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Detached Study for D.M.A. and Master’s Students

Detached study status affirms affiliation with the stated program that the student’s place as an active graduate student will be held until the conclusion of the detached study period without registration. A student eligible for detached study must plan to make work toward the D.M.A or master’s degree their primary activity during that period of time and must not require access to university services beyond library privileges, a computing account, and certain forms of financial aid. A student working at the University of Michigan as a GSI, GSRA, or any other capacity, including temporary hourly, is not eligible for detached study. Students using laboratory facilities or taking examinations (including preliminary examinations and the oral defense for D.M.A.) are not eligible for detached study and MUST be registered. This certification assures the student of return to the graduate school at the end of the period and may be used IRU certification to the student’s employer or to an external agency granting support.

Who is eligible for Detached Study?

To be eligible for detached study, a student must:

  • Be an active student in a master’s degree or D.M.A. program who has completed at least one term in Rackham.
  • Not be registered for the period of requested detached study.
  • Have been registered sometime in the last 12 months or be a candidate in the D.M.A. program. If not, a student would have to be readmitted and complete at least one term before they could have detached study approved.
  • Have a 3.0 or higher cumulative GPA or be doing something to improve academic standing. If below a 3.0 the department must send an email or memo that states what the student is doing to improve.
  • Be within the time limit for degree, five years for master’s, seven for D.M.A. If not within the allowed time, the student must also petition for a time to degree extension.
  • Must have bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) posted to student’s U-M transcript.
  • Address when they will finish incomplete (I) courses they have elected (if they have more than one incomplete).

How long can Detached Study last?

A student is allowed a total of three years (nine full terms) on detached study (but only one year can be approved at a time). If the student has already had three years, a letter from the committee chair or department chair stating that the student has been making satisfactory progress towards degree must be submitted along with the detached study form.

If the student is a D.M.A. candidate, they must have an approved dissertation committee on file with Rackham to have any additional terms (above the nine terms allowed) of detached study approved.

A detached study period can be no longer than 12 months (for example, fall to fall is not acceptable, but fall to summer is).

What can I work on during Detached Study?

Research is a valid plan, as is writing or other activities related to finishing the degree. Loan deferment or medical leave is not acceptable as a plan. If students state that they are working in a lab or in any other capacity for the university, the detached study will not be approved.

Percentage of student’s activity to be devoted to the program (based on the normal work week)

International students must have 100% to satisfy immigration regulations. To have loans deferred, domestic students must have 100%. Different sources of financial aid and fellowships have different rules on detached study (and percentages). Please contact whoever administers the aid to verify if they accept detached study status.

How do I apply for Detached Study?

Graduate Program Coordinators must submit the Detached Study Form.

What else should I know about detached study?

Detached Study is not retroactive for any reason.

It is not usually necessary for students to use Detached Study for spring, summer, or spring/summer terms. Those terms are considered “vacation” for most purposes including immigration.

Approved Detached Study can be viewed on the unofficial transcript (near the bottom). It is listed by term dates.

Contact Academic Records and Dissertations

0120 Rackham Building
915 East Washington Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1070
Phone: 734.763.0171
Fax: 734.936.3335


Academic Records and Dissertations is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The office is closed Saturdays and Sundays and on the following holidays: Thanksgiving (Thursday and the following Friday), Christmas through New Year's, Memorial Day, Independence Day (July 4), and Labor Day.