COVID-19 updates: Specific information relating to Graduate School matters

COVID-19 updates: Specific information relating to Graduate School matters

By Special to UM News

COVID-19 updates: Specific information relating to Graduate School matters

By Special to UM News
Latest updates regarding Graduate School operations for the rest of the Spring 2020 semester.
Last updated: March 20, 2020


In addition to the official University updates, which can be found at, graduate students, faculty and staff should note the following information regarding Graduate School operations for the Spring 2020 semester.

On-campus activity

As communicated in the University’s Advisory #8, all classes will take place online for the rest of the semester, concluding on May 6, 2020. For information and support related to online learning at the University, please visit the Business and Academic Continuity at the U website.

Consequently, as soon as possible, but no later than March 23, graduate student research assistants (RAs), graduate student fellowship recipients, and postdoctoral scholars engaged in research/scholarly activities should begin to work remotely through the end of the Spring 2020 semester, unless involved in "critical research activities". Please coordinate with your supervisor/faculty mentor immediately to make the appropriate plans. We also refer you to the "COVID-19 Pandemic: Guidance for On-Campus Research/Scholarly Activities" 

Similarly, graduate student teaching assistants (TAs) should continue to support the teaching activities of their assigned instructors remotely, when possible, for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester. TAs should consult with their faculty supervisors as soon as possible to discuss and coordinate their teaching support duties in the distance learning environment that begins next week. We encourage social distancing to minimize the number of people on campuses and have asked supervisors to use their best judgment and encourage their teams to work from home wherever possible while continuing to meet the critical needs of the operation.

ETD Deadlines

Students with a thesis or dissertation requirement who plan to graduate in the Spring 2020 semester should note the following changes to the first three Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) Process deadlines, per the revised Academic Calendar.

  • Deadline to Defend: Wednesday, April 8, 2020
  • Deadline to Submit Full Draft for Formatting Review: Wednesday, April 22, 2020
  • Deadline for Producing Final PDF: Monday, May 4, 2020

The Deadline for Completion will remain as originally scheduled for Wednesday, May 6, 2020. All deadlines are posted on the ETD section of the Graduate School’s website.

Virtual Defenses

The Graduate School is requesting that oral defenses of theses or dissertations this semester proceed remotely through video conferencing (e.g. Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate, Skype for Business) instead of in person. We are expecting graduate programs to maintain the integrity and quality of the defense. Visit the Business and Academic Continuity at the U website for a full list of video conferencing platforms offered by the University.

Scheduled events

The Responsible Conduct of Research Workshop will now take place online via Zoom on March 21 and 28 from 1:00-5:00 p.m., so that students who need to complete this training as a requirement may do so. For more information on this, contact

The nomination period for Graduate School’s Annual Awards will reopen from March 23-30, 2020, to account for the extension of Spring Break. The winners will be announced online on April 30, 2020; however, the on-campus ceremony scheduled for April 23, 2020, has been canceled.

All other on-campus events scheduled by the Graduate School for the Spring 2020 semester, including professional development events, the Dinner with the Dean, and the Doctoral Hooding Rehearsal and Reception, have been canceled. We are working on developing virtual professional development and wellness virtual programming.


Following guidance from state and federal agencies to suspend large events and promote social distancing due to COVID-19, graduate May 2020 commencement ceremonies will be postponed for Friday, December 18, 2020. Please note: Fall 2020 candidates will still have their own ceremonies as previously scheduled on Thursday, December 17, 2020.

Given the new date of the Spring 2020 Commencement Ceremony on December 18, 2020, applications for Graduate Student Commencement Speaker for this ceremony will be reopened at a later date. A new timeline for the selection and announcement of the commencement speaker is forthcoming and will be published on the Commencement section of the Graduate School’s website.

For more information on the Spring 2020 Commencement Ceremony, please visit the Office of Commencement’s website.

Graduate Student Travel Scholarship

Per the University’s travel guidelines, the Graduate School has suspended all non-essential travel. By extension, no Graduate Student Travel Scholarships will be awarded until further notice.

Applications received to date for the upcoming application cycle, which was to close on March 15, 2020, for travel dates of April 15 - August 15, 2020, will not be reviewed. Students who applied for this upcoming cycle will be notified directly. All students should refer to the University's travel guidelines for guidance on academic and personal travel, both domestic and international.

The Graduate School team will be working remotely to support students, faculty, and staff as usual, and can be reached via email at

The University’s dedicated COVID-19 site, which can be found at, is updated regularly and will continue to serve as the best and most up-to-date source of information regarding the University’s response to COVID-19. The “For Students” section of this site includes helpful Academic and Campus Life information, including resources and operations details for the Counseling Center, Libraries and other university units. Please visit