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Resources for Graduate Students in Response to COVID-19

The university has announced measures taken to respond to the evolving situation with COVID-19. Below, you can find resources and information of specific interest to graduate students during this time. This page will be updated promptly as new information becomes available, so please check back frequently. Also, continue to consult U-M’s coronavirus site for the most up-to-date information from the university.

Research and Scholarship

The university-wide reduction in on-campus research and scholarship activities has resulted in a ramp-down of research, a pause in face-to-face human subject research, and the closure of libraries. These changes in the availability of resources for research and scholarship have caused significant stress and uncertainty. Working together, Rackham students and graduate faculty have developed alternate paths forward to address these challenges.

A Research Ramp-Up Committee is working to solidify reengagement plans now that the State of Michigan has authorized the limited reopening of laboratory research. Please note that the university is still in the planning stages, and any future decisions involving research reengagement will be adjusted to adhere to state guidelines. COVID-19 has impacted nearly every facet of our research enterprise, and so the university plans to implement a phased approach to ramp up research activity.

The University of Michigan Office of Research (UMOR) has developed guidance documents to assist faculty, postdocs, staff, and graduate students within the research pause and for this new time of research ramp-up planning. This guidance indicates that GSRAs will continue to be paid during the pause in noncritical laboratory research activities and the pause in human subject research, as well as during the research ramp-up period.

Faculty who have master’s and doctoral students working in the lab or elsewhere for academic credit—including independent study and dissertation credit—must work with each of their students to develop a plan for continued research progress appropriate to the degree or credit pursued. It is important to recognize that these new plans will necessarily look quite different than prior expectations due to the circumstances of the moment. In most cases, flexibility will be needed because research activities, methods, and outputs will be substantively altered and attenuated.

Rackham has prepared more detailed information and recommendations for graduate students, graduate faculty, graduate program coordinators, and graduate program leadership: Guidance for Research and Scholarship During COVID-19. In addition, an FAQ regarding research ramp-up activities is available.

Communications and Reduced On-Campus Research

Faculty mentors and graduate students should develop a communication plan to allow for rapid sharing of information between each other and/or within the research group. U-M Information and Technology Services offers a good Remote Resource Guide. As part of these discussions between students and faculty mentors, develop a plan to make progress on research and scholarship given the changes that have occurred on campus and the specific needs of each student. These changes will affect graduate students differently, and so each plan should be individualized. The plan should address the changed access to on-campus facilities, including laboratories, libraries, and other research collections. The plan could include shifting the focus of work to computational studies and modeling, theory development, data analysis, literature reviews, and academic writing.

Research Involving Face-to-Face Interaction with Human Subjects

All face-to-face, human subject research with no direct therapeutic (drug or device) benefit has been temporarily suspended. For graduate students engaged in studies of this sort, Rackham suggests consulting with your faculty advisor or research supervisor to discuss alternative ways to move forward. UMOR has offered some suggestions in their guidance document, including changing the mode of data collection. UMOR also states that GSRAs will continue to be paid during the pause in face-to-face human subject research.

Off-Campus Research

For students currently involved in an off-campus research experience, if your academic progress is dependent on being in a specific location abroad, you can petition the International Travel Oversight Committee (ITOC) for permission to stay at your international research site. It is important to evaluate risk and consider your personal health and safety your highest priority. For further information about this process, visit U-M’s Global Michigan site.

Last updated at 8:30 a.m. on 5/20/20

Adjusted Rackham Grading Policy for Winter 2020 Term

To address the challenges that COVID-19 has generated for the Rackham community, and as an exception to regular grading policy, the Rackham Executive Board has approved an adjusted grading policy for the winter 2020 term.

  • All graduate students enrolled in Rackham programs will receive a grade of either “Satisfactory” (“S”) or “No Record Covid” (“NRC”) for coursework graded on the letter system. A grade of S will earn course credit. The minimum grade for S will be B-, consistent with grading practices in Rackham programs. Language will be added to transcripts explaining the university’s policy for the winter 2020 term.
  • Until July 1, 2020, students will be allowed to review their course grade and convert grades of S and NRC into letter grades if they wish.
  • A grade of S that is converted into a letter grade will earn credit and be calculated into the GPA. A grade of NRC that is converted into a letter grade of C- or above will also earn credit and be used to calculate the GPA. A letter grade below a C- will not earn credit but will be used to calculate the GPA.
  • A flexible withdrawal policy will also be instituted. Students will have until April 21 to withdraw from a course and not have the course appear on their transcript.
  • Individual Rackham programs may have additional degree requirements for academic performance, such as in required or core classes. Students should consult with their academic program for further information in these cases.
  • Instructors may still choose to issue an Incomplete (I) and approve an extension with a deadline for completion of final work due in the course. An incomplete will not be permanently recorded on the transcript and will be converted to a letter grade when the instructor submits the final grade.

This policy will apply only to graduate students enrolled in Rackham programs for the winter 2020 term, and will not be available for courses that have been graded before March 10—no changes will be made to courses completed before this date.

More details are available through the Office of the Registrar. The full text for winter 2020 term adjusted grading is available within Rackham’s academic policy.

