The University of Iowa

Coronavirus FAQs

Spring 2020 Commencement

The Graduate College celebrated its doctoral and master's commencements on Friday, May 15, 2020. Videos of all University of Iowa ceremonies can be accessed at

Communicating with prospective graduate students

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.   

Expanded Testing Options for International Students

The Graduate College has approved the use of Duolingo as a temporary testing option for fall 2020 international student admits.


The DuoLingo English Test (DET) is available worldwide with no exceptions.  Test takers need only need a valid ID.  UI Graduate Admissions will use an official minimum requirement of 105 for admission and ALL students admitted on DET scores will be required to take the on-campus English Proficiency Exam when they arrive.  The DET costs $49 and students can submit their scores to an unlimited number of schools for free.

Please see the DET FAQs for Institutions for additional information.   


At this time the ETS Special Home Edition for TOEFL and GRE is available worldwide EXCEPT China and Iran.  To use this option, students must meet the equipment requirements to take the at home version of GRE and TOEFL, which is only available for Windows OS.  ETS Special Home Edition for TOEFL and GRE does NOT support iOS.  Equipment requirements are available on the ETS website.

Communicating with current graduate students

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

COVID-19 Exception Request

To request an exception for spring or summer 2020 resulting from exceptional circumstance related to the COVID-19 pandemic, please complete a petition.

S/U Grading Option

Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading option has been adopted for graduate courses taught during spring 2020. Beginning in mid-April, students may choose to receive either the letter grade recorded by the instructor, or a S/U designation for each of their courses.  This feature will be found in MyUI.   The deadline to make the choice of receiving either a letter grade or S/U is Friday, May 8th, 2020. 

After May 8th, students may appeal to update their selection, e.g., I chose S/U and now I want to replace that with a grade.  To appeal your grading option, please email the Graduate College Dean's Office

  • Students graduating in spring 2020 have until May 26th to appeal their elections. 
  • All other students have until June 5th

Students may wish to consider: A S/U will neither raise, nor lower, your GPA; You may want to check with your program to make sure a grade of S/U will fulfill your degree requirement(s); If you are earning credit toward a future endorsement or licensure granted by an outside accrediting body, you may wish to confirm with your program whether S/U is an acceptable grading option for those purposes.

Academic Probation 

In the Graduate College, a student will remain on academic probation until they have completed nine semester hours of graded graduate work or raised their GPA to the minimum requirement for their degree objective, whichever comes first.  The minimum GPA requirements are: 2.75 for non-doctoral students, e.g., master's, and 3.0 for doctoral students.  If, after completing an additional nine semester hours of graded graduate work at the University of Iowa, beginning after the semester the student was first placed on probation, the cumulative grade-point average remains below the minimum, a student will not be permitted to reregister and will be sent a formal notice of dismissal.

Note that "an additional" nine graded semester hours are progressively counted beginning in the session immediately following the first probation action until earned. If the GPA is raised to the required level before completing nine additional graded semester hours, the student will be restored to good standing.

Further, Graduate College regulations prohibit a student on probation from take the general comprehensive or final examinations leading to any degree or certificate, nor may he or she receive any graduate degree or certificate. Information about the Graduate College's probation and dismissal policies may be found in the Graduate College Manual of Rules and Regulations.

Holding Your Thesis or Dissertation Defense

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

A: Defense committees, including students, should plan to participate remotely for defenses scheduled during the period for which UI courses are online (i.e., currently through August 7th, 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 is suspended for the duration of the Coronavirus precautionary restriction on F2F instruction (i.e., currently through August 7th, 2020); 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. 

Additionally, if for any reason either a faculty member or a student feels unsafe or prefers to participate in a defense remotely, even after campus returns to F2F instruction in fall 2020, the Graduate College will permit this option for any member of a final exam/defense.

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 AND 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 and summer 2020.  We are available to discuss options with students whose defense cannot be rescheduled easily.  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 or summer 2020. What should I do?

A: Comprehensive exams should also be conducted remotely during the period for which UI courses are online (i.e., currently through August 7th, 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 AND sign the physical report on behalf of the other members, and scan/email that to the Graduate College.

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 in Spring 2020

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  The Grad Success team has also developed a curated list of Resources for Online Career Preparation, including tips for job searches during the pandemic, continuing to build your network, and tools for career exploration. 


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.).

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 hereThe 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.


Eligible students experiencing unexpected financial difficulties due to COVID-19 may complete the Dean of Students Emergency Fund application.

Encourage students who have not filed a FAFSA to do so as soon as possible. Students with follow up questions about grant eligibility should be directed to the Financial Aid office.


Dean John Keller has created a document to address graduate student employee concerns created by the COVID-19 virus.


Are you experiencing financial loss or unexpected travel expenses due to the COVID-19 virus? The Graduate College has allocated funds for microgrants to help. These funds are for postdocs who experience an event or an unforeseen circumstance that severely impacts their training.

The University of Iowa also has created a policy for faculty and administrators concerning extensions of postdoc appointments due to COVID-19.