Graduate Student Parental Leave

Overview

The School of Information recognizes that some graduate students start or expand families during their time in our graduate programs. The iSchool offers several types of accommodations for graduate students with growing families to aid in balancing their scholarly and parenting responsibilities. It is the responsibility of a graduate student anticipating a birth or the placement of a child for adoption or foster care to inform their instructors, faculty advisor, research supervisor (if applicable), and the Associate Dean for Education of any anticipated accommodation needs as early as possible.

Accommodation Request Process

After consulting with their faculty supervisor, students must complete a Parental Accommodation Request Form specifying the type of accommodation requested and detailing any and all proposed modifications to their coursework deadlines, degree plan, or TA/GRA duties responsibilities. After the supervising professor signs the form, it will route to the Associate Dean for Education or their designee for approval. The ADE/designee will consider the application, and either approve the request or refer the matter to the appropriate Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) for further review.

In the event that a student’s request for accommodation is denied after being reviewed by the GSC, the student may appeal to the dean of the iSchool, who will consider the appeal in coordination with the iSchool's Human Resources staff.

Types of Accommodations

1. Academic Accommodation

Eligible students are allowed a one-semester extension of the academic milestones required to fulfil the requirements of their degree. The extension includes coursework, qualifying exams, committee meetings, presentations, and any other required academic responsibilities. The extension may be taken either during or immediately following the semester in which the student’s child is born or adopted. After an accommodation period, students are expected to resume progress toward degree completion, and faculty are encouraged to remain flexible in their expectations so that students can meet the demands of graduate study while adjusting to new demands in their parental roles.

2. Teaching Assistant (TA) Accommodations

Teaching Assistants may request a TA position whose duties can be done in flexible environments and on flexible schedules in the semester during or immediately after the birth or adoption of a child. Flexibility regarding work location and the distribution of specific TA duties within a semester is strongly encouraged. The student and faculty supervisor should agree to review these TA duties on a periodic schedule to ensure that work is being completed in a timely and satisfactorily manner. If a position is not available, see (4) Alternative Duty Accommodations below.

3. Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) Accommodations

Some Graduate Research Assistants may be able to carry out modified research duties following the birth or adoption of a child – thereby continuing progress towards the goals of their research, meeting the requirements of the external funding agency, and remaining in compliance for reporting effort on federal grants, if appropriate. (Modified duties may include: scholarly research and literature compilations, data processing and analysis, scientific writing, or preparation of other scientific communication materials). Students should check with their supervisor and the Associate Dean for Research for information and to discuss the feasibility of an accommodation. If modified duties are not possible due to funding agency or compliance requirements, see (4) Alternative Duty Accommodations below.

4. Alternative Duty Accommodations

If graduate students appointed as TAs or GRAs cannot be accommodated as outlined in Provisions 2 and 3 above, they may apply to the iSchool's Associate Dean for Education for a funded six-week alternative duties accommodation during the semester in which a child is born or adopted. The nature of the alternative duties will be determined in collaboration with the student’s supervising professor.

Notes

As with all academic employee appointments, future financial support is contingent upon satisfactory academic progress as defined by the student's GSC, and satisfactory job performance as defined by the employing unit.

International students may have to satisfy additional obligations, and are strongly encouraged to consult in advance with Texas Global about possible visa implications.

If medical conditions indicate that additional accommodations may be necessary, students should contact Services for Students with Disabilities and the Office for Inclusion and Equity to determine what additional accommodations are reasonable.

For any questions about this policy or how to request accommodations, students should contact the Associate Dean for Education or the Assistant Dean for Education and Student Affairs.