Frequently Asked Questions About Fall 2020

Updated July 28, 2020

As GW and the Columbian College of Arts & Sciences work to finalize our plans for Fall 2020, we recognize that you have questions, and we understand your need to have information to make informed decisions about your personal and academic plans for the coming semester. We hope this FAQ will help.

Please keep in mind that, like the current pandemic, the development of academic policies and information is dynamic. We’re working hard to complete our Fall 2020 plan, but there are still some details that must be worked out. And we recognize that we will need to be ready to pivot if health and safety guidelines require us to do so.

The CCAS Office of Graduate Studies (OGS) will regularly update this FAQ as more information becomes available. We will also send you direct messages alerting you to any major updates. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact your program’s Director of Graduate Studies or CCAS Graduate Student Services at [email protected] 

 

 


All Students

Most graduate programs will be conducted online, with certain programs holding discipline-specific in-person classes.  Certain programs may have laboratory or clinical components that students will need to complete in-person.  Programs will provide you with additional information.

Remote-instruction courses are classes that we’ve moved online as part of a COVID accommodation. In a normal year, these classes would be taught in person on campus, but this fall they will be offered synchronously online. At the assigned Eastern Daylight Time, which can be found on the Schedule of Classes, your instructor and all the students enrolled in the class will assemble virtually.

Online courses are part of an online degree program or courses that have been historically offered online. These courses are offered asynchronously. Because the instructor and students do not regularly meet together at the same time, these courses allow greater flexibility for the time of your coursework.

Yes. In advance of the semester start, the university will provide technical resources and detailed instructions for students in countries with specific barriers to accessing U.S.-based learning.

All class meetings will be recorded so you can view them at another time. Your instructors will be as flexible as possible during these unprecedented times

Although most of these courses meet remotely, we are working with the University to establish processes and procedures to allow students the access to labs and studios necessary to do their work and complete their degree programs.

Graduate courses may involve both synchronous and asynchronous elements.  For example, lectures may be pre-recorded and posted, and discussions may be scheduled for synchronous participation; remote instruction may involve synchronous lectures using Blackboard Collaborate; or a class may be conducted as a small web conference for discussion based classes.  

The university will continue to closely monitor the latest data on COVID-19 cases locally and nationally, guidance from our medical and public health experts, and ongoing feedback from the GW community in making a determination on plans for the spring semester.

The Provost announced the planned tuition increases of approximately 3-4% would not apply for the 2020-2021 academic year.  This reduction will not apply to Summer 2020 registration.  It is anticipated Fall 2020 student accounts will be updated by the end of the first week of August.

Students Receiving Funding Packages

If your funding package does not include GA/GRA duties, then you will receive your full Fall 2020 award whether you choose to study in person, in hybrid mode, or remotely.

Please see CCAS’s “Fall 2020 Options and Guidelines for Graduate Students with Assistantship Packages (GA/GRA Duties)” for a detailed explanation of your options for the coming semester. These options vary depending on whether you are currently located inside or outside the United States. 

Unfortunately, US and international law dramatically limits CCAS’s ability to provide assistantship packages to students located outside the United States. In most cases, we will not be able to provide such packages to students unless they are physically present in the US. Please contact your program’s Director of Graduate Studies to discuss your options if you are currently located outside the United States or are considering a return to your home country.

Health and Safety

A summary of the latest version of GW's Plan for Fall 2020 is available online.

The GW Campus Re-Opening Teams are currently working on the health and safety protocols that will be required. It will be important for each member of our community to adhere to these protocols to protect themselves and our community. A campus compact will be distributed before classes begin. At a minimum, all members of our community will be required to wear cloth masks while on campus in public areas (indoors and outdoors) and in the presence of others, to practice social distancing and follow CDC recommendations for handwashing and coughing/sneezing hygiene. We are aware that COVID-19 as well as the response to the pandemic have had a disproportionate effect on communities of color. In developing and implementing health and safety protocols as well as other back to campus activities, the University is committed to ensuring equity and inclusivity and working to eliminate social inequities, stigmatization, and racism.

