Leave of absence

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Full semester leaves of absence, with or without course attendance

General information

  • Any student who is required to leave ETH for one or two semesters for (e.g.) a compulsory internship, a semester abroad, reasons of illness or military service may take a leave of absence.

    Students on leave remain matriculated (their ETH Cards remain valid; taking is exams is basically possible). To obtain leave they must continue to enrol for each semester in the myStudies web application by the normal enrolment deadline, but should select the option ‘Apply for leave of absence’. They will receive the usual confirmation of matriculation, with the comment that they are on leave.

    PLEASE NOTE: All academic deadlines continue to apply even if a student enrols for a semester’s leave.
  • Normally only two consecutive semesters of leave are possible. For exceptions to this, students should submit well-grounded requests to the Registrar’s Office.
  • Like normal semester enrolment, enrolment for leave must proceed by the end of the second week of the semester at the latest. Late enrolment incurs a fee of CHF 50.00.
    Students who neglect to enrol despite a reminder will be dematriculated: Those wishing to break off or interrupt their studies should see Withdrawal/Deregistration.
  • Students on leave are exempted from semester tuition fees, and need pay only the other compulsory and any voluntary semester fees.
  • If a student wishes to attend individual course units during a leave of absence he/she may of course do so. A fee of CHF 50.00 will be charged per weekly semester hour attended (to a maximum of CHF 580.00).


Students working on comprehensive course units and papers/projects  which involve more than 11 hours per semester week (e.g. elective or semester projects) should register to undertake them in the regular semester, because if they are undertaken during a semester off (leave of absence) fees will still be charged (see the Course Catalogue -> Hours!).

Note: All fees must be paid while Bachelor’s or Master’s theses are undertaken, and students must therefore register for these during the regular semester – more specifically, in that semester when most of the thesis work is carried out (see Art. 2, Para. 2 of the ETH Domain Fees Ordinance [Gebührenverordnung ETH-Bereich]).


Bachelor’s degree students

First-year students

  • To acquire the knowledge required to pass the first-year examinations, students must attend the entire first year of studies with no leave. The first-year examinations, including any repetitions, must be undertaken within two years of commencing studies. The first attempt must take place during the Summer examination session immediately following the first year of studies or (at the latest) during the following Winter examination session. (For example, students who began their studies in Autumn Semester 2015 must undertake the first attempt at the first-year examinations in the Winter examination session 2016/17 at the latest).
  • Studies may not begin with a leave of absence, i.e. no leave is possible during the first semester.
  • During the second semester a leave of absence is possible in the following exceptional case:
    • Change of degree programme:
      If you have decided to change degree programme you must submit the corresponding written request, citing grounds, to the Registrar’s Office.
  • If you plan to repeat the first year voluntarily, without sitting the first-year examinations immediately after the second semester, registering for semester leave is not recommended. The corresponding request may only be submitted once – and only after successful completion of the first year of studies – to the Examinations Office.

Students who have passed their first-year examinations

  • Students who have passed their first-year examinations may normally take a leave of absence thereafter for a maximum of two consecutive semesters. For exceptions to this, students should submit well-grounded requests to the Registrar’s Office which include, if indicated, a request for deadline extension (see also ‘General information’).


Master’s degree students

  • Students admitted to a Master’s degree programme may not apply for a leave of absence during the first semester.


Leaves of absence at short notice

  • Students who are absent from ETH for more than one week because of illness, accident, military service, bereavement in the immediate family or on other cogent grounds should discuss the matter with the lecturers involved.
Page URL: https://www.ethz.ch/students/en/studies/administrative/study-specific/leave-of-absence.html
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