Students landscaping
What you need to know about taking a gap year or semester.

We find that students who take a break for constructive engagement prior to embarking on their university studies arrive on campus with high levels of independence, maturity and focus that benefit their academic and student life experience at Case Western Reserve University.

Students who are admitted to the university and wish to defer their enrollment must request a deferral by contacting the Office of Undergraduate Admission. Other students initiate their application to Case Western Reserve while they are in their gap year or semester experience.

Gap years and semesters likely to be approved

We expect students will have a thoughtful and substantive plan. Structured programs, internships, travel, work and mandatory military service among others, are often approved.

Gap years and semesters unlikely to be approved

Deferrals will not be approved for financial reasons or full-time academic work as a degree-seeking student at another institution. With pre-approval, deferrals can be granted for students who are taking courses on a non-degree basis.


All merit scholarships are deferred when a gap year or semester is approved. A student will remain eligible for the number of semesters (typically 8) of scholarship indicated in the student’s initial offer of admission. Every scholarship program is eligible for deferral.

Need-based financial aid

At the time that their deferral is approved, a student deferring admission for one semester will be provided a revised financial aid offer reflecting one semester of costs and financial aid. Students deferring for a full year need to reapply for need-based aid by Nov. 15 of the year before they intend to enroll. They will receive an updated financial aid notification by Jan. 1.

College courses

Case Western Reserve must receive a transcript for any college courses taken, even if the student is not seeking college credit. Enrollment at CWRU is contingent upon a cumulative GPA of 3.0 for all courses taken with no earned grade below a C. Transfer of college credit is subject to CWRU transfer credit policy in place at the time of enrollment. At no time may a student enroll as a degree-seeking student at a four-year college or university. Doing so will void the student’s offer of admission. Students may enroll in no more than 8 credits per semester without pre-approval.

Requesting a deferral

A deferral request can be made at any time after a student receives an offer of admission from Case Western Reserve University. All deferral requests must be received by July 1. It typically takes approximately two weeks for a deferral request to be considered by the admissions committee. 

Request a gap year or semester

A student who enrolls and defers their admission is making a firm commitment to enroll at Case Western Reserve. A student cannot defer at multiple institutions nor can a student initiate new applications while in deferral status at CWRU. To confirm a deferral a “Gap Agreement” must be signed by the student, a parent or guardian and the student’s school counselor. We recognize that in rare cases a student may change their mind during their gap year or semester and CWRU may no longer be the best choice. In that case, a student must first cancel their enrollment at CWRU. The Office of Undergraduate Admission will then notify the student’s school counselor that the student is released from their “Gap Agreement” and may initiate new applications.

Applying after a gap year or semester without an approved deferral

Some students may not anticipate interest in Case Western Reserve University until they are in the midst of their gap year or semester. Students who have taken a gap year or semester bring a valued perspective and set of experiences to our campus community, and we welcome their applications through the Common Application or the Coalition Application. A statement of current activities is required. Students can apply for the fall or spring semester.

Students who applied to Case Western Reserve in the previous twelve months submit a reapplication form and do not need to submit an application or an application fee. A final high school transcript is required.