Information for Graduate Students

Runhan Tao, Biomedical Engineering graduate student and Mechanical Engineering Teaching Assistant

Although we are facing unprecedented circumstances, Johns Hopkins University’s graduate student community has a long history of rising to unforeseen challenges, designing unique solutions, and demonstrating a selfless ability to make the world better. The university is here to support you in your academic and professional pursuits as well as your personal health and well-being.

We’re grateful for your feedback, patience, and flexibility as we navigate this rapidly evolving situation together.

Fall instructional plans

The university’s academic divisions are making independent decisions on how to conduct instructional activities this fall, guided by a set of principles and values articulated by the university and by JHU’s own experts in public health and medicine. The health and safety of all students, faculty, and staff remains our foremost concern.

The following divisions have announced fall plans to date:

Other divisions are currently finalizing their plans and will share details in the near future.

Gilman Hall on Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus
Return to Campus Guide

Recommended health and safety protocols as the university resumes on-campus activities

Screening + Testing

Recommended COVID-19 screening, testing, and contact tracing protocols for JHU campuses and facilities

Instructional guidelines

General guidance on plans and considerations related to academic and learning activities

Research guidelines

Guidance for the phased reactivation of lab-based, library-based, and human subjects research

Frequently Asked Questions

University operations

What is the status of activity on our campuses?

Johns Hopkins University is conducting an extensive planning process to guide a careful, phased approach to resuming activities on its campuses. Each step in reopening will be in accordance with state and local regulations and our own assessment of the public health status and operational readiness of our community.

A return to research labs for those who need to be present in the lab to do their work began on June 15 with measures in place to reduce density, maintain physical distance, and observe other health and safety measures. Otherwise, only those performing essential roles are on campus while all other employees and students are continuing to work and learn remotely through the summer. Currently, plans are being made to start the undergraduate academic year on Aug. 31 as long as the public health situation allows for the resumption of on-campus activities. Graduate and professional programs follow a variety of schedules and are communicating their fall plans directly to their students, faculty, and staff.

Last updated: June 27, 2020 9:34pm

How is the university determining which activities are allowed on its campuses?

A number of cross-divisional workgroups are studying the issues, gathering feedback, and drafting plans to guide a resumption of activities. Those plans are reviewed by advisory groups of students, faculty, or health experts as needed and then presented to the university community for feedback before they are finalized.

The decision to initiate in-person instruction will be consistent with both state and local restrictions and our own public health experts’ assessment of the COVID-19 pandemic. While our phased approach seeks to align with the state of Maryland’s approach, the alignment is not automatic, and there may be many times when the university cannot—for public health, safety, and/or operational reasons—be in the same phase as the state, just as not all counties in the state may be in the same phase at the same time. It may also occur that different campuses are in different phases. If public health conditions worsen, either locally or regionally, a return to earlier phases may be required.

All plans will follow core principles, chief among them a commitment to equity and inclusivity and the primacy of science and public health guidance offered by the world’s leading public health experts here at Johns Hopkins.

Last updated: June 30, 2020 8:43am

Do decisions about activities and the health and safety protocols apply to buildings not located on the university’s main campuses?

All of the reopening plans and the health and safety guidelines established by the university will apply to people taking part in activities in all of its owned or leased locations.

Last updated: June 27, 2020 9:45pm

How does the university’s phased approach align with the state of Maryland and Baltimore City?

The university is guided by the types of activity allowed by both the state and the city along with its own evaluation of public health and medical advice from Johns Hopkins experts. Regardless of the numbered phases, the university will not allow more activities than the city and state, and at times, it may allow less. Specific instructions for university affiliates are provided by email, on the Hub, and through school- and department-specific communications.

Last updated: June 22, 2020 4:06pm

Health + safety

Will everyone be required to wear masks while at JHU locations?

Everyone must wear face coverings (including all faculty, staff, students, postdoctoral fellows, other trainees, guests, vendors, and visitors) indoors and outdoors, on campus and in university buildings, and in and around leased spaces, except when in a single-occupancy office with a closed door or while eating or drinking at least six feet away from others.

