COVID-19: Resources for Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies

Graduate School Status

To protect the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students, effective Tuesday, March 17th, 2020, the Graduate School is closed to in-person visits. We are working remotely. 

We now have a live chat feature on our website that is monitored Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm. We will also be available by phone and email. We will keep this page updated with the latest information available concerning Graduate and Professional students and Postdocs. For University information concerning COVID-19 please visit: https://dps.utah.edu/coronavirus/. Graduate School contact information and the staff list is available at Contact Us (or contact us through chat on this page). 

Graduate Student Resources

The CDC has compiled information and advice on coping with stress due to COVID-19.

COVID-19 Graduate Student Resource Guide (pdf)

Student Affairs has compiled a list of services they offer to graduate students: Graduate Students: We Are Here For You.

Resources for students.  University of Utah Communications has put together a list of resources for students including emergency funds, the Feed U Pantry, student wellness, health, and counseling, advising, IT services, laptop loans, student success advocates, equity, diversity & inclusion centers, bias and discrimination reporting, victim-survivor advocates, parking proration, virtual recreation, and career & professional development.

NIH online resources (webinars and recordings of webinars) focused on wellness and career development for trainees.


Update Regarding SEVP Rule Changes Affecting International Students on F-1 Visas

International Student Services and the Graduate School are monitoring this situation carefully and are your primary resource for questions regarding this issue. The Graduate school will post guidance regarding this issue on its website at Updates Regarding SEVP Rule Changes Affecting International Students on F-1 Visas. You can also find very detailed visa guidance on this issue at the ISSS website: isss.utah.edu


New - Virtual Conference Award

The Graduate School is introducing a new "travel" award for both graduate students and postdocs. The Virtual Conference Award will be offered to those who wish to present their abstract at a virtual conference/meeting. This award requires verification of abstract approval. This award is designed to cover the registration fee and can be awarded for up to $200, with no matching funds required.

Receiving the Virtual Conference Award does not make you ineligible for other Graduate School travel awards including the Graduate Student Travel Assistance Award (GSTAA) and Early Career Professional Development Program (ECPDP). However, students are only allowed one award per year. They cannot receive multiple awards from the Graduate School within the same year.

Reimbursement Procedure:

If the student/postdoc requires $200 or less to present their abstract, the department will pay for the necessary fees, the Graduate School will then reimburse the appropriate Chartfield. The Graduate School will require a copy of the receipt in order to approve the reimbursement.

If the student/postdoc requires more than $200, there are two (2) options for reimbursement.

  1. If the department will cover the expenses over the awarded amount, the department will pay for the necessary fees and the Graduate School will reimburse the appropriate Chartfield for the awarded amount. The Graduate School will require a copy of the receipt in order to approve the reimbursement.
  2. If the department will not pay for the expenses over the awarded amount, the student/postdoc will be responsible for paying for the expenses. In this case, the Graduate School will complete an Electronic Payment Request (EPR) in order to reimburse the student/postdoc for the awarded amount. The Graduate School will require a copy of the receipt in order to approve the reimbursement.

The Graduate School will be accepting applications for this award beginning Monday, July 6, 2020.

Students can apply for this award via the travel portal which can be found on our Travel Awards Webpage. Postdocs can find the application through the Postdoc Travel Awards Page.

For questions, please refer to our Graduate School Travel Awards FAQ page or the Postdoc Travel Awards FAQ page. You can also reach out to Sabrina Smith via email: sabrina.d.smith@utah.edu.


Research Under Alert Level Orange

Graduate student and postdoctoral research activities under the ORANGE alert level must follow the published guidelines available on the VP for research website (https://research.utah.edu/coronavirus/research-alert-levels/index.php).

Under the ORANGE alert level, onsite graduate student research activities should be limited. Graduate students and postdoctoral researchers who are not comfortable working onsite should not be asked to do so. If you have concerns about being on campus, please discuss them with your advisor. Graduate students with unresolved concerns can contact Dean David Kieda (dean@gradschool.utah.edu) for assistance. Postdocs can contact Associate Dean Amy Barrios (postdocs@gradschool.utah.edu).


