Spring break is coming up and I plan on taking that week off to go traveling in Europe. Do I ask my supervisor/advisor for permission or do I just inform them that I am doing so?

Do I do it via email or face to face?


  • 7
    I am planning to take way off at ..... Do you have any objections about the specific dates? Is there anything that is urgent and needs to be done before...
    – Alexandros
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 20:12
  • 2
    Why would you not do it face-to-face? Wow. But, people do take time off. I even did a scuba diving trip with my adviser once - no technical discussions at all (well, non-scuba related ones).
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 21:58
  • 9
    Pretend that your advisor is an adult human being, rather than a demigod/demon, and proceed accordingly.
    – JeffE
    Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 0:18
  • 3
    I'm guessing this is in the US? You might want to be clear about context - the rest of the world generally seems to approach this differently. Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 9:06
  • Can you clarify what position you hold and what your responsibilities are? My answer below was based on you being a PhD student, but I have now noticed the "research-assistantship" tag and realised that I may have been mistaken. Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 16:00

2 Answers 2


Your contract should include some official vacation time. Doesn't it?

So, it should be your right to take those days off, and your supervisor shouldn't be able to say no, unless it interferes with your work, such as lectures, lab schedules, ...

But it is still nice to keep it cool and ask politely, better in person.

  • 3
    In general, "official vacation time" does not automatically imply this vacation time can be taken at any time chosen by the employee. In other words, the "unless ..." you describe is a pretty big "unless". Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 14:19
  • 1
    Sure. But well... it is again a matter of common sense, and respecting the decision of the supervisor. After all, he is probably the one getting the funding for one's position.
    – user477303
    Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 14:34
  • In some places, such as the US, grad students don't necessarily have employment contracts. Or if they do, they may only cover duties such as teaching, but say nothing about time spent on research. Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 14:48
  • And in the UK PhD students don't have any official right to vacation.
    – Davidmh
    Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 15:54

Preferences on this issue vary widely, even within departments. Since it sounds like this is the first time it has come up for you, the simplest thing is to ask your advisor about the preferred approach. Something like "I'm hoping to go away over spring break, I just wondered what the procedure is and whether I need to formally book the time off?" If you feel awkward about asking your supervisor directly (though I don't see why you should), you could try asking others within your research group what they normally do.

The only situation in which I would think you would need to ask permission (as opposed to just let them know) is if you are doing experimental work that is time-dependent and would need to be covered in your absence. But if that was the case I imagine you would have considered those issues when you started the experiments.

Unless your supervisor is very hard to get hold of, I should do it in person.

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