Exceptions to the requirement to wear face coverings outdoors will be made for individuals whose employment requires they work outside full time (e.g security, some facilities staff, etc.). They will need to wear face coverings when interacting with the public or when unable to practice social distancing.

The university will provide face coverings for JHU affiliates, who may also elect to use their own face coverings. Face coverings should be non-medical types in order to maintain supplies for health care use. Cloth face coverings must only be worn for one day at a time, and must be properly hand washed or laundered before subsequent use. They must at a minimum fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face, be secured (e.g., with ties or ear loops), cover the nose and mouth, allow for breathing without restriction, and be able to be laundered without damage or change to shape.

Last updated: June 22, 2020 8:14pm

How will the university ensure physical distancing when on-campus activities resume?

Once JHU affiliates have been instructed to return to campuses and buildings, there are several options departments will consider to maintain required physical distancing measures. They include continuing remote activity and telework wherever possible, scheduling partial on-site activity on alternating days and/or based on shifts, and staggering reporting and departure times by at least 30 minutes to reduce traffic in common areas. Issues related specifically to classroom settings are being considered by the Academic Workgroup and information will be forthcoming.

In addition, the university is requiring that all affiliates follow physical distancing practices, such as not gathering in groups, staying out of crowded places and avoiding large gatherings, engaging in noncontact methods of greetings that avoid handshakes, staggering break times during the day, and using designated areas for meals while maintaining at least 6 feet of separation.

Additional planning for occupancy limits in labs and classrooms is addressed in the research and instruction guidance documents.

Last updated: June 27, 2020 9:45pm

Post does not exist

Will the university test each person who comes to a JHU location and trace contacts for anyone who tests positive?

At this time, widespread screening of everyone who comes on site is not in place and currently is not planned. We are evaluating options for testing students who will be residents of university-sponsored housing.

For individuals with symptoms, however, testing is free and available. Specifically, employees and students who report symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and meets CDC and Hopkins Infectious Control criteria will be screened by the appropriate call center and referred for testing if they meet current criteria. A health care worker will contact each individual who tests positive to provide guidance regarding self-isolation, monitoring of symptoms, and general health advice. Those individuals will also be asked a series of questions as part of our contact tracing process to help determine if others may have been exposed in the workplace/learning environment.

Testing techniques, uses, and limitations are discussed further in the Draft Recommendations for COVID-19 Screening, Testing, and Tracing, along with the university’s approach to phased implementation of testing and contact tracing activities.

Last updated: June 30, 2020 9:48am

Are you considering technology for doing contact tracing or enforcing physical distancing?

University workgroups are studying technology options to support health and safety while considering a wide range of associated efficacy, privacy, and implementation issues. No decisions have been made, and any plans to adopt new technologies will be shared with the community and open to feedback.

Last updated: June 26, 2020 3:01pm

Is the university providing access to adequate, appropriate PPE?

The university will provide faculty, staff, and students with two reusable cloth face coverings appropriate for meeting the masking requirements for its campuses. More substantial PPE will be provided in situations where the work of the laboratory called for that level of PPE before the COVID-19 outbreak, or where strict physical distancing requirements cannot be met (e.g., equipment requires two persons for safe usage).

Last updated: June 30, 2020 8:56am

What is the plan to clean university buildings, especially those with high traffic?

Custodial crews will clean common areas, lobbies, restrooms, classrooms, and conference rooms daily based on CDC guidance. Several times daily, custodians will provide additional cleaning of high touch points (stairwell and room door handles, elevator buttons, etc.).

Individual affiliates will be expected to clean tables, surfaces, or labs with which they make contact and wipe down personal workspaces. Before starting activity in a space and before leaving any room in which they have been working, individuals must wipe down all areas with a cleaning agent. This includes any shared-space location or equipment (e.g. copiers, printers, computers, A/V and other electrical equipment, coffee makers, desks and tables, conference tables, light switches, door knobs, etc.). People should avoid using other affiliates’ phones, desks, offices, or other tools and equipment and should clean and disinfect them before and after use.

