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TGS-Specific COVID-19 FAQs

Below is a set of TGS-specific COVID-19 FAQs. This page will be updated regularly in the days and weeks ahead. 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

I am enrolled in graduate classes for the Spring Quarter. What can I expect?

March 12, 2020 (Updated April 1, 2020)

All classes—including all graduate-level classes—will be offered via remote-access learning until at least Monday, May 4, 2020 (and possibly the entire quarter). The quarter will start on April 4, 2020; it will conclude on June 13, 2020, as originally scheduled. Graduate students will not have the option of attending any classes in person and must access their classes remotely. Updates about Spring 2020 Quarter classes will be maintained on the University’s COVID-19 News and Resources website.

Can Pass (P) grades be used to fulfill The Graduate School’s degree requirements?

April 1, 2020

The Graduate School will accept grades of Pass (P) assigned in the Spring 2020 Quarter toward The Graduate School’s minimum master’s and PhD degree and certificate requirements. Students still must have a cumulative GPA of at least a 3.0 in order to have a degree conferred.

Can Pass (P) grades be used to fulfill my program’s degree requirements?

April 1, 2020

The Office of the Provost has encouraged schools and academic programs to provide flexibility to allow students to take advantage of spring P/N grading. Consult with your academic program for further information and to determine those situations in which quality grades (ABC) may be necessary.

Can I change to or from P/N grading after the add/drop period?

April 1, 2020

Yes, per the University Academic Calendar, Friday, May 29, 2020 is the last day for students in The Graduate School to change grading status to or from P/N for Spring 2020 Quarter classes.

If Northwestern resumes campus-based class delivery at some point in Spring Quarter and I am unable to return to campus, can I complete the course remotely?

March 18, 2020

Yes, any undergraduate or graduate student who is unable to return to campus to resume in-person attendance will be allowed to continue their classes by remote access.

Teaching

I am a Teaching Assistant for Spring Quarter. What should I do?

March 12, 2020 (Updated March 27, 2020)

Please be in touch with the faculty member for whom you are TA-ing to determine if you can still perform TA duties for the course, and what the scope of the work will be. Please also refer to the Guidance for Remote Teaching Assistants. In many cases, TA activities will continue. For example, many TAs will grade student work, hold remote office hours, lead online discussions, assist in setup and administration of remote access, and so on. If continuing as a TA is not feasible, work with your adviser or program to explore other options.

I am teaching a class for Spring Quarter. What should I do?

March 12, 2020

As the instructor of record you will receive guidance from the University via your department chair related to remote instruction.

Degree Progress

I am a graduate student who is doing research and am enrolled in 590 research units, TGS 500, or a similar research registration. What are my options?

March 12, 2020 (Updated April 1, 2020)

All non-essential, onsite research is paused as of 5:00 PM on Friday, March 20 through Thursday, April 30, 2020. This pause does not represent a shutdown of all research activity. Consult with your adviser(s) and Director of Graduate Studies about ways to remotely advance your research in the coming weeks, such as planning/writing dissertation chapters, analyzing data, reading key scholarship and writing literature reviews, writing papers, planning future experiments, etc.

Can a graduate student be designated as essential personnel?

March 19, 2020 (Updated April 1, 2020)

The University has announced that only individuals who are essential to operations be onsite through Thursday, April 30, 2020. Essential research may continue during this time. Graduate students can be classified as essential personnel but they should not feel pressure (intentional or not) to work on campus or in a manner they feel compromises their health and safety. If you have questions about whether the work in your research lab is considered essential, please contact your lab’s principal investigator. Additional information may be found in the Office for Research Guidance for Transition to Essential-Only On-Campus Work. Those onsite must observe these best practices to prevent the spread of illness and minimize risk to self and others.

I have been designated as essential personnel, but I cannot come to campus to conduct research because of my health and/or the health or care needs of my family. What are my options?

March 19, 2020 (Updated March 25, 2020)

You should not feel pressure to work on campus or in a manner you feel compromises your health and safety. Speak with your adviser(s) and/or Director of Graduate Studies about your options. If you have additional questions, please contact the Office for Research or The Graduate School. If you have any questions about your health, call Northwestern University Health Services (847.491.8100) or your medical provider. If you have questions about Northwestern University Student Health Insurance (NU-SHIP) for you or your dependents, visit the NU-SHIP FAQ webpage.

I am a graduate student who must travel in order to conduct research and/or make degree progress (for example, visit an archive, acquire a language, or conduct fieldwork). What if I cannot travel, as planned, in the Spring and/or Summer Quarters?

