UWM Graduate School Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information

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.


A message from the Dean of the Graduate School

April 03, 2020

Dear Graduate Students and Graduate Assistants,

This is my fourth weekly letter since we started social distancing, and we already know that I will write at least four additional letters in April. You had your first week of courses offered through distant learning. Did you acquire additional advanced knowledge? Did you create new knowledge? How was your experience? Those of you who are graduate teaching assistants also got to provide instructions online. Before the COVID-19 emergency we had approximately 11,000 of our students in online classes, provided by large fraction of our faculty and academic staff, and backed up by amazing colleagues in the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL). Our reputation as one of the leaders in online public higher education enabled the massive shift to distance learning during the extended spring break. Many universities had to hire third party for-profit providers of online courses. I am proud of our creative and resourceful teachers and learners that did it all in house!

This week’s Chronicle of Higher Education wrote about graduate students being forgotten during the early weeks of the Coronavirus responses. While reading this article I felt good that we created and implemented many of the proposed measures in a timely manner and on our own initiative. Please remain assured in the unwavering commitment of the Graduate School, and our academic partners, to your health and well-being.

This week we worked intensively with the University Committee, the Academic Staff Committee, and the Provost and Chancellor, to pass two emergency graduate accommodation policies, one on grades and the other on the degree time clock. We also introduced a waiver of the graduation enrollment requirement for summer graduation. The window for Spring and Summer graduations is open; please keep your graduation goals alive. If you need to do a late drop, the deadline is April 12. These policies, and other updates are addressed in the Frequently Asked Questions for Graduate Students and Programs that are posted below. Here are the highlights of this week’s changes:

Updated: 04-03-2020 4:15 pm

EMERGENCY TIME CLOCK ACCOMMODATION
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. 

EMERGENCY GRADING ACCOMMODATION
The interim policy on emergency grading accommodation for graduate students allows students to take as many of their eligible spring 2020 courses as they would like with the Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) option. This applies both to courses with letter grades and to courses with S/U grades. Students will be able to change to the CR/NC option after final grades have been given. Students who earn a C- or better in a course may receive a grade of CR for the course.  A D+ or lower letter grade and U grade may be replaced to NC.

DROP DEADLINE
The final deadline to drop courses will be pushed back one week to Sunday, April 12 at 11:59 pm for both graduate and undergraduate students. Those who withdraw before that date will receive a W on their transcript for the dropped courses. See UWM’s Academics/Classes FAQ for more information.

WAIVER OF GRADUATION ENROLLMENT REQUIREMENT
For the Summer 2020 semester, the Graduate School will allow a one-time waiver of the graduation enrollment requirement for all graduate students, including doctoral dissertators, who apply for summer graduation. No formal request is needed. Students must still have the required number of credits needed to graduate from their program, must have an overall minimum 3.00 GPA, and can have no incomplete or unreported grades.

At the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee we are doing our utmost to ensure the well-being of our campus community while maintaining the essential graduate education and research functions of our institution. As scholars, researchers, and members of our UWM and global community, you each have a role to play in our collective efforts to reduce the possibility of spreading COVID-19, and we thank you for your cooperation and partnership.

Stay healthy and safe!

Sincerely,

Marija Gajdardziska – Josifovska, PhD
Dean of Graduate School
Professor of Physics

For up to date coronavirus (Covid-19) information and what is happening at UWM, please see our university coronavirus page.

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

Updated April 1, 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?

All remaining spring recruitment events have been cancelled in the USA and in India.

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

The UWM Graduate School campus tours are cancelled for the rest of spring semester.

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

Applications and admissions will continue as usual without interruptions as long as there is no campus shutdown. 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.

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?

Applicants who cannot submit TOEFL, IELTS, CAE, or CPE test scores due to lack of access to a testing facility qualify for Conditional Admission. Students admitted conditionally must complete a placement assessment during the week before classes begin, if possible. The Center for International Education may develop additional accommodations within the Conditional Admission process, and for cases where Conditional Admission is not appropriate. More information will be provided as it becomes available. See uwm.edu/graduateschool/english-proficiency/

B. Classes | Exams | Defenses

B.1 How will Graduate student classes be handled?

