COVID-19 Information for Graduate Students
Updated April 2, 2020 at 6:00 p.m.
Below are resources for graduate students, as well for faculty and staff who support graduate education. Please check back frequently, as updates will be made on an ongoing basis.
Refer to the central campus resource hub, news.berkeley.edu/coronavirus, for general campus updates and information.
Academics | Appointments | Fellowships | Establishing Residency | Housing | Basic Needs | Billing and Payments
Equity & Inclusion | Libraries, Student Spaces & Events | Health & Wellness | Prospective Students
In light of the Chancellor’s announcement regarding Alameda County’s shelter-in-place order, all in-person instruction should cease. All instruction that can be delivered remotely should continue. Labs should ramp down normal operations, and shift to basic maintenance, ensuring safety and preservation of future capability.
- Distance-learning Alternative for Graduate Instruction, Fall 2020
To allow graduate programs to instruct students who are not able to be in residence in Fall 2020 for reasons outside their control, we are requesting that programs have the flexibility to temporarily deliver their on-campus courses via distance learning. Such distance learning might be needed to respond to both the direct (e.g., restrictions on campus density) and indirect (e.g., restrictions on travel) consequences of the emergency conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Importantly, there cannot be any permanent change to the content of the courses or modality of delivery. The distance-learning alternative is a temporary measure. Graduate programs that invoke this flexibility will need to submit their plan for providing distance learning instruction to Linda Song, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs (firstname.lastname@example.org), by August 3, 2020. Please read the complete policy memo.
Assessments and Exams
To facilitate social distancing and improve accessibility, effective immediately, all examinations and assessments are to be conducted remotely.
- Qualifying Exams: A blanket exception has been approved to the policy to allow all members of a qualifying exam committee to participate via Zoom or other video conferencing software.
- For GSIs: Delivering Exams, Quizzes and Assignments Remotely
The most significant challenges with exams delivered remotely are the need to deliver asynchronous exams to accommodate students in different time zones, and the issue of cheating. The campus is working to secure a browser lockdown product that locks the browser into a single screen, disabling copy/paste functionality, during an exam. The use of other proctoring products, and Zoom proctoring, are not permitted for the spring 2020 semester. Details on this executive order are available via the CalMessages archive. There is no fool-proof solution to the challenge of cheating on online exams. The most effective solution is probably to deploy other forms of assessment that are less susceptible to cheating: oral exams, papers, group projects, poster sessions, discussion boards, etc. If exams must be administered, there are ways to discourage, if not eliminate, cheating and to mitigate its effects on other students. Please read this Best Practice and Resource Guide on the Center for Teaching and Learning‘s website.
- Graduate Student Grades
Graduate students have until April 3, 2020 to change the grading option themselves via CalCentral, while Graduate Student Affairs Officers may change a student’s course enrollment, unit count, and grading option until the final day of instruction (May 8, 2020). Programs and departments are encouraged to consider ways to reduce students’ stress and anxiety by addressing courses and grades with their students. As part of the approved relaxation of regulations, graduate programs may increase the fraction of S/U courses that can count toward degree requirements beyond the existing cap of 1/3. We remind instructors that they must continue to maintain and submit records of letter grades earned. Programs are asked to submit a summary of any changes they make to Linda Song (email@example.com), Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs in the Graduate Division.
- Frequently Asked Grading Question: Why did the grading policy for graduate courses remain unchanged? Why didn’t graduate grading shift from letter grades to Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U)? Read the response online here.
- Undergraduate Student Grades
For undergraduates concerned about how P/NP grades may affect their applications to graduate and professional schools, the Council of Deans has released this statement: UC Berkeley evaluates applicants for admission to its graduate and professional schools holistically, meaning that we consider an applicant’s combination of personal accomplishments, letters of recommendation, personal statements, academic record, and test scores in making our admissions decisions. Such a review will take into account the significant disruptions of COVID-19 when reviewing students’ transcripts and other admissions materials from Spring 2020. We understand that many institutions across the country instituted P/NP grading policies during that semester. Thus, we will not penalize students for the adoption of P/NP and other grading options during this unprecedented period, whether the choices were made by institutions or by individual students. Our admissions evaluation will focus primarily on a student’s academic performance prior to this period, and if applicable, following this period. What is most important is that applicants demonstrate that they pursued a challenging curriculum that was relevant to their plan for graduate or professional school.
