Graduate Students

Last updated 3:45 PM, April 2, 2020

This is undoubtedly a difficult time for many of you as we face significant upheaval in our way of life as students, instructors, employees and for some, also as parents and partners. We could never have anticipated facing this global pandemic, nor what this crisis would mean for our academic progress, our research, and our connections to campus and one another.

Please reference this site for answers to your questions, access to resources, and regular updates as we navigate this time together.

As Dean Bill Karpus said in a message to students last week, we encourage you to take care of your physical and mental health in these challenging times. We encourage you to reach out to one another from a safe distance, to be in regular touch with your lab mates and colleagues, and to consult frequently with your supervisors, mentors, and PIs as needed for information and more. Your college/school/center/unit deans and directors may also be resources to you, should you need them.

For research-related information, please visit the research section of this site. Below are a number of relevant FAQs with the most up-to-date information available, which will be continuously updated as needed. You may also refer to the other FAQs on the university COVID-19 site if you are looking for answers to questions you do not see here.

Academic Support

Remote Learning

Tips to help you get connected and be successful while learning remotely:


If you have a disability-related accommodation, please be in touch with your instructors to discuss any changes for your course. You can also reach out to your Access Consultant at the McBurney Disability Resource Center if you have questions.

Drop a Class Deadline

The class drop deadline without dean’s approval for the spring term has been extended to give students and instructors time to adjust to the new online instructional environment.

Campus Services

Housing & Dining

University Housing will continue to share updates on operations with residents and their families. Please check the site for information about social distancing guidelines, the University Apartments Community Center, Eagle’s Wing Child Care Center and more.

Limited dining services are still available on campus for residents. Dining options are available at select University Housing locations and for pick-up at Memorial Union and Union Southbeginning March 24.


Campus Facilities

Updates for each are posted online:


UW Campus’ Metro Bus routes 80 and 84 will continue on the recess schedule, while most Madison Metro routes will shift to abbreviated schedules starting Monday, March 23. Route 81 and 82 do not run during recess service.

Saturday bus schedules will be in effect all seven days of the week for routes 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 26, 30, 31, 32, 36, 40, 50, 51, 59, 63, 67, 68, 78.

In addition, Metro will operate routes 55, 75, 23, 72, 44, 48 and 49 Monday through Friday only.

Metro’s paratransit service will remain unchanged. Paratransit riders who are at high risk of severe illness are strongly encouraged to protect themselves and stay home if possible.

The dedicated on-campus accessible circulator shuttle will resume the regular semester schedule on Monday, March 23.

Metro will also be selectively increasing the number of buses on routes with high ridership in order to meet the demand while still maintaining a maximum capacity of 15 riders per bus.

Check the Madison Metro website for updated details.

Most surface lots and parking garage/ramps are open and do not require a permit. Learn more at Transportation Services’ website.

Student Support

Health & Wellness

University Health Services has modified its medical services to reflect operational changes across campus.

You can also call UHS Mental Health Services at 608-265-5600.

SilverCloud is a self-guided, interactive mental health resource especially helpful for UW–Madison students experiencing anxiety related to COVID-19 events.

Tips for Staying Active

University Recreation & Wellbeing will be sharing tips to stay active and live well while their facilities are closed, including at-home workouts. Resources will be posted on their website, blog, and social media.

Financial and Basic Needs

Get connected to resources you may need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Decisions are being made quickly on campus and in our communities, but know that you are not alone. The Office of Student Financial Aid is able to provide financial support, and additional resources are listed on the FAQ page.

The Open Seat food pantry will distribute boxes using an online request form. Boxes can be picked up at Union South beginning March 24.

The Bursar’s Office will not be charging late fees for the remainder of the semester. This includes late fees for graduate assistants unable to make their segregated fee payments by the deadline on Friday, April 3. Contact the Bursar’s Office for questions about tuition remissions at or your tuition account at

Center for Healthy Minds

The Center offers helpful tools and guidance for your well-being.

Respect Statement

COVID-19 is not specific to an ethnicity or race—disease does not discriminate. Racist behaviors or stereotyping are not tolerated at UW–Madison. If you experience harassment or discrimination, students are encouraged to file a bias incident report. Employees may file a complaint with the Office of Compliance.


