April 10, 2020
Dear PhD Students:
We deeply appreciate all the ways you have adjusted to the new reality created by COVID-19. We know the changes that we have made here at the university and that you have made at home to stem the spread of the virus have disrupted your academic pursuits and research and have changed teaching modalities. Further, we appreciate that many of you are balancing your Hopkins activities with enhanced responsibilities to care for partners, children, and sick loved ones.
To accommodate this unprecedented set of circumstances, we have initiated several changes to help support you in this disrupted environment. All departments are encouraged to be extremely flexible in accommodating disruptions to graduate students’ academic milestones. We expect that each of you has been in close contact with your academic advisor and that, in most cases, accommodations to support your academic progress can be worked out directly.
In some situations, however, you may need a formal extension in completing your degree requirements, such as postponing an exam or defense. Each school has committed to providing a mechanism to request a delay and explain how your academic progress has been specifically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These requests must be endorsed by a faculty member who can certify progress up to the point of disruption (e.g., an academic advisor or program director). Importantly, the university’s Doctor of Philosophy Board, which by university policy must approve any exceptions to universitywide time to degree maximums, has committed to honor all extensions approved by the JHU schools in accordance with the above mechanisms.
Also, we know many of you are concerned about financial support. In a previous communication, we noted that payments to PhD students—such as regular stipends or salaries from their division, training grants, or research grants—would continue from the same funding sources during this period of remote work. Programs that provide funding to students for their duration remain steadfast in that commitment.
With support of the deans, PhD students in programs that provide financial support for a fixed number of years and who are facing extraordinary conditions may now apply to extend their current support up to the number of months that JHU campuses remain closed with remote telework. Furthermore, PhD students facing extraordinary conditions who are paying partial (“non-resident” or part-time) tuition may appeal for a waiver of this tuition up to the number of months that JHU campuses remain closed with remote telework. These steps are being undertaken to recognize that some of you are experiencing extraordinary circumstances and hardships that stem from the COVID-19 pandemic that preclude advancing in your studies: personal illness, care of another who is ill, or absence of academic activity or a considerable loss of progress due to laboratory, library/archive, foreign location, or human subjects research restrictions. Each of the Johns Hopkins school deans’ offices will be communicating how to enact these procedures, taking into consideration school-specific variables.
We anticipate accommodations for the majority of the disruptions encountered can be made through agreements with chairs and/or program leaders to extend exam dates and other deadlines. In cases where accommodations are insufficient, we hope the opportunity to apply for these extensions will enable you to focus on meeting both your academic and non-academic needs for the duration of this pandemic.
We continue to be proud of the scholarship conducted by our doctoral student body, and will work to support you in other ways as we navigate the decisions ahead. Please continue to take advantage of the resources available to you, including your advisor, as well as health and well-being services. We will keep you informed of any critical changes and remind you to follow the Hub COVID-19 information page for ongoing updates.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Vice Provost for Graduate and Professional Education
Executive Vice Provost for Academic Affairs