Yes. We plan to implement a large-scale in-house testing program led by our own public health experts in accordance with all appropriate health regulations. Regular testing will continue throughout the fall semester and will be immediately available to anyone on campus who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or has been exposed. More information on these protocols will be available as we get closer to the start of the semester.

The Colonial Health Center will serve as the main health care resource for students. A new occupational health and wellness unit in the Medical Faculty Associates will provide employee health surveillance and health promotion.

We will perform on-campus contact investigations in coordination with the D.C. Department of Health contact tracing staff, via a newly established Campus COVID Investigation Team (CCIT). This will enable us to quickly identify and test potential GW community members who may be positive for COVID-19 and to clearly identify for public health authorities the individuals who have been in contact with the person. The CCIT will also serve an integrating function for data from our screening, case investigation, and related efforts.

We will require seasonal influenza shots for on-campus students, faculty, and staff, with exceptions based on medical conditions and religious beliefs in compliance with legal requirements and standards of medical care. In the absence of a COVID-19 vaccine, it will be important to guard against other illnesses to the extent possible.

GW provides counseling and psychological services to all registered students.  More information is available on the GW Colonial Health Center page.

 


New Fall 2020 Students

Domestic Students

As most graduate programs will be conducted online, you will have the option to choose Flex Start and begin your program online by taking classes via remote instruction, and (in some programs) online.

Remote-instruction courses will meet only online. Your instructor and all the students enrolled in the class will assemble virtually at the assigned Eastern Daylight Time, which can be found on the Schedule of Classes.

In a few programs, you will also have the option to participate in online courses, which are offered asynchronously, providing greater flexibility for the time of your coursework.

In most CCAS graduate programs, you will be able to make normal progress toward the completion of your degree requirements this fall through remote courses. In our clinical programs and in graduate programs that require a significant number of labs or studio classes, it’s possible that the usual fall course schedule will need to be amended to account for online study.

If you have any questions about the options available to you, please reach out to your program’s Director of Graduate Studies.

In a few programs, you will also have the option to participate in online courses, which are offered asynchronously, providing greater flexibility for the time of your coursework.

In most—but not all—of our graduate programs, you may elect to defer the start of your studies until Spring 2021, when you will hopefully be able to join us on campus. Your program’s Director of Graduate Studies can provide more information about this option, or you may contact the CCAS admissions team.

International Students

You will have the option to choose Flex Start and begin your program online. Students in the MS program in Data Science and MS program in Statistics can elect to participate in a special Flex Start Program using asynchronous, online courses. Students in other programs may choose courses offered via remote instruction.

Participation in remote instruction courses will require you to join the class virtually at the time designated on GW’s Schedule of Classes in Eastern Daylight Time.

In most CCAS graduate programs, you will be able to make normal progress toward the completion of your degree requirements online this fall. In our clinical programs and in graduate programs that require a significant number of labs or studio classes, it’s possible that the usual fall course schedule will need to be adjusted to account for online study.

If you have any questions about the options available to you, please reach out to your program’s Director of Graduate Studies.

 

No. Students who are unable to arrive in the US at the start of the fall semester will have the option to begin their graduate studies online from abroad or to defer their admission to a later semester. Your program’s Director of Graduate Studies can provide more information about your options, or you may contact the CCAS admissions team.

For new, initial visa applicants we are working with ISO to determine options available under the current federal guidance for those who choose to come to the US.

As an international student located in the US, you must maintain full-time status by registering for at least 9 credits of coursework in Fall 2020. At present, we believe you will have the option to take most of your courses via remote instruction, however you will be required to register for one in-person/hybrid course.  We are working to provide you with those options.

Hybrid courses will combine in-person and remote instruction.  Remote-instruction courses will meet only online. Your instructor and all the students enrolled in the class will assemble virtually at the assigned Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), which can be found on the Schedule of Classes. Remote courses will not meet on GW’s campus.  

