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Graduate Student Coronavirus FAQs

The health of the Sun Devil community is a top priority. The changing conditions surrounding Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) have raised questions among ASU graduate students; we have tried to answer many of them here.

The answers on this page address graduate student concerns and are meant as a supplement to ASU's Novel Coronavirus FAQ. Due to the rapidly changing nature of this situation, please continue to check for updates on ASU’s response to COVID-19.

We encourage all students, faculty and staff to thoroughly review all available resources related to COVID-19 and the university's plan for fall 2020:

ASU Fall 2020 and Novel Coronavirus Resources

Health and Wellness Resources

COVID-19 Campus Safety

COVID-19 Campus Safety

What happens if someone in a class has COVID?

ASU will follow Maricopa County Public Health Department protocols related to isolation and treatment of individuals who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms or test positive. These guidelines are subject to change; visit maricopa.gov for current protocols. For more details visit the ASU sources below:. 

Source: https://www.asu.edu/about/fall-2020

Section: Preventative Measures

Source: https://eoss.asu.edu/health/announcements/coronavirus/faqs

Section: Fall 2020

Can I get a COVID-19 test? How does contact tracing work?

Yes, free testing is available for all ASU faculty, staff and students.. Please review the ASU Coronavirus FAQ page for information related to contact tracing.

See: https://www.asu.edu/about/fall-2020/COVID-testing

See: https://eoss.asu.edu/health/announcements/coronavirus/faqs

What is "Community of Care" training? 

“Community of Care” training is a mandatory training for all ASU students, faculty and staff designed to inform, educate and encourage healthy living and learning on campus and as a member of the ASU community.

Source: https://eoss.asu.edu/health/announcements/coronavirus/faqs

Section: Fall 2020

What is the HealthCheck phone app?

This fall, ASU plans to launch the HealthCheck health status verification platform offered by Safe Health Systems, which will be made available on the ASU app, for installation on student and employee smartphones and a website version.

Source: https://www.asu.edu/about/fall-2020

Section: Mayo Clinic and ASU COVID-19 Initiative

What if I have a class that requires close personal contact like dance? 

For information about how specific classes will implement ASU on campus safety guidelines, please contact your program directly.

What if I am considered high-risk according to the CDC guidelines? 

Consistent with our efforts to always meet learners where they are, ASU will offer courses in a variety of learning environments to accommodate students’ needs. 

Source: https://eoss.asu.edu/health/announcements/coronavirus/faqs

Section: Fall 2020

How was the fall 2020 plan developed? Under what circumstances will ASU return to all-virtual classes this fall and is there a deadline for that decision?

ASU leadership has been meeting daily since the beginning of the pandemic and the fall 2020 plans reflect current public health guidance. Changing circumstances mean these plans will be subject to change before and after classes begin. ASU will implement whatever safety measures and protocols are necessary to provide a safe environment for students and staff.

Source: https://eoss.asu.edu/health/announcements/coronavirus/faqs

Section: Fall 2020

Has there been discussion with local officials regarding how bringing students back to campus will impact the health of the community? What has been the result?

The Office of Government and Community Engagement has been working with local officials, particularly mayors and city council members, in all of the cities where ASU has a physical presence. They have been in touch with business owners to discuss how ASU can assist in reopening their businesses safely and also to be prepared for the influx of community members when students return to campus. Visit https://www.asu.edu/about/fall-2020 to learn more about these efforts or reach out to the Office of Government and Community Engagement with questions at https://governmentaffairs.asu.edu/contact/.

Will students have a choice in the manner in which they attend classes if they do not feel safe coming to campus or have a pre-existing condition making them more susceptible to COVID-19?

Yes. For the majority of classes, immersion (on-campus) students will have access to the following three learning environments: 

  • ASU Immersion
  • ASU Sync
  • iCourses

Source: https://eoss.asu.edu/health/announcements/coronavirus/faqs

Section: Students - academic

What will the in-person class environment look like and how will it operate? How will students find out if and when they attend a class in-person or online?

Face coverings will be required of all students while in class. Furniture will not be removed from classes, but seats will be designated as available or unavailable to ensure appropriate distancing. However, 6 feet of distance may not always be possible. Students will alternate between in-person and remote attendance. No classroom will be more than 50% occupied during any given class. Students can find out if and when classes can be attended in-person or online through their MyASU account.

