COVID-19 Information for Graduate Students

Campus COVID-19 Testing

Details about campus no-cost COVID-19 testing: accessing testing, preparing for testing, getting your results and what to do if you test positive.

UW–Madison COVID-19 Dashboard

The dashboard provides information to the campus community and the public about the results of COVID-19 tests among current UW–Madison faculty, staff and students.

Campus Operations

Check the Campus Operations webpage for up-to-date information on campus activities and spaces.

The directory of on-campus spaces for virtual learning provides information about campus rooms and related resources that are available this Fall semester to support students participating in remote courses and course activities.

Graduate School Operations

Graduate School front desk services are available remotely to graduate students, faculty, and staff. From 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, staff will be available for timely response to email (gsacserv@grad.wisc.edu), telephone (608-262-2433), and voice mail. The front desk is closed to in-person visits.

Graduate School services including admissions, academic services, and funding are available by email:

Parking Options

Due to the ongoing public health situation and concerns about public transportation, UW Transportation Services has a variety of parking options to help fit the different needs of graduate students. Graduate students are able to purchase certain parking passes and permits directly at Transportation Services customer service locations. Some permit and pass options may be available to purchase online.

Permit and pass availability varies and may be limited. For more information, see the Graduate Student Parking Options for fall 2020.

Research and Lab Rotations

Research has been restarted gradually, with a focus on expanding on-site research and scholarly activities while minimizing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to our students, staff, faculty, and the larger Madison community.

For up-to-date information, visit the Research Reboot webpage.

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How do I get access to the library for research purposes?

Graduate students can use the UW–Madison Libraries Library by Appointment service and Pickup by Appointment service, which provide access to some of the library’s physical materials and locations. A limited number of patrons are allowed per day to reduce congestion and facilitate physical distancing. Access is by appointment only. Read more about the Library by Appointment service.

Updated Sept. 10, 2020

How will lab rotations work?

Like all campus activities, any in-person lab rotations must follow campus-wide guidance for research and instruction, including wearing a face mask, maintaining physical distance, and self-monitoring for symptoms before coming to campus. School and college guidelines may also vary slightly and have building-specific guidance. All PIs should have a plan for training students entering their labs on all protocols in place at that time.

Added July 31, 2020

Are in-person graduate research activities permitted after Thanksgiving break?

Graduate programs are strongly encouraged to design the necessary in-person activities of lab rotations and other research activities to occur before the Thanksgiving break.

Exceptions may occur in certain circumstances, including the following:

  • Graduate student participation after Thanksgiving is in approved field placements critical for accreditation or licensing, such as clinical training, and the advisor/program has received approval for these activities from the School/College dean.
  • Graduate student participation after Thanksgiving is in research activities that have been approved through and in compliance with Research Reboot protocols. These activities may include 790, 890 and 990-type enrollment.

If you have questions about your individual situation, consult your faculty advisor for additional guidance.

Updated Oct. 14, 2020

How often should I get tested during lab rotations or other in-person activities?

University Health Services recommends that you get tested if you have symptoms, and/or have known contact with a confirmed case.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea.

See also COVID-19 testing information for students.

Added Aug. 13, 2020

If campus pivots and closes the campus again, will research be able to continue?

Due to the surveillance testing campus is doing, all efforts will be made to individually deal with instances of COVID in campus research spaces without the need to shut down research broadly as happened in spring.

Added Aug. 20, 2020

Enrollment, Courses, and Degree Milestones

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How do I submit paper enrollment change forms to the Graduate School?

If you need to submit paper enrollment change forms (course change requests, withdrawals, etc.), please scan the form or take a photo of it on a mobile device and email it to gsacserv@grad.wisc.edu. Graduate School services are available by email (preferred) and phone at 608-262-4322.  (Graduate programs have received instructions about alternatives to paper warrant processing.)

Added June 16, 2020

Can I still get a pre-check for my doctoral dissertation?

Pre-checks are available by email. Doctoral students who wish to have an optional pre-check should email the doctoral degree coordinator, Alexandra Walter, alexandra.walter@wisc.edu.

Added June 16, 2020

What should I do if I am defending a thesis, taking a qualifying exam, or participating in some other milestone necessary for academic progress?

Dissertation and thesis defenses, preliminary exams, qualifying exams, and similar milestone activities are essential events, directly related to the academic mission of the university, and will continue. However, these are encouraged to be virtual. Accommodations should be made for graduate students or required committee members who are unable to participate due to illness or quarantine.

Students defending a dissertation or thesis can gather thesis committee members’ signatures electronically for their degree warrant.

Updated Sept. 28, 2020

Is there a time limit extension for doctoral candidates whose work has been disrupted by the pandemic?

Current Graduate School policy on time limits states that a candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within 5 years after passing the preliminary examination may be required to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.