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Are graduate assistants (TAs, PAs, and RAs) eligible for COVID-19 employee leave policy?

The university’s COVID-19 pandemic employee leave policy applies to teaching assistants, research assistants, and program assistants and creates a leave bank for employees to use when they are unable to work because of COVID-19, including when an employee is ill or providing care for an immediate family member. The leave bank is 80 hours prorated by % FTE (a 50% assistantship appointment’s leave bank is 40 hours). This is in addition to the 96 hours of paid sick leave that TAs, PAs, and RAs receive under the Graduate Assistantship Policies and Procedures.

Last updated 12:11 PM, March 23, 2020

How are funding agencies responding to COVID-19? How can I get funding for COVID-19 research?

For information about changes to sponsored research, please visit the UW–Madison Research and Sponsored Programs website.

For access to funding opportunities, including new funding for COVID-19 research, please visit RSP’s Finding Funding page.

Please note that RSP is open and processing grant submissions, but staff is working remotely. To assure processing, please deliver proposals to RSP in a timely fashion. Don’t wait to submit proposals at the last minute.

Additional information about proposal submission, deadline changes, award management and more is available at funding agency sites. Including:

Last updated 11:13 AM, March 27, 2020

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

Adobe Creative Cloud tools like Acrobat, Photoshop, Illustrator are available by logging in to Adobe Creative Cloud with your NetID. Students have access to Creative Cloud services through May 31 via their NetID. 

Other 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. 

Last updated 11:07 AM, March 25, 2020

Can a PI require a graduate student or postdoctoral researcher to take part in laboratory-based research?  

In an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, per the Chancellor’s announcement, as well as by order of Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, only research and campus operations deemed essential are permitted to continue at this time. A PI may not pressure or compel graduate students or postdoctoral researchers engaged in research to take part in laboratory-based activities during the pandemic. This is prohibited whether graduate students or postdocs are in roles deemed essential* or non-essential, regardless of visa status, and even when a request for authorization for continuation of limited research activities has been approved by the Dean’s office.

Consistent with campus guidelines, students, staff and trainees who are not engaged in an essential laboratory research activity or essential research function authorized by the Dean’s office cannot be physically present in the laboratory. They should work remotely on other aspects of a research project such as writing, planning experimental protocols, or data analysis.

If a graduate student or postdoctoral researcher’s role is considered essential*, a decision about whether to work on campus should be voluntary and informed by a discussion between the student/postdoc and supervisor, outlining activities to be done, possible concerns about health risk, and a plan to mitigate or eliminate these risks, including the student/postdoc responsibilities for risk reduction. This must be approved by their dean or center director.

*This flexibility for essential roles only applies to graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.

Last updated 9:35 AM, March 27, 2020

Can graduate assistants be required to report to campus for work during the pandemic?   

Supervisors and advisors may not pressure or compel graduate students to report to campus during the pandemic. Graduate assistants who cannot telecommute will be eligible to use leave under updated policies. This includes 80 hours of paid COVID-19 leave, in addition to the 96 hours of paid sick leave that TAs, PAs, and RAs receive under the Graduate Assistantship Policies and Procedures.

If a graduate assistant’s role is considered essential*, a decision about whether to work on campus should be voluntary and informed by a discussion between the student and supervisor, outlining activities to be done, possible concerns about health risk, and a plan to mitigate or eliminate these risks, including the student’s responsibilities for risk reduction. This must be approved by their dean or center director.

*This flexibility for essential roles only applies to graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.

Last updated 3:52 PM, March 26, 2020

What should a graduate assistant or postdoctoral researcher do if they feel pressured to work on-site?

Graduate students or postdoctoral researchers who feel pressured to work on-site may report such incidents using program/department or school/college reporting structures first. If these mechanisms do not exist or do not result in resolution, or the student is uncomfortable with those structures, graduate students should contact the Graduate School at and postdoctoral researchers should contact the Office of Postdoctoral Studies at

Last updated 3:52 PM, March 26, 2020

Will there be 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 on doctoral candidates’ research and scholarship progress during Spring 2020 and possibly Summer 2020, the Graduate School will extend the 5-year time limit by 8 months for all doctoral degree candidates who are (or will be) in dissertator status in Spring 2020 or Summer 2020.

