Summary of Leave, Part-Time and Extension Policies Available to Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (NRSA) Trainees and Fellows

Notice Number: NOT-OD-18-154

Key Dates
Release Date: March 26, 2018

Related Announcements

Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH)


This notice clarifies policies on part-time training, leave (vacation, holiday, sick, parental, unpaid leave of absence), and requests for extensions of an award or appointments due to interruptions in training. The notice is applicable to graduate and postdoctorate trainees and fellows supported by Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) research training grants or individual fellowships. A complete list of NRSA programs and other NIH extramural training support programs can be found at The details of NRSA policies can be found in the NIH Grants Policy Statement (GPS). The relevant sections of GPS are identified below.

Part-Time Training
Trainees and fellows are typically required to engage in training on a full-time basis, normally considered to be 40 hours per week or as specified by the policies of the recipient institution. Under certain circumstances trainees and fellows may request part-time training to accommodate medical conditions, disability, personal or family situations including child or elder care. Part-time training must be at 50 percent effort or more and will not be approved to accommodate other sources of funding, job opportunities, clinical practice, clinical training, or non-training related responsibilities associated with the trainee's or fellow's position at the recipient institution. All such requests must be signed by the trainee or fellow, the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) and the training grant Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) or the fellowship sponsor. The request for part-time training must provide a justification of the need for a reduced level of effort and the expected duration of the period of part-time training. (GPS References: Trainees, Fellows)

Vacations and Holidays
NRSA trainees and fellows may receive leave for the same vacations and holidays available to individuals in comparable training positions at the awardee or sponsoring institution. NRSA trainees and fellows continue to receive stipends and allowances during these periods. At academic institutions the period between semesters or quarters is considered an active part of the training period and is not considered a vacation or holiday. (GPS References: Trainees, Fellows)

Sick Leave
NRSA trainees and fellows may continue to receive stipends for up to 15 calendar days of sick leave per year. Sick leave may be used for medical conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth. (GPS References: Trainees, Fellows). Under exceptional circumstances this period may be extended in response to a written request to the NIH awarding component.

Parental Leave
NRSA trainees and fellows may continue to receive stipends for up to 60 calendar days (8 work weeks) of parental leave per year for the adoption or birth of a child. Either or both parents are eligible for such leave, but the institution and/or the supervisor must be notified in advance according to organizational policies. The use of parental leave requires approval by the fellowship sponsor or the PD/PI of the training grant. (GPS References: Trainees, Fellows)

Unpaid Leave of Absence
NRSA trainees and fellows requiring extended periods of time away from their research training experience must seek approval from the NIH awarding IC for an unpaid leave of absence. A request letter must be submitted by the AOR, signed by the trainee or fellow as well as the training grant PD/PI or fellowship sponsor. The request must state the reason for the leave of absence and must advise the NIH awarding IC of the anticipated dates of the leave of absence. NRSA Trainees and Fellows and institutions are precluded from spending award funds during the leave of absence; although continued coverage of health insurance would be allowable if in accordance with policy of the sponsoring institution. During a leave of absence, documentation to suspend the award and/or the accrual of service for calculating the payback obligation must be completed and retained by the recipient institution. When the fellowship or research training grant is eventually terminated, the leave of absence must be clearly documented on the Termination Notice. (GPS References: Trainees, Fellows)

Extension of an Award or Appointment for Interruptions in Training
Requests for an additional period of graduate or postdoctoral NRSA support will be considered if an event unavoidably alters the planned course of the research training, or if the interruption has significantly detracted from the nature or quality of the planned research training, and if an extension of support would permit completion of the training as planned. Such events include sudden loss of the preceptor’s services or an accident, illness, or other personal situation including birth or adoption of a child, which may prevent a trainee or fellow from effectively pursuing research training for a significant period of time. Requests for additional time will be considered only if accompanied by a strong justification. All such requests must be signed by the trainee or fellow, the AOR and the PD/PI of the training grant or the fellowship sponsor. (GPS References: Trainees, Fellows)


Please direct all inquiries to:

Division of Biomedical Research Workforce
Office of Extramural Research