The Graduate School leadership team has compiled a list of frequently asked questions on a few key topics, including thesis and dissertation defenses, graduation, admissions, tuition/stipend, etc.

Defense/Graduation questions

For students who are defending their thesis or dissertation this Spring, how is UAB handling the scheduling of public defenses?

Spring defenses should be conducted remotely via Zoom. Please work with your program and committee mentor/chair to make arrangements.

How does Zoom work?

Zoom is a video conferencing software available to the UAB community that allows attendees to log in and participate remotely. Please visit https://www.uab.edu/elearning/academic-technologies/zoom for more information.

Will this situation influence students who will graduate this semester? Will this situation postpone their graduation date?

Whenever possible, class participation, research, and defenses should continue as planned in a remote capacity. In most cases, graduation will not be postponed. Students should contact their program director for specific information, particularly those students in clinical degree programs. If students believe it is in their best interest to defer until the summer term they may do so. If necessary, the Graduate School can update your graduation term at the request of your program director.

Will submission deadlines be extended for students defending this semester?

In general, and whenever possible, defenses should continue as scheduled. Instead of scheduling them in a physical location on campus they can be conducted remotely.

How should we address getting necessary signatures on the approval form - is there a digital signature option?

Programs have been notified that the Graduate School will accept email approval from committee members. This approval can be collected by a student’s committee mentor/chair and forwarded to the Graduate School.

Will the graduate school consider extending/delaying summer 2020 graduation deadlines (i.e. graduate date, public defense, document submission) considering how this will impact students who were planning to graduate?

At this point, we don’t anticipate changes to upcoming deadlines. If you have specific challenges meeting a deadline, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Will this affect the summer term? Is there no longer going to be a registration period and/ or commencement?

Registration for the Summer and Fall terms will continue as normal. If any changes need to be made to the summer term, these will be communicated as information becomes available.

If we cannot complete our clinical/internship hours this semester and possibly into next semester, what is going to happen to the graduate students that are supposed to graduate in August? Many decisions we have are contingent upon graduating on time.

This is an ongoing situation that will differ from program to program. Student should contact their program director for specific information.

Are Spring 2020 Commencement ceremonies still happening?

In-person commencement ceremonies have been cancelled for the entire UAB system. UAB is exploring options for a virtual commencement. Spring 2020 graduates will also have the option to participate in a future ceremony. The latest information regarding commencement activities will be communicated as they become available, and posted online at https://www.uab.edu/commencement/.

Do administrators, professors, and other teaching professionals anticipate online instruction to continue for the summer semester?

At this time, the only decision that has been made is that online classes will continue for the remainder of the Spring 2020 term. UAB Administration and the UA System will continue to closely monitor the spread of COVID-19.

Will final exams be online?

As was announced on March 18, 2020, courses will remain online/alternative format for the remainder of the Spring 2020 term. Please contact the instructor of record for details related to the final exam.

 

Admissions questions

Will COVID-19 affect my application being reviewed?

No, applications will still be sent to the department for review once all application materials (transcripts, letters of recommendation, test scores, etc.) have been received.

How can I send my transcripts to UAB?

If possible, please have your institution send your transcripts to UAB electronically.

What if my institution will only send a paper copy of my transcript through the mail?

Unfortunately, we are not able to check US mail at this time. However, we do accept unofficial transcripts for the application review process. You can upload a copy of your transcript to your application or email it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

My test scores can only be sent through the mail. What should I do?

I’m an international student and can no longer take my English proficiency exam. What should I do?

UAB accepts Duolingo scores for English proficiency. Duolingo can be completed online. Please visit https://englishtest.duolingo.com/ for more information.

 

Tuition/Stipend questions

Will students currently in clinicals/internships that are unable to complete their hours be able to get a tuition waiver to complete hours in the summer?

No decisions have been made regarding tuition waivers or refunds; we will work with your programs to determine a solution for the summer term.

I am funded by a TAship and my program will stop funding TAships after 5 years. I was due to graduate this summer but have had to delay experiments due to COVID. Will there be funding if I cannot make up this work in time for summer deadlines?

