Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Update

On March 11th the University announced that beginning March 16th instruction for all students will be moving to a remote delivery format. On March 18th, it was announced that the University is extending remote course delivery through the spring semester. Learn more at gradschool.psu.edu/covid19.

In the interest of protecting the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and community members, the Graduate School has adjusted its operations to a remote format. Official business is being conducted by email, phone or videoconference until further notice. MORE INFO>

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  • On March 11, 2020, the University announced that beginning March 16th instruction for all students will be moving to a remote delivery format. On March 18th, it was announced that the University is extending remote course delivery through the spring semester. 

  • Graduate students enrolled in resident courses should plan on participating remotely, and not coming to campus specifically for face-to-face instruction. 

  • On March 20, 2020, the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research, in consultation with the Vice Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Medicine, has issued revised standards related to laboratory research. Specifically, Principal Investigators should immediately begin preparing for all on-campus research to be reduced to essential research-related activities by March 24. Unit leaders, deans and chancellors will be providing specific direction about reducing research activities.

  • Graduate students involved in the instructional mission, research, and/or who are on assistantships with activities other than the instructional mission and research, should refer to the information below.

Penn State is actively and carefully monitoring the situation regarding COVID-19. Please consult the Coronavirus Information FAQ.

Please continue to check this page frequently for updates. More information, is available, including a comprehensive FAQ.


Given the rapidly changing circumstances due to the COVID-19 outbreak (e.g. school, daycare, and other business closures) that may make it difficult for graduate students to complete activities, supervisors of graduate students involved in research, teaching and other activities, and graduate student advisers overall should provide flexibility and appropriate accommodations for their graduate students.


Take Immediate Action if Feeling Ill

If you are ill with symptoms concerning for COVID-19, please contact your physician for advice. If anyone who is carrying out essential research activities displays minor symptoms of illness, including but not limited to cough or fever, that person must stay home, and they should notify their research supervisor as soon as possible so that plans for alternative coverage of those critical activities can be determined. If someone has any doubt about whether they could be ill, they should NOT come to campus.

The news about the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak may be causing our graduate students to feel extra stress and anxiety. The CDC has released information for Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19, and Penn State resources are available to students at University Park through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), and at the College of Medicine through the Office of Professional Mental Health.

Please know that the Graduate School is committed to supporting all graduate students during this time. 

The Graduate School’s Commitment to Student Success

The Graduate School recognizes that some Graduate Council academic requirements and other rules will need to be approached with flexibility during the COVID-19 outbreak. We have prepared a web page, "Exceptions and Other Adjustments to Graduate Council Academic Policies and Graduate School Administrative Policies In Response to COVID–19 Outbreak” that provides an outline of relevant policies and the appropriate adjustments. This document will be updated as needed.

The overarching goal of the University’s actions is to minimize the risk of the spread of COVID-19 and to safeguard the health and safety of the Penn State community. This is a rapidly evolving situation, and there may be new directives issued by the Governor and/or other governmental and health agencies in the coming hours and days. We appreciate everyone’s understanding and flexibility. 

This situation is a challenging and stressful time. Whether faculty, staff, student or postdoc, we are all trying to adapt to remote work, scholarship, teaching, essential responsibilities, as well as care for ourselves and our families. Now is the time to be compassionate, understanding, and flexible in all our interactions with others. Let us all pull together as a community to support each other.


Graduate Students Serving as Instructors and/or Supporting Courses Offered by Other Instructors 

Graduate student serving in this role should review important “GUIDANCE FOR INSTRUCTORS, INCLUDING GRADUATE STUDENT INSTRUCTORS/TEACHING ASSISTANTS," and contact the department/instructor responsible for the respective courses for guidance on how to adapt to a remote format for delivery/support appropriate for each course. The University has several resources noted below available for instructors regarding remote teaching and learning. Please watch for further messages with additional teaching resources over the coming days.

Below are some resources about remote teaching:

Graduate Students Conducting Research for their Thesis/Dissertation or as Part of a Research Assistantship:

(Updated March 24, 2020) All on-campus research is reduced to essential research-related activities as of March 24, 2020. At this time, all graduate students conducting research for their thesis/dissertation or as part of a research assistantship are expected to continue their research activities remotely, with the exception of those designated as essential personnel. Those graduate students who are designated as essential personnel should follow official University guidance for all activities on campus. Please consult with your research supervisor/adviser about the plans for your individual research group. No person – faculty, staff, postdocs, or students – should be forced to work on campus during this time.

Graduate Students Involved in Human Subjects Research

In those cases where human subjects research visits are to be postponed (i.e., cannot be performed remotely and are not essential to a participant's health and have a direct therapeutic benefit; see COVID-19: Human Subjects for more information) and graduate student researchers are involved whose research for their degree will be impacted, faculty/investigators should work with their students to develop revised/alternative plans to enable continued progress towards their degree. 

Graduate Students on Assistantships with Activities other than the Instructional Mission and Research

Students in these roles should contact their assistantship supervisor to discuss continuing their activities remotely.  In keeping with the University’s announcement on March 20th, it is important that everyone, other than essential personnel, should not come to campus until otherwise notified.