Below are updates, extensions and accommodations regarding graduate student degree progress.
- Filing Deadlines
We are extending our Spring 2020 dissertation or thesis filing deadline to Friday, May 29, 2020. We will be allowing all students to file dissertations and theses during the summer, for Summer 2020 degrees, free of charge. Normal enrollment and other eligibility requirements will not apply to standard summer filing. The Graduate Division will be extremely flexible with the logistical procedures for filing (including obtaining signatures, submitting paperwork, etc.) International students should consult with the Berkeley International Office (BIO) before making any enrollment decisions.
Given the unprecedented disruption to graduate education, the Graduate Division will also allow Plan II master’s students to file for a summer degree in 2020, free of charge. Please note that this exception for Plan II master’s students applies for Summer 2020 only. International student considering Summer completion should contact BIO for advising.
Please review the filing guidelines on our website for specifics:
- Normative Time
The Graduate Division and Graduate Council have approved a blanket one-semester increase in normative time for doctoral students. To extend a student’s normative time, Graduate Student Affairs Officers should request an extension through the Graduate Division Exceptions eForm. This is best done near to the end of a student’s career, when impacts of expiring normative time may become relevant for some students. International students should consult the Berkeley International Office regarding any changes to their degree plan.
Departments are encouraged to be extremely flexible in accommodating disruptions to graduate students’ academic milestones. If you have any questions or concerns, please get in touch with the appropriate Graduate Degrees Office staff member.
- Other Extensions to Program Length
Please consult your Head Graduate Advisor (HGA) and GSAO regarding master’s and professional degree program extensions or variances. Those administrators may write to Linda Song, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, to seek guidance regarding specific programs or student cases. The Graduate Division aims to support student and program needs and to streamline processes where possible.
- Petitions/forms (such as in Absentia, Leave of Absence, Committee Forms etc.)
We are still reviewing and processing all requests made through the Special Enrollment Petition, Degrees Exceptions eForm, and the Higher Degree Committees eForm. Work with your department on any concerns or status inquiries.
- Master’s and Professional Degree Completion
Please consult your Head Graduate Advisor (HGA) and GSAO regarding completion of non-thesis based master’s and professional degree completion in light of disruptions this spring. Concerns about completion of coursework and capstone projects should be addressed with your department which will work with the Graduate Division (contact Asst. Dean for Academic Affairs Linda Song) to explore options. The Graduate Division will be extremely flexible regarding processes and policies that we control and will work with the the Academic Senate and the Office of the President (UCOP) on policies that are beyond our authority. The Graduate Division aims to support student and program needs and to streamline processes where possible..
Starting on Monday, March 30, but not before, instructors are allowed to take attendance in classes and to use participation as a metric for academic performance. Instructors are encouraged to be flexible in their attendance requirements; communicate those requirements proactively to their students; and accommodate students who are ill, those who are located in a different time zone, and those who may have limited remote access.
Please see this Instructional Resilience resources webpage for strategies to address the latter two issues.
Our research community is directed to immediately transition to work remotely whenever possible. Principal Investigators should suspend on-campus research to the greatest extent possible, immediately, and implement plans to operate remotely at least through April 7. Essential access, limited to sustaining research capability, such as animal care, servicing of critical instrumentation, and maintenance of germ lines, will be authorized by the Vice Chancellor for Research Office in coordination with Deans and Chairs. Exceptional access will be considered by a campus review process, which is currently being developed, modeled on the one at the University of California, San Francisco.
Please visit the Vice Chancellor for Research website for specific information, answers to frequently asked questions, and more detailed guidance.
The Disabled Students’ Program will continue to partner with instructors to ensure students’ disability accommodations are provided.
The following are email addresses that instructors and students can contact for disability accommodations.
