Maternity and Paternity Options (Parental Accommodation)


Cornell University graduate and professional students are eligible for parental accommodation to help balance the competing demands of academic and family life. 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), or
    • 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. 

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 accommodation period should begin.

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 administrator). 
  • Talk to your graduate program office to initiate the process.

Who is eligible?

  • Six-Week Paid Accommodation
    • Available to both parents.
    • Students funded on assistantship or fellowship who are in good academic standing.
    • Must be registered in their second semester or beyond.
    • Domestic and international students are eligible for the same policy provisions.
    • The student has not taken parental accommodation during the previous 12 months before the requested start date.
  • Reduced Load Accommodation
    • Available to both parents.
    • Graduate students in programs without semester course credit requirements who are in good academic standing.
    • Students who have had a prior parental accommodation must let at least two academic-year semesters elapse between the end of the last accommodation period and the start of the new accommodation period.
    • Typically limited to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. (International students should discuss their parental leave plan with an advisor in Immigration Services to ensure that there is no adverse impact on immigration status.)

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?

For eligible graduate students, 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 about parental accommodation

Read Parental Accommodation Policy 1.6 or contact the associate dean for graduate student life.

Complete process for taking a parental 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