Academic Policies for Graduate Students

Dear graduate students,

We hope this email finds you well, engaged with your academics, and taking time to take care of yourselves.  We realize that this is a stressful time and that the disruption caused by covid-19, coupled with social and physical distancing may have impacted your ability to be successful this semester.  We’d like to share some information to support your academic success this semester.

Dropping classes

The University is allowing students to drop classes through the Friday of Week 14 (5pm, April 24) with a grade of W.  A W grade is not calculated in your cumulative GPA. There is no refund for dropped classes.

If you are supported as a GTA/GRA/GTI, please contact the Graduate School prior to dropping classes, if possible, to receive permission to be registered for less than 9 credits.

International students may drop below 9 credits in the spring 2020 semester while maintaining their student status.  If you have questions regarding your status, please contact International Programs and Services.

To drop a class, email the Registrar’s Office at making sure to include both the course information and your M number. The deadline for withdrawing from a single course with a W will be extended through Friday of week 14 (5pm, April 24). Please submit your request no later than 5pm.


If you would like to withdraw from all of your classes, please complete a Student Withdrawal form no later than 5pm on the Friday of week 14 (April 24).  You will receive a grade of W in all of your courses. There is no refund for your tuition if you withdraw.

If you are supported as a GTA/GRA/GTI, please contact the Graduate School prior to withdrawing, if possible.

International students should contact International Programs and Services to ensure that their student status and I-20 are updated.

Non-graded classes

The University Senate has passed a policy to allow undergraduate students to convert graded classes to non-graded classes (pass/fail). Graduate students will not be able to change the grading mode for their classes.  The Graduate School requires that classes earn a letter grade (A, B, etc.) in order to be used toward a graduate degree.

Each graduate program may allow up to six credits of BC or C grades to count toward a graduate degree. Please consult with your graduate program director to determine the academic standards in your program.

Student support

Our student support coordinator, Anna McClatchy, is available to help you find additional resources for your personal and academic concerns.  HuskyFAN is available to provide emergency food for those in need. Finally, Counseling Services is providing individual services, group sessions, and seminars through remote services and referrals. 

Academic grievances

If you have a grievance about any grades you have received this semester, please use the Academic Grievance policy to address these concerns.

Good standing

Graduate students must maintain good standing in order to continue pursuing a degree.  In general, this requires a cumulative GPA of 3.0 and making progress in research.  

A switch in academic standing from good to probationary status may occur after a poor academic performance. This is simply an indicator (or warning) that improvement is needed and has no impact on a student’s ability to participate in a degree program in the next semester.

However, if a student is currently on academic probation, continued poor performance would lead to academic suspension.  All students who are suspended are encouraged to appeal this decision so that they can remain active in their academic program.  The Graduate School reviews these appeals holistically and understands that it may have been an extra challenge to return to good standing this semester.

We are here to help.  Please let us know how we can assist you this semester. Please take care of yourself and your loved ones.


Graduate School

Academic Policies for Accelerated Master’s Students

Dear student,

Congratulations on being accepted into an accelerated master’s program at Michigan Tech for summer or fall 2020.  We hope that you and your family are doing well.

The University recently announced a policy allowing undergraduate students the option of converting letter grades to Pass/Fail for the spring semester due to the disruption caused by the novel coronavirus.  This communication will give you further information about that option and how it relates specifically to your enrollment in an accelerated master’s program.  

  • The accelerated master’s program allows you to double-count up to six credits of undergraduate courses toward your graduate degree, with the permission of your graduate program director.  
  • The Graduate School does not allow pass/fail grades (SCV/ECV) in courses to be used to satisfy degree requirements.  
  • Classes that have been converted to SCV/ECV grades will not be able to be used toward completion of your graduate degree.  
  • Each graduate program may allow up to six credits of BC or C grades to count toward a graduate degree. 
  • Please consult with your graduate program director to determine what options will best support your success in graduate school.

For more information about the pass/fail option for undergraduate students, please consult the University’s web site.

Please let us know if we can assist you in any way as you begin your career as a graduate student.


Michigan Tech Graduate School

Adjustments to dissertation, thesis, and report deadlines for spring 2020

Dear faculty, staff, and students,

In response to the disruptions caused by COVID-19, the Graduate School will be adjusting deadlines for completing a dissertation, thesis, or report for spring semester.

To successfully complete a research degree, students must complete the following items by deadlines established by the Graduate School:

  1. Pass their final oral examination (“defense”)
  2. Submit the Approval of a Dissertation, Thesis, or Report form
  3. Submit a committee-approved dissertation, thesis, or report to Digital Commons
  4. Submit a committee-approved dissertation or thesis to ProQuest (reports do not submit to ProQuest)

For the spring semester, the following deadlines will apply for the above items:

  1. To complete a degree in spring, the deadline is 4pm on April 27, 2020.  This is a one week extension from the normal deadline.
  2. To complete a degree in summer – at no additional cost – the deadline is 4pm on May 27, 2020.  This is a three week extension of the regular “grace” period. For students with a terminal degree who submit by this deadline:
    1. The Graduate School will enroll them in UN5951 – a 0 credit, no fee, no tuition course
    2. The Graduate School will request that students are coded as “off campus”
    3. No fees – for this semester – will be due when the document is accepted
    4. A provisional certification indicating degree completion can be provided.  Students request this on the Approval form.