The Graduate School will work with each program, School, and the College to ensure that students can complete experiments and continue to receive funding.

As a Graduate Research Assistant, I am completing my research hours from home. Will I still be paid my monthly stipend?

Yes; updated payroll guidelines released yesterday (3/17) indicated that GRAs, GTAs, and Graduate Trainees will continue to be paid their monthly stipend while UAB is in limited operations.

If we are supported on a TA and no longer able to teach normally because of the switch to online, will our pay be affected?

Yes, during limited operations, GTAs will continue to be paid; you may still be asked to participate and assist in the online course format, so please reach out to your program for additional guidance.

I am a PhD student currently receiving stipends from my PIs grant. If the COVID-19 crisis extends beyond 2 weeks, how will the stipends get affected? Are there any plans being discussed?

Monthly stipends for GRAs, GTAs, and Graduate Trainees will continue to be paid under limited operations. Plans beyond the next 14 days have not been finalized. The Graduate School will be part of any discussions and keep students updated as we have new information.

Are there any refunds grad students will be receiving for services (not including tuition)?

To our knowledge, no refunds for services have been discussed.

I am a Graduate Assistant that signed a contract, if we end up having to work remotely for longer than 2 weeks, does that affect us getting paid?

It could, but we do not know for certain. Graduate Assistants (those paid bi-weekly) will be paid for the next 2 weeks; at this time, we don’t have any specific guidance beyond the 14-day period. The Graduate School will update students as we learn new information.

Will those receiving hourly pay from UAB still get some form of income?

Yes, for the next 2 weeks, those paid hourly will be paid at their regular rate. Unfortunately, we have no definitive answer beyond the 14 days the university has defined as “Limited Operations”. The Graduate School will update all students as we learn new information.

In the most recent announcement, does the statement about student workers needing HR permission to be classified as Group A1 apply to graduate students?

These HR groups are only for employees and do not apply to graduate students. Students should discuss with their mentor if their work is essential. If not, students should work remotely.

Will those whose courses/research cannot be easily transferred online and are therefore forced to pay for additional courses be compensated or assisted by UAB?

Credit earned for courses in the Spring 2020 term will be applied whenever possible. No decisions have been made regarding tuition waivers or refunds; we will work with your programs to determine a solution if additional courses are required.

 

Research questions

Why do I have to be on campus if I can work from home?

You do not need to be on campus. Under the Limited Business Operations plan, everyone who can work at home is advised to do so.

How do we determine if our experiments are ‘essential’?

You should discuss this directly with your mentor and determine which experiments are essential for you to complete.

While there is always some amount of planning, reading, and writing that can be done at home, we do also need to do some experiments physically in the lab, so how do we do them responsibly?

Guidelines for mentored research under the Limited Business Operations plan include the following best practices:

  • All trainees and laboratory personnel must keep their cell phone on them at all times.
  • Trainees and laboratory personnel should let faculty mentors know when they are in lab and when they leave.
  • When several trainees and laboratory personnel need to be present in the laboratory, best practices for social distancing must be used, including staggering work times, working 6’ apart, and limiting interactions. However, no one should work alone. If that is unavoidable, work when there is someone in an office on the same hall.

For grad students in a wetlab setting, should we still be going into lab?

This decision should be made following a conversation with your mentor. No new experiments should be started. Experiments that already under way can be completed if student and mentor decide that they are essential.

Can I still come in to work if I want to?

If your work does not require you to be on campus, you should remain at home and work remotely. Each of us must do our part in practicing social distancing to flatten the curve of people becoming infected with COVID-19.

How could we maintain experiments and animal models?

All graduate students should directly discuss with their mentor how experiments and animal models will be maintained, and whether previously planned experiments are essential. If they are not essential, the experiments should be delayed to a future time.

I am an art student. Will we be able to get back our artwork we have already turned in? If so, how and when?

UAB central administration will send out communication regarding when students may return to campus. Please contact your program director or the instructor of record about whether you will be able to get your artwork returned.