- For DSP captioning and American Sign Language accessible formats:
- For proctoring: firstname.lastname@example.org
- For note taking: email@example.com
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for additional questions or assistance regarding student accommodations. Faculty and instructors should work with DSP to ensure that all content is accessible to their students with disabilities before the content is posted. To ensure accessibility, use university-provided platforms, such as bCourses and Zoom. Posting public videos or other content via non-supported tools (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) is prohibited.
Instructional Resilience Resources
The Center for Teaching & Learning’s Instructional Resilience resources page has best practices, webinars, tips, and resources. Resources and ideas for instructors will be posted on an ongoing basis and we encourage you to visit this site regularly.
Technology Resources and Access
The university aims to ensure that all students have equitable access to the technology resources they need to support research, teaching, and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you require additional technology to teach a course, first reach out to your supervisor or department chair.
- Laptop and WiFi Hotspot Lending Program
If the technology resources you have available to you do not enable your effective participation in remote instruction or other academic work, visit UC Berkeley’s Laptop and WiFi Hotspot Lending Program page for information on the university’s lending program and access to discounts.
- Zoom Pro Accounts for Students
All registered undergraduate, graduate and professional school students now have access to Zoom Pro accounts at no additional cost to them. Among other features, this enables students to unlimited meeting minutes and 300-person meeting capacity. More details are available at studenttech.
berkeley.edu/zoompro. Students who already have basic Zoom accounts can find instructions on how to transition to Zoom Pro accounts.
Advising Resources for Staff
UC Berkeley’s advising team has developed a COVID-19 resource hub for UC Berkeley student services staff.
Academic Employment and Appointments
Graduate student spring appointments and fellowships will not be reduced in response to COVID-19 concerns or shelter-in-place restrictions.
Academic Student Employee Hiring in Light of Staff Hiring Freeze
While UC Berkeley is instituting a campuswide hiring freeze effective April 1, 2020, academic student employee positions such as readers, tutors, graduate student instructors can be filled. Please read the Hiring Freeze FAQ page for more information. Additionally, student staff titles are exempt from this freeze.
Paid Administrative Leave
For academic student employees, Paid Administrative Leave for COVID-19-related incidents is available for up to 16 working days or 128 hours.
Paid Administrative Leave may be taken only when at least one of the following circumstances are met:
- When an employee is unable to work due to the employee’s own COVID-19-related illness or that of a family member; or
- When an employee is unable to work because the employee has been directed not to come to the worksite for COVID-19-related reasons and/or the worksite has implemented a COVID-19-related remote-work program or is under a shelter in place order and it is not operationally feasible for the employee to work remotely; or
- When an employee is unable to work because a COVID-19-related school or daycare closure requires the employee to be at home with a child or dependent, and it is not operationally feasible for the employee to work remotely or in conjunction with the childcare commitment.
Paid Administrative Leave is available for all academic appointees, policy-covered and represented, as of March 1, 2020, but is not available for academic appointees with non-paid or without salary appointments.
The Graduate Division and Graduate Council have approved a blanket one-semester increase in normative time for doctoral students. This increase in normative time applies to Doctoral Completion Fellowship eligibility and one’s accompanying normative time +1 calculation. The normative time adjustment will be reflected in our records so no additional action, such as an exception request, is required.
Spring block grant supplements will be released to programs the week of March 30th. The deadline for programs to use their 2019-20 block grant allocation has been changed from April 15 to Friday, May 15.
The UC Provost recently issued temporary amendments to the university’s guidelines on establishing residency in the context of systemwide COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
The UC Residency Policy and Guidelines currently provide that absences of six weeks or more in a one-year period disqualify a student from receiving in-state status. The guidelines have been amended to provide that a student’s absence from the state for any length of time between March 9, 2020 and the Residency Determination Date for Fall 2020 at their campus shall not be counted toward the six week limit if the absence is caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that students who temporarily leave California in response to the pandemic remain eligible for in-state residency for the 2020-21 academic year so long as they meet all other applicable eligibility requirements.
Please read the amendment memo here for complete information.