Students unable to submit by May 27 who wish to complete their degree in the summer must register for at least one credit.  They will have until 4pm on August 10, 2020 to complete their defense and submit their document and associated paperwork.

Defenses should still be scheduled two weeks in advance and must include a public presentation. These presentations may be held using an online platform of the committee’s choice and the URL provided for public access will be publicized by the Graduate School.   Based on feedback we have received, we offer the following suggestions for your defense using Zoom:

  • The IT Knowledge Base on Conferencing includes answers to many of your questions. Contact IT if you need additional assistance (906-487-1111,
  • Set up your meeting to have a co-host so that a second person can start the meeting, mute participants with audio issues, or act as a moderator.
  • Set up your meeting to mute participants automatically when they join.
  • Set up your meeting to turn off video for participants to preserve bandwidth.
  • Share your slides and present as usual.
  • There are several options for asking questions during a Zoom webinar:
    • Participants can be encouraged to type questions in the chat window.  These can be answered in real-time or saved for the end.
    • Participants can “raise your hand” and then ask via chat, audio, or video.  It is helpful to have a friend or committee member be a moderator for this.
    • Participants can “unmute” themselves and simply ask their question. This is easier with a smaller group.
  • The “on-hold” feature may be used to exclude a participant from the audio and video feed, for example, while the committee is deliberating about the defense.

We hope that these adjustments will allow all students to complete their degree in a timely manner with less stress about registration and fee payment.

We are here to help.  Please let us know how we can assist you.


Graduate School

Information on digitally signing Graduate School forms, an email to students

Dear students,

The Graduate School recognizes that signing paper forms will be difficult or impossible for the coming weeks.  Many staff, faculty, and students will be working remotely, and since the University does not have a secure way to sign PDF forms and validate that the signatures are from the person shown, we will be suggesting the following process for submitting forms that require signatures.

Students should download the form, complete the form, and email to the first person who needs to sign. That person can forward the form to the Graduate School ( or to the next person to sign the form, indicating their approval in the email.  Many forms only require one signature. When emailing forms, it is best to email one form per student per email so the forms can be appropriately routed to the correct staff member. If forms are emailed directly from faculty, then the Graduate School will be able to verify that faculty have appropriately approved the forms. Digital signatures are not necessary, and some of our forms will not allow them to be added.

An alternative way would be to print and sign the form as usual and either photograph or scan using a phone.  There are many excellent scanning programs for iPhones and Android devices. The free version of Genius Scan is one such app you might use. Students can submit scans to Canvas, or scans can be emailed to

Whatever method you select, please submit the form only once. Multiple submissions delays processing.
We are here to help.  Please let us know what questions or suggestions you might have.

Graduate School

This email account is monitored by staff in the Graduate School.  Please reply to this email with any questions you have.
Michigan Tech Graduate School
906-487-2327 (voice)
906-487-2284 (fax)

Resources for current students:

Data Incubator’s Summer 2020 Data Science Fellowship application is open

The Data Incubator’s Summer 2020 Data Science Fellowship application is open!

Program: The Data Incubator is an intensive 8 week fellowship that prepares masters students, PhDs, and postdocs in STEM and social science fields seeking industry careers as data scientists. The program is free for Fellows and supported by sponsorships from hundreds of employers across multiple industries. In response to the overwhelming interest in our earlier sessions, we will be holding another fellowship.

Who Should Apply: Anyone who has already obtained a masters or PhD degree or who is within one year of graduating with a masters or PhD is welcome to apply. Applications from international students are welcome.

Locations: You can attend our program in:

  • New York City
  • San Francisco Bay Area
  • Washington, DC.
  • Online

Application Link:

Session Dates: 2020-06-29 – 2020-08-21
Early Deadline: 2020-04-03
Regular Deadline: 2020-05-02
We are assessing and interviewing candidates who apply for the Early Deadline first and then based on remaining availability, will take candidates who applied for the Regular Deadline on a first-come first-serve basis.

Data Science in 30 minutes: Learn how to build a data-science project in our upcoming free Data Science in 30-minutes webcast. Signup soon as space is limited.

Learn More: You can learn about our fellows at The New York TimesLinkedInAmazonCapital One, or Palantir. To read about our latest fellow alumni, check out our blog. To learn more about The Data Incubator, check us out on Venture BeatThe Next Web, or Harvard Business Review.

Email from the Graduate School

Dear students,

To promote social distancing and minimize the spread of COVID-19, we are asking that all students email with any questions you have for Graduate School staff.

If an email is not appropriate to resolve your question, you may use Google Calendar to schedule a 15-minute appointment (tutorial) with a staff member or call our front desk (906-487-2327). Please indicate whether you would like to conduct the meeting as a phone call, video conference, or in person.  If you will meet in person, we ask that you arrive at your appointment time to reduce the number of people on our floor at any given time.

Please visit the University’s web site for the most current information regarding COVID-19 and how campus is affected.

