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Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQ

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Coronavirus Updates and Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

We currently anticipate no significant disruption in the application submission or review process. All official documents can still be received by Graduate Admissions via mail or electronically. Application review by academic units may be delayed by a few days in some cases.

We recommend submitting credentials electronically if possible, though we are able to receive regular mail and deliveries from DHL, FedEx, UPS, etc. Information about how to submit credentials is available here.

Email with other questions.

Graduate College staff are working, but our physical office is currently closed. Please email your Graduate College Academic Counselor or if you have questions. Paper forms can be scanned or photographed and delivered via email.

For all paper forms, the Graduate College will accept a scanned copy sent to your Graduate College Academic Counselor with scanned signatures or indication of approval from an OU email address. If you don’t have access to a scanner, you can take a clear picture of each page with your phone.

In summer 2020, non-thesis exams, qualifying exams, general exams, prospectus defenses, annual evaluations, thesis/dissertation defenses, or other similar milestone events must be conducted remotely. Zoom should be used for events that involve oral discussion. The normal Graduate College approval for remote participation will not be required.

In fall 2020, these events may be conducted in person as long as in-person courses are being held, and as long as all applicable university policies, including those related to room capacity and physical distancing, are adhered to. Remote events will remain permissible, and the normal Graduate College approval for remote participation will not be required. During any period when in-person courses are suspended, exams, defenses, and related milestones must be conducted remotely.

All committee members should participate. For absences, the current policy will apply (see Graduate College Bulletin sections (master's thesis), (master's non-thesis), 8.5.2 (general exam), and 8.7.3 (dissertation defense). 

If you have any questions about these policies, please email

Defenses should be public. Even for in-person events, a Zoom component may facilitate broader participation and help to manage room capacity. The Zoom meeting information can be shared with faculty and graduate students in the academic unit as well as other interested parties such as the candidate’s family and friends.

You may wish to review this overview of Zoom’s meeting participant controls. We recommend the following:

  • Set the Zoom meeting to mute participants’ audio on entry.
  • Turn off the feature that plays a sound whenever a participant joins or leaves.
  • Have all committee members’ phone numbers on hand in case anyone has trouble with their Zoom connection; they can join via speakerphone. 
  • Enable participant screen sharing if the student will use slides or other visuals.
  • For committee deliberations, either enable the breakout rooms feature and assign the committee to a breakout room, or have a separate Zoom meeting ready for the committee to join for their deliberations immediately after a thesis or dissertation defense. Alternatively, the waiting room feature can be used to house the student during committee deliberations as well as controlling audience admission during the public portion of the defense.
  • For general exam orals, use the place attendee on hold feature during committee deliberations. 
  • Do a test run to make sure everything is set up correctly.  Have the student practice screen sharing.

More information about Zoom, including how to request support, is available here.

Discuss the situation with your advisor, graduate committee, and/or graduate liaison. They have been encouraged to offer support and, where appropriate, modify plans to support you in making progress while maintaining the integrity of the degree. If you are experiencing a COVID-19-related delay that may require an immediate or future remedy, you can initiate the Report on Delay of Progress Due to COVID-19 online form, which will be electronically routed to your committee (if applicable) and graduate liaison for signatures.  

If you need additional support, contact Dr. Rodney Bates, Director of Graduate Student and Postdoc Retention and Support, or Dr. Sherri Irvin, Senior Associate Dean of the Graduate College.

See also the FAQs below, especially:

I’m feeling stressed and isolated. Help!

What should I do if I need support?

If you are a graduate teaching assistant (GTA), your duties may change. You should still be working the same number of hours (20 hours/week for a .5 FTE appointment; 10 hours/week for a .25 FTE appointment). Please discuss remote work arrangements with your supervisor. Departments are required to track which employees are working remotely. If you are teaching your own class, visit the OU Teach Anywhere site for resources. If you need access to technology to do your work, discuss with your supervisor. 

All non-essential research activities that require access to OU facilities or field work are discontinued until further notice. We expect that all graduate research assistants (GRAs) can continue to work remotely and receive their stipends through spring 2020, pending granting agency approval. 

