Graduate Studies

Ohio State has implemented a broad range of changes to provide support and flexibility to graduate students amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Campuses have far fewer people present at any one time because courses are being offered with a broader mix of in person, online (distance learning) and blended (hybrid and distance-enhanced) teaching, and many employees continue to telework.

Ohio State has made physical changes to create physical distancing in classrooms; added signs directing people where to enter, exit and move through buildings; and enhanced cleaning protocols. The university is also focused on the shared commitment needed among all students, faculty and staff to protect one another using online education, the Together As Buckeyes Pledge and guidelines on face masks, hand washing and physical distancing. 

This page addresses some of the common questions posed about autumn semester. Given the multiple roles that graduate students play on our campuses, additional information is also available on the Teaching page and on the Office of Research return-to-campus page. 

Frequently asked questions

Academic Work

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How can graduate students request a leave of absence?

The Graduate School has accommodation processes for students who would like to request a leave of absence due to an extenuating circumstance.


Please follow the directions listed on the forms. Each requires approval from the student’s advisor and/or program and must be submitted through gradforms. Students requesting a leave of absence should consult the Student Health Insurance website and/or call their service line at 614-688-7979 prior to submitting a leave form. Requesting a leave of absence may impact a student’s access to health insurance and other benefits.

If COVID-19 has affected my ability to complete my graduate degree, can I request an extension?

Yes. The Graduate School has always had an active petition process to address issues for students who need additional time to complete their degree due to unforeseen circumstances. Specifically, all graduate students have the opportunity to extend graduation past the five-year post-candidacy deadline by submitting a petition through http://gradforms.osu.edu/ following rules indicated in the Graduate School Handbook section 7.7.7.

What accommodations are available if graduate students want to opt out of in-person activities?

The university has mechanisms in place for accommodations. To determine eligibility and feasibility of a flexible work arrangement for your position, please discuss the policy and specific process information with your program, graduate advisor and/or supervisor. Learn more at Flexible Work Policy 6.12.

There are also COVID-19 specific leave options that designated employees for the university may consider. Graduate students should contact their unit (advisor, Graduate Studies Chair, HR, Department Chair) regarding potential flexibility in assignments. The goal would be to accommodate GA requests when possible while recognizing the need for a level of in-person instruction to maintain regular educational, research and other scholastic activities this autumn.

What support is available to graduate students whose degree was delayed because of COVID-19?

The Graduate School has allocated 57 graduate student matching tuition and fee authorizations to colleges for students whose degree is delayed due to COVID-19. This is a graduate student-initiated process and requires the student to complete an Application to Graduate Form (on Grad Forms) for the extended semester and request the award via the MTFA Form in the semester directly preceding the extended semester.

What teaching support resources are available for GTAs?

Tools, strategies, workshops and other resources are available for instructors through these websites:

Will the university waive continuous enrollment requirements for post-candidacy doctoral students?

The Graduate School has initiated an autumn 2020 proposal for a post-candidacy leave policy that would permit students to take a break from their program without penalty, such as the continuous enrollment fees, with approval. This proposal will be brought to Council for Graduate Students leadership for input as well as other university committees, including University Senate, for consideration of extension into 2021.

Health and Safety

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What physical precautions are being taken to protect instructors and students?

Directional flow of people into and out of buildings and classrooms will be indicated to help maintain physical distancing. Wherever possible, buildings and classrooms will have one-way entry and exit doors clearly marked.

All building and classroom ventilation systems have been checked for appropriate air filtration. Classroom pool air filters have been replaced prior to autumn semester. Additional information is available through Facilities, Operations and Development.

In classrooms that have desks secured to the floor, seats that can be occupied are indicated with appropriate signs. In classrooms with furniture that can be moved, signs have been placed on the floor indicating where the furniture is to be placed.

What should instructors do if a student is not following correct health and safety measures?

As detailed in the Expectations and Accountability Measures that have been shared with the university community, all Ohio State students, faculty and staff are expected to follow the Safe Campus Requirements. What instructors should do to help students follow these guidelines:

  • Set clear expectations early (i.e., before the start of the term) with your students and reinforce them often.
  • If a student is not following the health and safety guidelinesremind them that all members of the university community are expected to follow university guidelines and give them guidance about how to comply in this specific circumstance (e.g., tell them where they can get a mask if they have forgotten theirs).
  • If the student does not comply following a reminder, ask the student to leave, indicating that they are welcome to return when they follow the guidelines, and send a referral to the Office of Student Conduct.
  • If the student continues to refuse, the faculty member should dismiss class for the day and refer the student to the Office of Student Conduct.
  • If a student begins to experience distress or causing a disruption, this guide provides additional information.

