COVID-19 Response

Guidelines from Graduate Studies

Can graduate assistants request alternative work arrangements?

Yes. As employees of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, GTAs and GRAs may request alternative work arrangements by following the guidelines and procedures at: https://covid19.unl.edu/alternative-work-arrangements

How will graduate assistantships be affected by the Spring 2021 schedule change?

Assistantship appointment dates and payment schedule will not change during the Spring 2021 semester. The appointment dates for Graduate Teaching Assistants are January 4, 2021 through May14, 2021, as originally scheduled. The appointment dates for Graduate Research Assistants can start no later than February 1, 2021 – May 31, 2021 in order to qualify for tuition remission/health insurance. Payment dates will remain the same for all graduate assistants, with five equal monthly payments January through May 2021.

As usual, graduate assistant work expectations are commensurate with the assistantship FTE. The maximum assistantship is 49% FTE and work may not exceed 19.6 hours per week.

Assistantships must be a minimum of 33% FTE to be eligible for tuition remission and a reduced student health insurance premium.

Additional guidelines are located on the Graduate Studies website at: https://www.unl.edu/gradstudies/funding/assistantships

Can students be employed as a GTA during the Spring 2021 Three Week Session?

Yes.  Graduate teaching assistantships offered during the Spring 2021 Three Week Session (January 4-January 22, 2021) may not be combined with the regular Spring assistantship appointment.  The three week session is considered an additional assignment with responsibilities outside of the regular assistantship appointment.  Therefore, graduate teaching assistants must receive additional pay during this time:

  • Departments must provide an offer letter for the Spring 2021 Three Week Session.
  • GTA pay for the Three Week Session is prorated according to their experience level and regular term contract, which shall be no less than the prorated minimum GTA stipend allowed by the Graduate College.  For example, based on a normal semester stipend of $7,500:
    • $7,500 paid out in 5 monthly payments, therefore = $7,500/5 = $1,500 per month.
    • There are 21 working days in January, therefore $1,500/21 = $71.43 per day. 
    • Three week session (January 4-22) has 15 working days, therefore $71.43 x 15 = $1071.45.
  • A one-time payment Payroll Action Form (PAF) must be submitted to Payroll and accompanied by the signed offer letter.
  • The one-time payment PAF should be submitted by January 8, 2021, to make sure payment will be included in the January pay period.
I am planning to graduate this semester. What is the deadline for my final oral examination?
  1. November 19: Last day to submit preliminary copy of your dissertation or thesis to your supervisory committee AND to the Office of Graduate Studies. Additional instructions can be found below.
  2. December 3: Last day to complete the final oral examination (thesis/dissertation defense) or the master’s written comprehensive exam (if applicable).
  3. December 4: Last day to deposit the thesis or dissertation. Pay final deposit fee via credit card.

    A couple of important points:

    • The notification that students are eligible to pay the final deposit will appear on their "To Do" list in MyRed once they have been cleared by the Office of Graduate Studies.
    • Students will receive a confirmation email indicating the payment was successfully received with their credit card information.
    • If a student has recently submitted a check for the payment, no action is necessary as those payments will be recorded as they are submitted.
    • Please direct any questions to graduate@unl.edu.

    Additionally, check or money order payable to “University of Nebraska-Lincoln” displaying the student's NUID number can be mailed to the Office of Graduate Studies, 1100 Seaton Hall, Lincoln, NE 68588-0619. Use either U.S. mail or campus mail. The fee amount is described in our Degree Requirements pages.

These dates are necessary to ensure all 800 graduate students who are planning to graduate will achieve their goal.

Students who applied to graduate this semester, but cannot meet the deadlines, will have the option of changing their graduation term to Summer 2020. Graduate students can complete degree requirements any time after the Spring 2020 deadline dates and prior to Summer 2020 deadlines. In such cases, the following conditions apply:

  • The “Application for Graduation” term will automatically be changed to Summer 2020. Students do not need to reapply.
  • Additional application fee is not required.
  • Registration for courses in summer term is not required.
  • The Dean of Graduate Studies will provide, upon request, a letter verifying completion of all degree requirements. This will allow students to pursue career opportunities at the earliest possible moment.
Should oral examinations for master’s and doctoral students proceed as scheduled?

