COVID-19 FAQ for Graduate Education

UConn Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

The worldwide pandemic involving COVID-19 (coronavirus) has produced unprecedented challenges in the UConn community and around the world. These unusual circumstances create significant uncertainty and unease in the professional and personal lives of our students, employees, alumni, and others throughout UConn Nation.

The latest official guidance and updates on UConn’s response to COVID-19 and itsm impact on the university community is being provided in real time at https://uconn.edu/public-notification/coronavirus/.

COVID-19 FAQ for Graduate Education

Last Updated: April 8, 2020

The Graduate School has developed this webpage with answers to frequently asked questions which may help as we all chart this uncertain territory. As everything is these days, these questions and answers are fluid and changing. We will update them daily with timely and accurate information.

If you have further or different questions, please email gradschool@uconn.edu and we will work to answer you directly and shape our page to assist others.


Prospective Students

How can I check the status of my application?

To check the status of your application, login to the application portal.

What do I do if I am having difficulty submitting my tests scores?

If you are having trouble sending your test scores to us, please contact us at gradadmissions@uconn.edu for more information.

Are information session or visit days which have been advertised as taking place on campus still happening?

In person information session or visit days are not happening on campus, but we advise you to contact event coordinators to determine whether sessions are being offered in a virtual format.  Faculty and staff may also arrange one-on-one conversations with individual students using Skype, Zoom, or similar technology.

I am unable to schedule an in person date to take a test of English proficiency. Are online options available?

Yes, online options are available for providing proof of English proficiency. The Graduate School now accepts the Duolingo English Test, and ETS is temporarily offering an online testing option.

ETS is temporarily offering the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition test in selected areas. The test is identical in content, format and on-screen experience to the TOEFL iBT test taken at a test center. It is taken on your own computer at home and is monitored by a human proctor online through ProctorU®. More information can be found on the ETS website for TOEFL at Home.

The Graduate School now accepts the Duolingo English Test in March 2020 as proof of English proficiency. Duolingo allows any student with access to a computer and a webcam to test their English proficiency. This test is accepted by over 500 institutions, and results are available within two days.

I am unable to schedule an in person date to take the GRE or GMAT test. Is an online option available?

ETS is temporarily offering a GRE General Test at home option in selected areas. The test is identical in content, format and on-screen experience to the GRE General Test taken at a test center. It is taken on your own computer at home and is monitored by a human proctor online through ProctorU®.  More information can be found on the ETS website for GRE at Home.
GMAT testing is scheduled to be online by mid April.  More information can be found at https://www.mba.com/articles-and-announcements/announcements/update-on-coronavirus.

If I apply for Summer or Fall 2020 and the University is still closed, will I still be able to start my coursework?

Some programs are developing options that may allow students to complete some or all of their coursework in Summer and Fall 2020 remotely. We suggest that you contact your individual program to determine whether remote coursework will be an option.

Are graduate applications still being considered for Summer and Fall 2020?

Yes, applications are still being reviewed and admission decisions are still being processed

I applied to my graduate program for a term I am no longer interested in. What are my options?

For prospective students facing this difficult dilemma, The Graduate School has 2 options:

  • You may defer your admission up to 1 full academic year from when your application was submitted.
  • Withdraw your application from consideration.

A request of a deferral or an application withdrawal should be made through the Accounts & Forms area of your Application Status page prior to either the first day of the semester or the start date of the student’s GA appointment and no later than the tenth day of the semester. Please review the Schedules of Classes for your admitted term.  Confirmation will be sent to you once The Graduate School processes your request.


Admitted Students

What options do I have if I will not be able to arrive on campus in time for Fall Semester 2020?

The Graduate School generally does not allow late arrivals, but we recognize that these extraordinary circumstances may require some exceptions. Please check this page frequently for updates.

Can I defer my admission to a later semester and begin my studies at a later time?

Maybe. The program to which you have been admitted must recommend deferral to The Graduate School. If you decide to request a deferral, please do so before classes begin. If you do so after classes begin, you will be required to verify that you have not attended classes.

If my embassy is closed and I cannot get a visa appointment, what should I do?

You may need to consider deferring admission to a later semester. Contact your program to determine whether they will recommend a deferral and whether there might be options that would allow you to begin your study remotely.