As detailed in the Expectations and Accountability Measures that have been shared with the university community, all Ohio State students, faculty and staff are expected to follow the Safe Campus Requirements. What instructors should do to help students follow these guidelines:

  • Set clear expectations early (i.e., before the start of the term) with your students and reinforce them often.
  • If a student is not following the health and safety guidelinesremind them that all members of the university community are expected to follow university guidelines and give them guidance about how to comply in this specific circumstance (e.g., tell them where they can get a mask if they have forgotten theirs).
  • If the student does not comply following a reminder, ask the student to leave, indicating that they are welcome to return when they follow the guidelines, and send a referral to the Office of Student Conduct.
  • If the student continues to refuse, the faculty member should dismiss class for the day and refer the student to the Office of Student Conduct.
  • If a student begins to experience distress or causing a disruption, this guide provides additional information.

As detailed in the Expectations and Accountability Measures that have been shared with the university community, all Ohio State students, faculty and staff are expected to follow the Safe Campus Requirements. What instructors should do to help students follow these guidelines:

  • Set clear expectations early (i.e., before the start of the term) with your students and reinforce them often.
  • If a student is not following the health and safety guidelinesremind them that all members of the university community are expected to follow university guidelines and give them guidance about how to comply in this specific circumstance (e.g., tell them where they can get a mask if they have forgotten theirs).
  • If the student does not comply following a reminder, ask the student to leave, indicating that they are welcome to return when they follow the guidelines, and send a referral to the Office of Student Conduct.
  • If the student continues to refuse, the faculty member should dismiss class for the day and refer the student to the Office of Student Conduct.
  • If a student begins to experience distress or causing a disruption, this guide provides additional information.

What will happen if someone in my class gets COVID-19?

The risk of exposure will be minimized if individuals follow the university’s health and safety requirements, including wearing face masks and remaining at least 6 feet apart.

Contact tracers would reach out to students and faculty in the class only if they have had close contact with the infected person — by spending at least 15 minutes together, at a distance of less than 6 feet.

To protect medical privacy, the university would not broadly notify the class of an illness — COVID-19 or otherwise — unless the contact tracing process determined that it was required to protect public health.

The risk of exposure will be minimized if individuals follow the university’s health and safety requirements, including wearing face masks and remaining at least 6 feet apart.

Contact tracers would reach out to students and faculty in the class only if they have had close contact with the infected person — by spending at least 15 minutes together, at a distance of less than 6 feet.

To protect medical privacy, the university would not broadly notify the class of an illness — COVID-19 or otherwise — unless the contact tracing process determined that it was required to protect public health.

The risk of exposure will be minimized if individuals follow the university’s health and safety requirements, including wearing face masks and remaining at least 6 feet apart.

Contact tracers would reach out to students and faculty in the class only if they have had close contact with the infected person — by spending at least 15 minutes together, at a distance of less than 6 feet.

To protect medical privacy, the university would not broadly notify the class of an illness — COVID-19 or otherwise — unless the contact tracing process determined that it was required to protect public health.

Where can I find information about safety protocols and other adjustments to teaching for autumn 2020?

The Teaching page provides details for instructors on a variety of topics, from cleaning protocols to the type of assignments that allow for proper physical distancing.

Who should I tell if I learn that someone has contracted COVID-19?

  • If you have or suspect you have COVID-19 and are a member of the faculty or staff, you should tell your supervisor and follow appropriate protocol.
  • If you are a supervisor and an employee reports an infection to you, you should contact your Human Resources business partner. Do not notify any other employees, maintaining the individual’s medical privacy.
  • If you have or suspect you have COVID-19 and are a student, you should immediately contact Student Health Services at sl-covid19.shs@osu.edu.
  • Students are not required to report the specific reason for their illness, including COVID-19 infection, to their instructors.
  • Faculty, staff and students who are made aware of or suspect that someone else has COVID-19 should not share that information with others, with the exception of supervisors reporting to Human Resources.
  • If you have or suspect you have COVID-19 and are a member of the faculty or staff, you should tell your supervisor and follow appropriate protocol.
  • If you are a supervisor and an employee reports an infection to you, you should contact your Human Resources business partner. Do not notify any other employees, maintaining the individual’s medical privacy.
  • If you have or suspect you have COVID-19 and are a student, you should immediately contact Student Health Services at sl-covid19.shs@osu.edu.
  • Students are not required to report the specific reason for their illness, including COVID-19 infection, to their instructors.
  • Faculty, staff and students who are made aware of or suspect that someone else has COVID-19 should not share that information with others, with the exception of supervisors reporting to Human Resources.

International Students

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Can graduate students who are unable to return to the United States continue to be paid as GTAs or GRAs?

Yes. Graduate students who are unable to return to the United States for autumn semester 2020 may continue to be paid as graduate teaching associates or graduate research associates under the following conditions:

  1. They are continuing graduate students.
  2. They are currently outside the United States and unable to return because of current travel restrictions.  
  3. They can complete their GTA or GRA responsibilities remotely.
  4. They have a U.S. bank account.
  5. If they are located in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan or Syria, please contact the Office of Secure Research for assistance (exportcontrol@osu.edu). These countries are subject to strict sanctions imposed by the U.S. government and restrictions and/or additional requirements may apply.