Last updated: June 19, 2020 10:06am

What is the plan for safe use of elevators?

A university workgroup, in consultation with the faculty Health Advisory Group, determined that occupancy in elevators should be limited to four and that individuals should wear face coverings and press elevator buttons with another object (knuckle, elbow, etc.) if possible. Everyone should wash hands or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol upon departing the elevator.

Last updated: June 19, 2020 10:53am

What is being done about air ventilation in buildings in light of the danger of airborne transmission?

The ventilation—the number of air exchanges per hour and amount of fresh air intake—in each building is being reassessed and increased when appropriate. Facilities is also performing preventative maintenance checks to ensure filters have been changed and that systems are working properly.

Last updated: June 19, 2020 10:57am

Will Hopkins buses and shuttles observe safety guidance?

Everyone who takes public transportation or uses JH buses and shuttles must wear a face covering. Vehicle capacity will be set to limit density and in consultation with public health experts and regulatory guidance. The current limits are set at 24 passengers per JH bus and one rider group (single request) per van with a limit of eight passengers. For buses, passengers will be asked to enter via rear door only. Buses and Blue Jay Shuttle vans are cleaned after each driver’s shift using HSE-approved, hospital-grade products and high touch points are cleaned several times a shift by each driver.

Last updated: June 19, 2020 10:58am

How will the university enforce safety measures in bathrooms?

Individuals are asked to take responsibility for respecting social distancing while using restrooms. Hand dryers will be disconnected and paper towels provided. Education and awareness signage regarding hand hygiene will be provided.

Last updated: June 19, 2020 11:06am

Will there be restrictions related to whether individuals who have traveled outside the area, or the country, can come to JHU locations?

There are no such restrictions for travelers at this time, but the university will be subject to any future such federal, state, or local restrictions. Students returning to campus for instruction in the fall will need to be aware of any restrictions at that time related to where they are traveling from, and they may be asked to quarantine upon arrival if government regulations dictate.

Last updated: June 27, 2020 9:48pm

Who pays for COVID-19 tests, particularly if people need multiple tests after resuming activities on campus?

There is no cost to the individual being tested.  Since the passage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) on March 18, all forms of public and private insurance, including self-funded plans, must now cover FDA-approved COVID-19 tests and costs associated with testing with no cost-sharing.

Last updated: June 22, 2020 4:39pm

Instructional activities

When will fall semester classes begin?

Graduate and professional courses of study follow a variety of schedules, and plans for those upcoming academic activities will be communicated by individual schools and departments.

Undergraduate classes will begin Aug. 31, as previously planned. Many classes will use remote or online formats, some classes will be held in person, and some will combine those approaches. Friday, Nov. 20, will be the last day for in-person undergraduate classes and, following Thanksgiving break, all undergraduate instruction will be online or remote through the reading period (Dec. 5-8) and finals (Dec. 9-17). More information can be found on the Undergraduate Academic Experience page.

Graduate courses or cross-listed grad/undergrad courses may continue to meet in-person at the discretion of the instructor. Undergraduates will not be required to attend these courses in-person but will be able to continue in online/remote modality.

Last updated: July 21, 2020 4:50pm

Will classes be in-person or conducted remotely in the fall?

We are cautiously optimistic that our extensive planning process will enable us to resume a meaningful portion of our on-campus undergraduate, graduate, and professional educational activities if public health conditions continue to improve. However, all schools will continue to see significant use of remote/online teaching and learning because physical distancing on-campus will drastically reduce the number of available seats in classrooms, some affiliates may not return to campus or will be prevented from attending in-person classes, and we must be prepared to regress to more restrictive public health phases anytime during the academic year, and on short notice.