For the most up-to-date class operation details, visit https://provost.asu.edu/sync/students

How will the mask requirements on campus be enforced and does the campus have any specific plans to manage individuals who don't feel comfortable wearing masks?

Everyone is required to wear a face cover while in ASU buildings and community spaces. This will be enforced as part of the Student Code of Conduct and refusal to comply with mask requirements could result in disciplinary action. For more information on the Student Code of Conduct, visit https://eoss.asu.edu/dos/srr/codeofconduct.

What is ASU doing to address the demand for mental health services as a result of self-isolation and other anxieties caused by the pandemic?

ASU Counseling Services is offering mental health support services remotely. To reach a counselor or schedule an appointment, please call 480-965-6146. As always, we will talk with you, help you identify solutions or support, and connect you with those services at ASU or in the community. Something as simple as talking to someone can help you feel better, improve your grades and manage stress. Learn more at https://eoss.asu.edu/Counseling.

Source: https://eoss.asu.edu/health/announcements/coronavirus/faqs

Section: Health Services

Student Life

Student Life

Will the University continue to host events beneficial to student life? How can students be assured they are getting the full learning experience?

We know events are an integral part of the Sun Devil community. Whether the university can host events on campus will be determined at a later date and will be contingent on public health circumstances at the time.

Source: https://eoss.asu.edu/health/announcements/coronavirus/faqs

Section: Events

How is the Graduate College preparing future alumni for the post-COVID-19 world? Will professional development resources be available for students such as job fairs, career counseling and networking opportunities?

The Graduate College is offering several professional development opportunities for graduate students including Career Navigators, Knowledge Mobilization and PFx courses. Most other units on campus have shifted their programming of student events like job fairs to an online space. For more information on Graduate College professional development resources, visit: https://graduate.asu.edu/current-students/enrich-your-experience/professional-development.

Due to the changing economy and COVID-19 restrictions, companies/organizations are either limiting or eliminating interns. What is the university doing to support students who are unable to find internships that are requirements for their programs?

If your employer has changed your internship offer, discuss the changed offer with your internship coordinator to confirm whether it will still fulfill your internship credit. Accommodations and waiving requirements will need to be discussed with your specific academic unit.

Source: https://eoss.asu.edu/health/announcements/coronavirus/faqs

Section: Student jobs, internships and study abroad

With COVID-19 affecting different aspects of Graduate Student life (from their research capabilities to family life, medical expenses and childcare), will students be permitted to request a leave of absence for fall 2020 throughout the semester as they did for spring 2020? Will the Graduate College be flexible with the continuous enrollment policy for fall 2020?

Yes, the Graduate College will be flexible with the continuous enrollment policy and leave of absence requests will be assessed on an individual basis.

Will the Graduate College continue to offer doctoral candidates the option of completing the dissertation defense virtually for both Fall and Spring semesters? Would the Graduate College consider making a virtual dissertation defense a permanent option after the COVID 19 pandemic ends?

Right now, students can still schedule their defense to be virtual, or they can schedule a room to conduct one in-person for Fall, depending on what the student/committee wants and room scheduling regulations.  The Graduate College is currently conducting a survey of students who recently defended their thesis or dissertation via Zoom to get a better idea of how the future will look for defenses.

How will international students of ASU be impacted as a result of the changing immigration policies with respect to registration & staying in the country for education purposes?

International students who wish to attend classes on campus but may not be able to arrive in time for the start of the semester will be given the opportunity to learn through ASU Sync for the first half of the semester, and if necessary, the full semester. For specific international questions, please reach out to the International Students and Scholars Center at 480-727-4776 or issc@asu.edu.

Source: https://eoss.asu.edu/health/announcements/coronavirus/faqs

Section: International students

General RA/TA

General RA/TA

I have been admitted to an ASU graduate program and offered a TA/RA appointment. Is my offer still valid?

You need to work with your academic unit to ensure that you will be able to fulfill the duties of the position and meet the expectations.  

When will my TA/RA assignment begin?

Please refer to your appointment letter and confirm assignment details with your supervisor. It is expected that all positions should start no later than the first day of classes.

Will TAs be compensated for extra work preparing to teach online? 

Not at this time. 

What happens if a TA gets COVID-19? 

Contact your supervisor immediately if you test positive for COVID-19.