Last updated at 10:15 a.m. on 3/27/20

Extended Rackham Academic Deadlines for Winter 2020 Term

In light of pressures resulting from COVID-19, and with the endorsement of the Rackham Executive Board, Rackham has extended certain academic deadlines for candidacy and dissertation filing for the winter 2020 term:

  • The winter 2020 term grace period for conducting the defense and filing the dissertation under winter 2020 registration has been extended until August 18.
  • The winter 2020 term deadline for completing candidacy exams under winter 2020 registration has been extended until September 2.
  • The deadline for master’s and certificate students to apply for graduation is April 21. The extended deadline for these students to submit all final required work for conferral of the degree or certificate in spring 2020 is May 15.

We have gathered this information into an FAQ, which includes important information about these deadline adjustments and related matters, including information from the International Center relevant to international students.

Last updated at 10:00 a.m. on 3/26/20

Remote Teaching

For GSIs seeking assistance in order to provide instruction remotely, helpful resources are available through the U-M Center for Research on Learning and Teaching and the U-M Center for Academic Innovation’s Online Teaching site.

Last updated at 1:35 p.m. on 5/14/20

Student Housing

For students planning to remain in residence halls, University Housing offers the following information:

  • Students remaining in Northwood 1, 2, 4 and 5; the Lawyer’s Club; and the Munger Graduate Residences will reside in their currently assigned rooms. For safety reasons, other students may need to leave their existing rooms but will be living in single occupancy rooms.
  • Boxed meal service will continue from Michigan Dining.
  • The Maize and Blue Pantry will also remain open to provide students on campus with additional food and other personal item resources.
  • Housing staff members will be contacting students directly to confirm their status. 

More information is available at the University Housing FAQ.

Last updated at 2:30 p.m. on 3/18/20

Dissertation Defenses

In line with the university’s goals to deliver on our educational mission while protecting health and safety by minimizing the potential spread of COVID-19 in the community and broader society, Rackham is asking students and committees to conduct dissertation defenses online and relaxing certain requirements for faculty signatures. Please visit the Completing the Doctoral Degree Requirements page for further details.

Last updated at 3:30 p.m. on 3/26/20

Issues Affecting International Students

International students may have questions about international travel and health care coverage particular to their visa status. Authoritative, up-to-date information and resources about U.S. government travel restrictions, and updates on COVID-19 for students on F-1 and J-1 visas, is available through the U-M International Center. Information about health insurance and possible health care costs for COVID-19 testing and treatment is available through this update from the International Center.

Information about U-M travel policy, travel warnings, and travel restriction locations is available through Global Michigan.

On July 6, the Department of Homeland Security released a preliminary announcement about online study eligibility for international students for the fall 2020 semester. While there is still much uncertainty regarding the announcement, Rackham and colleagues at other units throughout the university are deeply focused on further understanding the impact of this new guidance, and on how to respond in ways that support students and their educational goals. 

Updates regarding these efforts, as well as the university’s evolving understanding of the policy, can be found via the International Center.

Last updated at 7:35 p.m. on 7/7/20

Emergency Financial Resources

Recognizing that many Rackham students may face COVID-19–related financial challenges that would normally fall outside the scope of the Rackham Graduate Student Emergency Fund program, we have expanded the eligibility criteria. View information on the expanded criteria and details on how to apply.

Last updated at 6:35 p.m. on 3/13/20

Rackham Programming

Rackham Student-Initiated Grant Programs

All Rackham student-initiated grant programs (e.g., Rackham Graduate Student Research Grants, Rackham Conference Travel Grants, etc.) remain open and are accepting applications. However, the ability to use funding, if awarded, is contingent on current and future restrictions imposed by U-M, countries and/or institutions being visited, and the federal government.

Academic and Professional Development Programming

Remote learning options for Rackham academic and professional development programming are being developed for the fall. Updates will be reflected on the Rackham Events Calendar.

Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshops (RIWs)

When deciding to hold, move, or cancel Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshops (RIWs) events, RIW coordinators should connect with their faculty mentor and department administrator, and follow meeting policies developed for their department and the scheduled meeting location. Rackham will waive the requirement of having a culminating event this year. Unused RIW funds cannot be carried over to next year. However, it will be possible to repurpose assigned funding to another use with advance approval from Rackham.

Last updated at 6:35 p.m. on 3/13/20

Student Well-Being

We acknowledge that this is a challenging and rapidly evolving situation, and we urge students to take care of themselves. Resources to support student well-being will continue to be available. Graduate students can request an appointment with Laura Monschau, Rackham’s Embedded Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) counselor. In addition, CAPS is maintaining avenues for support during regular business hours, with after hours urgent support available by calling 734.764.8312 (press 0) at night and on weekends.

In addition, the University Health Service is open during usual business hours, providing health care in new ways to meet student needs.

Rackham’s Resolution Office will continue to respond to student academic concerns and conflicts. Students should use the “Request a Meeting” button on the website. All consultations will take place remotely, either by phone or via BlueJeans.

Doctoral students needing to suspend their studies due to COVID-19 related reasons are encouraged to contact Ida Faye Webster by email at rackham.loa@umich.edu or call 734.615.5670 for help navigating the leave of absence policy.

Last updated at 11:35 a.m. on 5/28/20

The Rackham Building

In accordance with the university’s continuing effort to stop the spread of coronavirus, the Rackham Building is closed to students and the public until further notice.

  • U-M staff whose offices reside in the building can access the building with their MCards to retrieve materials.
  • Rackham Graduate School staff will be working remotely through the remainder of the term.

These changes have been implemented to follow the general public health principle of limiting the interaction of people within larger groups to diminish disease transmission and protect everyone in our communities, particularly the most vulnerable.

Last updated at 7:25 p.m. on 7/7/20

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