Leave of absence request for PhD students

Leave of absence for PhD Students

Leave of absence request form (PDF)

Should PhD students wish to take a paid or unpaid leave of absence during their studies at EPFL, they must submit a request.

  • During the first year of PhD: according to the ordinance on doctorate at EPFL, the candidacy exam should take place at the end of the first year. Therefore, no leave of absence will be allowed before the candidacy exam is successfully passed.
  • Please note that the leave of absence will in no way extend your deadline of 4 years to complete your PhD thesis. Your initial deadline remains unchanged.
  • After the candidacy exam: if you plan on returning to EPFL less than 6 months prior to your oral exam theoretical date, you should submit a motivated extension request (‘Extension request’). The extension request must be signed and validated before submitting your leave of absence request.
  • It is not possible to extend a validated leave of absence. Please contact your HR representative for any questions.
  • Requests overlapping academic semesters are only approved in exceptional cases when teaching assistantship (TA) duties have not yet been assigned. If this request overlaps with existing or assigned teaching assistantship duties, please provide a justification for the leave and make sure you have the approval of the instructor for the course you are TAing.
  • Work permit:Upon reception of the leave of absence request, HR will check if the work permit should be renewed to cover the return to Switzerland. Alternatively, the PhD student will need to request a “return visa” before he/she leaves. Click here for more details.
  • Contract & funding: Upon reception of the leave of absence request, HR will also check if the contract and funding should be renewed to cover the whole duration of the leave of absence. Click here for more details.
  • Vacation (‘droit aux vacances’): in case of an unpaid leave of absence, the annual number of vacation days will be reduced proportionally to the length of the absence and shown accordingly on http://absences.epfl.ch.
  • LPP insurance coverage and accident insurance: please note that different rules apply in the event of a paid or unpaid leave of absence.

    During your unpaid leave of absence, if it exceeds 30 days, you need to personally get insured against accidents. EPFL covers you until 30 days after the start date of your leave of absence.

    LPP coverage remains full during the first month of absence. As of the 30th day of unpaid leave, we will only cover you for risk and disability, unless you specifically request another scheme. The fees will be deducted from your salary.

    Please contact Mr. Eric Vionnet from HR for any specific questions about LPP or insurance coverage during unpaid leave of absence.

  • A leave of absence request must be submitted according to the deadlines set up by your doctoral program but at the latest two months before the planned departure date to allow all administrative aspects to be processed (permit renewal, contract renewal, insurance coverage, etc.)

Note for EDIC PhD students: EDIC PhD students must submit their leave of absence request before 1st December or 1st June of each year. The same deadlines apply for extension requests and internship requests.

Any PhD student fulfilling the academic conditions should follow these steps in order to request a leave of absence:

  • The PhD student completes and signs the Leave of absence request form
  • The PhD student has the form signed by the thesis director (and codirector if applicable) and provides it to the doctoral program administration for submission to the program director
  • If approved by the program, it will be submitted to Human Resources (HR) then to the Registrar’s Office (SAC)
  • The PhD student receives an answer from the Human Resources

Note for PhD students enrolled in a lab affiliated with the STI School: PhD students enrolled in a lab affiliated with STI School submit a leave of absence request accompanied by a letter of motivation.