CSU Policy: Graduate Student Parental Leave

Policy Title: Graduate Student Parental Leave Category: Human Resources
Owner: Dean of the Graduate School Policy ID#: 3-1005-001
Dean of the Graduate School
Web: http://graduateschool.colostate.edu
Email: gradschool@colostate.edu
Phone: 970-491-6817

Also Contact:
Benefits Office
Web: https://hr.colostate.edu/benefits/
Email: myhr@colostate.edu
Phone: (970) 491-6947
Original Effective Date: 8/16/2016
Last Revision: 7/5/2016
Print Version: Click Here to Print


CSU is committed to promoting its Graduate Assistants’ ability to maintain a positive work-life balance by providing Parental Leave when enrolled in a Master’s or Ph.D. program.


This policy applies to all Eligible Graduate Assistants (defined below). It does not apply to any other employment classification at CSU.


Eligible Graduate Assistant: To be eligible for Parental Leave, a graduate assistant (Graduate Support Assistant, GSA; Graduate Teaching Assistant, GTA; Graduate Research Assistant, GRA) must meet two sets of criteria.  First, prior to the Leave, the Eligible Graduate Assistant must have been enrolled full-time (nine semester credits) with a minimum .25 FTE assistantship for at least one semester in a graduate degree program at CSU. These requirements may be met concurrently in one semester or in separate semesters. Second, during the semester when the Leave is requested, the graduate assistant must be appointed with a minimum .25 FTE graduate assistantship and be enrolled in the minimum number of Resident Instruction credits required to hold an assistantship and be continuously enrolled in the same graduate degree program in which s/he met the full-time enrollment requirement  (Students eligible for leave as master’s students retain their eligibility if they enroll in the same or different  Ph.D. degree program the following semester.) Additionally, Eligible Graduate Assistants must be in good academic standing and be making satisfactory progress toward completion of their degree.  Division of Continuing Education (DCE) CSU Online credits do not meet the Resident Instruction enrollment criteria for this policy.

Parent:  An Eligible Graduate Assistant who is the Primary Caregiver in either a birth or adoption or who is the Non-Primary Caregiver in either of these situations. 

Primary Caregiver: The one Parent who has primary responsibility for the care of a child immediately following the birth or the adoption of the child into the custody, care and control of the parent for the first time.

Non-Primary CaregiverThe one Parent who doesn’t have the primary responsibility for the care of a child immediately following the birth or the adoption of the child into the custody, care and control of the parent for the first time.

Unit Head: The department head or chair, or administrative director of the unit in which the GA is employed or enrolled.


Providing Parental Leave to an Eligible Graduate Assistant promotes enhanced work-life integration while pursuing a graduate degree at Colorado State University.  It is the policy of the university to provide Parental Leave to new parents to support academic success and caring and bonding with a new child.  New Parents have the option of requesting leave from their academic requirements and their assistantship responsibilities for Parental Leave purposes. 


Use of Parental Leave

Parental Leave is available for use by an Eligible Graduate Assistant who is the new Parent of a child by birth or adoption, including the child’s mother or father, or the spouse, domestic partner or civil union partner of either, at the time that the leave period commences (and for as long as the Parental Leave is to continue).      

An Eligible Graduate Assistant becomes a Parent of a child for purposes of this policy at the time of the child’s birth or adoption.  Foster care placement is not included within this policy.  Parental Leave is not available during the period preceding the birth or adoption, even if the absence is due to expected arrival. An Eligible Graduate Assistant may use only one Parental Leave period per birth or adoption.  The number of children born or adopted does not increase the amount of Parental Leave.  Parental Leave is never eligible for payment upon separation from employment.  

Parental Leave must be used in one continuous block of time, not intermittently. During Parental Leave, the Eligible Graduate Assistant must be enrolled in the minimum number of credits required to hold a graduate assistantship. The Eligible Graduate Assistant is not considered to be on a leave of absence while continuously enrolled as a student paying tuition.

