In Absentia


You may register in absentia to conduct approved research or study 100 miles or more away from the Cornell campus while still under the guidance of your special committee. This status is available to students whether registered in Ithaca (including Geneva) or Cornell Tech.

To register for in absentia status, submit an In Absentia Petition with a study plan approved by your special committee outlining how you will accomplish your degree requirements. Approval by the Graduate School is required. In absentia students are charged $200 tuition/semester.

When you are in approved in absentia status you are eligible for fellowships, assistantships, the student health plan, and educational loans as in on-campus registration status. The same limitations on employment apply for in absentia students as for on-campus students; time away from campus is expected to focus on making academic progress.

Common reasons students change their status to in absentia:

  • Conducting research for an extended period of time at a location far from campus.
  • Traveling to another institution for an extended period of time to use library, archival, laboratory, or other resources to advance your scholarship.
  • Taking courses at another university that are not available at Cornell.

In absentia status will not be approved for reasons related to immigration or finances; there must be an academic justification for holding in absentia status.

While in approved in absentia status you may not take classes or engage in research at another Cornell Graduate School campus location.

In Depth

Who is eligible

Ph.D. students: Must have completed two semesters of registration at a Cornell campus.  

Master’s students: Must have completed at least one semester of registration at a Cornell campus.

Non-degree students: Not eligible.

International students: Eligible per the requirements listed above.

How to initiate the process

File an in absentia petition to change your status. Include a study plan outlining the project you will undertake while in absentia, including dates, location, and financial resources you will use. Include a schedule of how you will complete your academic degree requirements. The plan must be approved by your special committee.


In absentia lasts for the academic year only. You will be required to file a separate form for the summer, and a renewal form if you would like to request an additional year. You may register in absentia for no more than a total of eight semesters. In absentia status is not automatically extended; you must submit a new petition justifying the need for the extension. If you request an extension, your study plan must include what research you have completed and what research still needs to be done.


Tuition is charges at $200 per semester.

Time to degree

Time in absentia counts toward time to degree.

Financial support

The original offer of financial support that you received when you were admitted continues if you maintain satisfactory academic standing.

Employment limitations

You are expected to abide by the same limitations on additional responsibilities and work as students registered on-campus: no more than 5 hours per week for students on TA, GA, or RA; no more than 8 hours per week for students on training grants, fellowships, or GRAs.

Health insurance

You will not be automatically enrolled in SHP (Student Health Plan) regardless of your funding source. If you want to be covered by SHP, you must enroll.

Access to Cornell facilities and personnel during in absentia

You will maintain access to Cornell facilities and personnel while in absentia; however, you are limited on the amount of time you may spend on campus. See limitation below.

Travel while in absentia

If you are travelling outside the U.S., register at Cornell’s Travel Registry, a secure system to record travel plans and contact information that supports emergency communications and emergency travel assistance while abroad.

Cornell’s free assistance program provides emergency evacuation assistance, medical referrals worldwide, and travel assistance in emergency situations. 


  1. You may return to campus for a maximum of three weeks each semester to meet with your special committee while on in absentia status.
  2. You will be required to show your progress and accomplishments during your time away from campus.
  3. A Ph.D. student may not complete more than two of the required semesters of registration while in absentia.
  • A master’s degree student may not complete more than one of the required semesters of registration while in absentia.

Learn more

Review the Code of Legislation or contact the Jan Allen, Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs,



Jan Allen
Associate dean for academic and student affairs

Graduate Student Services Office