Common teaching strategies that instructors may employ will vary from course to course but are likely to include:

  • Pre-recording instructional content for asynchronous delivery
  • Teaching remote students synchronously
  • Teaching class in-person with a mix of students attending either remotely or in-person
  • Teaching class remotely with students attending either remotely or in person (possibly with a remote instructor with on-campus assistance)

Last updated: June 23, 2020 9:49am

How do I know if my classes are in-person or online/remote for the fall?

Faculty from the Whiting School of Engineering and Krieger School of Arts & Sciences have submitted course-level information regarding fall 2020 teaching modality to the Registrar’s Office. The staff have started to update the schedule of classes in SIS, with a target completion date of July 10.

Between now and then, students will start to see relevant updates in the class schedule. It is recommended that students review their class schedule beginning on July 11 to see if any changes are necessary. Advising will be available to help continuing students reconfigure their schedules. New transfer students begin registration on July 13, and incoming first-year students begin registration on July 20.

To assist student with interpreting the revised class schedule, more information about course modality is available on the Homewood Registrar’s Office website.

Last updated: July 9, 2020 9:17pm

How will JHU handle grading for the fall semester?

Grading decisions are made on a school-by-school basis, with input from faculty, program directors, and students. These are currently under discussion, and decisions will be communicated by each school to their enrolled students.

Last updated: June 30, 2020 9:47am

How are faculty members preparing to teach effectively in remote/online modalities?

Schools recognize that supporting instructors in further mastery of pedagogical and technological options through training and resources will be essential for ensuring the success of remote/online instruction in the fall. All school teaching and learning staff are being asked to prepare a scalable plan for supporting faculty who may need to adapt to new teaching modalities.

In addition, schools and the university are co-investing in new technological resources to enhance the digital experience based on recommendations and guidelines developed by the Online Resources Workgroup.

Last updated: June 30, 2020 9:50am

How are faculty members going to teach while wearing face coverings, especially in unusual circumstances, such as instrumental lessons?

We recognize that lecturing with a face covering is not an ideal experience for either the instructor or class. However, it is important to do because of the opportunity for droplets to spread infection even in a pre-symptomatic phase.

Instructors may be granted exceptions for activities that preclude wearing of face coverings and/or distancing, such as instrumental performance, provided that there is a written plan in place that has been approved by the school leadership and HSE. The planning team continues to investigate alternatives and supplements to face coverings for certain situations, but at this time there are no studies that have evaluated potential benefits of face shields on source control (i.e., containing a sneeze or cough).

Last updated: June 25, 2020 10:58am

How are you going to enforce physical distancing during in-person classes?

We are engaged in a detailed and careful assessment of facilities across all our campuses and will establish appropriate limitations on classroom capacity and use of other shared spaces based on a standard of approximately 38 square feet per student (a 7.5 foot diameter around each person).

As on-campus activity resumes, schools will be responsible for informing faculty, TAs, students, and others about expectations and procedures to maintain low density (e.g. by using dedicated signage about physical distancing requirements as provided by their facilities staff). To accommodate classroom capacity, schools may need to consider expanding the class schedule to offer classes during extended hours, evenings, and/or on weekends or breaking larger classes into smaller sections.

Additional information about physical distancing and other health and safety measures—such as face coverings, screening for symptoms and cleaning protocols—is in our Return to Campus Guidance.

Last updated: June 26, 2020 3:00pm

What happens to in-person classes if COVID-19 cases increase after the semester begins?

It is possible that an increased outbreak of COVID-19 would require the university to suspend in-person classes during the semester. Instructors and program directors are being asked to make contingency plans for that scenario that would allow learning to continue without being in the classroom or, potentially, on campus.

Last updated: June 22, 2020 4:47pm

Isn’t there more to a robust academic experience than just classes?