In a few programs, you will also have the option to participate in online courses, which are offered asynchronously, providing greater flexibility for the time of your coursework.

In most CCAS graduate programs, you will be able to make normal progress toward the completion of your degree requirements this fall, even if you elect to take all your classes online. In our clinical programs and in graduate programs that require a significant number of labs or studio classes, it’s possible that the usual fall course schedule will need to be amended to account for online study.

If you have any questions about the options available to you, please reach out to your program’s Director of Graduate Studies.

In most—but not all—of our graduate programs, you may elect to defer the start of your studies until Spring 2021, when you will hopefully be able to join us on campus. Your program’s Director of Graduate Studies can provide more information about this option, or you may contact the CCAS admissions team.

Yes. In advance of the semester start, the university will provide technical resources and detailed instructions for students in countries with specific barriers to accessing U.S.-based learning.

If you choose to begin your study before entering the US but have already received your Fall 2020 I-20 form, we will work with you to defer yout SEVIS record and issue a new Spring 2021 I-20 form.  Please email [email protected] to defer your I-20.

The English for Academic Purposes (EAP) class is a guided introduction to key principles of academic writing and research, which will support your success in your graduate program. In this class, you will learn to recognize key genre conventions and write with different audience expectations in mind, conduct library research, read academic sources critically and use them in line with tenets of academic integrity, improve your use of appropriate grammar and vocabulary for academic purposes, revise and edit your own writing, and understand key principles of oral and professional communication. Both levels of EAP (EAP 6110 and EAP 6111) will be offered fully online and asynchronously in fall 2020.

Based on your English proficiency scores (TOEFL or equivalent), you have been pre-placed into either EAP 6110 or EAP 6111. This placement is indicated in your admission letter. Prior to the beginning of the semester, you will participate in an online diagnostic assessment process to determine the best EAP placement for you. Based on the evaluation of your diagnostic writing sample, you may need to change into a different level of EAP. Taking either EAP course (EAP 6110 or EAP 6111) fulfills your EAP requirement.

If there is information on your admissions letter notifying you that you are required to take English for Academic Purposes (EAP), you will be able to take an EAP course remotely this fall. Most EAP courses will be offered as fully asynchronous online courses.  

Students will be eligible for CPT after they have maintained their valid F-1 status in the US for a full academic year as is required by law. This means that students who enroll in the Flex-Start program for Fall 2020 and arrive on campus in Spring 2021 will become eligible for CPT at the end of the Fall 2021 semester.

Information on Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Flex-Start for Incoming Students

For Fall 2020, GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences will offer newly admitted students across most graduate programs the ability to start their degree online through the Flex-Start Program. The Flex-Start Program is ideal for admitted students who may be impacted by travel restrictions or visa delays, or for those who prefer not to relocate to a new city during a time of uncertain economic and public health conditions. Students who participate in the Flex-Start program will be able to take a regular full-time or part-time course load online during the Fall 2020 semester and then continue their studies in person in Washington, DC, starting in the Spring 2021 semester (provided they complete their Fall 2020 courses in good academic standing and, in the case of international students, receive a valid F-1 visa prior to the start of the spring semester).

Admitted CCAS graduate students beginning their studies in Fall 2020 in most graduate programs are eligible to participate in the Flex-Start Program.  This includes students pursuing a Master of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Public Administration, Master of Public Policy, Master of Fine Arts, Master of Forensic Sciences, and Doctor of Psychology.

For students admitted to the MS program in Data Science and MS program in Statistics:  You may elect to participate in a special Flex-Start Program using asynchronous, online courses. These are courses in which the instructor and students do not regularly meet together at the same time, allowing greater flexibility for the timing of coursework for those who are located outside the United States.

 For other newly admitted graduate students in most cases you will be able to begin your program as a remote student.  You will choose from courses offered via remote instruction.   These courses will require you to join the class virtually on the day and time scheduled for the course.  The time when these classes meet – in Eastern Daylight Time – can be found in GW’s Schedule of Classes).  Incoming students should contact their graduate program director for more information.

