documentation must indicate the length of the leave of absence. The Dean of Students will inform the student’s academic dean once this documentation is on file.
  2. Student must submit a written request for a Medical Leave of Absence to their academic dean.


Return from Medical Leave A student on a Medical Leave of Absence must notify their academic dean of their intention to return at least eight (8) weeks prior to the semester of the student’s intended return. The student must also complete the following procedures in order to return:

  1. Prior to returning to Cooper, the Dean of Students will provide the student with the required forms and documentation that need to be submitted. Detailed instructions can be found here.
  2. As part of the requirements to return to the Cooper Union after a medical leave, students will be required to provide a letter from their treating health care provider, addressed to the Dean of Students, stating that they are ready and able to return to school. The letter must indicate that the condition for which the student was provided the medical leave has been treated. The letter must also indicate if there are any restrictions or accommodations needed to return to rigorous academic study. Additional details of what the letter must include will be provided by the Dean of Students to the student on leave. The requirements of the letter will be unique to each student’s medical situation.
  3. All required documentation must be completed by the student and their treating health care provider, and returned to the Dean of Students.
  4. The student must submit a formal written letter, to their academic dean, stating their request to return from their medical leave.
  5. The academic dean will notify the registrar to reactivate the student record.


Major Physical and/or Mental Health Events A major physical and/or mental health event may include any physical and/or mental health event that prohibits the student from engaging with their studies and necessitates immediate time away from their academic work to focus on their health and wellbeing.

Student are required to notify the Office of Student Affairs of any major physical and/or mental health events that results in the student being unable to attend class and/or engage with their coursework so that we can coordinate with the student’s academic school to ensure the appropriate leave is applied and also ensure that the student is afforded any reasonable accommodations which they may request.


Temporary Medical Leave Due to a Major Physical and/or Mental Health Event When students are addressing a major physical and/or mental health related event, they may be automatically placed on a temporary medical leave of absence to allow them the time and space needed to focus on their health and wellbeing. This leave is intended to give students time to focus on their health and general wellbeing so that they can return to campus and be successful in their academic, professional, and personal pursuits.

We encourage students to take sufficient time to address the concerns that led to their temporary medical leave. Returning too soon sometimes results in the student continuing to struggle academically and personally.

Students who experience a major physical and/or mental health related event will need to be medically cleared to return to their studies.

This medical clearance process is designed to ensure that students have taken such care, and that appropriate supports and resources are in place for their return. The Procedures to Return to Study Following a Temporary Medical Leave of Absence due to a Major Physical and/or Mental Health Event apply to undergraduate and graduate students who are seeking to return to their studies at The Cooper Union following a temporary medical leave of absence due to a specific major physical and/or mental health event. The detailed return to study procedures can be found here.


Compulsory Medical Leave of Absence The Cooper Union seeks to foster a safe and peaceful campus environment (including, but not limited to its classrooms, laboratories, studios, shops, and dormitories) that nurtures its students’ well-being and allows them to focus on their studies.

The professional degree programs at The Cooper Union are exceptionally rigorous courses of study that require a student’s full commitment of time and effort and involve collaborative work in shared studios and laboratories. Additionally, in light of the highly specialized technical skills needed to run equipment in its shops and laboratories, The Cooper Union has the highest concern for safety on its premises and has appointed staff and faculty to supervise these facilities. Such concerns are carefully balanced with the institution’s historic commitment to student rights.

If a staff or faculty member notifies the Dean of Students and/or the student’s academic dean that a student’s conduct, actions or statements indicate that the student: (i) poses a threat of harm to the safety of others (either directly or through an inability to safely perform any necessary functions as a student); and/or (ii) is engaged (or may engage) in behavior or conduct that is disrupting the academic experience of others on campus, the dean will promptly assess such concerns and determine, together with any experts they engage with to help in this determination, whether there is a problem, the nature, duration and severity of the problem, and the probability that such harm or disruption may occur.

The Dean of Students and the student’s academic dean will promptly meet with the student to analyze the situation. If a medical situation is involved, the student may be asked to provide medical information from a healthcare provider in order to clarify the situation as necessary. Considering all the information, the deans will determine if a problem exists and, if so, whether a reasonable modification of policies, practices or procedures or the provision of auxiliary aids or services can appropriately mitigate the problem. If so, following such an accommodation/modification, the student will be permitted to continue with their studies. At any point during this process, the student will have the right to take voluntary medical leave of absence following the procedure stated above. In addition, at any point in this process the Dean of Students or the student’s academic dean may engage professional experts to provide advice on the situation.

If an accommodation/modification cannot sufficiently alleviate the risk/disruption to allow the student to remain actively enrolled, and the student is not able or willing to take a voluntary medical leave of absence, the deans may recommend that the student be placed on a compulsory medical leave of absence. The student will be sent a letter notifying him or her of the deans’ recommendation for a compulsory medical leave of absence, the basis for such a recommendation, and inviting the student to a hearing on this matter. This hearing—granting the student the opportunity to respond to this recommendation—will be conducted by one member of the President’s Cabinet, ideally another dean, and will be held no sooner than five (5) days after the letter is sent to the student. If necessary, the student may request accommodations (e.g., modifications to policies, practices, or procedures; the need for an auxiliary aid or service) to participate in the hearing. At this hearing, the student may submit additional medical records and/or other appropriate information / documentation. The hearing officer(s) will decide whether to accept the recommendation, reject it, or modify it and will inform the student within 24 hours of their decision, in writing. The hearing will be digitally recorded.

Depending on the level of concern as assessed by the Dean of Students and the student’s academic dean, a student may be temporarily suspended from the institution prior to this hearing.

A student may be placed on compulsory medical leave for either a semester or a year, depending on the nature of the circumstances of the leave, submitted medical documentation, and the student’s academic program. Students placed on compulsory medical leave will be asked to provide an evaluation from a physician of Cooper Union’s choosing attesting to their medical readiness to resume their studies, with or without accommodation.

Appeal Process A student who has been the subject of a hearing under these procedures may appeal the decision of the hearing committee within 3 business days by writing a letter to the designated equal opportunity officer (EOO) setting forth the reasons why the appeal is being made. The EOO will convene an Appeal Board within 3 days of receiving the appeal letter. The board will consist of the EOO or their designee and one member of the President’s Cabinet who was not involved in any way in the prior hearing. The Appeal Board shall limit its review to these issues:

  1. Does the record show that the party had a full and fair opportunity to present their case?
  2. Does the solution imposed achieve the proper balance between maintaining a safe and peaceful campus environment and respecting the rights of the student to continue their education?

After considering the record and the letter of appeal, the Appeal Board may:

  • Accept the decision of the hearing committee;
  • Order a new hearing in keeping with the Appeal Board’s instructions;
  • Reverse the hearing committee’s decision in its entirety;
  • Accept the hearing committee’s decision but modify the solution. If the Appeal Board accepts the decision of the hearing committee, whether or not it modifies the terms of the compulsory medical leave, the matter shall be deemed final.
  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.