I have already submitted my official transcripts to the Graduate School’s Admissions Office.  Why does my application checklist list my official transcript(s) with a status of “Awaiting?” 

After you have accepted the offer of admission within your admission application, an official transcript line is added automatically to your application checklist for each school that you had listed when you submitted the application. At this time, The Graduate School’s Admissions Office staff is working remotely so the receipt of your transcripts will be delayed.

In the meantime, although you may choose to send us your official documents, the Official Transcript item(s) within your application checklist will continue to appear as “Awaiting” until we review the documents we have received, and updating checklists accordingly. As stated above, this process will experience a delay.

I am an international student, and I have many questions about my immigration and I-20 status. Where can I find this information?

Please follow the news feed on the International Students and Scholar Services website for more up to date information affecting international students and scholars, and refer to their frequently asked questions for information related specifically to COVID-19.

I am no longer interested in starting my studies in the term I was admitted to. What are my options?

For incoming admitted students facing this difficult dilemma, The Graduate School has 2 options:

  • With approval from your admitted program, you may defer your admission up to 1 full academic year from when your application was submitted.
  • Withdraw your application from consideration.

A request of a deferral or an application withdrawal should be made through the Accounts & Forms area of your Application Status page prior to either the first day of the semester or the start date of the student’s GA appointment and no later than the tenth day of the semester. Please review the Schedules of Classes for your admitted term.  Confirmation will be sent to you once The Graduate School processes your request.

I am an incoming student in an on-campus program, and I will not be able to arrive on time for the start of the semester I was admitted to. What should I do?

For incoming students facing this difficult dilemma, The Graduate School has 3 options:

  • With approval from your admitted program, you may defer your admission up to 1 full academic year from when your application was submitted.
  • Withdraw your application from consideration.
  • Request a late arrival. (A form to request approval of a late arrival for incoming students to Fall 2020 will be available starting June 2020.)

A request of a deferral, application withdrawal, or a late arrival should be made through the Accounts & Forms area of your Application Status page prior to either the first day of the semester or the start date of the student’s GA appointment and no later than the tenth day of the semester. Please review the Schedules of Classes for your admitted term.  Confirmation will be sent to you once The Graduate School processes your request.


Current Students

Can graduate students return to their home countries?

International graduate students should consult their ISSS advisor before returning home. Travel restrictions change frequently, and a graduate student who travels outside the United States may face difficulties returning whether or not they currently hold a visa that allows re-entry. The benefits of returning to their home country must be carefully weighed against the risk of a delayed return. Graduate students unable to return to the United States before the beginning of the fall semester might be required to take a leave of absence from graduate studies and to forgo support from a TA or an RA until Spring 2021 or later.

If I have plans to travel over the summer for academic or research purposes, what should I do moving forward?

All University-sponsored out-of-state travel has been suspended indefinitely. This includes research-related travel of faculty and students. Graduate students should contact Dean Holsinger (kent.holsinger@uconn.edu) if they believe they may qualify for an exception to the policy. Please refer to the University’s Travel Suspension FAQs for more information.

Can I change my courses to Pass/Fail based on the new online format or is an Incomplete possible if I need it? What are the options?

Pass/Fail is not an option for graduate students in either graduate or undergraduate courses. However, we anticipate that there will be an increased need for other academic flexibilities, such as incompletes, late drops of individual classes, and adjusted dismissal standards.

If you have been submitting passing quality work and may need time beyond the end of the semester to finish your coursework, you can ask your instructor to give you an Incomplete. You will need to develop a plan and timeline for finishing which your instructor needs to approve. See the Graduate Catalog-Academic Regulations for more information regarding Incompletes. If despite reasonable adjustments, dropping a class seems to be the best option, please know that we will consider schedule revisions even if they occur after the posted deadline of March 30.

The Graduate School will not consider Incomplete grades or individual dropped courses for the Spring 2020 in determining any graduate student’s academic standing at this point or in determining the student’s eligibility for a graduate assistantship in Fall 2020.

This situation has had an unexpected impact on my finances. What resources are available to me?

Short Term Loans are available for graduate students through the Graduate Student Senate.

