UWM Graduate School Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information

For our graduate students who are interested in more information about the CARES grant and the UWM Emergency Grant funding please see the Dean of Students page regarding emergency grants.


In order to be socially responsible in dealing with the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Graduate School office will be physically closed until further notice. The office functions are still being performed and if you have questions or need assistance you can contact us through email at: gradschool-staff@uwm.edu.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Graduate Students and Programs Regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Updated May 27, 2020

This FAQ communication builds on the Campus COVID-19 Academic Continuity Plan and expands it to address emerging questions specific to graduate education. This document will be updated as needed and can be found at this site and the main UWM campus sites.

A. Recruitment | Applications | Admissions

A.1 Will graduate recruitment continue as before?

Like many other universities, UWM has had to cancel most of its in-person recruiting efforts, or move them online. The Graduate School will continue to assess future possible events in light of the most current information available and according to local, state, and federal guidance.

A.2 How about graduate campus tours? Will they continue as before?

The UWM Graduate School campus tours are currently cancelled and will resume at a time when it is deemed safer to take an in-person tour. In the meantime, please explore our virtual campus tour.

A.3 Will graduate applications and admissions processes be modified or interrupted?

Applications and admissions will continue as usual without interruptions. In order to be socially responsible in dealing with the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Graduate School office will be physically closed until further notice. The office functions are performed remotely and if you have questions or need assistance you can contact us through email at: gradschool-staff@uwm.edu.

A.4 I’m applying to UWM, but GRE or other standardized testing centers are closed in my area? What should I do?

The Graduate School does not require GRE or similar standardized test scores, but some programs do. Contact the program you’re applying to for more information. During this period, the Graduate School encourages programs to consider temporarily modifying, delaying, or suspending their requirements for standardized tests such as GRE, when justified. The GRE announced that as of March 23 they will make the GRE General Test available to take from home in selected areas: ets.org/s/cv/gre/at-home/

A.5 I’m an international student applying to UWM, but English proficiency testing centers in my home country are closed. What should I do?

For applicants who need to provide proof of English proficiency but are affected by closed test centers (TOEFL and IELTS), UWM has some possible options. 1. Some test centers are offering online testing. Check to see if any online options are available in your country. 2. UWM now accepts Duolingo, which does not require you to go to a test center. 3. Some programs are willing to offer conditional admission, which means your language skills would be assessed upon arrival to UWM, and you may be required to take additional English courses in our English Language Academy (ELA). Please check with your Program Representative if this is an option for you.

A.6 Are applicants/students required to have their residency documents notarized?

During normal operations, we do require students to have their appeal and requests for consideration of extenuating circumstances documents notarized. Since the COVID-19 stay at home orders were issued in mid-March, we have waived that requirement and will continue to waive it until further notice, as long as it creates an undue burden for the student.

B. Classes | Exams | Defenses

B.1 How will Graduate student classes be handled in fall?

Plans for fall are still taking shape, as UWM assesses the evolving state of the current pandemic and local, state, and federal guidance on reopening. At a minimum, UWM will require more social distancing and other precautions during fall semester. Campus expects to have a clear plan for fall semester by mid to late July.

B.2 I had planned to defend my dissertation in summer or fall. What should I do?

We encourage all students to defend their dissertations as planned, if possible. Consult with Doctoral Retention Advisor Shane Haensgen or your Graduate Program Director if you are in this situation. See below for more information on remote defenses.

B.3 Can a student or members of a doctoral or master’s defense committee participate in the examination remotely?

Yes. A defense can be conducted remotely, preferably by video conference. The student and any or all members of a defense committee may attend the defense remotely. Any committee member attending remotely must supply the committee chair with their vote by email. For doctoral defenses, they must also give the chair permission to sign the warrant in their place.

B.4 I need to defend my dissertation or thesis from a remote location, but the free version of Zoom limits meetings to 40 minutes. What should I do?

You can use Microsoft Teams through your UWM Office 365 account for the remote defense and invite your advisor and committee members to the teleconference meeting. Your committee members DO NOT need to have Teams on their devices, but will need either the Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge web browser to join from their computer, tablet, or phone.

B.5 What will happen if I’m enrolled for credit in an internship, practicum, clinical placement, fieldwork, or some other off-campus activity that I can’t complete this spring?

Students will not have to re-enroll for credit and pay tuition for these activities again. Campus instructors should issue grades of “Incomplete” for students who have made sufficient progress, and coordinate with off-campus partners at a later date to allow students to complete the placement and receive a final grade. An Incomplete (I) will remain on the transcript for a full year, at which point it will turn into a Permanent Incomplete (PI).The PI can be changed to a grade by the instructor of record for a further full year, and for an additional year after that by filing a Request for Exception with the Graduate School. It will not automatically change to an F at any point.