To offer flexibility amidst the major disruption that COVID-19 may have had on doctoral candidates’ research and scholarship progress, students who achieved dissertator status by the end of the 2020 summer term have automatically had the 5 year time limit extended by 8 months. Dissertators given this 8 month extension who need more time due to continued COVID related disruption to their progress may request a further extension from the Graduate School.  Decisions to extend the deadline beyond the additional 8 months are made on a case-by-case basis upon request of the student and their advisor.  Students requesting an extension need to submit the request, along with a letter of support from their advisor, to gsacserv@grad.wisc.edu.

Updated October 14, 2020

How will final exams work in courses where online exams are not possible?

Final exams will be delivered remotely. Instructors may adjust their syllabi to have alternative assessments if an online exam is not possible.

Added June 16, 2020

Will pass/fail still be an option in the fall because many classes will still have to be offered online?

There will not be a disruptive grading option for fall 2020. The university’s normal pass/fail option is available.

Added June 16, 2020

How can I get a disability-related accommodation for a class?

If you have an approved disability-related accommodation, please discuss with your instructors any COVID-related accommodation changes or adjustments. You can also reach out to your Access Consultant at the McBurney Disability Resource Center if you have questions or believe your accommodation is not being met by the instructor.

If you do not have an approved disability accommodation, you can still discuss with your instructor the desire for a COVID-related disability accommodation. While the instructor may have some flexibility in granting some informal requests for an accommodation, they may require that you work with McBurney’s process to obtain an accommodation VISA.

For more information, see the McBurney Center’s FAQs about virtual learning and accessibility.

Added Aug. 11, 2020

Will segregated fees be reduced for students who are not on campus or enrolled in only online courses?

The university acknowledges the financial impact that the pandemic has had on our students and their families. However, since the campus COVID-19 pandemic response began in March, campus has made sure all students continue to have virtual access to many of the services funded by segregated fees. That will continue to be the case in the fall semester: University Health Services (UHS) will be providing virtual appointments and services, including mental health appointments. RecWell will continue to offer virtual exercise and well-being courses. The Child Care Tuition Assistance Program will continue supporting students with children. The Open Seat food pantry will continue to offer resources for those who need to supplement their food budget. These and other important services are supported either in full or in part by segregated fees, and they benefit all students, including graduate students.

Added Aug. 28, 2020

Working and Learning Remotely

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How do I access academic journals and other campus subscriptions remotely?

To gain access, go through the libraries website: https://www.library.wisc.edu.

Click the dropdown that says “Search the Catalog” on the top left to change the selection to either “Articles” or “Databases.”

The Article search option is a general search across a broad range of topics.

The Database search option will allow you to search for specific disciplinary databases. If you are new to the Libraries’ list of over 1,300 databases, see the quick links for some of the most common options:

  • Browse by Subject/Type
  • Introductory Databases
  • Top 10 Databases

Here area few online tips and tricks: https://www.library.wisc.edu/help/research-tips-tricks/

How to search if you know the journal you want: https://www.library.wisc.edu/help/research-tips-tricks/finding-a-specific-journal/

How to search if you have a specific article in mind: https://www.library.wisc.edu/help/research-tips-tricks/finding-a-specific-article/

If you need any assistance, the Libraries are available to provide assistance via email, chat or text:  https://www.library.wisc.edu/help/

Added June 16, 2020

How do I access software that I usually use in a library or computer lab?

Software programs are available through the Campus Software Library, like Matlab, Smart Draw, and more. For information on access to software while working remote, please see How to get software while remote.

Added June 16, 2020

Where can I find resources and tools to learn or work remotely?

Here is a guide for working remotely and a guide for learning remotely for faculty, staff, and students. A number of software downloads are also available, including Microsoft Office 365.

The Graduate School has also developed an online module, Successful Online Learning, for grad students taking their first online course or those looking for some new resources on online learning. Students can enroll in the Successful Online Learning Canvas course any time.

The DoIT Help Desk is also available to support faculty, staff, and students who need additional assistance.

DoIT has shared tips for how to manage slower internet speed and low bandwidth while working and learning remotely. Students should contact their instructors as soon as possible if their internet connectivity or lack of access to certain equipment or software (such as laptops, digital learning tools, or printers) is restricting their access to course materials and class participation. Instructors are also encouraged to use asynchronous instruction and learning activities wherever possible to reduce the need for high-speed, robust connectivity

If students, faculty or staff need to check out a laptop to assist with remote learning, teaching, or working, please see this guide.

Many carriers are currently offering low-cost wired broadband internet service options. Contact your local internet provider to see if they are offering free or reduced rates. DoIT does not recommend relying on mobile hotspots as they do not provide enough data to sustain continued full-time work or learning from home.

Updated Aug. 11, 2020

Mental Health and Basic Needs Support

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I feel stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed. Where can I go for help?

University Health Services is committed to supporting students and many medical, counseling, and wellness services are available by phone and accessible online. Find out more on the UHS Remote Health and Connection webpage. Crisis Services are available 24/7 at 608-265-5600 (option 9).

The Department of Psychiatry has compiled a curated collection of resources from a variety of sources to support the mental health and emotional wellbeing of our community during this difficult time.

Graduate students can also call, email, or video chat with Elaine Goetz-Berman, the Graduate and Professional Student Assistance Specialist in the Dean of Students Office, egoetz2@wisc.edu.