We are here to help,
Graduate School

This email account is monitored by staff in the Graduate School.  Please reply to this email with any questions you have.
Michigan Tech Graduate School
906-487-2327 (voice)
906-487-2284 (fax)

Resources for current students:

Email from the Dean to Graduate Students

Dear Colleagues,

As you have heard from the President Koubek, the health, safety, and security of our campus and our community is most important to us.  We need to make substantial changes in how we go about our daily lives in response to the evolving COVID-19 threat. This is a rapidly changing situation so we will, no doubt, need to continuously adjust our responses as we learn more.  For comprehensive and up-to-date information please see the University’s COVID-19 web page

In response to the evolving COVID-19 situation, the Graduate School is committed to doing all we can to make the rest of the semester as healthy and productive as possible.  Here are some issues the Graduate School is asking faculty to consider. 

I.  Research progress

Per the President’s memo, all instruction at Michigan Tech must be delivered virtually till 17 April 2020.  I am sure you are wondering how this will impact progress in your research group. How should ongoing research involving graduate students be handled?  This will undoubtedly vary with research group and depend on the nature of research, the need for physical presence in the laboratory, and the individual group members comfort, attitude and tolerance in this rapidly evolving situation. The Vice President for Research’s Office will be posting guidelines to help clarify general expectations soon.   Please see the email from Kathleen Halverson, VPR, for additional information regarding research labs.

The University campus is not closed. Students, faculty, and staff can be on campus, and people can interact in small groups (less than 25). Under those guidelines, research and interactions among advisors, students, and staff may continue. 

However, appropriate precautions should be taken and the option to continue research and research-related meetings remotely must be accommodated.  In particular, remote attendance (e.g. via Zoom or Google Hangout) for group meetings among students, advisors, and staff is strongly advised. For research requiring physical presence in a laboratory, lab schedules and social distancing practices should minimize interpersonal exposure. 

Please communicate with your graduate students about how you plan to organize your research group, no later than March 18.   Clearly communicate your expectations and timelines with your students.  Be creative with regards to how to accomplish research work, meetings, writing projects and other activities so that students make research progress in a positive educational experience. 

If you have students returning from travel, please follow the university guidelines University guidelines and ask anyone who has traveled in the past 14 days to fill out the University’s Returning Travelers form. Social-distancing, self-isolation, and self-monitoring are the best ways to contain the spread of COVID-19 (Sections IV and V).

II.  Defenses, research proposal examinations, and qualifying examinations

Spring (and especially mid to late spring) is a time when many graduate students schedule dissertation/thesis/report defenses, research proposal examinations and qualifying examinations.   These milestones typically include a public presentation followed by an in-depth examination by the advisory committee members.  Commensurate with the current policy of virtual instruction until April 17, all oral examinations and defenses must be conducted virtually (for example, via Zoom) to allow all interested to participate.  Please make arrangements well in advance to accommodate this need.  The student should contact IT (, 906-487-1111) for assistance at least 5 business days in advance to appropriately schedule staffing and potential equipment usage. The in-depth examination with some or all of the advisory committee members can be conducted face-to-face if it is agreeable to those participating.  

Michigan Technological University IT Department offers Zoom (log in with Michigan Tech ID and password) for Web conferencing support. Zoom will allow you to share your screen, webcam and microphone with up to 100 participants.  The IT Knowledge Base on Conferencing includes helpful information on web conferencing options and support.

III.  Graduate School Emergency Fund

Funds from the Graduate School Emergency Fund is available to assist graduate students with emergencies and financial hardships. 

Stay healthy and follow the guidance from the university and CDC.  If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to email me or Will Cantrell ( or Jacque Smith (  The Graduate School and the University will do our best to keep you apprised as new developments occur at University’s COVID-19 web page.     

With best wishes,

Dean Pushpa Murthy

Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate School
Michigan Technological University
Houghton, MI-49931

This email account is monitored by staff in the Graduate School.  Please reply to this email with any questions you have.
Michigan Tech Graduate School
906-487-2327 (voice)
906-487-2284 (fax)

Resources for current students:

Volunteering as a graduate student

An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education recently advocated for volunteering as a graduate student. While it might seem counter-intuitive to work for free while being a student, the author presents several great reasons why volunteering can help you build your professional skills and expand your professional and personal network.

Participating in activities outside of graduate school can help refresh your mind and spirit. There is nothing quite like the “real world” to remind you that your graduate school experience is special and that you are doing amazing things. Whether it is volunteering or participating in a campus activity, a small amount of time away from your studies can have a big impact on your frame of reference and mood.

How to prepare for a career beyond academia

Whether your goal is an academic or non-academic position after attainment of your graduate degree, building skills outside of your degree requirements is an important part of your career preparation.

In this interview with Dr. Paula Chambers, founder of The Versatile PhD, Dr. Chambers explores:

  • Whether an academic career is a realistic expectation
  • Skills that you can build in graduate school that will strengthen your job applications
  • How to make your resume concrete by counting everything

As you build your non-academic skills, such as marketing or web development, you may find out more about yourself and projects you enjoy. This can further your professional development by helping you to explore new career opportunities.