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COVID-19 Current Graduate Students Updates

In response to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation, the University of Northern Colorado has made a number of changes regarding the delivery of classes, spring commencement, the closure of UNC campuses and more. 

UNC’s Graduate School is working diligently on ways to support you during this time and we will continue update this page as the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation develops.

COVID-19 Safety at UNC

UNC will always prioritize student and campus community health and safety. UNC has been actively monitoring the evolving Coronavirus situation at a university level and is providing regular updates on UNC's COVID-19 website.

2020 Spring Semester Information

With the closure of UNC campuses, the staff of the Graduate School is working remotely and remains available to help you. In many cases, your program faculty will be your first stop for answers pertaining to courses, grades, internships, practicums, comprehensive exams and defenses of theses or dissertations. Please feel free to contact Graduate School staff with questions and concerns that faculty are unable to answer or that are not addressed on UNC’s coronavirus webpage.

Currently, none of our Graduate School deadlines for this semester have changed.

  • Remote Instruction

    Beginning Wednesday, March 25, UNC in-person classes will transition to an online delivery (or other alternative) for the remainder of the spring semester. Graduate students and graduate teaching assistants who do not have reliable internet access at home should plan now for how they will teach or attend online courses.

    Many internet providers are allowing internet services at a reduced cost to students (please check with your internet provider). It is important to note that neither students nor faculty should expect the semester's workload to decrease. All adjustments to assessment, examinations and grading policies should be explained clearly by faculty. Courses must continue to their scheduled date of completion in order to meet university and Higher Learning Commission standards for awarding course credit.

  • Applications for Admissions to Graduate School: Information for Faculty

    Completed applications for graduate programs are viewable online through Slate. Review of applications and recommendations regarding admission must continue in a timely manner. If you have responsibility within your program for reviewing applications please do the following:

    • Log in to Slate regularly and check your workflow.
    • Schedule committee meetings to review applications and make recommendations via Zoom or Microsoft Teams
    • Reach out to the Graduate Admissions Team if you run into problems
  • Funding for Graduate Students
    • Assistantship funding for teaching assistants will continue.
    • Graduate assistantship funding for those in administrative assistantships will continue. If you are a GA, you should speak with your supervisor about work you can do remotely and a process for regularly checking in for accountability purposes.
    • Graduate Scholarships will continue.
    • The terms and conditions of graduate/teaching assistant agreements still apply; tuition waivers will be adjusted if students elect to withdraw from spring courses.

  • Doctoral Examinations and Defenses

    Written comprehensive exams take many forms across graduate programs at UNC.  The deadline for submitting comprehensive exam results for spring semester remains April 10, 2020. 

    • Please submit written comp exam results electronically to laura.hulsey@unco.edu on the form normally used by the program.
    • Please submit a separate form for each student.

    Oral comprehensive exams, defenses of dissertations and doctoral scholarly projects will follow the same process and policies as explained in the catalog, with the exception that all must take place electronically for the remainder of the semester. Please note that we are relaxing some of our practices, but we are still following and enforcing Graduate School policies.

    Oral comprehensive exams or defenses should be scheduled two weeks in advance with the Graduate School using the Request to Schedule a Doctoral Exam form*. Please email the form directly to Carol.steward@unco.edu.

    • As per the policy in the Graduate Catalog, if an oral comprehensive exam or defense takes place without first being scheduled through the Graduate School, the results will not be accepted. The committee and student will have to schedule the comprehensive exam or defense and complete it a second time.
    • The Graduate School will assume that all scheduled oral comprehensive exams and defenses are being held via Zoom or other videoconferencing platform for the remainder of the semester — a request for an exception is not needed.
    • The Graduate School will send the research advisor an electronic copy of the Results form via email once an exam or defense is scheduled.
    • The Results form is to be used for a specific student and should not be edited for use with other students.

    The electronic copy of the form will allow insertion of Adobe Acrobat verified signatures from each committee member. Please return the signed form via email to laura.hulsey@unco.edu

    *The last day to schedule a dissertation defense for spring 2020 degree conferral was March 16.  Late requests must be submitted by March 23, along with a petition for an exception to the two-week policy.  The petition and request will be reviewed by the Interim Dean.  Approval is not guaranteed.