We want faculty and academic staff to work together and with their students to ensure the local academic community remains strong. This includes:

  • Establishing opportunities for connections outside of the classroom and considering remote/online and hybrid options for continuing seminars and special events;
  • Applied practice activities that bring students into short-term projects;
  • Individual and group mentoring and professional development sessions; Participation in student-led groups and activities
  • Student research opportunities in collaboration with faculty to the extent possible remotely
  • Connecting with alumni from around the world and with experts in a chosen area of study

Schools should also evaluate all services and supports normally provided to students to ensure they can succeed, including academic advising, tutoring and writing support, career planning and life design, health and wellness counseling, library resources, information technology support, and other student services support.

Additional efforts to support a vibrant student experience outside the classroom are being actively explored by the Student Life Workgroup and will be shared in the coming weeks.

Last updated: June 22, 2020 4:47pm

I’m an international student concerned I won’t be able to return to campus in the fall. What should I do?

Each school is being asked to consider the needs of international students and think creatively about options that will allow them to remain enrolled, even while located in another country. Students should discuss their situation with their adviser or program director and they can access support from the Office of International Services.

Last updated: June 25, 2020 10:59am

Research activities

Is the university allowing researchers to return to campus?

Critical COVID-related research has been ongoing on campus with research teams practicing appropriate safety protocols. As of June 15, other laboratories were permitted to reopen, with approved plans that reduce capacity, require face coverings and physical distancing, and improve cleaning protocols. On July 16, the university announced an expansion of its guidance that allows non-lab researchers, including humanists, social scientists, and computational researchers, to do on-campus work that cannot be done remotely with approval from their department and division.

The resumption of on-campus research activities in Phase 1 continue to be limited only to those activities that actually require a person to be on campus. Any and all research work that can be accomplished at home via telework continues to be done at home, and people are asked to only be on campus for the time periods necessary to accomplish required on-campus work.

Last updated: July 22, 2020 4:46pm

Does the university’s Phase 1 only allow on-site work in lab settings, or can researchers in other disciplines, such as the humanities, return to their offices and access university buildings as well?

The resumption of on-campus research activities in JHU’s Phase 1 has been limited to only those activities that require a person to be on campus/in the lab. Any and all research work that can be accomplished at home via telework should continue to be done at home.

The university’s Research Workgroup continues to examine the issue of allowing additional types of research on-campus as public health conditions improve and health and safety measures are put into place. More information will be coming soon.

Last updated: July 22, 2020 4:48pm

What safety precautions are in place for on-campus research activity?

Our current Phase 1 guidance outlines a number of safety guidelines including:

  • There are maximum occupancy rates for each designated space.
  • Researchers can expect to return at significantly decreased density compared with normal operations, and research teams may need to stagger work schedules/shifts to limit density.
  • Face coverings are required to be worn at all times indoors and outdoors, unless inside a single-occupancy office with a closed door or eating at an appropriate distance from other people.
  • Each lab must work with its school’s facilities team to develop a plan for regular cleaning and disinfecting of laboratory space.
  • Schools must provide specific guidance on the use/limits on common spaces and shared instrumentation, based on guidance from the University and HSE.

Last updated: July 23, 2020 1:57pm

How are safety protocols applied across so many different kinds of research spaces and specific program requirements?

JHU’s Phase 1 lab readiness is based on a PI-driven approach, with school and university oversight. PIs are the most knowledgeable about the details of their research space, workflow, personnel, shared instrumentation, and program priorities.

Every laboratory must have an approved reopening plan as well as a shut-down plan (in the event of increased infection rates and/or as dictated by public health or government guidance/mandate) in place before resuming on-campus work. Approval of reopening plans developed by PIs occurs at the department level first and then the relevant dean’s office. While the specifics about how particular labs will achieve compliance with central safety guidance will be left to PIs, adherence to safety requirements is a requirement for labs to be permitted to continue on-campus work, and personnel are provided easy means for reporting violations.

Last updated: June 27, 2020 10:42pm

Are graduate students allowed to return to on-campus research during Phase 1? Are undergraduates?