Students have the option of enrolling in two or three virtual courses for the Fall 2020 semester. You may not enroll in more than 3 courses (a total of 9 credit hours) online for the Fall 2020 semester. 

If you are a new international student in the US on an F1 visa you must take 9 credits of course work.

If you are interested in this option, you should contact your graduate program director to be registered for these courses. Preference will be given to international students who wish to register for the asynchronous Flex-Start Program option.

 

MS in Data Science – Asynchronous Flex-Start Program

 

Students pursing the MS in Data Science who want to take advantage of the asynchronous Flex-Start option will take the following two courses:

  • DATS 6101: Introduction to Data Science
  • DATS 6103: Introduction to Data Mining

 

And a third course chosen from the following options:

  • STAT 6201: Mathematical Statistics I
  • STAT 6214: Applied Linear Models
  • An English for Academic Purposes (EAP) course, if requirec

 

MS in Statistics – Asynchronous Flex-Start Program

 

Students pursing the MS in Statistics who want to take advantage of the asynchronous Flex-Start option will take the following two courses:

  • STAT 6201: Mathematical Statistics I
  • STAT 6214: Applied Linear Models

 

And a third course chosen from the following options:

  • DATS 6101: Introduction to Data Science
  • DATS 6103: Introduction to Data Mining
  • An English for Academic Purposes (EAP) course, if required

 

If you have been accepted to one of these program, you will receive information on this option.  If your admission letter notified you of the need to take English for Academic Purposes, you should sign up for EAP as your third course. 

For more information, students admitted to the MS in Data Science should contact Mary Gohar at [email protected]

For more information, students admitted to the MS in Statistics should contact Reza Modarrez at [email protected]

Please contact your graduate program director to discuss the courses you need to take this fall.  You will be able to register for graduate-level course listed on the course schedule for Fall 2020. 

To see the Fall 2020 course schedule, please visit this website and choose your academic department. For guidance on how to register for a course, please review the Office of the Registrar’s step-by-step instructions.

No. Students who enroll in the Flex-Start program will not receive an I-20 form for the Fall 2020 semester but instead will receive an I-20 form for the Spring 2021 semester. We will work with you on a case-by-case basis to determine what documents are needed to receive the Spring 2021 I-20 form. If you choose to opt into the Flex-Start program after you have already received your Fall 2020 I-20 form, we will work with you to defer your SEVIS record and issue a new Spring 2021 I-20 form.

 


Returning Students

Domestic Students

Most programs will offer classes via remote instruction.   Remote-instruction courses will meet only online but will in most cases involve synchronous instruction time. Your instructor and all the students enrolled in the class will assemble virtually at the assigned Eastern Daylight Time, which can be found on the Schedule of Classes. Remote courses will not meet on GW’s campus.

In a few programs, you will also have the option to participate in online courses, which are offered asynchronously, providing greater flexibility for the time of your coursework.

In most CCAS graduate programs, you will be able to make normal progress toward the completion of your degree requirements this fall. In clinical programs that require a significant amount of in-person training or externships, and in graduate programs that incorporate labs and studio classes, you will have a range of online course options this fall, but it’s possible you will not be able to fulfill all the usual degree requirements online. Your program’s Director of Graduate Studies will help you understand whether fully online learning will pose any limitations on the timely completion of degree requirements.

If you decide you do not want to continue your studies this fall, you may choose to take a voluntary leave of absence. To request such leave, you should complete the “Leave of Absence Application Form” and submit it to your program’s Director of Graduate Studies for processing and forwarding to the CCAS Office of Graduate Studies.

You are also encouraged to discuss your plans for leave with your program’s Director of Graduate Studies and with your CCAS Student Services Coordinator at [email protected] to make sure you understand how your leave may affect any CCAS funding package you currently hold.

