Leaves & Withdrawal

Please see the information below to learn more about policies and procedures relating to leaves of absence or withdrawal. 

Law School Leaves of Absence and Withdrawals

J.D. students should refer to the Rules for the J.D. Degree for the Law School’s policy on withdrawals and leaves of absence (Article 5.5). Students in the LL.M. and J.S.D. programs should consult with the Office of Graduate Degree Programs. A student in good academic standing who is not subject to discipline will always be given an honorable discharge if the student wishes to withdraw from the University. If the student is under 21 years of age, a parent or guardian must first give consent in writing. Any Law student who withdraws, or fails to register without being granted a leave of absence, may return to the Law School only upon a formal application for readmission. Failure to attend classes or unofficial notification of instructors does not constitute formal withdrawal and will result in Failing grades in all courses.

Leaves of Absence

Any student who has completed one term of residence in the Law School and who is in good academic standing may apply in writing to the Dean of Registration Services or to the Dean of Students for a leave of absence. The student should state the reasons for the leave of absence and the date of expected return to the Law School. Such applications will normally be granted for a period not to exceed two years (four terms) for J.D. students; LL.M. and J.S.D. students should check with the Office of Graduate Degree Programs. Unless otherwise specified, a student who is granted a leave of absence may return to the Law School at or before the end of such leave without making a formal application for re-admission, upon written notification to the Dean of Registration Services.

Withdrawals

Any student may request permission to withdraw from the Law School by notifying in writing the Dean of Registration Services or the Dean of Students. Once the request is approved, notification is sent to the Office of Financial Aid and the University Registrar.  

The university uses the term withdraw to formally indicate that a student has dropped or will drop all courses for a given term. Withdrawing from the university differs from dropping one or several classes within a given semester, because as long as a student retains at least one class, he or she is still considered to be registered for that semester.

Students who withdraw from Columbia Law School after the start of a given semester may be entitled to some pro-rated refund of tuition according to the following schedule:

Fall and Spring Semesters

  • Week 1 & Week 2: 100% tuition and fees (except document fee) refunded
  • Week 3: 90% tuition refunded, no fees refunded
  • Week 4: 80% tuition refunded, no fees refunded
  • Week 5: 70% tuition refunded, no fees refunded
  • Week 6: 60% tuition refunded, no fees refunded
  • Week 7: 50% tuition refunded, no fees refunded
  • Week 8: 40% tuition refunded, no fees refunded

PLEASE NOTE:

Fall Semester

  • Week 1 is defined by the start of classes, according to students’ class standing:
  • Incoming 1Ls – week 1 coincides with the start of Legal Methods I (LAW L6113)
  • Incoming LLMs – week 1 coincides with the start of Introduction to American Law (LAW L6560)
  • Continuing & Incoming Transfer students– week 1 coincides with the start of classes on the Tuesday after Labor Day.

Spring Semester

  • Week 1 is defined by the start of classes, according to students’ registration schedule:
  • Continuing 1Ls - week 1 coincides with the start of Legal Method II (LAW 6130)
  • Upper-year 2Ls, 3Ls, & LL.M.s - week 1 coincides with the start of January upper-year electives, if applicable, or with the start of classes on the Tuesday after Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

All students who withdraw will be charged a $75 withdrawal fee.