The Academic Continuity plan describes changes to course delivery. Where possible, UWM will move all classes, including graduate student classes, to online formats after the end of the extended spring break until the end of spring semester.

B.2 Are existing online classes also expected to observe the second week of the extended spring break?

Yes. Online classes also will observe two weeks of spring break.

B.3 I have an exam that is scheduled between March 16 and the end of the semester. Will this exam take place?

Course exams should take place as scheduled, unless scheduled for the second week of the extended spring break, in which case they are expected to be postponed. Qualifying exams are often scheduled for breaks and are likely to take place if your program can make arrangements to practice appropriate social distancing. Oral prelims should take place remotely by telephone or video, as appropriate, and also may be postponed. Due to UWM’s current recommendation to move as many activities as possible off campus, exams during spring semester should not be held in person.

B.4 I had planned to defend my dissertation soon. What should I do?

We encourage all students to defend their dissertations as planned during the spring, including defenses scheduled during the period of March 16 through April 10, 2020. Consult with Doctoral Retention Advisor Shane Haensgen or your Graduate Program Director if you are in this situation.

B.5 Can a student or members of a doctoral or master’s defense committee participate in the examination remotely?

Yes. The Dean of the Graduate School has delegated responsibility to the Doctoral Retention Advisor Shane Haensgen to approve alternative modalities for the defense through the end of the semester. All dissertation defenses scheduled for spring semester should be conducted remotely by telephone or video. As the COVID-19 situation evolves, approvals for online defenses may be extended beyond spring semester.

B.6 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.7 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 should 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.8 Are there any changes to deadlines for spring graduation?

Master’s and doctoral students who have applied for May 2020 graduation are still strongly encouraged to finish degree requirements this semester if possible. Graduate students who applied for May 2020 graduation, but who can no longer 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.9 Are students whose graduation has been delayed until summer required to enroll in summer?

No. For the Summer 2020 semester, the Graduate School will allow a one-time waiver of the graduation enrollment requirement for all graduate students, including doctoral dissertators, who apply for summer graduation. No formal request is needed. Students must still have the required number of credits needed to graduate from their program, must have an overall minimum 3.00 GPA, and can have no incomplete or unreported grades.

B.10 Are there any changes to the deadlines for dropping courses?

The final deadline to drop courses will be pushed back one week to Sunday, April 12 at 11:59 pm for both graduate and undergraduate students. Those who withdraw before that date will receive a W on their transcript for the dropped courses. See UWM’s Academics/Classes FAQ for more information.

B.11 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.

B.12 Are there any emergency accommodations regarding grades?

The interim policy on emergency grading accommodation for graduate students allows students to take as many of their eligible spring 2020 courses as they would like with the Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) option. This applies both to courses with letter grades and to courses with S/U grades. Students will be able to change to the CR/NC option after final grades have been given. Schools/colleges should apply this emergency policy as liberally as they can, but should make decisions on courses that are ineligible for the CR/NC option in compliance with program standards and requirements of accreditation and licensing boards. By April 14, 2020, the home school, college, department or program can identify key courses as ineligible for CR/NC by this emergency policy.

All enrolled graduate students will receive a letter grade or S/U grade in each spring 2020 course by the grade deadline of May 21, 2020. Students will have until July 3, 2020 to exercise their option to change an eligible spring 2020 course to a CR/NC basis. Students who earn a C- or better in a course may receive a grade of CR for the course. Students will exercise their option to change to CR/NC by completing a downloaded form and submitting it to the Graduate School as an email attachment sent from their UWM email account. Students should consult their graduate program directors or major faculty advisors with questions about grading expectations in their scholarly and professional disciplines.