The Students First Fund  allows students to request help after unforeseen misfortunes have occurred (e.g., fire, accident, illness). Funds may be used to pay expenses; to provide a student with assistance during a time of need (e.g. books; clothing; food), and/or to cover other reasonable and typical expenses as would be appropriate in times of loss.

I live off campus and I am having a hard time accessing food resources for different reasons. What resources are available to me?

If you are unable to purchase or access enough food for yourself and your family, your local community may provide assistance to residents in need. You can find a listing of local food banks here (make sure to call ahead, as some are modifying hours and operations during the pandemic).

What health and wellness resources are available to me?

The Medical Care team is a health resource for students. UConn students, including those on our regional campuses, may speak to a nurse with health questions related to COVID-19 by calling 860-486-8987 during SHaW's regular business hours. Messages will be returned within one business day.

The Mental Health team is also a resource for students. Please visit their website for tips and resources for self-care as well as information about meeting with a staff member.

With on-campus research now being suspended, what happens to the research for my thesis or dissertation?

To the extent possible, students should continue any part of their thesis research that can be conducted remotely, such as literature reviews, data analysis, and writing/revising.  In lieu of in-person meetings with thesis advisors, students should arrange virtual meetings.  Please consult with Academic IT (avt@uconn.edu) if you need assistance in choosing a technology option for virtual meetings. 

We realize, however, that despite these efforts to continue research remotely, some components of thesis research may simply have to be put on hold until on-campus restrictions are lifted.  You should work with your advisor to determine what progress you can, and cannot, reasonably make during this time, given those restrictions.  The inability to make the same progress as originally anticipated this semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic should not affect your grade for research credits such as GRAD 5950 or 6950.

For additional resources, visit our page of advice for faculty and students Coping with the Suspension of Many Research Activities. This page addresses such topics as: "What should graduate students do for the rest of the spring semester?" and "What should students do if “normal” research activities don’t resume in Summer 2020?" This resource also includes guidance graduate students may find useful as they develop contingency plans.

I am an international student, and I have many questions about my immigration and I-20 status. Where can I find this information?

Please follow the news feed on the International Students and Scholar Services website for more up to date information affecting international students and scholars, and refer to their frequently asked questions for information related specifically to COVID-19.

I will not be able to arrive on time for the start of the semester for my on-campus program. What should I do?

For current students in on-campus programs facing this difficult dilemma, The Graduate School has 3 options:

  • Request a late arrival. (A separate form to request approval of a late arrival for current students to Fall 2020 will be available in June 2020.)
  • Request an academic leave of absence.
  • Request to discontinue your program. Please refer to this infographic for more information.

A request for a late arrival should be made prior to either the first day of the semester or the start date of the student’s GA appointment and no later than the tenth day of the semester. Requests for academic leave or discontinuation must be made through the Voluntary Separation Notification (VSN) form.

GAs and TAs

How do recent COVID-19 policies impact graduate students on GA/TA/RA appointments?

Graduate assistants are expected to continue to perform the activities associated with their appointment. They will continue to get paid as usual.

Teaching assistants are expected to continue to support the courses to which they were assigned. The nature and timing of the support will be different for the remainder of Spring Semester, since lecture courses will be offered remotely and laboratory or other experiential courses will be substantially modified.

Research assistants are expected to continue work on their projects, but to the extent possible they should work remotely and they should work with their research supervisor to implement practices that minimize their time on campus and their contact with other individuals when they are on campus. As noted in guidance from the Office of the Vice President for Research on March 17, researchers are expected to ramp down research activities and follow CDC guidelines to reduce COVID-19 exposure and spread. Research supervisors are expected to make accommodations for the health and well-being of all members of their research groups. Updates and additional guidance on research is available at https://ovpr.uconn.edu/. Updates and additional guidance from human resources is available at https://uconn.edu/public-notification/coronavirus/covid-19-human-resources/

Graduate students spend only a small portion of their time in in-person classes. How is the rest of their activity affected by recent COVID-19 policies?