More mental health resources are available to you. Here are a few examples:

  • SilverCloud is an online, self-guided resource designed to help students manage day-to-day stresses and improve resilience.
  • Healthy Minds Innovations recently launched a well-being app, called the Healthy Minds Program, that is now freely available to individuals in light of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Health) has published an extensive COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
  • Crisis Text Line is helpful for panic attacks and other emotionally intense moments. Text HOME to 741741; a bot will provide you with their terms of service and put you on a waitlist to text with a real person. Wait times may be long due to current anxiety/panic about COVID-19.
  • SAMHSA Disaster Distress Hotline: Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor. Dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories.
  • Project Recovery. South Central Wisconsin residents who have been impacted emotionally by COVID-19 can connect with Project Recovery outreach workers for help with problem solving, conflict resolution, stress management, and developing plans to address unmet needs. Visit www.projectrecoverywi.org or call 2-1-1 to access your local outreach counselor.
  • The Employee Assistance Office is available to graduate assistants (TAs, PAs, RAs, and LSAs)
Updated Aug. 27, 2020

What if I am experiencing financial hardship or having difficulty meeting basic needs due to COVID-19?

We understand that some students will experience financial hardship associated with the impact of COVID-19 as it relates to family, travel and academics. The following resources are available:

  • Office of Student Financial Aid: The Office of Student Financial Aid has a team of people ready to help connect you to financial and other resources.
  • Basic Needs: The Office of Student Financial Aid has compiled a list of basic needs resources in the Madison area. If you need resources in a different area, the United Way 211 will provide information based on your zip code. You can also call 211 and will be given information for the nearest emergency food provider.
  • The Open Seat food pantry: Between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m., students can pick up prepackaged food boxes at Union South near the hotel entrance off of Dayton Street. These boxes are intended to assist those who need to supplement their food budget.
    • Boxes are packed and distributed by Second Harvest Foodbank. They come in a 10-lb size for an individual, or a 25-lb size for a household of four. Students should request a box using this link: https://forms.gle/68aLFddgX1ECCTQEA
    • We ask that you submit your order by Thursday for a pick-up the following Tuesday. Pick-ups will be every Tuesday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. at Union South.
    • For questions, contact openseat@asm.wisc.edu.
  • Also for Graduate Students: Although the university is committed to continuity of pay for graduate assistants, other factors related to COVID-19 may have an impact on finances. The Office of Student Financial Aid emergency funds, Dean of Students Crisis Loan ($500-$1,000), International Students Services Loans (up to $5,000), and other emergency funds may be available. Read more in the Financial Matters FAQ. The Division of Extension has compiled a list of financial resources to support some common financial challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Graduate students living in University Apartments who have concerns about their ability to pay are encouraged to contact University Apartments to discuss their individual situations: leasing@housing.wisc.edu. COVID-19-related updates for University Apartment residents are posted online and emailed directly to residents. For graduate students who do not live in University Apartments, community resources may be available to help them navigate individual situations with their landlords. The Tenant Resource Center is one such organization for Dane County residents.

Added June 16, 2020

What resources are available for graduate students with children?

Graduate assistants who are parents, guardians or caregivers may face challenges this fall as K-12 student attend school virtually and as childcare facilities close or reduce numbers. To support employees and to lessen these challenges, UW–Madison encourages units to work with employees to identify and offer workplace flexibilities. See the Guidance for Employees with Childcare Needs from the Office of Human Resources. In addition, the Graduate Assistantship Policies and Procedures (GAPP) for Project (PA), Teaching (TA), and Research (RA) Assistants includes a section on the Leave Benefits that graduate assistants earn through their appointment.

To assist employees and supervisors who are navigating these challenges, UW–Madison has launched a Family Caregiving website with guidance on issues such as workplace flexibilities and leave options. Caregiving resources are also provided.

For more information and resources, see the Graduate School’s webpage for graduate students with children.

Updated Sept. 28, 2020

For International Students

International students face many added uncertainties and stressors related to COVID-19. The university is actively working to address the many concerns you have and is educating our federal policy makers on the benefit of creating a welcoming and supportive environment for our international students in this country.

International Student Services (ISS) continues to monitor the global, national, and university COVID-19 updates impacting F-1 and J-1 international students. Find more information in the ISS COVID-19 FAQ.

Contact your graduate program coordinator for questions about your specific circumstances.

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Can international students who are unable to come to Madison get paid and receive tuition remission as graduate assistants?

Graduate students with assistantship appointments need to make every effort to return to campus or telecommute from within the U.S. Individuals who cannot return to the campus or the U.S. due to immigration issues may be permitted to telecommute internationally under certain circumstances. Individual graduate students need to work closely with their admitting graduate program and that program’s Human Resources office.

International telecommuting is prohibited from countries deemed to pose the highest risk associated with export control: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and the Republic of Sudan.

This guidance applies to international graduate students with research (RA), teaching (TA), and project (PA) assistantships as well as fellowships.

Added July 29, 2020