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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

Can Pass (P) grades be used to fulfill The Graduate School’s degree requirements for the Spring 2020 Quarter?

April 1, 2020 (Updated June 2, 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 from the Spring 2020 Quarter be used to fulfill my program’s degree requirements?

April 1, 2020 (Updated June 2, 2020)

The Graduate School interprets the spirit of the March 31 message from the Office of the Provost to mean that programs should be flexible in considering degree requirements in relation to Pass/No Pass grading in the Spring 2020 Quarter. It is your choice whether to opt out of P/N grading and we encourage you to consult with your academic program—adviser and director of graduate studies (DGS)—for further information and to determine those situations in which quality (ABC) grades may be necessary.

Will Summer 2020 Quarter classes and other academic activities be held remotely?

May 1, 2020 (Updated June 2, 2020)

Yes, all Northwestern Summer 2020 Quarter classes and academic programs will be offered remotely for the duration of the Summer Quarter. Research, clinical operations and work deemed essential under the state stay-at-home order will be considered exceptions, as may be academic programs requiring significant in-person clinical instruction related to external accreditation and licensure. Students with questions about their programs and activities should consult their programs. The University will announce decisions about academic-related activities that start in August or September—including orientation events and the start of classes for some graduate programs—in conjunction with decisions about Fall planning.

How will Summer 2020 Quarter courses be graded?

May 1, 2020

Northwestern will return to standard grading practices in the Summer 2020 Quarter, with the option for Pass/No Pass (P/N) grading determined at the level of the individual course. The deadline to elect Pass/No Pass (P/N) grading will be extended, as it was for the Spring Quarter.

Will Pass/No Pass (P/N) grading carry over to the Fall 2020 Quarter?

July 28, 2020

Northwestern returned to standard grading practices for the Summer Quarter, with the option for Pass/No Pass (P/N) grading determined at the individual course level. These standard grading practices will continue for the Fall Quarter.

How will it be determined whether courses are offered remotely vs. in-person for the Fall 2020 Quarter, and how do I find out the mode of instruction for specific courses?

July 28, 2020

When registration begins in August, class schedules will clearly identify mode of instruction, outlining which courses have in-person components — 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. A significant portion of Fall 2020 Quarter instruction will be conducted remotely. Many hybrid courses also will be open to students pursuing a fully remote Fall Quarter while others will require students to attend in-person, face-to-face components. The make-up of available courses will differ by academic program and department.

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

July 28, 2020

Please contact your graduate program's director of graduate studies (DGS) to determine how your program's courses will be offered in the Fall 2020 Quarter.

I am an international student who cannot make it to campus by Fall Quarter (due to issues related to visa delays or travel restrictions). Am I permitted to attend Northwestern remotely, and if so, how will my visa status be affected?

July 28, 2020

If you are an F-1 or J-1 student who is unable to enter the United States by the start of the Fall Quarter, you will be able to attend your classes remotely from outside of the U.S., provided it is an option with your academic program. Please contact your graduate program to determine if attending remotely would create challenges for required courses that may have a face-to-face mode of instruction and your OISS adviser to discuss specifics of your situation. Additional information and answers to frequently asked questions may be found on the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISS) website.  

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.

Teaching

I am a Teaching Assistant (TA) for Summer Quarter. What should I do?

March 12, 2020 (Updated June 2, 2020)

In many cases, TA activities will continue as planned for Summer Quarter even though all classes will be remote, but please touch base with the faculty member for whom you are scheduled to TA. Please also refer to the Guidance for Remote Teaching Assistants. As is the case during in-person courses, Summer Quarter TAs may be responsible for a variety of things, including grading student work, holding remote office hours, leading online discussions, assisting in setup and administration of remote access, and so on. If continuing as a TA is no longer feasible, please work with your adviser or program to explore other options for the Summer Quarter.

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

March 12, 2020 (Updated June 2, 2020)

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

I am scheduled to be a Teaching Assistant (TA) for an undergraduate course for the Fall 2020 Quarter. May I serve as a TA from a remote location?

July 28, 2020

It may be possible to serve as a TA from a remote location if that approach is compatible with the plans for the mode of instruction for the course. If you are residing outside of the United States, notify your home program if you do not yet have a U.S. Social Security Number and/or have not yet completed an I-9 Form. Consult the course instructor about the mode of instruction for the course (face-to-face, fully remote, or hybrid); consult with your director of graduate studies (DGS) for additional information about your teaching assignments.

