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TGS-Specific COVID-19 FAQs

Below is a set of TGS-specific COVID-19 FAQs. University-wide updates and information can be found on the University's COVID-19 website.

International students: Please refer to the International Students and Scholars FAQs on the University's COVID-19 website for additional information.

Postdoctoral trainees: Please refer to the Postdoc-Specific COVID-19 FAQs on the Postdoctoral Affairs website.

Classes

How do I find the mode of instruction for specific courses?

July 28, 2020 (Updated October 5, 2020)

Class schedules identify the mode of instruction, outlining which courses have in-person component— either entirely face-to-face or a hybrid with some face-to-face meetings—and which courses will be entirely remote. Remote courses may be synchronous with meetings at scheduled times or they may be asynchronous.

Whom should I contact with questions about whether my graduate program/classes/research can or will be conducted remotely?

July 28, 2020 (Updated October 5, 2020)

Please contact your graduate program's director of graduate studies (DGS) with questions about your program's classes. International students on a visa should consult the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISS) with questions about any immigration-related restrictions to be aware of with respect to course planning.

How do I file an accommodation request in a remote learning environment?

April 15, 2020 (Updated June 2, 2020)

Please contact AccessibleNU for assistance and complete the online student application.

Degree Progress

What is the on-campus expectation for TGS students now that Illinois has entered Phase 5 of its COVID-19 recovery plan and the University anticipates a full return to in-person operations for Fall 2021?

June 16, 2021

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, most graduate students were expected to be on campus in laboratories, offices, and classrooms in order to advance their scholarship and make progress toward degree completion. In accordance with University planning for the Summer 2021 and Fall 2021 Quarters, The Graduate School expects graduate students to follow their program’s guidelines, their research requirements, teaching assignments, and expectations of relevant funding agencies with respect to in-person residency. Beginning Tuesday, July 6, 2021, graduate students are expected to be present on campus when their research and teaching assignments require it. In the rare case where a graduate student is unable to return to campus when their scholarship requires an in-person presence, The Graduate School will work with the program to help find solutions.

What should I do if I have concerns about returning to campus?

June 2, 2020 (Updated October 5, 2020)

If you have concerns about returning to campus to resume research/coursework, please contact your program’s director of graduate studies (DGS) or department chair. You may also email The Graduate School at covid19compliance@northwestern.edu or call the Evanston campus hotline (847.467.8840) or Chicago campus hotline (312.503.3437) to report concerns.

I am a graduate student who must travel in order to conduct research and/or make degree progress (e.g., visit an archive, acquire a language, or conduct fieldwork). What if I cannot travel, as planned, because of pandemic-related travel restrictions?

March 12, 2020 (Updated November 4, 2020)

Please review the University’s Travel Guidelines to determine whether travel is permitted. In the event that travel is not possible, you should have a conversation with your adviser(s) about your project and ways in which you can advance your research in the immediate future. This may entail altering timelines, exploring the possibility of local language acquisition or remote learning options, or reconfiguring your research project.

I am currently completing an internship, a clinical rotation, or other activity related to my degree progress while off campus. May I continue?

March 12, 2020 (Updated June 2, 2020)

During the period of remote instruction, you may continue to participate in off-site activities (internship, practicum, capstone, fieldwork) as long as the activities are consistent with other Northwestern policies related to the COVID-19 pandemic (on traveling, convening groups, etc.)  and the off-campus site continues to remain open and provide services. If your off-campus site is outside of the United States, be aware of current University travel restrictions and how they could impact you. Please consult with your director of graduate studies (DGS) and adviser to discuss your plans.

I have an upcoming dissertation defense, prospectus, or qualifying exam. Can this be held remotely?

March 12, 2020

The Graduate School requires that PhD students complete a qualifying exam, prospectus, and dissertation defense. It does not prescribe the exact form of these milestones. Individual programs determine the character of these milestone requirements. Consult your program’s handbook for the policy on how these milestones are completed. Contact your program’s director of graduate studies (DGS) to determine what options are available. Your program may choose to make modifications in light of the current situation.

I have an upcoming milestone deadline (qualifying exam, prospectus, or degree), and I am worried I will not be able to meet it. Will my program and/or The Graduate School provide flexibility?

March 12, 2020 (Updated November 4, 2020)

For all TGS students who were current and active as of the Summer 2020 Quarter, The Graduate School provided an automatic, four-quarter (one-year) extension of outstanding qualifying exam, prospectus, and/or doctoral and master’s degree deadlines (i.e., time to degree) that fell on or after March 30, 2020. This extension was applied to TGS’s maximum milestone and degree deadlines, specifically the qualifying exam (candidacy), prospectus, PhD degree, and master’s degree deadlines.

Are the University Libraries providing resources and services?

March 24, 2021

Yes, please visit the Libraries website for hours of operation and the latest information. An active Wildcard and Symptom Tracker badge are required to enter the building. In addition, off-campus delivery and virtual resources are available.

Financial Considerations

I am completing my degree soon. When will my stipend end?

April 1, 2020 (Updated October 5, 2020)

Once you complete all degree requirements and are no longer making progress toward your degree, you will receive a stipend payout through the last day of the month during which you submit your final graduation materials. (This process has not changed.)