Posted on 11:11 AM, March 26, 2020

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

With the recent announcement that Bascom Hall is closed, the Graduate School cannot accept hardcopy forms. 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 Graduate School services, including academic services and funding or travel grant processing, are still available by email (preferred) and phone at 608-262-4322.  (Graduate programs have received instructions about alternatives to paper warrant processing.)

Posted on 12:21 PM, March 23, 2020

How do I request a refund from UW-Madison?

As you know, the community response to the COVID-19 situation required UW–Madison to transition our in-person classes to remote instruction as of March 23, 2020. We remain committed to delivering instruction, achieving learning outcomes and supporting students in finishing the semester successfully. Therefore, our campus policy is to not refund any portion of tuition and/or fees for the Spring 2020 academic semester, where requests are based on the required change in instructional modality.

We recognize, however, that there may be some extraordinary circumstances where an exception to the campus policy might be warranted. We will examine all such requests after the completion of the spring semester.

If you believe that you have such exceptional circumstances warranting further consideration, please work with your dean’s office and provide:

  1. student name
  2. student ID
  3. a detailed reason for your appeal.

If you have concerns about completing a course or managing the current situation, you should contact your instructor, advisor, or your dean’s office about how to proceed. You should note, however, that the dean’s office is not empowered to grant refunds at this time and will be forwarding requests to a central campus appeals process.

We will continue to post general updates at UW-Madison COVID-19 site.

Thank you again for your communication and your understanding as we navigate this unprecedented situation.

Posted on 11:33 AM, March 29, 2020

Is professional development still being offered? 

While all spring semester face-to-face professional development programming has been cancelled or postponed, several online resources are available, listed belowGraduate students can search the DiscoverPD database for additional online opportunities. 

ImaginePhD is a career exploration and Individual Development Plan tool for the humanities and social sciences.  myIDP is a web-based career-planning tool for PhD students in the sciences.  Aurora has over 70 hours of on-demand videos to explore career options and learn strategies for career success. 

The Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) offers faculty development opportunities aimed at advancing evidence-based teaching practices for diverse learners.  The National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity is a professional development, training, and mentoring community for faculty members, postdocs, and graduate students. 

Posted on 10:51 AM, March 25, 2020

Is UW–Madison moving to online courses this fall?

UW-Madison has shifted to online instruction through Summer 2020. We plan to resume in-person instruction for the fall 2020 semester. We’ll continue consulting with public health officials to monitor the situation and keep our community up-to-date if plans should change.
Posted on 6:17 PM, April 3, 2020

Will UW–Madison offer graduate admission deferment in the fall?

The Graduate School is prepared to offer flexibility for requests from admitted students to defer their fall 2020 admission to the spring, summer, or fall 2021 semesters without fees or re-application. The Graduate School will not, however, defer admission of any student without a program’s recommendation to do so.

Posted on 6:19 PM, April 3, 2020

Where can I park?

Park and Rides

Park and ride lots are open per normal schedule—no overnight or weekend parking. There is no shuttle service as of March 19. As per relaxed campus parking rules (see below), park and ride permit holders may park on campus in certain lots.

Campus Parking

Essential employee parking map (PDF)

At this time, no parking permit or payment is required to park in most* surface lots and gated lots (ramps and garages). All timed “meter” (through vendor ParkMobile) stalls do not require payment. Flex permit holders do not need to start a paid parking session.

*Exceptions (updated 3/20/19): There are certain controlled parking areas: high security areas, areas vital to researchers, and some UWHC lots. A lot-specific permit is required to park in these areas.

  • Controlled as of 3/23/20: Lot 11 (Bascom Hall), Lot 23 (Van Hise Garage), Lot 38 (Microbial Sciences Garage), and Lot 95 (HSLC Garage), Lot 13, Lot 22, Lot 51, Lot 54, Lot 56, Lot 74, Lot 81 and Lot 82. If you do not have a lot specific permit for one of these surface lots but need access for your work, please email with the subject line “Requesting access for parking in [insert Lot #]”.