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 June 2, 2020)

Consult with your adviser(s) and director of graduate studies (DGS) about ways to remotely advance your research, such as planning/writing dissertation chapters, analyzing data, reading key scholarship and writing literature reviews, writing papers, planning future experiments, etc.

What should I do if I have concerns about returning to campus as the phased return proceeds and laboratory-based research resumes?

June 2, 2020 (Updated July 28, 2020)

As outlined in the University’s Return to Research Policy, “Principal investigators and managers must not pressure or expect students, postdocs or staff members to come to work if they have concerns about being on campus, if they are ill, if they need to stay at home to care for ill or homebound dependents, if they have an underlying condition that places them at risk, or for other reasonable concerns.” If you have concerns about compliance with this policy or about returning to campus to resume research/coursework, please contact your program’s director of graduate studies or department chair. You may also contact 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 July 28, 2020)

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 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 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 July 28, 2020)

For all TGS students who are current and active as of the Summer 2020 Quarter, TGS will provide 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 fall on or after March 30, 2020. This extension pertains to TGS’s maximum milestone and degree deadlines, specifically the qualifying exam (candidacy), prospectus, PhD degree, and master’s degree deadlines.

What kind(s) of technology/supplies will I need in order to participate in remote or hybrid learning?

July 28, 2020

Details about technology needs, course materials, and tips on how to excel in a remote environment are offered on Northwestern’s “Keep Learning” section of the Digital Learning website. This page is being refreshed frequently in preparation for Fall Quarter, so please check back often.

Will graduate students who are not taking classes but are doing research in labs or libraries be asked to leave campus at Thanksgiving break?

July 28, 2020

The University does not plan to close campus completely. At this time, we anticipate that most non-classroom facilities will remain open and accessible after November 24, provided that public health conditions and university, local, and state policies and guidelines allow it. Buildings and services may abridge their hours as they would during other break periods on campus.

Are the University Libraries providing remote resources and services?

March 27, 2020 (Updated June 17, 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. The Libraries have a wide variety of online research resources and will make every effort to acquire specific digital books or publications needed for coursework.

In addition, Northwestern University Libraries offer book pickup for faculty, staff, and students. Place a request in the NUsearch online catalog by logging in to your account, locating the item in NUsearch, and selecting Request. You will receive an email when your item is ready, with a link allowing you to schedule a pickup window. Pickup times are between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM, Tuesdays and Thursdays, inside the south-facing entrance to University (Main) Library, 1970 Campus Drive. Students, faculty, and staff accessing the Library to pick up requested materials are expected to follow University health and safety guidelines by maintaining social distancing, wearing face masks, and monitoring personal health.

If you currently have books waiting for you on the hold shelf, you may schedule an appointment at Northwestern Libraries Appointments. If you need an item that is in your carrel, please email library@northwestern.edu to make arrangements. 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 Spring and Summer Quarters?

April 1, 2020 (Updated June 2, 2020)

Yes, doctoral students who are making progress toward their degree (including research) during the Spring and Summer Quarters 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. Summer Quarter funding covers June through August 2020.

If you have any questions about your stipend, please contact your adviser, director of graduate studies (DGS), or program staff.

I am a doctoral or MFA student who would normally receive a stipend, 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 the Spring and Summer Quarters?

April 1, 2020 (Updated June 2, 2020)

Yes, you will continue to receive your stipend for the Spring and Summer Quarters 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. Summer Quarter funding covers June through August 2020.

While all efforts should be made to continue to make progress remotely, doctoral and MFA students should talk with their adviser and program staff or director of graduate studies (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.

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 8, 2020)

The Graduate School recognizes that time to degree will be impacted in various ways for some of our students as a result of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. We appreciate this concern and are actively engaged in conversations with University leadership regarding PhD and MFA student funding. We do not have a definitive answer at this time, and we will keep you informed as more information becomes available.

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

April 1, 2020 (Updated May 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 and/or Summer Quarter but I have questions about carrying out my graduate assistant-related responsibilities. What should I do?

March 16, 2020 (Updated May 1, 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 remote learning?

March 18, 2020 (Updated June 2, 2020)

Short-term emergency loans or student loans are options for TGS students who need additional financial assistance, but the University will not be re-introducing the temporary emergency assistance fund that was available in Spring Quarter for students requesting financial support for travel and technological and equipment needs during the pandemic-related transition to remote instruction.

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

March 20, 2020 (Updated June 2, 2020)

The Graduate School will not charge a Summer Quarter activity fee for full-time students and will not activate CTA U-Passes for the Summer Quarter unless you opt-in using this form by Saturday, July 25, 2020.