The following policy was developed in coordination with the Office of the Provost: Graduate assistants are highly valued members of the OU community, and their contributions to our teaching and research mission remain critical to our continued success. In light of this, it is our intention, whenever and wherever possible, to continue to support our graduate students and benefit from their professional contributions to the University. As such, we would like to clarify that for the remainder of the Spring 2020 term, all graduate assistants appointed by academic units, Student Affairs and Housing will receive their monthly stipend(s) and will remain eligible for any tuition waiver associated with their appointment, if applicable. It is expected that graduate students will remain in the United States and coordinate with their supervisors with respect to their assignments. However, in the event a graduate assistant determines due to COVID-19 travel restrictions they need to return to their country of origin, they should first contact Robyn Rojas (Director, International Student Services). The university will continue to provide updated guidance and instruction regarding the summer and fall semesters to all of our graduate assistants as more information becomes available. Please check for updates: OU Coronavirus Updates and Resources.

Graduate assistants must be physically present in the US to hold summer 2020 or fall 2020 GTA or GRA appointments, except for appointments 100% funded by an external agency that has specifically approved an international remote work arrangement for the student.

This orientation will be offered remotely via Canvas, and participants will be able to complete it at their own pace. Please refer to the New GTA Orientation webpage for more details and to register.

Graduate teaching assistants taking an ECC Test and/or Screening Test can complete these tests via Zoom. Contact the ETCS Director, Jessica Reynoldsfor more details. 

ETCS can also advise and register individuals for necessary assessments via email and Zoom. Please email the ETCS Administrator, Bushra Asif, for details about these appointments. We encourage individuals to complete their initial appointments as soon as possible, to avoid delays in the certification process.

ECC Test reviews can be conducted before retesting via Zoom as well. Please contact Bushra Asif for details. 

Students who have missed the May 20 deadline for spring 2020 P/NP grading may submit an appeal to the Office of the Registrar here:

At the end of the spring 2020 semester, you will receive a letter grade for each of your classes that is normally letter graded. You will have seven days after grades are posted to choose whether to keep the letter grade or to elect P/NP (pass / no pass) grading. You will make your choice on a class-by-class basis: you may keep a letter grade in one class and choose P/NP grading for another class. Graduate classes with a letter grade of A, B or C are eligible to be converted to P. Graduate classes with a letter grade of D or F are eligible to be converted to NP. 

Grades of P for spring 2020 carry credit and will count toward the degree. They are not calculated in the GPA. Choosing P instead of a letter grade may have consequences for professional licensure or financial aid from non-OU sources. 

We recommend that you discuss potential consequences with faculty in your unit and check with non-OU financial aid agencies about whether a grade of P would affect your eligibility. (Please note that normally, a grade of P would not count toward a graduate degree. A policy exception has been made due to the Covid-19 disruption in spring 2020.)

Grades of NP are neutral, carry no credit, do not affect the GPA, and will not trigger academic penalties. NP is not the same as U or F. 

To qualify for a degree or graduate certificate, a student must have a minimum 3.00 GPA in the coursework applied to the program (identified on the Graduate Certificate Program Report, the master’s Program of Study, and the doctoral Advisory Conference Report.) Prospective Spring 2020 graduates with a program GPA below 3.00 may still opt into P/NP grading, but will need to enroll for an additional term(s) of coursework if they have not met the program GPA requirement for graduation.

Additional information about P/NP grading is available at the OU Learn Anywhere site. Students who have previously been placed on “academic probation” and have specific questions about the effect of opting into P/NP grading may wish to contact their academic counselor.

Internship and practicum activity that can be completed 100% remotely, with no in-person contact, may continue. Internship and practicum activity that requires reporting to a workplace is suspended. Resumption of field work must be approved by the Office of the Vice President for Research

Air travel for professional purposes is currently prohibited until further notice. If you choose to travel for personal reasons, you may be required to self-isolate and undergo health screenings on your return. Be sure to check the latest university guidelines and take everything you will need in case you are required to self-isolate for 14 days or more before returning to campus. Self-isolation requirements may change without notice.

