Guidance from the Graduate School during the COVID -19 pandemic (1)

Dear Graduate Program Directors, Chairs, and Deans,
Please distribute to appropriate people

Graduate students are currently experiencing a high degree of stress from the uncertainty of funding, changes in instruction, academic progress, fulfilling their research and teaching duties, and the safety of their family and friends across the world. We are charged with providing them the best educational experience that we can, and part of our responsibility this semester is to include ways to mitigate the stress and anxiety they are facing.  

While graduate programs should continue to maintain academic standards, please make allowances for the extraordinarily stressful times our graduate students are facing. Some items you might consider:

  • BC/C grades: The Graduate School allows up to six credits of BC/C grades to be used toward completion of a graduate degree. If your graduate program does not allow some BC/C grades to be used, you might consider whether that requirement can be relaxed for spring and summer 2020.
  • Deadlines for completion of exams: Your graduate program may have deadlines in place for completion of qualifying exams and research proposal examinations. Relaxing these deadlines and postponing exams until students can adequately prepare for them and perform well might be something you could consider.
  • Number of attempts for completion of exams: For students who took a qualifying exam this semester, you might consider an additional attempt if the student did not successfully pass the exam.  
  • Q grades: Research is graded as progress (P) or no progress (Q). For research grades, please consider whether your students have made adequate progress, based on the circumstances in your research group this semester. As we are all well aware, this is  not a “normal” semester with an uninterrupted schedule. Therefore, although we encourage “Q” grades when no progress has been made, please account for the difficult circumstances that we are all working under when considering student progress this semester.
  • Research progress: Student progress on research is likely to be impacted due to the disruptions on campus. We would encourage faculty to consider whether changes to the research project can be made to allow students to complete their degree in a timely manner.  
  • Delay in graduation for research-based MS degrees: Master’s students whose graduation is delayed because of research progress this semester may want to consider the coursework option. The Graduate School can allow research credits to be considered toward a coursework option. In order to do so, the department would provide the Graduate School with a statement of learning outcomes achieved, work accomplished, evaluation process, letter grade, the number of research credits completed, and the number of equivalent coursework credits requested. Please reach out to us for additional details.

The Graduate School will make the following adjustments to policies to support student success and lessen their anxiety:

  • Probation and suspension: The process to place students on probation or suspension will be placed on hold for spring 2020. Students will maintain their current academic standing after semester grades are posted and no student will be suspended. Students currently on probation may return to good standing if their academic performance has improved in spring 2020. Dismissals (if any) will be handled on a case-by-case basis after consulting with the graduate program.
  • Extensions given: The Graduate School normally places registration holds if students fail to complete the following in a timely manner: select an advisor, complete basic RCR training, and provide original proof of degree(s). For this semester, all the holds on registration will be released. This will give students additional time to complete these requirements and allow them to register for future semesters.

FYI: The following policy changes have been previously announced and are already in place:

  • International students: May be registered for fewer than nine credits this semester without approval from International Programs & Services (IPS) and without impacting their student status.
  • Supported students may be registered with fewer than nine credits without losing their support. 
  • Drop deadline extended: The deadline to withdraw from classes with a “W” grade has been extended to 5 p.m. on April 24. W grades do not impact cumulative GPA calculation, and any graduate student with a CD, D, or F in a class should strongly consider dropping classes to help maintain good standing.
  • Deadlines for completing a dissertation, thesis, or report have been extended by the Graduate School.

We hope you are taking the time to take care of yourself and your family. We wish you the very best as we navigate through these extraordinary times. Please reach out to us with any questions or suggestions you may have. 

Sincerely,

Pushpa Murthy


Academic Policies for Graduate Students (2)

Dear Graduate Students,

We hope that this email finds you and your family doing well with the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in. We recognize that graduate students, in particular, are dealing with many issues that impact your degree progress, including balancing full-time work, loss of income, changed teaching positions, child care, research disruptions, and more. In recognition of these, and to minimize the anxiety and stress associated with them, the Graduate School has some policy changes and reminders for you.