Graduate students involved in laboratory research that requires on-site activity may return to campus while adhering to safety protocols based on their specific lab plan. Undergraduate students are not part of the Phase 1 return to research.

Last updated: June 27, 2020 10:44pm

Is the university providing access to adequate, appropriate PPE?

The university will provide faculty, staff, and students with two reusable cloth face coverings appropriate for meeting the masking requirements for its campuses. More substantial PPE will be provided in situations where the work of the laboratory called for that level of PPE before the COVID-19 outbreak, or where strict physical distancing requirements cannot be met (e.g., equipment requires two persons for safe usage).

Last updated: June 30, 2020 8:56am

Is the supply store open?

Yes, the supply store remains fully operational.

Last updated: June 3, 2020 8:27am

Financial implications

Am I eligible for the CARES Act Emergency Grant?

The first distribution of the CARES Act Emergency Financial Aid Grants will be available to students who are eligible for federal financial aid and meet the following criteria:

Undergraduate Students

  • Federal 9-month EFC at or below 16,000 based on the 19-20 FAFSA
  • Received need-based institutional aid in spring 2020
  • Enrolled in at least one face-to-face instructional course in spring 2020 (as of February 20, 2020)
  • Did not graduate in May 2020

Graduate Students

  • Federal 9-month EFC at or below 16,000 based on the 19-20 FAFSA
  • Received federal student loans in spring 2020
  • Enrolled in at least one face-to-face instructional course in spring 2020 (as of February 20, 2020)
  • Did not graduate in May 2020

Last updated: July 17, 2020 12:00am

Can my CARES Act Emergency Grant be used to pay my bill?

The CARES Act Emergency Financial Aid Grants are intended to cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the coronavirus. The grant will be sent directly to you according to the refund method you selected. On receipt of your refund, you may then use the funds to help pay your education expenses.

Last updated: July 17, 2020 12:00am

How do I apply for the CARES Act Emergency Grant?

Students do not have to submit an application. However, they must have a valid 2019-2020 FAFSA on file with the school and meet the eligibility criteria described above. Financial Aid will notify eligible students directly by email beginning on July 16, 2020. Students will have to electronically certify that they have incurred allowable expenses (E.g. housing, food, transportation, course material, technology, and health expenses) prior to receiving the funds. Detailed instructions will be included with the email notification.

Last updated: July 17, 2020 12:00am

If I am no longer enrolled am I still eligible to apply for a CARES Act Emergency Grant?

If you were enrolled in at least one face-to-face instructional course in spring 2020 (as of February 20, 2020), and you received federal financial aid in that semester, you may be eligible for a CARES Act Emergency Grant. Please see the eligibility criteria above. If you believe that you are eligible but did not receive an e-mail notification, please contact your divisional financial aid office below:

Last updated: July 17, 2020 12:00am

Are international students eligible for CARES Act Emergency Grant funds?

Per the U.S. Department of Education, international students and DACA students are not eligible for CARES Act Emergency Financial Aid Grants.

Last updated: July 17, 2020 12:00am

I do not qualify for CARES Act funds, but my circumstances have changed and I need help. What are my options?

Any Hopkins student facing financial uncertainty related to the pandemic should contact Financial Aid to discuss options.  Requests will be reviewed on a case by case basis, and prioritized based on level of financial need.

Last updated: July 17, 2020 12:00am

Will the CARES Act grant affect my eligibility for financial aid in the fall 2020 semester?

No. CARES Act funding will not impact your eligibility for fall 2020 financial aid, and will not be listed as part of your financial aid package.

Last updated: July 17, 2020 12:00am

Is the CARES Act grant taxable?

No. Per the Internal Revenue Service, the grant will not be included in your taxable income. Please visit the IRS’s site for more details.

Last updated: July 17, 2020 12:00am

What expenses qualify under the CARES Act?

Funds must be used for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19, including eligible expenses that are part of a typical student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and child care.

Last updated: July 17, 2020 12:00am


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Self-isolate and call 833-546-7546 right away