UWM Graduate School Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

In order to be socially responsible in dealing with COVID-19, the Graduate School’s physical office in Mitchell Hall, room 261, is now open during the following limited hours:

  • Monday 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
  • Thursday 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Please practice social distancing, wear a mask, and follow the instructional signs when visiting us. In addition to our physical office hours, the Graduate School functions are still being performed virtually and we are here to support you. If you have questions or need assistance you can contact us through email at: gradschool-staff@uwm.edu. Or set up an appointment with us at: uwm.edu/graduateschool/request-an-appointment/


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.

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

Updated February 1, 2021

This FAQ communication builds on the Campus COVID-19 Academic Continuity Plan and expands it to address emerging questions specific to graduate education. Please also see UWM’s Campus Reopening website for additional information about the 2020-21 academic year.

A. Recruitment | Applications | Admissions

A.1 Will graduate recruitment continue as before?

The Graduate School will be recruiting virtually in the fall at graduate school fairs held by universities across the country.


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

The Graduate School plans to resume limited campus tours at the beginning of the fall semester. When they are scheduled, tour registration will be made available on our Graduate School Visit webpage. You may also explore campus with our virtual tour.


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

Applications and admissions will continue as usual without interruptions. The office functions will be performed under limited hours (M, T, and Th from 10 am to 2 pm) with limited staff members. The Graduate Education office will primarily remain virtual and will be able to assist Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. via email at: gradschool-staff@uwm.edu, through a private Microsoft Teams chat at UWM Graduate School Appointments, or phone (414-229-6569).


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. The GRE General Test from Home is available from home in selected areas. The GMAT Online may also be available. Contact test providers for more details.


A.5 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.


A.6 Can programs temporarily waive program-level admissions requirements?

The Graduate Faculty Committee initially authorized programs to temporarily waive program-specific admissions requirements because of COVID-19 for applications for enrollment up to Spring 2021. GFC has now renewed that authorization with this provision: “Graduate programs will have the right to waive any program‐specific admissions requirements temporarily because of challenges created by COVID‐19. Programs may waive their program‐specific admissions requirements for applicants submitting applications for Spring, Summer, and Fall 2022 enrollment. After that, programs will return to their normal admissions requirements unless governance has approved another extension or permanent revisions.


B. Classes | Exams | Defenses

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

Fall classes will be offered online, face-to-face, and in hybrid forms that combine both online and remote learning. The UWM course catalog will indicate the delivery method of each class. For face-to-face and hybrid classes, instructors, program staff, and the managers of facilities will institute detailed safety measures, including limits on class size, distancing within classrooms, frequent cleaning, and required masks in all campus buildings. For more information, see UWM’s Campus Reopening website. For specific information about your classes, check with your program.


B.2 I had planned to defend my dissertation in 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 have questions about your timeline. The Graduate School encourages students and their advisors to discuss the possible impact of Covid-19 on research progress as early as possible. 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 if they do not have Teams they 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 because of COVID-19?

Students will not have to re-enroll for credit and pay tuition for these activities again if they received a grade of Incomplete. Campus instructors should issue grades of “Incomplete” for students who have made sufficient progress, and coordinate with off-campus partners later 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. At the graduate level, it will not automatically change to an F at any point.

For 2020-21, students who intended to graduate at the end of a semester but who were delayed because of Covid-related interruptions to their internships or field placements can take advantage an additional accommodation. With confirmation from the Department (written on the graduation application or emailed to the graduation examiner), if a student had no choice in the placement ending date, the placement may end after the semester but before the first day of the next term and the student will still graduate for the application term. For example, students who apply to graduate in Spring 2021 but who cannot finish a placement by the end of the semester will have until June 25, 2021 to complete the placement and receive a final grade. Under those circumstances, they will still graduate in May.

However, if the student finishes the placement on/after the *first day of the next term, graduation must move to the next term, but registration will be waived.

*For Spring and Fall, “first day of the term” is the first day of classes. For Summer, “first day of the term” will be the first day of the 8-week session. First day of classes, and last day of the term dates are indicated on the Registrar’s Calendar. Last day of the term is the same as the conferral date.


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

Graduate students who applied for May 2021 graduation, but who were unable to finish due to the COVID-19 restrictions, may delay graduation to August 2021 by using the Window Graduation Deadlines to finish before the start of the regular 8-week summer session. This will provide several additional weeks to complete the degree. Students who meet the Window Graduation Deadlines do not need to enroll and pay tuition during summer.

Spring 2021-Summer 2021 Window Deadlines
Graduation Application Deadline: June 1, 2021
Thesis/Dissertation Formatting Deadline: June 11, 2021
Thesis/Dissertation Defense Deadline: June 18, 2021
Thesis/Dissertation Submission Deadline: June 25, 2021
Degree Conferral Date: August 28, 2021

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 graduation via PAWS.

Master’s and Certificate students: gs-graduationprocessing@uwm.edu
Doctoral students: gs-doctoralservices@uwm.edu

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


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

The Graduate School will waive the requirement to enroll in at least one graduate credit for graduation for Spring 2021 and Summer 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
  • 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?

