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Coronavirus Information

On March 10, Duke announced significant changes to its operations in response to the developing coronavirus situation. Please visit for the latest university updates. To complement the university's main information site, we have set up this page ( to answer questions specific to Graduate School students.

We are continually updating this page as we receive more information and as the situation develops, so please check back regularly for updates.

If you are a Graduate School student and have a question related to Duke's operational changes, please first check this page and to see if it has already been addressed. If not, send your question to We will endeavor to answer all questions as quickly and fully as we can, but please understand that this is a rapidly developing situation. Also, please note that these policies, particularly around access to campus facilities, are subject to change on short notice.

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What You Must Know

  • Per the April 4 message from Provost Kornbluth and Executive Vice Provost Francis:

    • Duke is committed to providing employment opportunities this summer for any enrolled and continuing Ph.D. student who needs it and does not currently have 12-month funding, including students who have been awarded a fellowship (either external or from The Graduate School) that does not cover the full summer.

    • As announced earlier, Duke has established a student assistance fund to provide resources to help students in immediate financial distress. This fund is now open for applications with a goal of providing relief to those who need it as quickly as possible. These relief funds are intended to cover immediate needs arising before summer funding opportunities begin.

    • Directors of graduate studies and school deans have been instructed to ensure each Ph.D. student receives regular check-ins from their faculty adviser and clear expectations around goals, next steps, and feedback.

  • Per the April 4 university-wide announcement:
    • Large parts of the Duke campus are closed in compliance with stay-at-home orders issued by North Carolina and Durham officials, and new restrictions are in place for those areas that remain open to protect the health and safety of the community.
  • Per the April 2 university-wide announcement:
    • All on-campus events through June 30 are restricted. This includes recruitment events, tours, student programs, reunions, performances, conferences and social events. It also includes events organized by outside individuals or groups that use Duke facilities.

  • Per the March 30 university-wide announcement:
    • Summer Session I classes scheduled for the Duke Campus and the Duke Marine Lab are cancelled. 
    • All other Duke-sponsored academic curricular and co-curricular programs scheduled for the entire summer must be delivered remotely or online.
    • All Duke-sponsored academic programs involving travel are cancelled for the entire summer. 
    • All Duke-sponsored summer programs enrolling pre-college students (minors), except the American Dance Festival and sports camps scheduled for Duke campus and offsite locations, are cancelled for the entire summer.
    • As part of these changes, the 2020 Duke Graduate Summer Academy has been canceled.
  • Per the March 25 university-wide announcement:
    • The City of Durham has enacted a Stay-at-Home order for all residents and businesses effective Thursday, March 26 at 6:00 pm.
    • During the Stay-at-Home period, students living off-campus may not come to campus or enter any Duke buildings. (Limited numbers of graduate students may have obtained prior approval to perform their duties in research labs with an essential function.) (See message to off-campus students)
    • Access to offices and classrooms for the purposes of teaching online classes is no longer permitted.
    • Anyone at Duke who is currently supporting critical operations should continue to report to your designated work location as scheduled.
    • Individuals who are maintaining critical research laboratory functions may continue to do so provided they observe safety guidelines.
  • Per the March 18 university-wide announcement
    • The 2020 commencement, including departmental ceremonies and other associated events, will be postponed to dates to be announced later.
  • Per the March 12 university-wide announcement:
    • Starting at 9 a.m. on March 16, all buildings on Duke’s main campus will require a DukeID card for entry. Faculty, staff, and students will still have access to most of the same buildings they did beforehand, but they will be required to swipe their DukeCard ID or use the Mobile DukeCard to gain access.
  • Per the March 10 university-wide announcement from President Price: 
    • All on-campus classes will be suspended until further notice, and Duke will transition to remote instruction (video and other forms of delivery) for all undergraduate, graduate and professional schools. 
    • All non-essential university-funded travel, both domestic and international, is suspended.


