Graduate students with US-based appointments expected to return by summer or fall

Decisions on remote coursework made by departments

MIT expects graduate students with U.S.-based appointments to return to the U.S. before their appointments begin, so that they can conduct the appointments from inside the U.S., Vice Chancellor Ian Waitz wrote in a March 23 update.

Some graduate students will be expected to return during the summer by June 1, while most will be expected to return for the fall by September 1.

A limited exceptions process will be in place for the summer, and “if needed, … an even more limited process for the fall,” Waitz wrote. Requests for exceptions must be submitted six weeks in advance of the anticipated start date. 

Exceptions will be considered in the case of visa delays, travel bans, border closures, and other COVID-19 related factors or if the student or a household member have health conditions that would prevent travel to the U.S., according to an FAQ on graduate student appointments. Additionally, for remote appointments to be approved, students must meet a set of eligibility criteria including good academic standing, being able to perform duties remotely, supervisor permission, and funding availability.

Appointments for students who remain abroad will be modified in some way “which may include a change in funding source, a conversion of an RA/TA appointment to a non-service fellowship appointment, or a conversion to non-paid status.” Departments will be expected to cover the costs that accompany these modifications.

Students for whom returning to the U.S. would pose significant financial hardship are able to apply to the Graduate Student Short Term Emergency Hardship Fund.

Waitz also outlined MIT’s plans regarding remote coursework for graduate students. Because MIT plans to resume full academic and research activities by September, it is MIT’s “hope and expectation that all new and continuing students will arrive at MIT before the start of their programs.” 

Decisions on offering remote coursework will be made at the department or program level, and departments were asked to communicate their decisions directly to their students before April 15.

Undergraduates not physically located in the U.S. during the summer or fall will not be able to take part in paid UROPs or other hourly wage opportunities. They may participate in credit-only UROPs, for which tuition will be waived due to challenges related to the pandemic.