March 12, 2020

You should have a conversation with your adviser(s) about your project and ways that 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

During the period of remote instruction, you may continue to participate in off-site activities (internship, practicum, capstone, fieldwork) as long as the off-campus site continues to remain open and provide services and as long as the activities are consistent with other Northwestern policies related to the COVID-19 outbreak (on traveling, convening groups, etc.). If your off-campus site is outside of the United States, be aware of current University travel restrictions and how they could impact your return. If your site closes, please contact your Director of Graduate Studies and/or adviser to discuss your options.

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 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 (for example, qualifying exam, prospectus, 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

The Graduate School sets the minimum requirements for satisfactory academic progress. Programs often have additional or stricter requirements. For program-specific requirements and deadlines, contact your Director of Graduate Studies to explore your options. For deadlines and requirements specific to The Graduate School, particularly those that could result in probation, The Graduate School will work with students and their programs on a case-by-case basis. Students and programs should contact The Graduate School’s Academic Student Services team with questions.

Is The Graduate School placing any students on academic probation during the Spring 2020 Quarter?

April 3, 2020

The Graduate School will not place students on academic probation during the Spring 2020 Quarter. This means that TGS students who would normally be on their first or second quarter of academic probation as of the beginning of the Spring 2020 Quarter will instead have their records evaluated in September 2020 and be placed on their first or second quarter of academic probation in the Fall 2020 Quarter. Students who are currently on an academic probation extension will be contacted by Student Services closer to their deadline. Please email gradservices@northwestern.edu with any questions.

I am currently on academic probation with The Graduate School for having a cumulative GPA of less than 3.0, and I hope to graduate in Spring Quarter (June 2020). Will The Graduate School allow me to graduate this June with less than a 3.0?

April 1, 2020

The Graduate School requires at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA in order to award a degree or certificate. It may be possible for you to take some of your courses with P/N grading and some with ABC grading in order to raise your cumulative GPA to a minimum of 3.0. Please speak with your adviser and/or Director of Graduate Studies about your options for Spring Quarter.

Will Spring Quarter graduation deadlines be extended?

March 25, 2020

To account for the shift in the start of Spring Quarter, The Graduate School is extending Spring Quarter graduation deadlines by one week. The modified deadlines for the application for degree form, dissertation and PhD final exam form, and master’s degree completion form are listed in the University Academic Calendar. Email gradservices@northwestern.edu with questions.

Are the University Libraries providing remote resources and services?

March 27, 2020

Library staff is available for assistance via email (library@northwestern.edu) and chat. For in-depth research support, subject librarians with expertise in specific areas are available to answer questions via email, and can set up remote research consultations via phone or video conferencing software. In addition, the Libraries have a wide variety of online research resources. Please visit the Libraries website to learn more.

Financial Considerations

I am a currently funded doctoral or MFA student making progress toward my degree. Will I continue to receive my stipend for the remainder of the Spring Quarter?

April 1, 2020

Yes, doctoral students who are making progress toward their degree (including research) during the spring quarter will continue to receive their stipends regardless of funding source. This includes all doctoral students in science and engineering programs, as well as doctoral and MFA students in humanities and social sciences programs within their first five years/20 quarters and those who are currently funded on a student-banked quarter in their sixth year. Spring Quarter funding covers March through May, 2020. If you have any questions about your spring stipend, please contact your adviser, DGS or program staff.

I am a doctoral or MFA student who would normally receive a stipend in the Spring Quarter, but my adviser has confirmed that I am unable to make progress toward my degree due directly to issues related to COVID-19 (e.g., unable to access research lab or field work site or due to illness, caregiving, quarantine, etc.). Will I still continue to receive my stipend for Spring Quarter?

April 1, 2020 (Updated April 3, 2020)

Yes, you will continue to receive your stipend for the Spring Quarter even if you are unable to make progress toward your degree due directly to issues related to COVID-19, including the inability to access a research lab or field work site or illness, caregiving, travel restrictions, self-isolation, quarantine, etc. This includes all doctoral students in science and engineering programs, as well as doctoral and MFA students in humanities and social sciences programs within their first five years/20 quarters and those who are currently funded on a student-banked quarter in their sixth year.

Spring Quarter funding covers March through May, 2020. All efforts should be made to continue to make progress remotely. Doctoral and MFA students should talk with their adviser and program staff or DGS to determine what steps may be taken to allow progress. If you cannot make progress toward your degree, please work with your adviser and program staff or DGS so the appropriate funding and registration changes can be made.