Graduate School-Specific Questions and Answers


Can graduate students participating in lab-based research continue going to their labs?

Due to the rapidly deteriorating conditions, only hands-on activity essential to preserve the future viability of research programs will be permitted in most laboratories. All laboratory PIs should begin to activate their wind-down plans effective March 17. All non-laboratory research in Duke facilities that requires direct person-to-person contact must also cease at this time. Per the guidelines laid out by the university:

At present, all research is severely restricted in all Duke on-campus and leased facilities. Only hands-on activity essential to ongoing coronavirus research, completion of crucial experiments that were already in progress, and preserving the future viability of all other research programs are permitted in laboratory buildings. Key individuals who have been assigned to maintain essential experiments/activities are the only personnel that may enter research facilities at this time. 

The safety of Duke’s trainees is fundamental to our research and educational mission. Graduate students and postdoctoral researchers are partners in our research activities and may voluntarily agree to be designed as key/essential individuals. However, it is unacceptable for them to be pressured into this role or designated without consultation. Any trainee uncomfortable with performing an essential role as assigned by their faculty mentor should immediately contact their school/center/institute research leadership. 

(Updated 3/20)

What about my dissertation/thesis defense or prelim exam?

Here are The Graduate School's updated guidelines regarding defenses and examinations:

  • Published deadlines for spring 2020 Ph.D. dissertation and master’s thesis submissions and defenses, as well as submission of non-thesis master’s documentation, will remain the same.
  • For preliminary examinations, those already planned and scheduled should occur when feasible. The deadline for third-year students to complete their prelims by the end of the spring semester is extended to the end of fall semester.
  • Defenses and other milestone examinations can take place on campus as scheduled; however, effective immediately, students and committee members for preliminary examinations, Ph.D. dissertation defenses, and master’s thesis and non-thesis examinations have the option to participate remotely without submitting a formal, email request.  In addition, for departments that require a public dissertation seminar, the presentation should be limited to the committee only. (Updated on 3/13 to address preliminary exams and public dissertation seminars)
  • For all dissertation and thesis defenses taking place March 16 and later, students will no longer need to schedule exam certificate appointments with the Graduate School administrator who conducted the format check of their dissertation or thesis. 
  • The hard-copy exam card is being replaced by an Electronic Milestone Exam Certificate that will be pre-populated for each graduating student by Graduate School staff and emailed directly from The Graduate School to each dissertation or thesis committee Chair and DGSA.        
  • No physical signatures are required. Instructions for chairs and DGSs will be in the electronic exam card. 
  • Students will not submit signed title pages or abstract title pages.
  • Students will receive instructions regarding electronic submission of the advisor-approved embargo document in the email they receive from ProQuest after their initial submission has been reviewed by a TGS administrator.
  • The Graduate School's Office of Academic Affairs is working on a separate electronic examination certificate form for NON-THESIS Master’s examinations. We will share that document with DGSAs before the end of the week.
  • Students should direct inquiries about qualifying exams to their Ph.D. program or department DGS.

If you have any questions about defenses and exams that not addressed by the guidelines above, please contact The Graduate School's Office of Academic Affairs (

When holding a remote defense, please follow these security and privacy tips for Zoom.

See a compilation of guidelines and tips on holding a remote defense.

Is there a revised grading policy for graduate students?

The university announced changes in grading policy for graduate and professional students on March 19.

To request exceptions to the S/U grading for spring 2020, students should fill out this form.

How do Duke's changes affect international students' visa status, OPT, etc.?

These and other topics are addressed in the International Students section of the FAQ at

I am scheduled to travel abroad for my exchange program. Can I go?

At this time, Duke is suspending all non-essential university-funded travel, both domestic and international. Please visit Duke's coronavirus website for current updates related to travel restrictions.

What resources are available to support my instructional role at Duke as a TA or instructor of record?