The timing of the leave with continued stipend and tuition support is required to coincide with the Eligible Graduate Assistant’s funding contract with the appropriate academic department or unit. The Primary Caregiver in either birth or adoption will be granted paid Parental Leave for up to six weeks immediately following the birth of a child or the adoption of a child for whom that Parent has Primary Caregiving responsibilities. The Parental Leave period must be completed within six weeks of the birth or adoption but does not extend past the end of the contract term (e.g. 12-month, 9-month or summer).  If the birth or adoption occurs prior to the beginning of the contract term, any remainder of the six-week period that occurs during the next contract term may be taken.

The Non-Primary Caregiver in either birth or adoption will be granted up to three weeks of paid Parental Leave.  The leave must be taken while under contract in the same academic year, or, in the case of a spring birth or adoption, during the following summer session if the GA is under contract.

Advance Notice, Work Plan and Approval

Eligible Graduate Assistants must submit two required Parental Leave forms. First, a Request for Graduate Assistant Parental Leave Application must be submitted to the academic department head for signature after consulting with and gathering signatures from  the student’s assistantship supervisor, major advisor, and program director (if applicable). The academic department head is responsible for providing the completed Graduate Assistant Parental Leave Application Form to Human Resources after the appropriate signatures have been gathered.  Second, a Health Care Provider Certification Form with the estimated date of delivery, or a letter from the adoption agency with an estimated adoption date, must be submitted directly to Human Resources.  Both forms are required to be submitted at least ten weeks prior to the anticipated leave date or as soon as reasonably possible in the event of adoption. These forms are available from the Human Resources website.

Eligible Graduate Assistants on Parental Leave will be released from their academic requirements and assistantship duties during the leave time.  As such, one work plan will be developed to address the issues within each of the two respective areas. The department and unit, as appropriate, shall maintain the work plans in the student’s file. First, the Graduate Assistant and the Graduate Assistant’s instructors will develop an Academic Work Plan that covers the academic requirements and coursework expectations related to the credit(s) the Graduate Assistant is enrolled in. This work plan will include modified due dates for assignments as appropriate.  The Academic Work Plan must be signed by the Graduate Assistant and the instructors and approved by the academic department head and kept as part of the student record in the department.  Second, Assistantship Supervisors and the Graduate Assistant will develop an Assistantship Duties Work Plan to prearrange necessary adjustments in assistantship activities and responsibilities that will support the transition of assistantship duties to others. The Assistantship Duties Work Plan must be signed by the Graduate Assistant and the assistantship supervisor and approved by the unit head in which the Graduate Assistant holds the assistantship appointment and kept as part of the student record in the unit.  Work plans should be developed as far in advance as possible, but no less than ten weeks prior to the leave. Exceptions may be made in extenuating circumstances.  

Eligible Graduate Assistants are also required to submit requests for any desired additional unpaid leave beyond that provided in this policy. Such extension requests are outside of this Parental Leave Policy and must be approved by the academic department head; and, if the student’s assistantship appointment is in a unit other than his or her academic department, then the unit head must also approve. This request is not routed to Human Resources. 

Return to Work Expectations

After the end of the Parental Leave period, it is expected that the Graduate Assistant will return to normal assistantship duties and graduate studies to complete her/his degree program. CSU encourages faculty to be flexible in their expectations of new parents, so that the demands of graduate study may become balanced with new parental responsibilities. Good communication between the Graduate Assistants and their major advisors and assistantship supervisors will be required in order to assist the Graduate Assistants to ease back into their University activities.

International Students

Eligible Graduate Assistants who are studying at CSU on a visa should consult with the Office of International Student & Scholar Services to talk about their plans for Parental Leave and to determine if these plans are permissible under their visas.


Questions or concerns regarding the Parental Leave Policy should be directed to the Dean of the Graduate School.

Administrative procedural questions related specifically to the Request for Graduate Assistant Parental Leave Application and Health Care Provider Certification Form should be directed to Human Resources. 



Approved by Rick Miranda, Provost/Executive Vice President, 7/2/2016


Print Version: Click Here to Print

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