Yes. The examination deadlines for summer and fall semesters have not changed. Thesis and dissertation final oral exams, comprehensive oral exams (if required by your program), and non-thesis final projects are requirements of the Graduate College.

Am I required to have my oral exam in-person?

No. Students and faculty should conduct oral exams remotely. All participants may determine their preferred option for participation. For more information see the Modification of Oral Exams announcement.

How should paperwork requiring faculty signatures be handled?

The Office of Graduate Studies will accept signed forms by email attachment or by regular mail. The Office of Graduate Studies is closed and cannot accept in-person deliveries.

Electronic signatures are acceptable. Hand-signed and scanned documents are acceptable. Individually signed forms from each committee member are acceptable (in other words, all signatures are NOT required to be on the same page). Forms can be located through our Degree Requirements pages.

Master’s program forms – Students and committee members should submit signed forms to Terri Eastin at teastin1@unl.edu (402-472-8665). After review and approval of the “Final Examination Report” forms, Terri will send an email to the student, the committee chair, and support staff with further instructions.

Doctoral program forms – Students and committee members should submit signed forms to Kelsey Sims at kelsey@unl.edu (402-472-2876). After review and approval of the “Application of Final Oral Examination” forms, Kelsey will send an email to the student, the committee chair, and support staff with further instructions.

What are the Fall 2020 enrollment options for F-1 international students?

We want to reassure you that the following options for Fall 2020 enrollment align with the new guidance from Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP):

  • Continuing international students who are currently in the U.S. may take more than three online credits because UNL is considered a “hybrid” institution (offering a combination of in-person, remote, and online instruction) under the new guidance, but they may not be enrolled in only online courses. Thus, if students have a choice between an in-person or online mode of instruction for a particular course, they should register for the in-person option.
  • Continuing international students who are in the U.S. pursuing practical training or are engaged in non-coursework degree requirements (e.g. PhD students who have completed coursework and are engaged in research, students on OPT/CPT) will have sufficient in-person contact hours to maintain their status.
  • Continuing international students who are outside the U.S. may take all online classes if they so choose, but this will impact their immigration status. The International Student and Scholar Office (ISSO) will work with these students to return for the Spring 2021 semester.
  • New international students who are in the U.S. (transferring from another SEVIS approved institution) may take more than three online credits required towards their full course of study in the fall semester; however, they cannot take a full course of study online.
  • New international students who are overseas should visit https://global.unl.edu/fall-2020-options/ for information regarding options for the Fall 2020 semester. These options align with the new guidance.

We realize that you likely have additional questions about recent announcements and their impacts. The International Student & Scholar Office and the Global Nebraska team continue to work to better understand aspects of the policy that are not yet fully clear and commit to providing you additional updates as information becomes available. Remember, we have expanded our team of International Student Success Navigators during this critical period. As you have questions about your specific circumstances, please email them to InternationalNavigators@unl.edu.

How is my visa affected? 

On June 22, the U.S. President issued a proclamation that suspends the issuance of visas for certain immigration classifications. This proclamation does not affect international graduate students in the F-1 and J-1 immigration statuses who need to apply for a visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Some students from the People's Republic of China may be impacted by a separate proclamation that was issued earlier in June.

Please visit the ISSO website for further details: https://globalnebraska.unl.edu/isso/important-immigration-updates..

International Student Admission

Graduate Studies will continue to provide I-20s to F-1 students and DS-2019s to J-1 students in the expectation and hope that they will be able to travel to the United States by the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester; however, it is possible that travel restrictions or limitations on the capacity of U.S. embassies and consulates to process visa applications could impact students’ ability to enter the U.S. UNL will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates to students when available.

Will research activities continue? 

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is transitioning to allowing only critical research activities to occur until further notice, in alignment with the University of Nebraska’s decision to further restrict campus activity to protect the health and safety of researchers and the community at large.

Effective April 8, the university will conduct only critical research activities. Please refer to the Office of Research and Economic Development COVID-19 webpage for guidelines and definitions related to critical research.

How will graduate assistantships be affected by the Fall 2020 schedule change?