If you are a new TGS student and have not yet submitted your photo to the Wildcard Office, you will need to complete this step before completing the U-Pass form. Your U-Pass will be ready approximately two weeks after you submit your photo and the U-Pass form.

If you are a full-time continuing student and plan to use your U-Pass transit card during the Summer Quarter, please complete the opt-in form. We will activate your U-Pass and the Summer Quarter activity fee of $125 will be applied to your student account. Please note, the Summer Quarter begins on Monday, June 22 and ends on Monday, September 21. 

Students enrolled in the Online Master of Arts in Counseling Program through The Family Institute, TGS 512 (continuous registration), TGS 514, or a co-op internship are not charged an activity fee and are not eligible for the services it provides.

All TGS students will retain access to TGS Legal Services, which is typically covered by the quarterly activity fee. Please see our May 26 announcement for more information.

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

July 28, 2020 (Updated August 3, 2020)

The Graduate School will not charge a Fall Quarter activity fee for full-time students and will not activate any U-Passes for the Fall Quarter unless you choose to opt in using this form by Saturday, October 24, 2020.

If you already have a U-Pass, it will be activated the next business day. If you do not already have a U-Pass, one will need to be issued. 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 formYour card will then be mailed to you in 2-3 weeks. Picking up your U-Pass in person at The Graduate School will not be an option due to COVID-19 pandemic precautions.

If you are a full-time continuing student and plan to use your U-Pass transit card during the Fall Quarter, please complete the opt-in form. We will activate your U-Pass, and a Fall Quarter activity fee of $125 will be applied to your student account. Please note, the Fall Quarter begins on Wednesday, September 16 and ends on Sunday, January 3.

Students enrolled in the Online Master of Arts in Counseling Program through The Family Institute, TGS 512 (continuous registration), TGS 514, or a co-op internship are not charged an activity fee and are not eligible for the services it provides.

All TGS eligible students will retain access to TGS Legal Services, which is also covered by the quarterly activity fee. Please see our August 3 announcement for more information. 

Will there be any difference in tuition charges for in-person vs. fully remote vs. hybrid courses? Will I receive discounted tuition for remote courses?

July 28, 2020

Northwestern has not announced a plan to adjust tuition to reflect different modes of instruction (face-to-face, fully remote, or hybrid). The University will continue to provide an excellent education, however an individual student’s classes are delivered. Your courses will continue to be taught by the same professors with the same expertise as when you are on campus. The University is providing additional support to instructors to ensure that they maintain the high quality of instruction in fully remote and hybrid classes that will allow all students to maintain progress toward their degrees.

I am an international graduate student who cannot make it to campus by Fall Quarter (due to issues related to visa delays or travel restrictions). Will I still be able to receive my stipend?

July 28, 2020

If your admission letter offered a stipend, you will receive a stipend for the Fall 2020 Quarter even if you must remain outside the United States, as long as you are registered full-time at Northwestern and making progress toward your degree.

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, 2020 (Updated June 2, 2020)

Yes, however to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Purple Pantry is currently operating by individual appointment only. Students can schedule an individual appointment by completing this form. 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 June 2, 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 accepted my offer of admission to an academic program within The Graduate School at Northwestern to start in Fall 2020. Will my enrollment be impacted by COVID-19?

March 12, 2020 (Updated June 2, 2020)

The University and TGS envision welcoming all new students this Fall. The University plans to announce the details about academic-related activities that start in August or September—including orientation events and the start of classes for some graduate programs—in conjunction with decisions about Fall planning. If you anticipate that you will be unable to make it to campus if the University resumes in-person classes in the Fall, please consult with your program to determine the options that may be available to you. 

You can read the University’s latest updates here; however, any specific changes to your program will be communicated to you directly. 

I am interested in deferring my enrollment. What are the appropriate steps to take?

June 17, 2020

Please refer to the enrollment deferral process outlined at the bottom of this webpage. The first step is to connect with your admitting program regarding your interest in deferring to a future quarter. Your program will then work with The Graduate School to review your request.

Do new students register at the same time as current students for Fall 2020 registration?

July 28, 2020

No. New students have a different registration date than current students, which will be listed in the Academic Calendar. You may also find latest developments on Northwestern’s COVID-19 and Campus Updates website in the section on Academics and Instruction.

When is The Graduate School's New Student Orientation?

July 28, 2020

We are migrating our TGS New Student Orientation to an online, asynchronous (self-paced) fully remote format and will provide more information to all new students in early September.

Last Updated: July 31, 2020