A leave of absence may also affect your eligibility for GW’s Student Health Insurance Program (SHIP). To learn more about GW SHIP, please visit https://healthcenter.gwu.edu/student-health-insurance, email [email protected], or call the Health Insurance Coordinator at 202-994-5300, option 4.

International Students

You will have the option to take classes via remote instruction and (in some programs) online.

As an international student located in the US, you must maintain full-time status by registering for at least 9 credits of coursework in Fall 2020, unless you qualify for a reduced course load. (Contact the International Services Office [ISO] at [email protected] for more information about your registration requirements.)

Remote-instruction courses will meet only online. Your instructor and all the students enrolled in the class will assemble virtually at the assigned Eastern Daylight Time, which can be found on the Schedule of Classes. Remote courses will not meet on GW’s campus.

In a few programs, you will also have the option to participate in online courses, which are offered asynchronously, providing greater flexibility for the time of your coursework.

In most CCAS graduate programs, you will be able to make normal progress toward the completion of your degree requirements this fall, even if you elect to take all your classes online. In clinical programs that require a significant amount of in-person training or externships, and in graduate programs that incorporate labs and studio classes, you will have a range of online course options this fall, but it’s possible you will not be able to fulfill all the usual degree requirements online. Your program’s Director of Graduate Studies will help you understand whether fully online learning will pose any limitations on the timely completion of degree requirements.

You will have the option to take your classes online via remote instruction. 

In remote-instruction courses, the instructor and all the students enrolled in the class will assemble virtually, from locations around the world.  This will reqire you to join the class virtually at the time designated on GW’s  Schedule of Classes in Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).

Students studying outside the US who are in active F-1 status (and were in active F-1) status in March 2020) can maintain an active SEVIS record as long as they are enrolled full-time or have an approved reduced course load authorization.  Students outside the US who do not maintain a full course load will not be able to continue in F-1 status and therefore their I-20 will be terminated.

In most CCAS graduate programs, you will be able to make normal progress toward the completion of your degree requirements this fall, even if you elect to take all your classes online. In clinical programs that require a significant amount of in-person training or externships, and in graduate programs that incorporate labs and studio classes, you will have a range of online course options this fall, but it’s possible you will not be able to fulfill all the usual degree requirements online. Your program’s Director of Graduate Studies will help you understand whether fully online learning will pose any limitations on the timely completion of degree requirements.

If you decide you do not want to resume your studies this fall, you may choose to take a voluntary leave of absence. To request such leave, you should complete the “Leave of Absence Application Form” and submit it to your program’s Director of Graduate Studies for processing and forwarding to the CCAS Office of Graduate Studies.

Because a leave of absence may affect visa status, you should consult with your advisor in the International Services Office (ISO) before submitting a request for such leave.

You are also encouraged to discuss your plans for leave with your program’s Director of Graduate Studies and with your CCAS Student Services Coordinator at [email protected] to make sure you understand how your leave may affect any CCAS funding package you currently hold.

A leave of absence may also affect your eligibility for GW’s Student Health Insurance Program (SHIP). To learn more about GW SHIP, please visit https://healthcenter.gwu.edu/student-health-insurance, email [email protected], or call the Health Insurance Coordinator at 202-994-5300, option 4.

No. International students located outside the US, who plan to study online from abroad, may opt out of the GW Student Health Insurance Program (SHIP) by completing the Fall 2020 Waiver between August 1st and September 12th. On the waiver form, you will be asked to provide information about your home country health insurance. If you do not have health insurance offered by your home country, you may enter “N/A” in the required fields, in order to complete the waiver questionnaire.

For more information about GW SHIP or for assistance in completing the waiver form, please visit https://healthcenter.gwu.edu/student-health-insurance, email [email protected], or call the Health Insurance Coordinator at 202-994-5300, option 4.

Yes. In advance of the semester start, the university will provide technical resources and detailed instructions for students in countries with specific barriers to accessing U.S.-based learning.