 
This decision applies to Autumn Semester 2020 only.

 

Yes. Graduate students who are unable to return to the United States for autumn semester 2020 may continue to be paid as graduate teaching associates or graduate research associates under the following conditions:

  1. They are continuing graduate students.
  2. They are currently outside the United States and unable to return because of current travel restrictions.  
  3. They can complete their GTA or GRA responsibilities remotely.
  4. They have a U.S. bank account.
  5. If they are located in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan or Syria, please contact the Office of Secure Research for assistance (exportcontrol@osu.edu). These countries are subject to strict sanctions imposed by the U.S. government and restrictions and/or additional requirements may apply.

 
This decision applies to Autumn Semester 2020 only.

 

How can graduate applicants meet English proficiency requirements if testing centers are closed?

In response to the temporary closings of testing centers in countries such as China and Iran, the Graduate School is temporarily accepting Duolingo English Test examination results for tests taken between May 1 and Sept. 1, 2020. The Duolingo English Test will be accepted as an alternative to TOEFL or IELTS for proof of English proficiency for impacted applicants.

In response to the temporary closings of testing centers in countries such as China and Iran, the Graduate School is temporarily accepting Duolingo English Test examination results for tests taken between May 1 and Sept. 1, 2020. The Duolingo English Test will be accepted as an alternative to TOEFL or IELTS for proof of English proficiency for impacted applicants.

Mental Health and Wellness

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I am worried about a student, what can I do?

If the concern is life threatening, please contact 911, the Ohio State Police Department, at 614-292-2121, or the Wexner Medical Center, at 614-293-8333. If the situation is not life threatening, being supportive and encouraging the student to contact Student Life's Counseling and Consultation Service (CCS) is often the best first step. CCS does not contact students who do not contact us first out of respect for their privacy and independence. You can also recommend some of the available mental health support options available on campus.

If the concern is life threatening, please contact 911, the Ohio State Police Department, at 614-292-2121, or the Wexner Medical Center, at 614-293-8333. If the situation is not life threatening, being supportive and encouraging the student to contact Student Life's Counseling and Consultation Service (CCS) is often the best first step. CCS does not contact students who do not contact us first out of respect for their privacy and independence. You can also recommend some of the available mental health support options available on campus.

What mental health and wellness resources are available on campus?

The safety of the Ohio State community is and always will be the university’s first priority. There are a variety of resources available for students, faculty and staff. The university has also compiled a wide range of research-based intervention strategies and information that can help build resiliency and enhance mental, emotional and physical health and well-being. Comprehensive information is available on the Mental Health and Wellness page and key resources are listed below.

If you or someone you know is an imminent danger to themselves or someone else, go to the nearest ER or call 911. If you are thinking of harming yourself or if you are worried about someone else and need advice about what to do, call the suicide prevention lifeline at 614-221-5445 or 800-273-8255 (TALK) or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting 4HOPE to 741741.

The safety of the Ohio State community is and always will be the university’s first priority. There are a variety of resources available for students, faculty and staff. The university has also compiled a wide range of research-based intervention strategies and information that can help build resiliency and enhance mental, emotional and physical health and well-being. Comprehensive information is available on the Mental Health and Wellness page and key resources are listed below.

If you or someone you know is an imminent danger to themselves or someone else, go to the nearest ER or call 911. If you are thinking of harming yourself or if you are worried about someone else and need advice about what to do, call the suicide prevention lifeline at 614-221-5445 or 800-273-8255 (TALK) or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting 4HOPE to 741741.

What wellness resources are available for graduate students?

Wellness resources for graduate students are listed on the Graduate School website to supplement the university’s Keep Well website. The resource provides helpful hints on developing a daily routine, creating ergonomic workspaces, tips for personal expression and staying connected with friends, family and colleagues. Links are also provided to Counseling and Consultation Services and resources through Student Life.

Wellness resources for graduate students are listed on the Graduate School website to supplement the university’s Keep Well website. The resource provides helpful hints on developing a daily routine, creating ergonomic workspaces, tips for personal expression and staying connected with friends, family and colleagues. Links are also provided to Counseling and Consultation Services and resources through Student Life.

Research

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How do I report concerns if safety protocols are not being followed in a research lab?

The Office of Research has developed a web-based tool (http://go.osu.edu/report-a-concern) to report research-related concerns around non-compliance with COVID-19 safety protocols. While the most direct route for addressing concerns is to contact a supervisor, department chair or college office, we recognize that is not always feasible. Any concerns reported through this tool will be sent directly to the Office of Research for review.

Where can I find information on the staged return to campus for research?

The Office of Research has details about the return to campus plan.


Please reference this website for the most up-to-date guidelines. The university’s COVID-19 Transition Task Force’s Safe Campus and Scientific Advisory Subgroup will continue monitoring changing conditions and consult with local and state health authorities. Recommendations and requirements will be refined as needed.