Research at all levels has been impacted by necessary limitations on travel and occupancy levels of facilities, and by the availability of personal protective equipment. 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 Reopening Research at UWM page.


D. Graduate Assistants

D.1 Are graduate students required to take furlough days

The Chancellor has excluded all graduate assistants from the campus furloughs.


D.2 Will Teaching Assistants have to teach in person in face-to-face or hybrid classes?

In fall 2020, UWM’s classes will take place in a mix of online, hybrid and face-to-face formats. Because large classes will meet online, many TAs assisting in large lecture courses will work entirely online. Many other smaller courses have moved online too. However, many courses cannot be moved entirely online, and teaching assistants in those classes may be required to provide in face-to-face instruction or to meet in person on campus. TAs who are sick, immune-compromised, or in a high-risk category and who are assigned to face-to-face teaching should discuss possible accommodations with their course leads, advisors, program directors, or other supervisors. TAs who face other obstacles to face-to-face work, such as childcare conflicts because of school closures, also should discuss possible accommodations with their supervisors. For more information on campus policies for student employees including graduate assistants, see the Employment section of the Campus FAQ. See also the Human Resources Coronavirus FAQ. For more information about leave provisions for graduate student employees, see the question about leave policies below.


D.3 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?

UWM’s Office of Research has developed procedures for the safe return to limited research activities. See their Covid-19 Research Guidance and Resources page for more information on safety provisions, permitted forms of on-campus research, and necessary steps for reopening research labs and spaces. Research assistants may be required to work on campus as research facilities reopen. RAs or PAs who are sick, immune-compromised, or in a high-risk category should discuss possible accommodations with their supervisors. We encourage supervisors and PIs to meet with RAs and PAs by video or telephone whenever possible. For more information on campus policies for student employees including graduate assistants, see the Employment section of the Campus FAQ. See also the Human Resources Coronavirus FAQ.


D.4 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. Student hourly employees are not eligible for this form of leave. Other forms of unpaid leave also may be available, such as those provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).


D.5 Are there any policies or guidelines regarding the requirements to receive the COVID-19 vaccine shot for Graduate Assistants?

UW System has indicated they are not requiring vaccinations for students or employees, which would include graduate assistants. Since vaccination status is a medical item, UWM is not permitted to ask employees their vaccination status except for very specific purposes, e.g., for an employee to gain exemption from the UW-System COVID-19 testing requirement.

Students, faculty, and staff who are fully vaccinated and do not have symptoms of COVID-19, no longer have to be tested on campus once they receive an exemption by completing this form. Otherwise, UWM’s current policy requires COVID-19 testing every other week for students, faculty and staff who come to a UWM campus at least once per week. Milwaukee campus students living in residence halls must be tested weekly.


E. Housing | Travel | Health | Technology

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

For more information on student housing, see the University Housing website, including the University Housing COVID-19 Information page.


E.2 What can the Graduate School’s Travel Awards be used for while travel is restricted due to COVID-19?

The restrictions on non-essential university-sponsored travel have been modified starting July 1, 2021. Domestic travel, including travel for graduate students, is permitted again for all locations in the U.S. and all U.S. Territories. International travel remains restricted, but exceptions may be granted for essential international travel that is critical to UWM’s mission and cannot be rescheduled. It is unlikely that the kinds of international travel that the Graduate School’s Travel Awards support will be approved as essential. Any applications for Travel Awards funding international travel must be accompanied by an approved UWM Travel Exception Form.

Even though domestic travel is now permitted, we expect that many conferences and conference participants will continue to meet virtually. Students may apply for virtual travel assistance from the Graduate School by submitting a Graduate Student Travel Award Application. This can include reimbursement for virtual conference registration fees for students who are presenting at the conference. Students must include proof that they are presenting in the Graduate Student Travel Award Application.

The Graduate Student Travel Award Application is also available by clicking on Graduate Student Travel on our funding webpage: uwm.edu/graduateschool/types-of-funding/

Please email gs-studenttravel@uwm.edu for question and assistance. For more information on travel and updates, 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 for students?

The Dean of Students administers Emergency Grants 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.
The Dean of Students also administers the Graduate School’s Graduate Diversity and Inclusion Emergency Awards, available to qualifying under-represented, minority, and first-generation graduate students. Qualifying students who apply for Emergency Grants at the above link will automatically be considered for these awards.

Please consider contributing to the UWM Student Emergency Fund, which supports these Emergency Grants. Thank you for your generosity.


F.2 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.


F.3 Why am I being charged seg fees if I am an online student?

In Fall 2020, seg fees were lowered, and now all students, including online, are charged seg fees on some courses. Some online courses that are “Fee in Lieu of Tuition” (FILT) classes are still not charged seg fees. These will have the designation “LIEU” in the schedule of classes. There are now services available to online students who are paying seg fees.


Additional Links to Campus FAQs and Resources