University of Iowa

Coronavirus FAQs

Spring 2020 Commencement

We are extremely disappointed to announce that we must cancel spring commencement ceremonies.  We know how important these ceremonies are for graduate students and their families, but we feel it is the right decision to protect those most vulnerable to the threat of infection.  We expect to provide an alternative option later this year for doctoral and master's ceremonies.  We will share additional details as soon as we can.

April 15th Resolution

The Graduate College supports upholding April 15th as the earliest date by which students can be required to accept an offer of financial support for the next academic year as per revised Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) guidelines.

Individual graduate programs have the flexibility to give students longer (i.e., any date after April 15th) to make a decision on an offer.  Should any student require extra time to make a decision and the program wish to accommodate, it is best practice to keep the offer open.  This option should be extended to all students with a current offer if the program would like to grant everyone additional time.  Keep in mind that many students may still make a decision on or around April 15th since not every institution will provide admits additional time for consideration.   


Academic and Administrative Affairs

The Graduate College Academic Affairs Office (AAO) is available to assist you regarding any disruption to planned academic activities related to your graduation. Please review the FAQs below.  Because all non-essential campus personnel have been directed to work remotely, please email us with any questions or concerns at Please include COVID-19 in the subject line.

Holding Your Thesis or Dissertation Defense

Q: How should I hold my defense during spring 2020?

A: Defense committees, including students, should plan to participate remotely for defenses scheduled during spring 2020. 

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

A: Yes! There are many strategies which can be employed to ensure a smooth, virtual, defense. The Graduate College has prepared a recommendations guide to help with planning and conducting a remote defense.

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

A: The requirement to hold public defenses has been suspended for spring 2020. Due to restrictions on group activities, the public meeting for any scheduled defense should be canceled; however, many programs are using Zoom to replicate the public part of the defense. Holding a virtual public defense can allow for audience members to join who might have otherwise participated in-person, e.g., friends, family, colleagues. While this is certainly not required, it is an available option--and encouraged, if both student and committee agree. 

Q: How will I submit the signed “Report of Final Exam” for my defense?

A: Each member must email their vote to the chair of the committee. The chair will then aggregate and email these responses to the Graduate College OR sign the physical report on behalf of the other members, and scan/email that to the Graduate College.

Q: What if my committee members can’t attend my defense remotely?

A: If committee members or the student cannot participate remotely, the defense must be rescheduled or another faculty member should be identified to participate as a committee member. There will not be an adjustment to the quantity of committee members required for a defense. Masters students must still have at least 3 members on committees, and 5 for doctoral committees.

Q: What if I have to reschedule my defense?

A: The Graduate College will work with students whose defense must be rescheduled.  We will make every effort to help students  graduate during spring 2020.  We are available to discuss options with students whose defense cannot be rescheduled during spring 2020.  For more information, please contact and include COVID-19 in the subject line.

Revised Spring 2020 Deadlines

To provide students and faculty some relief during this difficult semester, Spring 2020 deadlines for final exam (defense) and deposit have been revised.




Report of Final Exam April 21st Friday, May 1st
Deposit Deadline April 28th Friday, May 8th
Committee Verification May 20th June 1st 


Thesis and Dissertation Requirements

Q: My thesis defense must be rescheduled due to coronavirus precautions, and now I can’t make the thesis deposit deadline. Does that mean I can’t graduate?

A: The Graduate College is committed to working with students affected by coronavirus disruptions.  For more information, please contact and include COVID-19 in the subject line.

Q: I have an in-person meeting scheduled for a thesis support appointment with Dr. Erin Kaufman. Will we still meet?

A: Because non-essential personnel have been directed to work remotely until further notice, we will reschedule your in-person meeting to a Zoom or phone meeting. We will reach out to you directly. You may also choose to work with our thesis office electronically, either via email or OneDrive.

Q: How will the coronavirus precautions currently in place affect my thesis submission?

A: Unless you are an MFA student planning to submit your thesis in hard copy form (see below), the thesis submission process will not change. You will submit your thesis electronically via ProQuest and work with the Graduate College to make any needed formatting corrections. The Graduate College will approve your thesis, and your committee members will then review and sign off on your thesis electronically.  Please see our website for information on electronic committee verification.

Q: What if members of my committee get sick and can’t sign off on my thesis?

A: Should a committee member be ill; the Graduate College will work closely with a designated member of your thesis committee – typically your thesis supervisor – to determine the best course forward.  If necessary, and only with permission, the Graduate College can approve your thesis on a committee member’s behalf.

MFA Requirements

Q: I am an MFA student planning to submit my thesis in hard copy form. How should I do that now that campus is effectively closed?

A: The Graduate College is currently working with affected MFA departments, e.g., Writer's Workshop, Literary Translation, directly to coordinate a deposit alternative.  The Graduate College will notify you directly when a deposit time and place instructions become available for your program.

Q: If I submit my thesis in hard copy form, how do I receive signatures on my Report of Thesis Approval (required for hard copy deposits)?

A: Each member must email their vote to the student's Thesis Supervisor.  The Thesis Supervisor will then aggregate and email these responses to the Graduate College OR sign the physical Report of Thesis Approval form on behalf of the other members, then scan and email that form to the Graduate College.