Encouraging Flexibility for International Students During COVID-19 Crisis

Updates to AY 2020-2021 Minimum Stipend Levels for Tuition Benefits Program

Additional HR Guidance for Students and Unemployment

Student Worker Info

  • Student workers who don’t qualify for traditional unemployment benefits may qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). This emergency benefit provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment insurance to people not otherwise eligible for regular unemployment.
  • It is recommended that students should first check the online eligibility tool to see if they may qualify for a traditional unemployment claim. If the tool shows a UI benefit amount of zero
  • dollars and zero week(s) then they should apply for the new pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA). The link to eligibility tool is: https://jobs.utah.gov/ui/home/Home/UiEligible
  • Student workers who have already applied for traditional UI benefits and have been denied, should submit an application for the new PUA benefit. The link to file for PUA is: https://jobs.utah.gov/jsp/utjobs/pua-login
  • CARES Act and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance FAQ’s can be found at: https://jobs.utah.gov/covid19/caresuifaq.pdf
  • Student workers with additional questions can contact the Human Resource Management Solution Center at 801-581-7447

Online RCR Training for Graduate Students and Postdocs

Online Support for Library Research

Open Forum with the Graduate School Dean

April 9, 2020

March 26, 2020

    • Agenda and Notes
    • Replay (zoom meeting)
    • Replay - audio only
    • Credit / No Credit FAQ

Health Coverage

The Graduate School has compiled some guidance surrounding COVID-19 (coronavirus) testing and treatment coverage for students who participate in the Graduate Student Health Insurance Program (GSHIP). These guidelines also apply to any student who participates in the University’s student health insurance through United HealthCare:

Please visit the student health center’s website for the most up-to-date information: studenthealth.utah.edu.

Access to Medical Care, Coverage

Members who feel like they may have been exposed to COVID-19 are being advised to immediately call their provider (The Student Health Center respectfully asks that before traveling to the clinic for symptoms such as high fever, cough, or shortness of breath, please contact them first at 801-581-6431). To find a network provider, visit www.uhcsr.com/MyAccount or their UHCSR mobile app.

UHCSR has waived the customary referral requirement for COVID-19 tests and/or treatment. Please call providers before visiting – not all healthcare providers are currently able to test for COVID-19, and in cases where they do have the capability, it is important to follow their protocol for visiting any healthcare facility. Please consider using virtual visit options first (see below).

Additional Support

  • We are encouraging students to take advantage of the Virtual Visit* capability, available through the HealthiestYou mobile app, or for more information through your www.uhcsr.com/MyAccount. UHCSR insureds have access at no charge, Uninsured students can also access this service for a $40 fee: www.telehealth4students.com.
  • Optum is opening its Emotional-Support Help Line, providing access to specially trained mental health specialists to support people who may be experiencing anxiety or stress following the recent developments around COVID-19. Optum’s toll-free help line number, 866-342-6892, will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for as long as necessary. The service is free of charge and open to anyone.

The following information is meant to specifically address administration questions for UHCSR policies.  As mentioned above, all responses are at this point in time and we will continue to monitor.

Claims FAQ

  • Laboratory Procedure:

Q: Will testing be covered for COVID-19?

A: Yes and member cost sharing will be waived, including copays, coinsurance and deductibles, for COVID-19 diagnostic testing provided at approved locations in accordance with CDC guidelines.

  • Ambulance Services:

Q: Would this service be a covered benefit?

A: If an ambulance service is used, the claim will be paid same as any other sickness subject to normal policy provisions and limitations.

  • Polices with referral requirement:

Q: Will the referral requirement apply?

A: The referral provision will be waived for COVID-19 tests and/or treatment. In the event a claim is denied for no referral, it can be appealed for reconsideration.

  • Exclusions and Limitations:
Q: Are there any excluded charges if a student is hospitalized with the potential Coronavirus?

A: All services rendered will be subject to normal policy provisions and limitations.

  • Isolation Care:

Q: Does UHCSR offer any provisions for students who have to be isolated?

A: The student insurance policy can be used when the covered member is being treated for an illness or injury.   The insured person must be treated by a licensed, board certified or board eligible physician qualified to practice in the area of medicine. All services are subject to normal policy provisions and limitations.

Teledoc Health

Teladoc Health Information (PDF)


Admissions and Test Delays

Admissions updates: April 15 resolution, processing applications, and new policy

Information on how COVID-19 is affecting TOEFL, GRE, IELTS and GMAT tests can be found here.

