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. 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. 

Spring Semester Return

Ohio State is planning for spring semester to prioritize the health and safety of the university community, and students need to be prepared to do their part. The university successfully completed autumn semester by acting Together As Buckeyes, and those requirements, including face masks, physical distancing and other personal behavior, will continue in 2021.

If you are returning to in-person activities, you should:

  • Self-sequester for 10 days before you return to your on-campus residence and/or to in-person engagements on campus. We recognize that this may not be possible for students with clinical, lab or other responsibilities. If that is your situation, you may disregard this requirement.
  • Schedule COVID test weekly at Jesse Owens North, starting when you return to Columbus to either live or visit campus for any reason. Like all other off-campus students, you should obtain two negative COVID-19 tests before resuming in-person activities on our campuses. For students who are have continuing clinical or lab responsibilities, please start your weekly testing as soon as possible. Jesse Owens North will be available for appointments starting Jan. 11. (Off-campus students are unable to schedule testing appointments on Jan. 17, 18 and 24.)

 

Spring Semester Testing

Each week, graduate and professional Columbus-campus students who live off campus will be required to take a COVID-19 diagnostic saliva test. Failure to test may result in a directive to quarantine until testing can be completed, loss of access to non-residential spaces and a report to Student Conduct. There will be no direct costs to students participating in surveillance testing. 

  • Appointments should be scheduled in advance using MyChart. For instructions on how to schedule your appointment, visit go.osu.edu/MyChartInstructions.
  • If you have not already, activate your MyChart account. If you are having difficulty creating or accessing your account, you can call MyChart support at 866-966-6975, option 3 (available Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST) or email MyChartTechSupport@osumc.edu for assistance (email may take up to 2 days for response).

Students who think they may be eligible for an exemption to the weekly testing requirement should review details about the exemption process on the student testing program webpage.

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(link is external). Students requesting a leave of absence should consult the Student Health Insurance website(link is external) 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?

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?

International graduate students continuing as a Graduate Associate student-employee for Spring 2021 and not allowed to return to the United States of America due to pandemic-related travel restrictions in force in their country, or ours, can receive a stipend and fee authorization for Spring 2021 only. This agreement assumes the students were in the United States of America and enrolled at Ohio State University before departing the United States, are being paid into U.S. bank accounts, and are planning to return to the United States to complete their degree requirements. The Graduate Associate may incur tax responsibility from the foreign country. We will continue to monitor and evaluate this guidance. As circumstances develop or change, this arrangement may not continue.

 

International graduate students continuing as a Graduate Associate student-employee for Spring 2021 and not allowed to return to the United States of America due to pandemic-related travel restrictions in force in their country, or ours, can receive a stipend and fee authorization for Spring 2021 only. This agreement assumes the students were in the United States of America and enrolled at Ohio State University before departing the United States, are being paid into U.S. bank accounts, and are planning to return to the United States to complete their degree requirements. The Graduate Associate may incur tax responsibility from the foreign country. We will continue to monitor and evaluate this guidance. As circumstances develop or change, this arrangement may not continue.

 

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.