I am a graduate assistant (GA) with questions about carrying out my graduate assistant-related responsibilities. What should I do?

March 16, 2020 (Updated October 5, 2020)

Please reach out to your graduate assistantship supervisor with any questions pertaining to your responsibilities and to determine whether it is possible to remotely complete the projects to which you have been assigned. If continuing as a GA is not feasible, work with your adviser or program to explore other options.

I received an award from The Graduate School (e.g., Graduate Research Grant, Summer Language Grant, Conference Travel Grant, etc.) to conduct research or for research-related travel. Will the grant’s end date be extended in the event I need to delay my plans?

March 12, 2020

The Graduate School will provide as much flexibility as possible around these awards. If you have questions about either canceling the award or extending the award period, email The Graduate School’s Academic Student Services team.

Is there any financial assistance to help me offset unexpected costs related to remote learning?

March 18, 2020 (Updated October 5, 2020)

Short-term emergency loans or student loans may be options for TGS students who need additional financial assistance.

Will I be charged a TGS activity fee and can I use my U-Pass for Summer Quarter?

June 8, 2021

The Graduate School will not charge a Summer Quarter activity fee for full-time students and will not activate any U-Pass transit cards for the Summer Quarter unless you choose to opt in. Depending on how often you plan to use your U-Pass, it may be more affordable to pay the activity fee of $125 for continuous service or to pay out of pocket. 

If you are a full-time student and plan to use your U-Pass during the Summer Quarter, please complete this opt-in form. We will activate your U-Pass, and a Summer Quarter activity fee of $125 will be applied to your student account. Please note, the Summer Quarter begins on Monday, June 21 and ends on Monday, September 20.

If you do not already have a U-Pass and plan to use it for the Summer 2021 Quarter, please ensure that your photo has been submitted to the Wildcard Office and that your current address is up to date in CAESAR, then fill in the opt-in form. It can take up to 2 weeks to create your card.

Once you choose to opt in and your U-Pass has been activated, you will not be able to change your decision due to our contractual obligations with the CTA/Ventra. In addition, per our contract, we will not be able to honor any new U-Pass activation requests for the Summer Quarter after Friday, July 16.

Please see our May 24 announcement for more information.

I am a graduate student who cannot yet make it to campus due to issues related to visa delays or travel restrictions. Will I still be able to receive my stipend?

July 28, 2020 (Updated June 14, 2021)

If your admission letter offered a stipend, you will receive a stipend—even if you must remain outside the United States or off campus—as long as you are registered full-time at Northwestern (other than TGS 512) and making progress toward your degree. Please check with your academic program to determine if you will be able to make degree progress and register full-time while fully remote.

Graduate Student Life

I’m on the job market and am preparing for interviews and job talks. What are my options?

March 12, 2020

It is recommended that you hold practice job talks or other interview preparation remotely. Northwestern Career Advancement remains ready to help you prepare for your job search through virtual appointments. Login to Handshake Career Center > Appointments to request an appointment with NCA career advisers.

Whom should I contact with questions about graduate housing (Engelhart Hall, the Garrett Place Apartments, or McManus Center)?

March 12, 2020 (Updated June 2, 2020)

Please contact the Residential Services office at housing@northwestern.edu, call 847-467-4663, or visit the Graduate Housing FAQ page.

Is Purple Pantry available for students who are experiencing difficulty accessing food?

March 24, 2021

Yes, please visit the Purple Pantry webpage for information on hours of operation and scheduling individual appointments. The Purple Pantry is intended to be as barrier-free as possible and accommodates individuals with vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, kosher, and halal dietary needs.

What mental health resources are available to me?

April 23, 2020

Support is available from a variety of resources; for more information, please see the Counseling and Mental Health webpage on our TGS website.

Bias and Discrimination

I have been the target of bias or a hate-related incident during the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic. What should I do?

April 15, 2020

You are encouraged to submit any bias or hate-related incidents that you observe through the University’s Hate and Bias Report Form.

If I witness or hear acts of discrimination or sexual misconduct, whom do I contact?

April 15, 2020

Please contact the Office of Equity for assistance.

Admissions and Incoming Students

I am unable to complete my GRE, TOEFL, IETLS, or other test for my application or for admission. What should I do?

March 12, 2020 (Updated October 5, 2020)

The GRE test and other standardized tests are not required by The Graduate School, although some of our degree programs do require them. Please reach out to the academic program to which you have applied, or are interested in applying, with any questions about their testing requirements. You may note that ETS now has the availability of at home tests for the GRE general test.

The Graduate School requires that students demonstrate a certain level of English language proficiency prior to an admission offer. TGS will accept the submission of TOEFL test scores through their at home testing service to meet this requirement. This option is only available while testing centers are closed due to the impact of COVID-19. If you are unable to complete a TOEFL or IELTS exam, please inform the program to which you have applied. TGS’s Office of Admission and Recruitment will work directly with programs/departments to offer guidance to individual applicants.

Do I need to complete any payroll paperwork?

August 20, 2020

All PhD and MFA students who will receive graduate student stipends, which are paid through the Human Resources payroll system (myHR), must complete the appropriate payroll paperwork. Please visit the Payroll website for important deadlines and details regarding direct deposit, W-4 tax forms, FNIS (Foreign National Information System), and Form I-9.

Last Updated: June 16, 2021