The University encourages all members of the community to work remotely to the extent possible. The next several weeks are an opportunity to analyze data that have already been collected, conduct literature reviews that have been sitting on the shelf, write up parts of dissertations or theses where analyses are complete, participate in virtual writing groups, and similar activities. The University also recognizes that many graduate students may need to use specialized equipment or reagents, to care for research animals, to maintain cell lines or cultures, or engage in other activities that require them to be present on campus. We urge you to work closely with all other members of your research group to arrange schedules in ways that minimize person-to-person contact.

As a Graduate Assistant, I have not completed my state mandated Diversity Awareness and Sexual Harassment Prevention Training and my deadline to complete is coming up or has passed. What should I do and how will it impact my employment or GA term?

Scheduled in-person trainings have been cancelled. All state-mandated training cancellations due to COVID-19 related matters will not affect current deadlines associated with employment and graduate assistant terms.  At this point, you do not need to do anything. More information  will be forthcoming once it is known.

Can TAs work from home countries, or does “home” mean their local home?

TAs should be allowed to work remotely, provided that they can provide the support expected of them from the location where they choose to work. It is reasonable to expect that they remain in the general area to allow for in-person meetings or on campus duties associated with their assignment. It is required is that they perform the duties associated with their assignment. In any case, the benefits of returning to your home country must be carefully weighed against the risk of  being able to perform all duties associated with your assignment (i.e., poor Internet  quality or reliability, complications due to time-zone differences, etc). Failure to perform all duties satisfactorily could lead to termination of your appointment. TAs should discuss their desire to return home with their course instructor in advance of departure. TAs who cannot reasonably assure continuity of duties should remain in the US (or resign their TA).

Students Planning to Graduate in May

University policy requires that master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation defenses include a public presentation. How can this requirement be met given COVID-19?

The University’s first priority is the health and safety of its students, faculty, and staff and of the communities in which they live. As a result, all participants in master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation defenses (students, faculty, and audience) should attend via teleconference. A URL providing access to the teleconference should be included in the public announcement of the defense on the University calendar. Academic IT (avt@uconn.edu) can provide advice on technology options that are suitable for virtual defenses. In choosing a technology option for the defense, remember that:

  • The defense must be open to any interested person with the ability for any member of the audience to ask questions of the student.
  • Doctoral defenses must be publicly announced on the University calendar with information provided about remote participation. Master's defenses need not be publicly announced.
  • All members of the advisory committee must participate in the defense simultaneously.

Please remember that "Not fewer than five members of the faculty, including all members of the candidate’s advisory committee, must participate in the final examination, unless written approval for a lesser number has been secured in advance from the Dean of The Graduate School" (quoted from the Graduate Catalog).

If you have questions about available technology options please contact Academic IT at avt@uconn.edu or 860-486-4357.

Please refer to Steps to a Successful Graduation: Graduate Programs for additional information about graduation requirements. 

What security or privacy precautions should I take when setting up a virtual defense?

Here is advice that the University provided in its March 31 email update for faculty, staff, and students:

USING ZOOM SECURELY: UConn strongly encourages the use of centrally contracted and supported software and services when possible. However, we recognize some people might prefer other collaboration technologies. If someone chooses to use a tool such as Zoom, it is their responsibility to ensure it is done safely and responsibly. Information is available to help with these efforts, including tips on preventing uninvited visitors from joining and disrupting the online event. Confidential or protected institutional data must still be stored on UConn-supported resources.

If you have questions about security or privacy precautions available through University supported software and services, please contact Academic IT at avt@uconn.edu.

How do I get signatures for degree audit?

For Thesis or Dissertation Approval Pages

Graduate School rules require original signatures (“wet ink” signatures) on the thesis or dissertation approval page. Due to the current extraordinary circumstances, until further notice this requirement can be met by any one of the following means:

  1. Original wet ink signature on an approval page, mailed to the Registrar’s Office
  2. Scanned image of an original wet signature or an electronic signature on the approval page emailed directly from the faculty member’s UConn or UCHC email address to the student’s degree auditor*
  3. An email sent directly to the student’s degree auditor* from the faculty member’s UConn or UCHC email address indicating approval.

All members of a student’s advisory committee must provide an original signature in one of these ways; however, signatures may be on different pages (or come from multiple faculty emails).