Assistantship appointment dates and payment schedule will not change during the Fall 2020 semester. The appointment dates are August 17, 2020 through January 3, 2021, as originally scheduled. Payment dates will remain the same, with five equal monthly payments August through December, 2020.

As usual, graduate assistant work expectations are commensurate with the assistantship FTE. The maximum assistantship is 49% FTE and work may not exceed 19.6 hours per week.

Assistantships must be a minimum of 33% FTE to be eligible for tuition remission and a reduced student health insurance premium.

Graduate assistants cannot be expected to work prior to August 17, 2020. Departments that provide graduate student orientation may need to adjust their orientation schedules.

If it is necessary to end an assistantship prior to November 25, 2020, please contact Caroline Knuth (caroline.knuth@unl.edu) or Donna Hahn (dhahn1@unl.edu) in the Office of Graduate Studies for guidance.

Additional guidelines are located on the Graduate Studies website at: https://www.unl.edu/gradstudies/funding/assistantships

Can international students receive an assistantship or fellowship?

The answer is “no” for international students who have not been issued a visa and are not in the US. To receive an assistantship or fellowship, international students need to have a social security number (SSN), and they cannot get that until they are physically in the US for 10 days. Having a visa alone is not enough; they need to have the SSN. Departments can still cover the cost of tuition and fees for international students.

For continuing international students who have an active payroll record, even if they returned home, they can continue to have an assistantship or fellowship.

For further assistance, please contact Caroline Knuth (caroline.knuth@unl.edu) or Donna Hahn (dhahn1@unl.edu) in the Office of Graduate Studies.

Can departments cover the cost of tuition, health insurance premiums and fees for international students not in the U.S.?

Yes. Departments may choose to fund any of the following: Graduate tuition (in full or in part); up to 79% of the student health insurance premiums; and some fees (such as UPFF, Library Fee, Technology Fee, Registration Fee, Ncard Fee and Course Fees). To cover any of these costs, departments must use an Agreement to Fund (ATF) form.

Charges not covered by the ATF are the responsibility of the student.

Are there other funds for graduate students? 

Questions regarding funding should first be directed to the student’s department (their major advisor, graduate chair, or department chair). In addition, the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid (OSFA) is available to support students and families and will make every effort to mitigate financial burdens created by this extraordinary situation. If you have incurred, or will incur, additional expenses or severe financial hardship, please contact Husker Hub at 402-472-2030 or huskerhub@unl.edu to request a financial aid review for the Spring 2020 semester.

Is administrative leave available to graduate student employees?

Yes. As announced by University of Nebraska President Carter, the current situation provides for administrative leave for employees, including graduate students employed by UNL. The amount of administrative leave is prorated, based on a student’s FTE or average number of work hours per week. For example, graduate assistants with 49% FTE would have 78 hours of administrative leave available. More information is located at: https://covid19.unl.edu/employees.

Graduate student employees do not normally earn administrative leave, so Firefly (ESS) is not set up for graduate students. Department or college business centers will need to manage within their units. It is recommended they keep a centralized record of student leave requests. The business center staff should enter the leave in SAP using the code ADM.

Event cancellations and postponements

Job Document Consultation

Students wanting a consultation for job documents are encouraged to continue to schedule those through the online form. For any questions about these topics and additional resources, please contact Erin Omar at eomar2@unl.edu or Lisa Rohde at lrohde2@unl.edu.

Grad Expo 2020

Although an alternate date has not yet been determined, Grad Expo 2020 has been postponed indefinitely.

Graduate Committee Chair Dialogue

The dialogue session open to graduate committee chairs scheduled for Thursday, March 19 has been canceled.

Student Research Days

Student Research Days and the undergraduate and graduate poster sessions and creative exhibitions on April 14 have been cancelled. In lieu of Nebraska Student Research Days, students are invited to submit posters to the UNL Digital Commons. This will allow you to continue to list that work on your CV.

You should be able to post your work under your discipline or sub-discipline.

Please review the instructions on how to do that. If you have any questions about the Digital Commons or the process, please contact Paul Royster at proyster@unl.edu. For students that will not be graduating soon, there will be opportunities to present at future research events such as next year’s Student Research Days during Spring 2021. Please contact Lisa Rohde at lrohde2@unl.edu if you have any questions about this decision.