Classes for the remainder of the spring semester will be conducted via remote instruction and six Bay Area counties have been ordered to shelter in place, effective March 17. As a result, you may wish to leave the campus or you may choose to remain and shelter in place. We are here to support your decision. For students who choose to continue living on campus, we are committed to ensuring you have a safe and healthy living environment.
- Students living in graduate and family student housing
Graduate students and those at University Village who wish to move out due to the COVID-19 situation must submit an Intent to Vacate form to Cal Housing noting the preferred move out date at least ten business days prior (UVA Intent to Vacate form, single graduate student Intent to Vacate form). We are relaxing the 30-day notice given the special circumstances but still need time to accommodate your selected date. You may choose a later date up to May 31, 2020.
- Students living in Bowles Hall, International House (i-House), co-ops, fraternities, and sororities
Bowles Hall, International House (I-House), co-ops, fraternities, and sororities are not owned by the campus and have their own housing policies. Please contact your building/house manager for details. In the event your current housing will close down and you do not have other options or would prefer to stay in Berkeley, please contact Cal Housing for assistance in securing a university housing contract.
Whether you choose to remain or leave, you can request a cost of attendance adjustment or an emergency loan, depending on the urgency of the need. When applying for an emergency loan, please choose the EFT (direct deposit) option, as financial aid staff are not producing paper checks at this time. We also strongly encourage you to sign up for Direct Deposit and update your local address in the profile section of CalCentral. If you have any other financial aid-related questions, please contact Cal Student Central as soon as possible.
If you live off-campus in a private residence, you may be responsible for paying rent for the remainder of the term of your lease. Read more about leases at sa.berkeley.edu/legal/tipsheet/terminatinglease.
For more the most up-to-date information on housing, visit sa.berkeley.edu/covid19/housing.
Basic Needs Center
The Basic Needs Center’s priority is to ensure that services will continue remotely. The Center, including the Food Pantry, has moved to 103 Sproul Hall. Please visit this Google doc for up-to-the-minute information on resources and services related to basic needs: tinyurl.com/UCB-BNC-C19
Office of Financial Aid
Graduate Students can request a cost of attendance adjustment or an emergency loan, depending on the urgency of the need. To request emergency aid, open a case in Cal Student Central or fill out the cost of attendance adjustment request form.
Students with dependents are eligible for 64 hours of subsidized back-up care if their child’s school is closed, or their regular caregiver is not available. Students must be pre-registered for the program. Register here.
As of March 21, 2020 through April 30, 2020, if care is not available through the back-up care program, you will be offered the option to secure care from within your own personal network (a neighbor, friend, or babysitter) and receive a reimbursement of $100 per day. More details will be provided during the reservation process.
Billing and Payments
Temporary suspension of onsite check payment processing
With the shelter-in-place order in effect for the Bay Area, Billing and Payment Services will suspend onsite cashiering of student and vendor check payments, effective March 17, 2020. This action is expected to remain in effect through the planned shelter-in-place period. Please note that Bill and Payment Services staff will continue to serve students by working remotely and that all payments submitted through CalCentral or via direct wire will continue to process as usual.
If you would like to make a payment on your student account, please submit the payment online through CalCentral. UC Berkeley offers alternative payment options to students and delegates through CalCentral and we encourage students to submit payments online. You can make payments online through ACH, credit card, and IFT for our international students. Payments submitted through CalCentral will continue to post to student accounts as normal.
Temporary suspension of late fees
We understand that some students may have already mailed payments that will not be processed in as timely a manner as usual. We also understand that some of our students may be experiencing hardships as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. In light of these challenges and to alleviate students of these potential pressures, UC Berkeley will temporarily suspend the assessment of late fees on student accounts. Effective as of March 16, 2020, late fees will not post to student accounts. We will revisit the late fee assessment as appropriate and will continue to update you with current information.
If you have any questions, please open a case in Cal Student Central or call 510-664-9181.
Equity & Inclusion
For information about how UC Berkeley’s Division of Equity & Inclusion is supporting the university’s diverse community members through virtual classrooms, virtual advising, webinar events, and remote work, visit diversity.berkeley.edu/covid-19-ei-here-serve-you.