Source: https://eoss.asu.edu/health/announcements/coronavirus/faqs

Section: Graduate Students

Section: Human Resources

Can I choose to teach remotely? 

Speak with the academic chair/director or dean about options to teach remotely. You will need to remotely attend the TA orientation hosted by the Graduate College, any unit-specific training and meet with the instructor-of-record for the class. Units will need to consider time-zone differences when scheduling.

Source: https://eoss.asu.edu/health/announcements/coronavirus/faqs

Teaching resources for TAs

To support ASU’s continued efforts to improve learning for all students, UTO, EdPlus, and colleges and schools across the university are collaborating under the leadership of the Office of the University Provost to provide instructors with personalized professional learning opportunities to enhance remote teaching through ASU Sync. Visit https://provost.asu.edu/sync/faculty.

In addition, each college/unit has developed its own guidelines and resources so we encourage you to reach out to your unit for more information.

 Will safety equipment be provided for TAs? 

Please contact your program directly to request classroom safety equipment. 

What if I am considered high-risk according to the CDC guidelines? 

If you fall into one of the high-risk categories as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, please go through an ADA consultant at the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at equityandinclusion@asu.edu, via confidential E-Fax at (480) 237-7998 or via phone at (480) 727-1770. If you have other concerns, please request a "Faculty Request for Accommodation - Fall 2020" form from your dean.

Source: https://provost.asu.edu/sync/faculty/FAQ


Tuition and Funding

Tuition and Funding

With the new modalities for attending class and for participation in campus activities and offerings, will there be a reduction to University tuition and fees?

Tuition and fees will remain the same.

Source: https://eoss.asu.edu/health/announcements/coronavirus/faqs

It was announced recently that ASU received $63.5 million in CARES Act funds. How is it decided which graduate students will receive those funds? When will the funds be distributed to graduate students?

The most up-to-date information regarding CARES Act funds is available on the university Coronavirus FAQ website. To discuss funding for the upcoming academic year, please contact the financial aid office: https://students.asu.edu/contact/financialaid.

Source: https://eoss.asu.edu/health/announcements/coronavirus/faqs

What are ASU and the Graduate College doing to address financial hardships due to the pandemic?  If a student is impacted by the virus financially, what resources are available?

The Graduate College will also consider covering registration fees for virtual conferences and networking opportunities. Contact the Graduate College if you would like to have an opportunity considered. For more information, visit https://graduate.asu.edu/current-students/funding-opportunities/awards-and-fellowships/travel-awards.

Will more Graduate College Completion Fellowships be available due to the extension of studies (and increased costs thereof) necessitated by COVID-19?

We continue to evaluate all funding resources to determine how we can best aid impacted graduate students with what we have available. At this time, the Completion Fellowships for academic year 2020-2021 were awarded during our regular award cycle in Spring 2020 and we have disbursed all funds to these recipients. We will continue to explore new ways to fund additional awards. When that happens, a call for applications/nominations will go out via email to enrolled graduate students and the funding page for the award will be updated.

Equity and Inclusion

Equity and Inclusion

What are ASU and the Graduate College doing to ensure students of color feel safe and welcome on campus?

The deans of students and their staff have been meeting with student organizations representing voices of color and they are determining the best ways to integrate their recommendations. Academic colleges have started or scaled-up the activities of their own justice and inclusion committees to determine which courses and training methodologies would be best suited for their faculty and staff. We encourage you to reach out to your department chair or academic dean to find out how you can contribute to these activities. The president’s office received hundreds of recommendations this summer and they are determining which are most feasible and how to implement them.

The Graduate College is currently forming a student advisory board, whose charge will include reviewing and advising on curriculum, programming and policies for equity and inclusion. For your own learning and for that of your peers, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has assembled 21 courses available this fall on the history of people of color in the United States. If there is room for electives in your program of study, please consider taking one or recommending them to colleagues who would benefit from learning the history of people of color in this country.

A collective of students both graduate and undergraduate have put together a proposal for a Cultural Excellence Center & Scholars Program, which includes physical spaces for people of color as well as specifically tailored programs. Can you tell us what is being done to address that proposal?

The university is working with multiple academic units, departments and student and community organizations to determine what can be done and when appropriate actions will be implemented. During this process, the ASU community is encouraged to become involved with the multicultural opportunities and organizations that currently exist. For more information on how to get involved in ASU equity and inclusion efforts, visit https://inclusion.asu.edu/ and https://eoss.asu.edu/student-and-cultural-engagement.