For safety reasons, vehicles must be properly parked inside the lines for marked stalls and cannot park in restricted areas (ex. access aisle, fire lane, blocking someone in, etc.) or reserved stalls. Reserved stalls are specially signed and include department reserved, service/vendor and UW Disabled stalls. A state DOT Disabled permit or plate is required for use of UW Disabled stalls.

Note: Some campus buildings are closing and parking facilities attached to those buildings may be impacted. This list will be updated as information is available:

  • Lot 80 is open, but Union South is closed. Foot traffic can use the open stairwell to access the Dayton Street patio area. Accessible parking is available in the circular drive off Dayton Street, between Union South and Computer Sciences.
Last updated 3:39 PM, March 24, 2020

I have a student hourly appointment. Will I continue to be paid?

All students who are in active Student Help employee records from this academic year will be eligible for income continuation. The student income continuation program covers the week of March 23 payable on April 9 (March B pay date) and the week of March 30, payable on April 23 (April A pay date), regardless of whether they are able to continue working remotely. For more information consult the campus update on student hourly workers.

Last updated 11:07 AM, March 26, 2020

What are transportation options for graduate assistants that are essential employees needed on-site?

At this time, UW Transportation Services does not require a parking permit or payment to park in most surface lots and gated lots (ramps and garages).  All meter/ParkMobile stalls do not require payment.  Flex permit holders do not need to start a paid parking session.

Please be aware that if you plan to take the bus, Madison Metro Transit has announced service changes and reduced operations for most of their routes. Read full details on the Metro COVID-19 service update webpage.

Posted on 12:14 PM, March 23, 2020

What if I am a student 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. Funds are available for all students regardless of FAFSA eligibility. Students will receive responses in 24 hours and can request assistance in four ways:
  • Deferred Tuition Payment: Students may be eligible for a deferred tuition payment date and late-fee waiver.  Students should contact the Bursar’s Office for extending their tuition payment date:
  • The Open Seat food pantry: Beginning Tuesday, March 24, 2020 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. The first round of boxes will be available on March 24 at 12 p.m. After March 24, students should request a box using this link:    
    • 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
  • Late fee waivers: The Bursar’s Office will not be charging late fees for the remainder of the semester. This includes late fees for graduate assistants unable to make their segregated fee payments by the deadline on Friday, April 3. Contact the Bursar’s Office for questions about tuition remissions at or your tuition account at
  • 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), Deferred Tuition Payment, 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.


Last updated 3:43 PM, April 2, 2020

What resources are available for TAs?

The university is here to support your efforts as you transition to alternative modes of course delivery. Faculty and instructional staff have been asked keep TAs abreast of their plans for remote instruction through the end of the semester (including finals), and to share information about available resources. The following are a few key resources:

A campus instructional continuity website continues to be updated with general guidance, suggested strategies and tools, webinars and where to reach out for support. For questions related to instruction, please contact:

UW–Madison Libraries are also offering instructional continuity library resources.

Posted on 12:15 PM, March 23, 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 Adobe Creative Cloud and Microsoft Office 365.

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.

Last updated 2:06 PM, March 31, 2020

What are the leave policies around COVID-19?

The Office of Human Resources has developed a new leave policy in light of COVID-19 and the changes to campus operations. The policy provides a paid leave benefit to support impacted employees through May 1. This provides additional paid leave if an employee is unable to work due to COVID-19 related issues, including the inability to work remotely, when an employee is ill, or providing care for an immediate family member.

The original policy provided an 80-hour leave bank for employees to use for COVID-19 pandemic related leave. This policy extension now provides leave until May 1 and is no longer limited to a certain number of hours. This same benefit is being provided to employees at all UW System institutions.

It also applies to teaching assistants, research assistants, and program assistants. For more information, please visit the COVID-19 page for Graduate Students.

Last updated 3:29 PM, April 1, 2020

Can I continue my research?

