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Maternity and Paternity Leave (Parental Accommodation)


Cornell University graduate students are eligible for parental accommodation to help balance the competing demands of academic and family life. Cornell’s parental accommodation policy (University Policy 1.6), although not technically a leave, offers coverage beyond the standard definition of maternity and paternity leave.


  • Accommodation options vary with the student’s funding and degree program.
  • Students can select one option (not both except in exceptional circumstances by appeal):
    • a six-week paid accommodation for funded graduate students appointed on assistantship, fellowship, or traineeship (or eight weeks for the birth mother for a cesarean section delivery),
    • up to one year of reduced academic load status for registered students to be taken in full-semester increments not counting toward time-to-degree limits.
  • This policy serves parental needs surrounding childbirth, adoption, newborn care, foster care, and acute child health care. 
  • Allowances must be made for female graduate students requiring accommodation for lactation when their research and/or teaching activity occurs in potentially hazardous conditions and environments such as laboratories. Lactation rooms are available across campus and can be located on this map.  

University Policies:

In Depth

When you anticipate you may need parental accommodation, start the process early. Forms must be submitted at least 90 days prior to the planned leave. 

How do I initiate the process?

  • Review the Students with Families website
  • Disclose your situation to key people, for example your Special Committee chair, advisor or mentor, your DGS, and your GFA (graduate field assistant). 
  • Talk to your graduate program office to initiate the process.

Who is eligible?

  • Any graduate student who is in good academic standing.
  • Both partners are eligible for taking parental accommodation.
  • Domestic and international students are eligible for the same policy provisions.

What is the covered?

Six weeks of paid accommodation (eight weeks for the birth mother for a cesarean section delivery) for graduate students appointed on assistantship, fellowship, or traineeship OR up to two semesters of reduced academic load status for any graduate student.

How does this count toward the time to degree?

Time away does not count toward time to degree.

Do I continue to get my financial support?

A graduate student’s financial support at the time of leave as assistant, fellow, or trainee continues as paid leave for six (or eight) weeks.  Funding is not available for students choosing the reduced academic load option.

Does health insurance continue? 


Do I continue to have access to Cornell facilities and personnel?

Students maintain access to all Cornell facilities and personnel during their accommodation periods.

Learn more

Read Parental Accommodation Policy 1.6 or contact the Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Life.

Complete process for taking a paternal accommodation leave:

  • Talk to your graduate program office to discuss the process and initiate the necessary form(s).
  • Complete the Accommodation Request form, gathering necessary signatures and documentation.
  • Submit the form to the Graduate School.
  • The Graduate School will review the request to determine eligibility.
  • If you have a cesarean section, please notify the Graduate School within seven days to extend your leave to eight weeks. 



Graduate Student Services Office