With recent calls for defunding police on a national level, what is ASU doing to address the topic of police violence and funding related to the ASU Police Department?

ASU Police Department is currently working with a group of staff, faculty and students to develop and retool training protocols that will include more robust implicit bias training and community interaction. ASUPD is accredited by two external organizations, one related to university law enforcement organizations and the other to all types of law enforcement organizations nationally. These accreditations are voluntary and incorporate a high level of oversight by experts and peers and require very specific policies on bias and use/excessive use of force. ASU has dedicated researchers in the School of Criminology in Watts College and at the Academy for Justice in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law – all of whom understand that implicit bias and police overuse of force negatively impacts communities of color. Your direct interaction with these entities will make it possible for our police department to develop and role model best practices for police departments elsewhere.

ASU Chief of Police, Mark Thompson, recently answered a set of questions posed by the ASU Black African Coalition. Click here to read the responses from those questions.

For more information on this topic, please read this interview with Kevin Robinson, a lecturer in ASU's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and a retired police officer: https://asunow.asu.edu/20200608-discoveries-defunding-police-good-idea.

Defenses and Graduation

Defenses and Graduation

How should I hold my defense during fall 2020?

Defense committees and students should discuss which defense option they would like to utilize for their defense (Virtual, ASU Sync, or In-person).

Are there best practices available to help students and committees as they plan for a remote defense?

Yes! There are many strategies which can be employed to ensure a smooth, virtual, defense. The Graduate College has a webpage that includes a  guide to online defenses to help with planning and conducting a remote defense.

What about the Graduate College requirement to hold a public defense?

The requirement to hold public defenses is met by inviting an audience to attend either in person (following social distancing guidelines), virtually via zoom, or a mix of both (ASU Sync). It is also advertised on the Graduate College’s website on the defense calendar.

Can I still take my comprehensive exam this Fall?

Your faculty committee and staff advisor can assist in determining your readiness to take the comprehensive exam for your program.  You can discuss with them the topics and testing mode, as well as the requirements to take it.  If you need to postpone taking the exam until Spring, that may also be an option.  Consult with your unit advisor and committee regarding all of your options.

Do I have to hold my defense in person this Fall?

If you and your faculty committee determine that you are ready to hold your defense in the Fall, you may follow the guidelines found on the Graduation College website here to schedule it.  You should consult with your committee and staff advisor to determine if Zoom will be utilized to hold the defense and if there will be an in-person component.  Students conducting their defense in Fall should be registered and follow graduation deadlines.

What if I don’t feel comfortable coming to campus for my defense?

It is important to discuss with your committee and your graduate staff advisor your options regarding your defense, especially in regards to how Zoom will or will not be utilized for the committee deliberation portion and room scheduling policies. Students should check and follow the ASU campus guidelines regarding the coronavirus whenever on campus found at this link.

What should I do if COVID-19 has disrupted my research plans or progress toward graduation?

We encourage all graduate students to have a conversation with their faculty committee and staff advisor to discuss your options. You may have to adjust your timeline based on the progress of your academics or research.  It is important to discuss your options and find out what, if any, flexibility exists.

I am really stressed due to COVID, and I really need more time to work on my thesis/dissertation document, can I submit my document after the deadline?

Please email gradformat@asu.edu for your specific situation.

Due to COVID, if we submit our thesis/dissertation document after the deadline, will we still be able to graduate?

Please email gradformat@asu.edu for your specific situation.

Access to Campus Locations

Access to Campus Locations

How do I get access to my research lab, studio or performance space?

Please review “Is campus reopening?” in ASU's Novel Coronavirus FAQs.

Please review https://research.asu.edu/research-intensification-plan-2020 for a general overview about research labs reopening and contact your faculty supervisor for their specific plans.

International Students

International Students

What is the status of OPT for the upcoming year?

Please visit https://issc.asu.edu/coronavirusfaqs for more information.

Can I participate in CPT in Summer 2021?

Recognizing that students need two on-campus semesters before they are eligible for a CPT or an off-campus internship, students can arrive physically by the beginning of fall 2020 session B and remain eligible for off-campus internships in summer 2021. If you cannot arrive by fall 2020 session B, you will not be able to hold a summer 2021 internship unless your program requires you to be in an off-campus internship in the summer.