Holding Your Comprehensive Exam

Q: My comp exam is scheduled in spring 2020. What should I do?

A: Comprehensive exams should also be conducted remotely during spring 2020.

Because the form and structure of comprehensive exams are highly variable across departments and programs, not all comp exams will lend themselves to remote participation.  If your comprehensive exam cannot be adapted to allow remote participation by all members, it must be rescheduled.  In such cases, please update the Graduate College.  To reschedule your comp exam, please contact and include COVID-19 in the subject line.

Q: How will I submit the signed “Report of Comp Exam”?

A: Each member must email their vote to the chair of the committee. The chair will then aggregate and email these responses to the Graduate College OR sign the physical report on behalf of the other members, and scan/email that to the Graduate College.

S/U Grading Option

Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading option has been adopted for graduate courses taught during spring 2020. Students may choose to receive either the letter grade recorded by the instructor, or a S/U designation for each of their courses by Friday, May 8th, 2020.

Non-Degree Advising Appointments

Because non-essential personnel have been directed to work remotely until further notice, we can meet with you by phone or via Zoom. Please contact your advisor directly ( for more information.  

Adding & Dropping Courses

Students should prioritize using the online system to drop courses. Students can drop courses via MyUI through May 8th, 2020 without Dean's approval.  To add a course, we will accept and review scanned add forms that have already been signed by advisor and instructor.

Withdrawing Registration due to COVID-19

Graduate students have until April 14 to withdraw registration without dean’s approval.

Please feel free to contact us about electronic alternatives to any administrative processes.

The Graduate College is monitoring the needs of our graduates and adapting our policies to ensure all students eligible to graduate in spring 2020 will be able to do so. We are committed to helping students graduate in spring 2020, despite campus disruption.  For more information or if you have a specific question, please contact us at Please include COVID-19 in the subject line.

Professional Development

The Graduate Student Success Center is available to assist you with services regarding professional development. Please review the FAQs below. If you have any questions, please contact us at  


Q: What if I need to schedule an appointment? 

A: Starting March 11, 2020, all newly scheduled meetings temporarily will be held online by Zoom web conferencing due to the campus coronavirus response; if you prefer to meet by Skype, phone, or e-mail, please indicate this in the notes while booking a meeting. During this time, we are also offering additional consultation support for TAs transitioning to online teaching. Current graduate students and postdocs can make appointments with Brady Krien here or Lisa Kelly here. University of Iowa graduate students and postdoctoral scholars can sign up for up to three appointments per academic semester.  (Undergraduates should contact the equivalent offices of the Pomerantz Career Center for careers and Honors at Iowa for fellowships.)


Q: What if I need to schedule a professional development workshop?

A: Starting 3/11/20, all newly requested workshops (temporarily) will be held virtually by Zoom web conferencing due to the campus coronavirus response.  

Q: What if I already scheduled a professional development workshop?

A: If you have already requested a workshop for Spring 2020, our office will contact you to discuss your preferred options (Zoom, reschedule, etc.).


Q: Is the Dinner for Twelve still happening?

A: The University of Iowa Graduate College is postponing the Dinner for Twelve Events for April and May. These Dinners will be rescheduled and new dates will be announced at a later time.

Q: Is the Graduate Student Appreciation Week still happening?

A: The Graduate College, GSS,  GPSG will be postponing social events during the week of April 6-10. We hope to have more information about ways to celebrate Graduate Student Appreciation Week. Please visit here for more information (coming soon).

Online Teaching Support

Q: What kind of online teaching support is available to graduate student teaching assistants?

A: The Office of Teaching, Learning, & Technology (OTLT) has developed two online resources – Keep Learning and Keep Teaching—to support instructors as they make the move to virtual instruction. In addition, the Grad Success team will be offering some teaching support resources built specifically for graduate teaching assistants. These include individual online teaching consultations with either Brady Krien (sign up here) or Lisa Kelly (sign up here) as well as a series of webinars focused on supporting graduate students as they make this transition. We have also developed a curated list of resources for grad students making the move to virtual instruction available here.

Virtual Instruction Webinars

Effective Virtual Instruction for TAs Workshop Series – Access recordings of this series here.

  • Best Practices in Online Teaching (3/19: 3-4pm and 3/23: 11-12pm CT)
    • Understanding how to make good pedagogical decisions while moving a course or discussion section fully online, including the basic terminology and principles of online teaching.
  • Navigating the Process of Moving Online (3/24: 1-2pm CT)
    • Strategies for graduate instructors to manage the process of teaching online, self-care, and creating boundaries in the online classroom
  • Helping Students Succeed in Online Environments (3/25: 4-5pm CT)
    • Supporting students in the transition into online coursework, maintaining classroom community, dealing with issues of access and accessibility, accessing resources, and supporting students in distress
  • Facilitating Productive Asynchronous Online Discussion (3/26: 11-12pm CT)
    • How to utilize digital tools, moderate discussion forums, and engage students in productive text-based discussion

The Graduate Student Success Center is committed to helping graduate with our services despite campus disruption. Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions  about  appointments, workshops, and events.