If you received a travel or research grant from the Graduate College and your travel has been affected, we will honor the award if the conference or research travel is rescheduled during the 2020-2021 academic year. We will try to cover any non-recoverable expenses you have incurred. If you are not able to use funds that were awarded to you, we will cancel the award and you will be eligible to apply for the funding for a future purpose.

Please contact Gail Shelton with questions about these matters.

Graduate Student Life will be offering remote programming. Regular updates will be posted here.

Here are some things you can try. The National Alliance on Mental Illness also has great tips on dealing with stress, staying in touch with people, and getting help when you need it.

Create structure.

Write down a schedule for your day, indicating when you plan to get up, eat, work, exercise, do something fun, and go to sleep. Set alarms or reminders to help keep yourself on track.

Set attainable goals.

What can you reasonably get done, given the distractions you’re facing? Can you do 30 minutes of writing? Can you prepare a tasty lunch? Can you spend 20 minutes doing some household organizing? Write down your goals for the day.

Celebrate success and accept imperfection.

When you meet your goals, give yourself credit! If it didn’t work out, use what you learned to adjust your approach.

Move your body. Get outside if you can.

Fresh air is good. Stretching helps with blood flow. Free yoga and exercise videos are available online. No access to videos? Practice forms of movement that feel good to you. Try playing some music.

Plan some fun.

What would make your day better? Plan some activities you enjoy, bearing in mind the need to maintain good hygiene and physical distance from those who don’t live in your household. Consider singing, dancing, taking a warm bath, self-massage (focusing on your neck, shoulders, hands, legs, scalp, etc.), drawing, or writing in a journal.

Use technology to stay in touch.

Feeling isolated? Give someone a call or send them a message. Even if we can’t see each other in person, let’s try staying in touch in other ways.

Try to eat well.

Try not to eat too much sugar or salt. Try to have some protein. Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are a good option if you don’t have fresh produce on hand. Stay hydrated. If you drink alcohol, avoid excess.

Practice gratitude.

Now is a great time to try a daily practice of recognizing the good things in our lives. There are even apps for that, such as Presently for Android or Gratitude Happiness Journal for iOS.


Breathing exercises can help reduce stress.

Limit the time you spend on stressful information.

Before you start looking at news and social media, set a timer for 20 minutes (or a time that seems right to you) and commit to closing those sites when the timer goes off. If you have trouble stopping, consider using an app that blocks selected web sites for a period of time. You can find info here.

Be patient and kind to yourself and others.

We are all doing our best. We may be grouchy. We may not get as much done as usual. Let’s keep moving forward, be flexible, and keep working to find the structures and practices that work for each of us.

Call for help if you need it.

The University Counseling Center, 405-325-2911, is open during regular business hours, and counseling sessions can be held by phone.

The SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline, 800-985-5990, provides 24/7 crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters including infectious disease outbreaks.

SAMHSA also offers a 24/7 National Helpline for treatment referral.

The NAMI Crisis Text Line is open 24/7. Text NAMI to 741741.

If you are having thoughts of self-harm, you can call these numbers:

  • National Hopeline Network - Suicide prevention, awareness, and education. 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or 1-800-442-HOPE (1-800-442-4673)
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

Here are some university resources:

University Counseling Services (appointments can be offered by phone)

Accessibility and Disability Resource Center

Writing Center

Sooners Helping Sooners (emergency financial support accepting requests to help with living expenses) 

Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Additional financial resources for both domestic and international students are listed here. If you are in Oklahoma and need help with rent, food, or utilities, call 211 or text 211OK to 898211.

Information about online Alcoholics Anonymous meetings is being collected in this shared document.

Some locations have seen an increase in racism and xenophobia based on mistaken assumptions that the novel coronavirus can be attributed to particular groups of people. If you feel you are being treated unfairly, discriminated against, or harassed based on race, ethnicity, or national origin, contact the 24 Hour Reporting Hotline to report your experience.

Discriminatory and harassing behaviors are against university policy and have no place in our community. If you observe such behaviors, please speak out against them and offer support to the individuals targeted. 

If you have a concern that you don’t feel able to address with faculty or staff in your academic unit, please contact Dr. Rodney Bates, Director of Graduate Student and Postdoc Retention and Support, or Dr. Sherri Irvin, Senior Associate Dean of the Graduate College.