C. Graduate Student Research

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

In light of the March 17th restrictions to campus facilities, it is advised to suspend or ramp down all ongoing research requiring campus facilities as soon as possible and to prepare for various possible scenarios, including a shutdown of many of our research facilities and reduction of personnel to those essential for operations. Please see the following link for more details on current recommendations. uwm.edu/officeofresearch/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-updates-related-to-sponsored-programs

In addition, the Graduate School and Office of Research had previously prepared the following Research Checklist of actions to consider in planning for possible disruption resulting from a COVID-19 outbreak. These steps are included in the campus academic continuity plan: uwm.edu/academicaffairs/planning/academic-continuity/
  1. Identify emergency personnel who are essential to the operation of your laboratory and make sure that they know what to do in the event of suspended operations. All students who conduct experimental or computational research should know the name of their emergency contact personnel.

  2. Review your communication plan and remind lab personnel of who is in the notification chain. Create a plan if you do not have one. Be sure that you have a list of all lab personnel and their current contact information, including all students.

  3. Identify priorities in case of restricted access. You should discuss how work should be handled if some personnel and students are unable to come to work. Discuss expectations with graduate research assistants about lab work on days when in-person classes are cancelled.

  4. Ensure remote access to files, data, servers, etc. Check that all members of your research team who might need to work remotely have access to computers that are able to connect to research files and data sets, research literature and meeting software (such as Microsoft Teams).

  5. Depending on the nature of your research, consider prioritizing work that has to be done in the lab and delay work that can be done remotely, such as data analysis. Freeze samples as you proceed if feasible.

  6. Contact your funding agency Project Officer to learn what to do if you believe that you will not be able to meet a grant deadline or need special assistance to do so.

  7. Check the University travel restrictions before planning any research-related travel.

  8. Contact the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP), the Institutional Review Board (IRB) and the Animal Resource Center (ARC) if you have any specific questions relating to grants management, human subjects research or research with animals.

  9. Contact the Graduate School (GS) and the Center for International Education (CIE) if delays in research and travel cause changes to your graduate milestones, including graduation.


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 in the next four weeks 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. The UW-System’s Interim COVID-19 Leave Policy issued March 17, 2020, establishes further provisions for leave for employees, including graduate assistants.

D.2 I’m a Teaching Assistant this semester. Will I be paid for weeks when the class is cancelled, such as the additional week of spring break, or if a course ends early?

TAs are hired to teach discussions, labs and some classes. They are not hired for a certain period of time or paid hourly. They will be paid the same amount even with the extended spring break and if some or all of their assigned sections are truncated, 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?

Recent campus guidance from March 17, 2020 requires all who can work remotely to do so, including graduate assistants. Instructors should not require TAs to come to campus for meetings with the instructor. Please let your programs know if you get sick, if you are immune-compromised or if you have other individual circumstances that should be discussed with your advisor and graduate program director (all), course lead (TAs), principal investigator (RAs), or supervisor (PA, hourly). 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 graduate assistants to come to campus, but in most cases graduate assistants should consult with their supervisors to arrange to work remotely. 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. We encourage supervisors and PIs to meet with RAs and PAs by video or telephone whenever possible. 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.5 What are the provisions for leave for graduate assistants such as TAs, PAs, and RAs, and for student hourly employees?

Graduate PAs, PAs, and TAs are eligible for leave by the terms of UW-System’s Interim COVID-19 Leave Policy issued March 17, 2020. Unfortunately student hourly employees are not eligible for leave. UWM will respect students’ decisions not to work during the extended break and beyond, with appropriate changes in compensation.

E. Housing | Travel | Health | Technology

E.1 If I live in university housing, what will happen?

UWM student housing will be closing, and residents will be asked to move out. Residents who need to remain in University Housing during spring 2020 can apply to stay by completing a COVID-19 Accommodation Request. For more information on student housing, see the campus Housing FAQ and the University Housing Covid-19 Information page. Please note that even though some buildings such as Kenilworth may remain open, students who need to remain there still must apply by submitting an Accommodation Request.

UW-System also has announced that students who vacate student housing will be refunded prorated charges for housing and dining for the remainder of spring semester.

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 the end of the semester. 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 Are there any sources of emergency funding for graduate students facing financial hardships during the Coronavirus crisis?

Yes, the Dean of Students will be 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. For more information see the Emergency Grants page on the Dean of Students website. Those interesting 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.

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

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

UW-System COVID-19 Resources

Writing Center