I am a faculty member who currently supports a doctoral student through a grant, start-up funds, gifts, etc. and I plan to continue my support through the Spring Quarter. Is this still appropriate?

April 1, 2020

Yes, it is expected that faculty will continue to support graduate students through the Spring Quarter assuming they are making progress toward their degrees (including research). If you are having trouble determining how to support doctoral students, please contact your DGS or the associate dean for graduate education in your school.  

If I cannot make progress toward my PhD or MFA as originally planned, will the University support additional quarters of funding in the event I need additional time to complete my degree?

March 12, 2020 (Updated April 1, 2020)

It is too early to determine the impact on overall time to degree. The Graduate School is partnering with University leadership on student needs and we will keep you informed as more information becomes available.

I am completing my degree in the Spring Quarter. When will my stipend end?

April 1, 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) in Spring Quarter but I have questions about carrying out my graduate assistant-related responsibilities. What should I do?

March 16, 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, contact The Graduate School’s Academic Student Services team.

In this state of flux, will my NU-SHIP (health insurance) coverage remain in place?

March 12, 2020

The Northwestern University Student Health Insurance Plan (NU-SHIP) provides students on this plan with annual coverage, from September 1 through August 31. For specific questions about NU-SHIP, consult the NU-SHIP FAQ webpage.

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

March 18, 2020

The University has set up a form to request emergency support for undergraduate and graduate students who need funding assistance with travel, technology, and other temporary expenses due to the impact of COVID-19 related to remote learning. Short-term emergency loans may also be an option.

Please be sure to check the University’s COVID-19 FAQs for the most up-to-date answers on a variety of topics, including answers to financial aid questions.

Can I opt out of the U-Pass program and waive my TGS activity fee for Spring Quarter?

March 20, 2020 (Updated March 30, 2020)

If you do not expect to use your U-Pass transit card during Spring Quarter, TGS will not activate your U-Pass and will credit your student account for the $125 Spring Quarter activity fee around the week of May 4, 2020. If you do plan to use the U-Pass transit card at any point during the Spring Quarter, TGS will activate your U-Pass, and the $125 Spring Quarter activity fee will be applied to your student account. Please complete this brief form between now and Friday, May 1, 2020 to let us know if you plan to use your U-Pass during the Spring Quarter. Please note your U-Pass will not work until you complete the form. All TGS students will retain access to TGS Legal Services—another regular benefit of the activity fee—regardless of the option you select for your U-Pass.

Graduate Student Life

Do the University’s messages to students also refer to graduate students?

March 12, 2020

Yes. While we recognize that there are differences between undergraduate and graduate students with respect to, for example, housing, academic activities, and/or degree requirements, the University’s messaging and FAQs apply to all students unless otherwise stated. If you aren’t sure whether a message applies to you, or if you aren’t certain what office to contact with questions, you may reach out to The Graduate School’s Academic Student Services team who can help direct you.

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.

I live in graduate housing (Engelhart Hall, the Garrett Place Apartments, or McManus Center). Do I need to depart my campus housing?

March 12, 2020

You may remain in your graduate housing residence for the duration of your housing terms and conditions. If you have any specific questions about your graduate housing or contract, 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, 2020 (Updated April 3, 2020)

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Purple Pantry is currently operating by appointment only. Students can email Mary Deeley at m-deeley@northwestern.edu for more information. 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.

Admissions and Incoming Students

I am scheduled to visit my prospective program/department. Will my visit now be virtual, or will it be canceled or postponed?

March 12, 2020

Please reach out to the program/department regarding the status of your visit and potential changes. You can review the University’s current recommendations for visitor travel here.

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 March 26, 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.

I have been offered admission to one of The Graduate School’s MFA or PhD programs and must respond by the April 15 deadline according to the terms of the Council of Graduate Schools April 15 Resolution. Is that deadline still in effect?

March 12, 2020

Yes. The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) has stated that the deadline will remain in effect for 2020. As a signatory to the resolution, Northwestern will comply with CGS policy. Please refer to this CGS webpage for any questions about the CGS Resolution.

I have accepted my offer of admission to an academic program within The Graduate School at Northwestern to start in September 2020. Will my enrollment be impacted by COVID-19?

March 12, 2020

Please review the University’s latest updates here as this situation continues to evolve. The University and TGS envision welcoming all new students in September. Any changes to this situation will be communicated to you directly. If you have accepted an offer to a program that begins in an earlier quarter, please review the FAQs above and the University’s webpage here regarding the status of classes and enrollment.

Last Updated: April 3, 2020