ETS is proud to introduce a solution for students who have been impacted by the coronavirus to take the TOEFL iBT® test and the GRE® General Test at home until test centers can reopen. TOEFL® testing is scheduled to begin on March 26, and GRE testing will begin on March 27. Read more...

Prometric® announced yesterday that it has closed its test centers in the United States and Canada until April 16. Read more...

Extended Deferral Form

Form for requesting extended deferral of graduate start term due to COVID-19 concerns. The deadline for submitting a graduate deferment form for Fall 2020 is September 4th.


Summer 2020 Travel by International Graduate Students

Travel Award Trip Cancelation Policy

The Graduate School will work with Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Travel Award awardees and departments to mitigate the financial impact of any cancelation of travel plans due to the University’s coronavirus-related restrictions on student travel. Please review the Travel Award trip cancelation policy.


Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Teleworking During COVID-19 Emergency

Faculty and students have been inquiring regarding the Graduate School’s guidance on telecommuting for Graduate student and postdoctoral fellows. Our primary responsibility will always be to the health and safety of our University community, including faculty, staff, postdoctoral researchers, students and visitors to campus.

The Graduate School expects that the students and postdocs, as members of a college or department, would receive the designation regarding their employee classification (critical or non-critical-telecommute) from the department chair, research PI or College dean. The terms would be the same as for the HR guidance on faculty and staff:

See the attached document

The Graduate School’s guidance to Departments and Colleges is to require all students and postdocs telecommute, except for those who are critical to the departmental and university teaching and research missions. For example, if there was a critical reason the individual must be on campus regularly (feeding animals in a vivarium, managing a set of time-critical ongoing experiments that would fail or become unsafe if the individual was not available to make periodic adjustments or measurements, etc.) then they would be a critical role.

If the work can be arranged to allow telecommuting without impacting critical teaching, research, or safety in the department, then the student should be allowed to telecommute. In general, reading papers, writing analysis code, attending group meetings (via Zoom or Skype), performing literature searches, etc. are expected to be performed by telecommuting during the period of the University’s COVID-19 response.

Student stipends should continue to be paid at their current rate until the end of the semester in order to ensure the eligibility for tuition benefits, among other reasons. Federal agencies have authorized the continuation of paying stipends and other support during this period, even though the scope of work may be changed. For students/postdocs whose scope of work has been modified by the telecommuting requirement, alternate work assignments, such as requiring completion of a series of Responsible Conduct of Research training modules, is appropriate and recommended.

The department chair or PI will sign off on the telework agreement and turn it into HR. For critical students and postdocs, the Department Chair of Dean should have a listing of up-to-date contact phone numbers for emergency purposes.

Example categories of research work which may be critical:

  • Care and maintenance of animal/plant/medical resources. This may include the maintenance of vivarium resources, cell line products, or time-critical tests of data samples.
  • Periodic maintenance of physical equipment that would suffer damage or create physical danger without ongoing maintenance. One example is the periodic refreshing of cryogenic refrigerant for a superconducting magnet.
  • Research linked to COVID-19 and other critical medical priorities, especially those specifically approved by the VP for research or by NSF-RAPID or other types of emergency funding that responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Examples categories of research work which is non-critical/telecommute:

  • Writing papers and doing data analysis on a computer.
  • Completion of dissertation for defending by the end of the term. In this case, the student and supervisory committee should meet via skype to reexamine the scope of the student’s research in order to meet the thesis defense deadline.
  • Writing research proposals, grants, and fellowship applications.
  • Completion of yearly reporting requirements to the funding agencies. Note that federal funding agencies have developed guidance and protocols for extension of deadlines for grant submission and reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In general, the philosophy is that is your laboratory, graduate students, and postdocs are meeting via conference call, you will eliminate the risk one student will carry COVID-19 and bring your entire lab’s research activities to a halt for a month or more. This is a temporary situation, and you should work with telecommuting students to help them make progress on other aspects of their education that they may not have had time to focus on previously (completing papers, RCR, online training, etc.).

The department chair or PI will sign off on the telework agreement and turn it into HR. For critical students and post-docs, the Department Chair of Dean should have a listing of up-to-date contact phone numbers for emergency purposes.


Still have questions?

If you need information on a topic not listed here, please email us at info@gradschool.utah.edu or reach us on chat.