All research that can be accomplished remotely should proceed and be done remotely until further notification. All on-site research activities must be approved by a dean or director.  Graduate students should work with their PI or supervisor on a plan for continuing their research activities. See the Campus Research Activities Update for more information.

Posted on 12:16 PM, March 23, 2020

Will there be changes to course grading or other academic policies?

Yes. On April 1, Provost Karl Scholz sent the following message:

I’m following up on my message to you last week regarding the special grading option the university has developed for the spring semester. Continue reading the Provost’s message >>

Last updated 6:44 PM, April 1, 2020

Can I still travel to a conference or travel to conduct research?

All university-sponsored travel  is canceled through the end of the spring semester, including university-sponsored conference attendance and research travel. Graduate students awarded travel funding through the Student Research Grants Competition received information about flexibility in use of those funds.

Posted on 12:19 PM, March 23, 2020

When will Summer and Fall 2020 enrollment occur?

At this time, Summer 2020 enrollment will occur as scheduled, beginning on Monday, March 30, 2020. Students will be notified of their individual Summer 2020 enrollment appointments throughout the week of March 23, 2020. Find more information about enrollment appointments on the Registrar website.

Enrollment for the Fall 2020 semester will still begin as scheduled on April 6, 2020 and your advisors look forward to assisting you. Your specific enrollment appointment time (the earliest time you can begin to enroll in classes) will be emailed to you from the Office of the Registrar.

Students are able to meet with their academic and career advisors remotely: over the phone, or on a computer/phone as either a voice or video call. We recommend setting up appointments with advisors soon to give yourself the opportunity to meet prior to course enrollment.

Find out how to meet and contact your academic and career advisors. Students should use Starfish or contact their advising office to set up an appointment or email with questions.

Last updated 11:23 AM, March 25, 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, Elena Hsu at

Posted on 12:21 PM, March 23, 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 should take place virtually, with limited exceptions. 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.

Last updated 3:14 PM, March 24, 2020

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

Option 1: Get on UW–Madison’s virtual private network (VPN), which requires a program called GlobalProtect. If you see a globe icon on the top right of your screen, then you already have Global Protect.  Click on the globe and click “connect” using your NetID and password. You may need to re-boot your computer to connect.

If you need to download and install Global Protect:

On a Mac:

On a PC:

If you have trouble, contact the DoIT help desk.

Option 2: To gain access without being on campus VPN, go through the libraries website:

  • Click “Search the Catalog” on the top left portion of the page and select “Databases.”
  • Under the search box on the next page, click “Top 10 Databases”
  • Google Scholar will be on the list of databases.

Here area few online tips and tricks:

How to search if you know the journal you want:

How to search if you have a specific article in mind:

Last updated 10:12 AM, March 24, 2020

Latest Updates

  • Spring semester grading: More details announced

    Provost Karl Scholz has shared more information with the campus community about grading changes this spring semester.

  • COVID-19 leave extended through May 1

    The university is expanding the COVID-19 paid leave benefit to support impacted employees through May 1. This provides additional paid leave if an employee is unable to work due to COVID-19 related issues, including the inability to work remotely.

  • How to manage slower internet and low bandwidth

    The Division of Information Technology has shared tips for how to manage slower internet speed and low bandwidth while working and learning remotely.

  • Self-quarantine instructions for students

    Dear students, I am reaching out to all UW–Madison students who traveled over Spring Break with an urgent health announcement. University Health Services (UHS) has received reports of students returning from Spring Break who have …

  • Message on course grading policy for Spring 2020

    UPDATE: On Wednesday, April 1, Provost Karl Scholz issued an update announcing that students may choose to convert their letter grade in any course to one of two new grades: SD (Satisfactory-Disruption) and UD (Unsatisfactory-Disruption). More …

  • Update on parking payroll deductions

    Thank you for your patience and understanding during these unprecedented times for our campus community. Many people have questioned how fees for parking permits and other UW Transportation Services products (bus pass, bike locker and cage rental) will be addressed for the time campus is reduced to essential personnel only.

  • Statement on community respect and support

    University administration officials issue a statement on community respect and hold a virtual town hall on Thursday, March 26 at 4 p.m. CDT.

  • More Graduate students posts