B.6 Are there any changes to deadlines for graduation?

Graduate students who applied for May 2020 graduation, but who were unable to finish due to the COVID-19 restrictions, may delay graduation to August 2020 by using the Window Application Deadlines to finish during summer. This will provide about six additional weeks to complete the degree. Students who meet the Window Application Deadlines do not need to enroll and pay tuition during summer.

Spring-Summer 2020 Window Deadlines
(Must be enrolled in Spring 2020 to qualify)
Graduation Application Deadline: June 1, 2020
Thesis/Dissertation Formatting Deadline: June 5, 2020
Thesis/Dissertation Defense Deadline: June 12, 2020
Thesis/Dissertation Submission Deadline: June 19, 2020
Degree Conferral Date: August 22, 2020

Students who wish to use the Window Application Deadlines must notify the Graduate School.
Your application for May graduation will be removed, and you will need to reapply for August 2020 graduation via PAWS.
Master’s and Certificate students, email gs-graduationprocessing@uwm.edu
Doctoral students, email gs-doctoralservices@uwm.edu

All requirements for graduation remain the same. Please review the Graduate School website:
Certificate Toolbox

Master’s Toolbox

Doctoral Toolbox


B.7 Are students required to enroll in at least one credit in order to graduate?

The Graduate School waived the requirement for students to be enrolled in at least one graduate credit in order to graduate for Summer 2020. Because COVID-19 continues to impact graduate classes, research, and advising, the Graduate School is extending the waiver of the requirement to enroll in at least one graduate credit for graduation through Spring 2021, subject to eligibility criteria specified in the Extension of Emergency Graduation Enrollment Accommodation.

Other graduation requirements apply, and students will still be responsible for the usual $40 graduation fee. International students should consult the Center for International Education to review any additional requirements for summer graduation.

Please note that graduating students will still be charged tuition for summer if they:
  • Choose to enroll
  • Need to enroll to meet program requirements for graduation
  • Need to enroll in summer to show enrollment status for financial aid or continuing student loan deferment
  • You need to enroll to maintain your international student visa status

B.8 Are there any changes to the limits on time to degree for graduate students?

The emergency time clock accommodation for graduate students in degree programs allows graduate students to extend their time to degree by one year in both doctoral and master’s programs. There is no extension for the relatively long time clock for graduate certificates. The preliminary examination clock already contains provisions for a one-year extension in extenuating circumstances, which can be used for students delayed by the COVID-19 emergency. Eligibility for emergency clock extensions requires entry into a UWM graduate degree program during or before Spring 2020.


C. Graduate Student Research

C.1 How will the response to COVID-19 affect graduate student research?

UWM’s Office of Research is developing plans for reopening research facilities and guidelines for returning to field research. For more information and the latest updates, please see their COVID-19 Updates page.


D. Graduate Assistants

D.1 I am a graduate assistant. Will my stipend, tuition and health care coverage continue?

Yes, your tuition and health benefits will remain unchanged until the end of the semester if you are appointed as TA, RA or PA for Spring 2020 at appointment levels at or above 33%. The stipend will continue even for appointments that are less than 33%. You are encouraged to continue with your duties, with suitable modifications to address the COVID-19 plan. Please note that Chancellor has excluded all graduate assistants from the campus furlough plans.

D.2 I’m a Teaching Assistant. Will I still be paid if in-person classes conclude early?

TAs are not hired for a certain period of time or paid hourly. Students working as TAs will be paid the same amount even if some or all of their assigned sections end earlier than planned in the semester, provided they elect to keep their TA appointments. For more information on campus policies for employees, including TAs, see the Employment section of the campus FAQ: uwm.edu/hr/coronavirus-faq/

D.3 Can an instructor require in-person meetings of Teaching Assistants?

UWM’s classes will continue to take place online during summer 2020. The method of delivery for fall 2020 has not yet been determined. However, if UWM returns partially or completely to in-person classes, graduate students assigned to those classes will be required to teach in person. TAs who are sick, immune-compromised, or in a high-risk category should discuss possible accommodations with their advisors and graduate program directors, course leads (TAs), principal investigators (RAs), or supervisors (PAs, hourly employees). For more information on campus policies for employees, including graduate assistants, see the Employment section of the campus FAQ: uwm.edu/hr/coronavirus-faq/

D.4 I’m a Research Assistant or Project Assistant but I feel uncomfortable coming to campus to work when CDC recommends social distancing. What should I do?