    • Research advisors who have already received a paper copy of the Results form for an upcoming exam or defense should check their email for an electronic version of the form in the next few days.
  • Master’s Comps and Thesis Defenses

    Master’s-level comprehensive examinations and thesis defenses are not scheduled by the Graduate School. Our office receives the results of the comprehensive examinations and an electronic version of the completed thesis. The deadline to submit the results of comprehensive exams is April 10. Please submit written comprehensive examination results electronically to laura.hulsey@unco.edu on the form normally used by the program.

    • Please submit a separate form for each student.

    Since comprehensive exams take many different forms for master’s programs, the Graduate School can only provide general advice. Please note:

    • Comprehensive exams cannot be administered in an on-campus, classroom setting for the remainder of the semester
    • Necessary accommodations must be made for students with disabilities as documented by the Office of Disability Resources
    • Any form of comprehensive examination should have safeguards against or include means of detecting violations of academic integrity

    Consider the following suggestions for the comprehensive examination:

    • A take-home exam with appropriate instruction and information on penalties for violations of academic integrity (remember that Canvas has the Vericite plagiarism checker)
    • A Canvas shell dedicated to delivery of the comprehensive examination
    • Explore electronic options for administering standardized licensing/certification exams (for programs that use these exams as their comp)
    • Using Zoom for oral exams, presentations or performances

    Suggestions for Thesis Defenses (or equivalent):

    • Use Zoom or Microsoft Teams for an electronic alternative to the traditional thesis defense
    • Have students develop a 15-20-minute narrated presentation of their thesis research and findings and submit that to their thesis advisors electronically
    • Have students submit a digital portfolio of work with details of how they would exhibit their pieces
    • Require students to perform online or submit a video of their performance
  • Thesis, Dissertation, and Scholarly Project Reviews

    The last day to submit a thesis, dissertation or doctoral scholarly project for spring degree conferral approval is April 10.

    All theses, dissertations and scholarly projects are submitted electronically for review. There are no changes to the Graduate School’s normal timelines for review and approval of these projects. 

  • Research

    Please be advised that the university anticipates that students may have difficulty completing certain types of research during the closure of the campus. 

    • On-campus laboratory or animal research projects should wind down as quickly as possible so that access to campus facilities is not necessary.
    • Face-to-face meetings with focus groups or individuals cannot happen on campus and should be avoided during this period.
    • Zoom is a good alternative for individual interviews, if that is a student’s method of data collection.
    • Students and research advisors must ensure that methods of data collection comply with the student’s IRB protocols.
    • If any changes are needed to methods of data collection, and such changes fall outside IRB protocols, the student will need to amend the IRB.

    If a student’s laboratory or qualitative research is disrupted by the closure of campus and cancellation of face-to-face meetings, then the student’s graduation from the program may be delayed. The Graduate School is here to help. We will explore what flexibility we may have with Incomplete grades, extension of term limits or waiving of continuous registration fees. Please contact the Interim Graduate Dean, Cindy Wesley, at cindy.wesley@unco.edu.

  • Graduate School Meetings and Events

    As the Graduate School staff continues to work remotely, we will be in regular communication with each other and with faculty and students. The staff will be meeting together at least weekly via Microsoft Teams and communicating more frequently via phone, text and email. If you encounter difficulties or have questions, don’t hesitate to contact our team members.

    Graduate Council
    Graduate Council will continue to review applications for Graduate Faculty status and circulate recommendations electronically for approval on our regular, monthly schedule.  We will also review the nominees for the Dean’s Citation awards.

    Graduate School Events
    All Graduate School events are cancelled
    for the remainder of this semester. These events include:

    • All Graduate Student Association events
    • Tuesday, May 5: Research Evening
    • May 8: Graduate Dean’s Citation Reception
      Although the reception is cancelled, the committee will still review nominees and award citations for spring semester
    • Friday, May 8: Commencement: – The commencement ceremony will not take place. Visit the COVID-19 FAQ webpage for more information.  

    More event cancelations