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Advice and Tips

Extension of time limit for PhD studies due to absence/leave of absence

Published: Mar. 16 2021

A PhD study period may be extended in certain instances: Please read more below about extension requirements.

All types of absence that are authorized by law or collective bargaining agreements allow a PhD candidate the right to extend the time limit on their academic studies. These reasons may include sick leave, parental leave, compassionate leave, leave for military service and leave for volunteer organization service. 

Having a reduced work schedule due to health-related reasons as well as social and welfare-related ones also gives a PhD candidate the right to extend their study period. However, there is still a requirement for any absence to last a minimum of two consecutive weeks. In the case of sick leave, your note must document a consecutive sick period of 14 days in order for you to have the right to receive an extension. 

  In cases of sick leaves lasting less than two weeks, the student’s workload should be distributed proportionately between their doctoral studies and work duties. Each institution might have its own guidelines granting students the right to extend their PhD study period due to absences lasting less than two weeks. It is therefore a good idea to find out about which guidelines apply at your own institution/workplace. In addition, it might be that having several short-term, valid absences lasting less than two weeks can provide a basis for reducing your work duties if this is necessary for you to be able to complete your doctoral studies within your employment period. It is therefore important that you both monitor and document all of your absences.  

  Generally speaking, although the PhD study period should not be interrupted, it is possible to be granted a leave of absence from the PhD candidate position in order to take up a temporary position in teaching, research, studies abroad and the like. A temporary position may last up to six months, and the employment period is extended accordingly. 

  An employer can also extend a student’s PhD study period in special circumstances if the student’s work has been delayed due to their having extraordinary caregiving burdens or unexpected hindrances of a work-related nature that are not their fault. For example, this may be due to a student having a lack of or unsatisfactory academic guidance or being assigned a long-term or disproportionately large project. In these cases the requirement for granting an extension is that students are able to complete their doctoral studies within the time period set for these studies.

  It is the employer who decides whether the PhD study period is to be extended. Individual institutions usually have their own guidelines regarding where and to whom an extension application is to be submitted, and what kind of information this application should contain.

If you have any questions in connection with this topic, you should first contact your own institution. You can also ask our local representatives for help.