Some essential operations may require employees including research assistants and project assistants to come to campus, but in most cases graduate assistants should consult with their supervisors to arrange to work remotely if possible. For example, graduate student RAs and PAs may be able to work from home by shifting their work to activities such as analyzing data, writing papers, modelling, or editing documents. As research facilities reopen, they will follow a Safe Operations Plan as outlined by the Office of Research, which may include additional cleaning procedures, additional social distancing requirements, and limitations on access and occupancy. We encourage supervisors and PIs to meet with RAs and PAs by video or telephone whenever possible. For more information on the safe return to research for RAs and others, see the Office of Research COVID-19 Updates. For more information on campus policies for employees, including project assistants, see the Employment section of the campus FAQ: uwm.edu/hr/coronavirus-faq/

D.5 What are the provisions for leave for graduate assistants such as TAs, PAs, and RAs, and for student hourly employees?

Graduate PAs, RAs, and TAs are eligible for leave by the terms of UW-System’s Interim COVID-19 Leave Policy issued March 17, 2020 and effective until December 31, 2020. Graduate assistants are eligible for up to 80 hours of leave. Unfortunately student hourly employees are not eligible for this form of leave.

E. Housing | Travel | Health | Technology

E.1 If I plan to live in university housing, what will happen in fall semester?

University Housing will not make decisions about fall semester until the nature of fall instruction has been determined. For more information on student housing, see the campus Housing FAQ and the University Housing COVID-19 Information page.


E.2 Will graduate students be reimbursed for travel that was changed or cancelled due to Coronavirus?

All upcoming university-sponsored travel for students is being canceled through June 30. If you already purchased tickets and reserved accommodations, cancel them urgently and try to recover as much of the cost as possible. Change the dates if the purpose of your travel can be postponed safely. UW System will not be rejecting expense reports because they have change fees on tickets due to Coronavirus. Tickets cancelled due to Coronavirus are a reimbursable expense. For more information on travel, see the campus Travel FAQ.

E.3 I’m concerned about my physical or mental health during this stressful time. Where should I go?

All graduate students have access to physical and mental health services through Norris Health Center. For more information about services there, see uwm.edu/norris/about-norris/faq/ Take care of yourselves, everyone!

F. Miscellaneous Student Questions

F.1 How do I access emergency funding through the federal CARES program or from other campus sources?

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress includes money to help students who are struggling with expenses such as food, housing, course materials, laptops and technology, health care and child care. UWM received nearly $8.5 million through the CARES Act. Students can apply for CARES Act funding through the Dean of Students office. All applications received by May 12 will be considered. Applications received after May 12 will be considered on a rolling basis until funding runs out.

The Dean of Students also is administering an Emergency Grant with limited funding to help cover expenses for unforeseen emergencies, including hardships that result from the COVID-19 pandemic. These Emergency Grants are available to both undergraduate and graduate students.

Those interested in supporting students may contribute to the UWM Student Emergency Fund. Thank you for your generosity.

F.2 I’m an international student. Can I go home?

Yes. If you do not want to or cannot go home, you can stay in the US and complete the semester from the US. If you do go home, please be advised that if your visa is expired, you will need to apply for a new visa for reentry. Contact the Center for International Education for more details at isss@uwm.edu, or call 414-229-4846 to schedule an appointment.

F.3 Can I temporarily suspend pursuing my degree due to certain COVID-19 related life events?

Yes. The University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee (UWM) Graduate School’s Academic Leave of Absence (ALA) policy allows graduate students to temporarily suspend pursuit of their degree goals in order to take care of certain life events. The policy may be most useful for dissertators subject to the continuous registration requirement, but it can stop the clock on time limit to degree for all students in doctoral, master’s, and certificate programs. The main goal of the ALA policy is to facilitate retention to graduation, without unduly prolonging time to degree. This is a temporary emergency policy to address expected increased need for leave during and after the COVID-19 crisis. This policy will expire at the end of the academic year in spring 2021 unless the Graduate Faculty Committee extends it or approves a permanent version of the policy.

Additional Links To Campus FAQs and Resources

Latest UWM Campus COVID-19 Information and FAQs (Includes sections for: Academics, Facilities, Cleaning, Coronavirus Health Details, Employees, Student Housing, Study Abroad, and Travel)

Center for Teaching and Learning

Center for International Education COVID-19 information

Contribute to the UWM Student Emergency Fund

COVID-19 Student Support Resources

Disabilities and Accommodations FAQ

Guide to Working Remotely

Office of Sponsored Programs Updates

Spring Graduation Updates

UWM Libraries Coronavirus Update

EXPERIENCE virtUal REC

UW-System COVID-19 Resources

Virtual Student Union

Writing Center