Office for Graduate Diversity
The Office for Graduate Diversity (OGD) provides support services for prospective and continuing students on the Berkeley campus in an effort to maintain a more diverse graduate student community. The Office for Graduate Diversity will be closed until further notice, though OGD staff are working remotely and responsive to emails. Getting into Graduate School (GiGS) classes are continuing remotely, STEM*FYI programming is postponed, and information for the Firebaugh program can be found at tinyul.com/FirebaughAppGuide.
Students can contact OGD staff at email@example.com with any questions or concerns.
American Indian Graduate Program
The American Indian Graduate Program (AIGP) seeks, through outreach, individual recruitment, and student services to remove perceived barriers which prevent the full participation of American Indian and Alaska Native students participating in graduate level research at UC Berkeley. For COVID-19 updates related to AIGP, visit the program’s website.
Berkeley Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program
For updates on the Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, visit diversity.berkeley.edu/programs-services/postdoctoral-diversity
Libraries, Student Spaces and Events
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Union, Eshleman Hall, Cesar Chavez Hall and the Recreational Sports Facility (RSF) are closed. Many other campus facilities have already closed or will be closed. Please check their websites for current information. The campus will assess whether limited operation of these facilities is possible and will announce the conditions under which these facilities may reopen if operation of the facilities is determined to be both consistent with public health directives and feasible.
Visit news.berkeley.edu/coronavirus for the most up-to-date information.
Health & Wellness
University Health Services
Please visit uhs.berkeley.edu for the most up-to-date information on hours and appointments. If you feel unwell, please call your healthcare provider or contact University Health Services for advice or care. Please take all precautionary hygiene steps recommended by the university.
- Brief counseling model has been adjusted to meet the immediate needs of students and to preserve the health of students and staff.
- All initial visits with counselors are by phone.
- Students who need support and do not have an assigned counselor should call (510) 642-9494 to schedule a phone appointment.
- Students who have scheduled follow-up appointments should check their secure messages for updates from their counselor.
- Drop-in urgent counseling has been suspended. Students with urgent needs should call (510) 642-9494 to speak with a counselor.
- Many of our satellite offices are closed. Location-specific information is available on the satellite counseling page.
- All “Let’s Talk” drop-in at satellite locations has been suspended until further notice
- Hours: Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Be sure to check the UHS website for current hours.
- For after-hours support, please call (855) 817-5667.
Center for Support and Intervention
The Center for Support and Intervention addresses prevention and intervention for harm and violence on campus, and provides support to students experiencing or causing distress in the campus community. They are open for remote/virtual appointments and consultations during this period of alternative instruction. Please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, and visit their website at sa.berkeley.edu/csi.
We understand that the sudden shifts in social and academic guidelines can feel overwhelming and isolating. We recommend trying the following to decrease the negative impact of social isolation:
- Have Zoom dates with friends. This can be a good time to totally decompress or to chat with people about your research.
- For those of you caring for kids, parents, or partners during this time, don’t be alone, even if you are physically isolated. Have a virtual date via video call or check in with an online support group.
- Practice verbal gratitude. Giving thanks fosters a cycle of altruism, building trust and care with others.
- Play music and sing out loud. Music has been shown to help modulate your stress and strengthen empathy.
- Practice relaxation and mindfulness exercises.
Recognizing the challenges to teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Provost and Deans of the University of California, Berkeley adopted the following principle:
UC Berkeley evaluates applicants for admission to its graduate and professional schools holistically, meaning that we consider an applicant’s combination of personal accomplishments, letters of recommendation, personal statements, academic record, and test scores in making our admissions decisions. Such a review will take into account the significant disruptions of COVID-19 when reviewing students’ transcripts and other admissions materials from Spring 2020. We understand that many institutions across the country instituted P/NP grading policies during that semester. Thus, we will not penalize students for the adoption of P/NP and other grading options during this unprecedented period, whether the choices were made by institutions or by individual students. Our admissions evaluation will focus primarily on a student’s academic performance prior to this period, and if applicable, following this period. What is most important is that applicants demonstrate that they pursued a challenging curriculum that was relevant to their plan for graduate or professional school.