  • Probation and suspension: The process to place students on probation or suspension will be placed on hold for spring 2020. Students will maintain their current academic standing after semester grades are posted and no student will be suspended. Students currently on probation may return to good standing if their academic performance has improved in spring 2020. Dismissals (if any) will be handled on a case-by-case basis after consulting with the graduate program.
  • Extensions given: The Graduate School normally places registration holds if students fail to complete the following in a timely manner: select an advisor, complete basic RCR training, and provide original proof of degree(s). For this semester, all the holds on registration will be released. This will give students additional time to complete these requirements and allow them to register for future semesters.

The following policy changes have been previously announced and are already in place:

  • International students: May be registered for fewer than nine credits this semester without approval from International Programs & Services (IPS) and without impacting their student status.
  • Supported students can be registered with fewer than nine credits without losing their support. 
  • Drop deadline extended: The deadline to withdraw from classes with a “W” grade has been extended to 5 p.m. on April 24. W grades do not impact cumulative GPA calculation, and any graduate student with a CD, D, or F in a class should strongly consider dropping classes to help maintain good standing.
  • Deadlines for completing a dissertation, thesis, or report have been extended by the Graduate School.

Each graduate program has been asked to consider allowances to programmatic policies. Please consult with your graduate program to determine the changes to the following policies:

  • BC/C grades: The Graduate School allows up to six credits of BC/C grades to be used toward completion of a graduate degree. Please consult with your graduate program director to determine if programmatic policies have changed for spring 2020.
  • Deadlines for completion of exams: Please consult with your graduate program to determine if these deadlines have been changed.
  • Number of attempts for completion of exams: Please consult with your graduate program to determine if you took a qualifying exam this semester, but did not pass it, whether an additional attempt will be allowed. 
  • Research progress: Please consult with your advisor to determine if there are changes that can be made to your project to account for any disruptions to your research to allow you to complete your degree in a timely manner. 
  • Delay in graduation for research-based MS degrees: Master’s students whose graduation is delayed because of research progress this semester may want to consider converting their degree to a coursework option. The Graduate School can allow research credits to be considered toward a coursework degree. Please reach out to your graduate program director for additional details.

We are concerned about your health and well-being. If you have concerns about your workload, educational experience, or personal matters, please contact us (gradschool@mtu.edu) so we can connect you with resources. Anna McClatchy, our Student Support Coordinator, is available to help students. HuskyFAN is available to provide emergency food for those in need. The University has gathered a wide variety of resources to assist students. Finally, Counseling Services is providing individual services, group sessions, and seminars through remote services and referrals. 

We understand that you might have reservations about openly discussing your concerns. If you prefer, you may address concerns or questions confidentially. Students may contact Counseling Services at 906- 487-2538, or the Office of the Ombuds at speters@mtu.edu or 906-487-2391. Concerns can also be reported anonymously online

Take the time you need to take care of yourself and your family. We wish you the very best as we navigate through these extraordinary times. Please reach out to us with any questions or suggestions you may have. 

Sincerely,

The Graduate School


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 registrar@mtu.edu 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.

Withdrawing

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

(EDIT: 4/24/2020. If approved by the administration, pass/fail grades will be allowed for graduate students. Please see the updated information on our blog.)

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

(EDIT: 4/24/2020. Senate Proposal 54-20 puts probation and suspension on hold for spring 2020.)

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.

Sincerely,

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, it-help@mtu.edu)
  • 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.

Sincerely,

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 (gradschool@mtu.edu) 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 gradschool@mtu.edu.

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.

Sincerely,
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
gradschool@mtu.edu
906-487-2327 (voice)
906-487-2284 (fax)

Resources for current students:
http://www.mtu.edu/gradschool/resources-for/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: https://www.thedataincubator.com/fellowship/apply.html

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 gradschool@mtu.edu 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
gradschool@mtu.edu
906-487-2327 (voice)
906-487-2284 (fax)

Resources for current students:
http://www.mtu.edu/gradschool/resources-for/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 (it-help@mtu.edu, 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 (cantrell@mtu.edu) or Jacque Smith (jacque@mtui.edu).  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
gradschool@mtu.edu
906-487-2327 (voice)
906-487-2284 (fax)

Resources for current students:
http://www.mtu.edu/gradschool/resources-for/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.