Deferral and leave of absence

Our online courses are designed to provide you with the flexibility you need to balance your study with your work and personal commitments.

Please note: Deferral details on this page only apply to students in Graduate Online courses. All other students should visit the students information website, where they will find detailed instructions on applying for a deferral.

As a student of the University, you are required to remain enrolled in at least one subject in each half year period for the duration of your course. As most online courses operate on a term model, with four academic terms per year, you must enrol in at least one subject in Term 1 or 2, and one subject in Term 3 or 4, unless you have been granted a leave of absence. View the key dates for each term.


You can take leave for a single term without applying for a leave of absence. The only exception to this is if you are undertaking your first term of study, in which case you will need to apply for deferral.

Keep in mind that taking a single term off may have implications for the rest of your study. Some courses have a strict course structure, so if subjects are only available in specific terms you may have to take more than one term off to take the subjects in the correct order. If you are unsure, please contact the Online Student Support team.


If you intend to take one or more half-year periods away from study, you must apply for a leave of absence.


Sam wishes to study one subject in Term 1 and one subject in Term 3. He does not need to apply for a leave of absence.

Connie wishes to take both Term 1 and Term 2 away from study. She must apply for leave as she will be away for a half-year period.

Paree wishes to study one subject in Term 1 and one subject in Term 4. She does not need to apply for a leave of absence, as she is studying one subject in each half-year period.


If you would like to take leave during your first term of study, you will need to apply for a deferral before the census date of your first subject. To request a deferral, please email

Check your census dates

If you would like to take leave, you must withdraw from the subject or apply for leave before the census date to ensure you are not financially liable for the subjects in that study period.

Frequently asked questions

  • How do I apply for a leave of absence?
    1. Log into my.unimelb and navigate to the 'student admin' box on the homepage.
    2. Click on the 'my study plan' button.
    3. Click 'leave of absence'.
    4. Fill out the form fields. The ‘start year’ and ‘study period’ is when you plan to start your leave of absence. The ‘return year’ and ‘study period’ is when you plan to return to study. You must apply for at least two terms of leave at a time.
    5. Click ‘confirm’.
    6. You will be taken to the ‘confirm details’ screen. Click ‘submit’, or ‘update’ to change your details.
    7. You will be taken to the ‘confirmation’ screen. Check that the details of your application for leave of absence are correct, then click ‘close’.

    You may view your application status by clicking Leave of Absence under Study Plans. You may also apply for leave from another course.

  • How much leave can I take?

    You can take up to 12 months of leave during your course.

    If you would like to request additional leave beyond the standard one-year period or two semesters, this is called "extra leave". Extra leave is only approved in exceptional circumstances, such as documented ongoing illness, and approval from Stop 1 is required.

    Please submit your request and upload your supporting documentation via the Leave of Absence Supplementary application and declaration form.

  • Is my leave request automatically approved?

    No, leave applications are not automatically approved.

    You can check the progress of your leave application in my.unimelb, or by contacting the Online Student Support team via the details at the bottom of this page.

  • I am just starting my course, can I take leave?

    As a commencing student, you are not eligible for leave during your first term. However, you may apply to defer your course commencement up until your earliest census date. To defer your study, please request a deferral via email to

  • Do I need to check my email while on leave?

    Yes. While on leave you must check your University email account at least twice weekly to ensure you receive important information, including information about re-enrolment.

  • When do I need to re-enrol in subjects for my return to study after leave?

    If you are a continuing student you must ensure you are enrolled in subjects or have approved leave for each half year. The re-enrolment period is held each year between October and December for students to select their enrolment for the following year. Find out more about the re-enrolment period.

    Please note, this means that if you are on leave during the second half of the year (Terms 3 and 4) you must remember to complete your re-enrolment during this period, to ensure you maintain enrolment in the course.

Have questions?

Speak with a dedicated student support consultant.

Contact us