For All Other Forms

For all other forms (such as Plans of Study, General Exam reports, etc.) signatures can be submitted in any one of the following formats:

  1. Original wet ink signature on the form, mailed to the Registrar’s Office
  2. Scanned image of an original wet signature or an electronic signature (not a computer font of the advisor’s name) on a copy of the appropriate form emailed to the student’s degree auditor*
  3. An email sent directly to the student’s degree auditor* from the faculty member’s UConn or UCHC email address indicating approval.

*All forms related to master’s and certificate programs should be sent to Sandra.Cyr@uconn.edu and all forms for doctoral students should be sent to Jenn.Horan@uconn.edu.  Students are encouraged to include the appropriate Degree Auditor when emailing the forms to their advisors for approval.

What if this was supposed to be my final semester?

If May 2020 is your final semester according to the time limits set by The Graduate Catalog (eight years for doctoral, six for master’s, three for certificates), you may request an extension of your conferral deadline by submitting the Request for Extension of Terminal Date for Degree Requirements form to graduatedean@uconn.edu.

If you are still within your time to degree and already applied for graduation but will no longer be able to complete in time for a May conferral, please contact Degree Audit (degreeaudit@uconn.edu) to request your graduation term be changed.  

Have deadlines to complete degree requirements or submit final paperwork for graduation changed?

Due to the current extraordinary circumstances the Graduate School and Registrar’s Office have extended the deadline to submit required final, approved Dissertation and Thesis paperwork to Friday May 8, 2020.  It is recommended students defend their dissertation or thesis at least two weeks prior to this deadline to allow time for edits and updates.


Faculty & Staff

Can programs have on-campus “Visit Days” where they bring prospective graduate students to campus as a recruitment activity and/or a method of evaluation?

No. The University's priority is to protect the health of our students, faculty, and staff. Current CDC guidelines recommend that any gathering of more than 10 people be postponed or cancelled.

Virtual events for prospective and admitted students can be held through The Graduate School's online application and CRM system. Please contact marie.leblanc@uconn.edu for more information. Virtual events can include virtual infosessions or virtual orientations.

Academic IT (avt@uconn.edu) can also provide guidance on technology that supports simultaneous participation of many potential students, which may allow you to organize a "Virtual Visit Day".

Alternatively, faculty and staff may arrange one-on-one conversations with individual students using Skype, Zoom, or similar technology.

What should you do if students cannot finish the work required for a given class by the end of the semester?

The University Senate recently voted to suspending limitations on Pass/Fail grades for the Spring 2020 semester. Pass/Fail is not an option for graduate-level courses, but “Incomplete” grades can be used when a student has not completed all of the work for a given course but the work that has been completed is of passing quality and a make-up schedule has been agreed upon with the instructor. Circumstances may make it difficult for some students to complete the required work, justifying a grade of incomplete.  In such cases,  it is the student’s responsibility to reach and to maintain an understanding with the instructor concerning the timely completion of the work. The Graduate School will not consider Incomplete grades in Spring 2020  when determining any graduate student’s academic standing at this point or the student’s eligibility for a graduate assistantship in Fall 2020.

How can I advise graduate students who are experiencing a suspension of research activities?

Please visit our page for advice for faculty and students for Coping with the Suspension of Many Research Activities. This page includes guidance graduate students may find useful as they develop contingency plans. It also includes guidance specific to faculty and staff advising graduate students.

The university has decided to not have in-person classes to reduce the risk of transmission. What about other kinds of gatherings (e.g., workshops, seminars, meetings, general exams, etc.)?

On March 20, Governor Lamont announced that he is ordering all employees at all "non-essential" businesses to stay home. His order is effective through at least April 22. Consistent with the Governor's order,  all gatherings (e.g., doctoral general exams, master's final exams, advisory committee meetings, etc.) should be  be held via teleconference or videoconference. Please contact Academic IT (avt@uconn.edu) if you need guidance on selecting appropriate technology.


I have a question about COVID-19 and graduate education that isn’t answered here. Who can I talk to?

Please contact The Graduate School at gradschool@uconn.edu or 860-486-3617 and we will do our best to answer your question.

UConn graduate students, faculty, and staff may also submit a question using the form below. Questions may be answered on this FAQ or in another format.

Ask a Question