I have been admitted to an ASU graduate program but have been unable to obtain my visa.  What options do I have?

Work with your academic unit to see if there is an iCourse/ASU Sync option for your program, or defer to a future semester.

International Students and TA/RA appointments

International Students and TA/RA appointments

I have been admitted to an ASU graduate program and offered a TA/RA appointment but have been unable to obtain my visa. What are my options?

  • Confirm with your faculty supervisor and/or the academic unit that the work can be completed remotely.
  • You must have access to a computer, reliable internet, and any other materials needed for the work assignment (e.g., books, materials).
  • You will need to be registered for courses per the assistantship offer. Work with your academic unit to see what iCourse/ASU Sync options are available for your program.
  • You will need to contact Admissions at Grad20@asu.edu to defer your I-20 start date to the appropriate session or semester.

I am already enrolled in an ASU graduate program, hold a TA/RA appointment but have been unable to return to the U.S. What are my options?

  • Confirm with your faculty supervisor and/or the academic unit that the work can be completed remotely.
  • You must have access to a computer, reliable internet, and any other materials needed for the work assignment (e.g., books, materials).
  • You will need to be registered for courses per the assistantship offer. Work with your academic unit to see what iCourse/ASU Sync options are available for your program.
  • You will need to contact Admissions at Grad20@asu.edu to defer your I-20 start date to the appropriate session or semester.

There will be circumstances in which students are unable to hold an TA/RA or virtually attend classes. This could include:

When will my TA/RA assignment begin?

Please refer to your appointment letter and confirm assignment details with your supervisor.  It is expected that all positions should start no later than the first day of classes. 

I am an TA/RA, how will I receive my stipend?

Stipends may be payable via Flywire or a US bank account. We are still working out details of this.

What about payroll taxes?

Students, not ASU, will be responsible for knowing tax liability.

Income from the TA/RA position is not taxable until the student arrives in the US except for students with a green card or dual citizenship. Students must confirm this and are responsible for any taxes in his/her own country.

For students who previously held an TA/RA and are unable to return to the US at this time will need to confirm with ASU Tax Services that he/she will be working remotely before Tax Services will remove US tax deductions.

As a TA, is there anything additional I need to know?

  • As a TA, you will need to confirm that you can perform the work remotely. The work may involve having adequate access to a computer and the internet as well as attending lectures via zoom, grading digital assignments, answering student emails, holding office hours via zoom for students, and managing time-zone differences when making assignments for courses.
  • You will need to attend remotely, the TA orientation by the Graduate College, any unit-specific training, and meet with the instructor-of-record for the class. Units will need to consider time-zone differences when scheduling.

As an RA, is there anything additional I need to know?

  • As an RA, you will need to confirm that you can perform work remotely, including access to the right software, data, Office of Research Integrity and Assurance (ORIA) guidelines, etc. Work may include activities such as data processing, programming, literature searches, and writing assignments.
  • You will need to work with your faculty supervisor to ensure you go through onboarding and training activities so that you are aware of the performance expectations for the position.
  • Student safety is a top priority. Assigned tasks should not include experiments or work that is normally performed in a laboratory-controlled environment.

Will ASU pay for my internet access?

ASU will not subsidize or pay for the internet access for anyone holding an TA/RA position.

What happens if my visa is declined after I begin a TA/RA appointment?

If you are declined a visa after you have started in an TA/RA role, you can continue in the TA/RA position and continue to progress toward degree requirements. The TA/RA position should be renewed for subsequent semesters according to the original appointment letter. You would complete the degree requirements via iCourses and ASU Sync.

Is there a deadline by which I must arrive at ASU?

There is no deadline but both students and units are encouraged to think through both short term and long-term impacts on both the TA/RA appointment and degree requirements.

What do I do when I arrive at ASU after obtaining my visa?

  • Review and address all checklist items on MyASU
  • Check in with ISSC
  • Submit records of MMR
  • Fill out new hire paperwork with ASU Human Resources including I-9 and obtaining a Social Security number
  • Check in with supervisor within 3 days 
  • Any other department specific requirements and trainings

Health and Wellbeing

Health and Wellbeing

Where can I find resources to help me cope during this situation? 

For Counseling Services information, please review the information under the Health Services Section of this FAQ page.

Additional resources: