COVID-19 Graduate Student FAQ

COVID-19 Graduate Student FAQ

The Graduate Student Service Center staff are working remotely 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday - Friday.

The best way to reach us is email:

Up to date information on the UMass Amherst response to CoVID-19 can be found at:


I want to opt for a Satisfactory (SAT) instead of a letter grade in my class. Can I still do that?

The Faculty Senate has approved a policy that allows all graduate students to request a SAT grade through April 29, 2020.  You just need to tell your professor that you are opting for SAT instead of a letter grade.

When I try to switch my graduate level courses to pass/fail in SPIRE I get the message: ‘You have no eligible classes in this term’. What should I do?

The graduate grade scale includes the SAT grade, instead of the pass/fail option.  To opt for a SAT grade you just need to tell your professor that you are opting for SAT instead of a letter grade, it is not something you can select in SPIRE.

My program requires certain courses to have letter grades and/or limits the number of SAT grades I can have to satisfy the degree requirements. Am I able to use a SAT grade to fulfill a degree requirement?

The Faculty Senate has approved a policy allowing SAT grades to satisfy program requirements this semester.  The Faculty Senate has also lifted the limitation on the number of SAT courses you may use to satisfy your degree requirements this semester.

What if a student opts for a SAT before April 29th then changes their mind?

You can request that your professor submit a grade change (SAT to passing letter grade).  Faculty can submit grade changes in SPIRE.

I am unable to continue my research and thesis/dissertation work under the current conditions. Can I extend my statute of limitations in my degree program?

Requests for Statue of Limitations (SOL) extensions should be submitted to your program’s Graduate Program Director, who will submit them to the Graduate School.  Yes, disruptions due to the pandemic are considered appropriate reasons for requesting an extension.

May Graduation

I’m planning on defending my thesis/dissertation in April 2020, can I still get a May 2020 degree?

Yes, graduate students who successfully complete all degree requirements and submit the required forms by email by May 7, 2020 will receive a May 2020 degree.  All forms should be submitted by email to:

What is going on with the 2020 Graduate School Commencement Ceremony?

All University Commencement activities have been postponed.  We look forward to acknowledging and celebrating your achievements when we are able to gather in person.

Student Resources and Employment

Where can I get information about emergency relief such as food, housing information, healthcare, etc.?

Please contact the Dean of Students Office for information and assistance.

I have questions about my summertime on-campus employment and/or on-campus employment in the 2020-21 academic year.

Please contact your supervisor and/or your academic department for information.

Where can I get information about unemployment benefits?

Some graduate students may be eligible for unemployment assistance provided by the state of Massachusetts.  Students should consult the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance.  Additional information and resources prepared by the UMass Partnership for Worker Education can be found here.

For additional information, students may contact:

I have other questions that are not on this list. Where can I get more information?

Please check the University’s COVID-19 page for additional information.