Duke Learning Innovation has compiled a resource to support faculty and others in instructional roles in converting face-to-face classes to online learning environments. Please consult the Keep Teaching website for the most current information and support.

When do graduate student classes resume?

The schedule for a graduate-level course is set by the school offering the course. Here is the information we have gathered so far from the various schools at Duke about when their graduate courses (classes numbered 500-999) will resume online:

  • Divinity: March 16
  • Fuqua: March 16
  • Graduate School (GS): March 23
  • Law: March 16
  • Medicine: March 23
  • Nicholas: March 23
  • Nursing: March 16
  • Pratt: March 23
  • Sanford: March 23
  • Trinity Arts & Sciences: March 23
  • Graduate Liberal Studies (GLS): March 23
  • Interdisciplinary programs: March 23

Students should check with their instructors for specific details.


Campus Facilities and Services

Are the Graduate School offices open?

In light of the March 16 university guidelines on campus activity, The Graduate School has paused operations at its physical location in the Old Chemistry Building until further notice. The staff is working remotely and can be reached via email and voicemail. (Details)

What kind of library access is available?

The Duke University Libraries are closed to the Duke and broader communities. The Libraries are making extra efforts to enable digital alternatives. You may return library materials at approved remote drop-off locations. (Details)

We have confirmed with Duke Libraries that materials borrowed this spring by graduating students that cannot be returned before the end of the term will NOT result in a diploma hold or library fines.

What student health and wellness resources are available?
  • Student Health is still open for urgent medical needs requiring an in-person evaluation. Student Health also offers video/tele-health visits to students residing in North Carolina. Do not come to Student Health before calling 919-681-9355 to speak with a nurse so we can determine the safest way to address your health care needs. For urgent matters after hours, you may speak to a nurse by contacting UNC Healthlink at 919-966-3820. The last scheduled daily appointment will be 3:20 p.m. 
  • The Divinity School is offering virtual worship on Tuesday-Friday at 11:25 a.m.
How are campus buses and parking affected?

Please check the Duke Parking and Transportation site for the latest bus schedule, as service has been changing frequently as new restrictions on campus activity are implemented.

Duke has announced parking changes to support critical health care operations and social distancing. As part of those changes, graduate students who have a permit for the Health System remote lots on Hillsborough Road, the Science Drive Garage, or the Green Zone on West Campus can temporarily park in Parking Garage 3, H Lot, Hock Garage, and Circuit at no additional cost.

Graduate students who do not have a parking permit, or only have GoPasses or Night (NGT) permits, can purchase a monthly permit for the following lots on a temporary basis. The cost is $40.50 per month.

  • Hock Plaza Garage
  • Parking Garage 3
  • Circuit Lot
  • H Lot

Graduate students should contact if they wish to purchase a monthly permit. Students will receive the permit by email and their student account will be billed, so no visit to the parking office is required.

Questions about parking and transportation should be sent to the Duke Parking & Transportation office at, 919-684-7275.

(Updated 3/20)

How is campus dining affected?

Duke Dining has moved to pickup/carryout/delivery options only. See FAQs about Duke Dining operations and its current locations and hours.



What emergency financial support is there for Ph.D. students whose summer funding opportunities have been disrupted by COVID-19?

Per the April 4 memo from Provost Kornbluth and Executive Vice Provost Francis:

  • Duke is committed to providing employment opportunities this summer for any enrolled and continuing Ph.D. student who needs it and does not currently have 12-month funding, including students who have been awarded a fellowship (either external or from The Graduate School) that does not cover the full summer.

  • As announced earlier, Duke has established a student assistance fund to provide resources to help students in immediate financial distress. This fund is now open for applications with a goal of providing relief to those who need it as quickly as possible. These relief funds are intended to cover immediate needs arising before summer funding opportunities begin.

What kind of emergency resources are there for travel, food, etc.?

Duke has established a student assistance fund to provide resources to help students in immediate financial distress. This fund is now open for applications with a goal of providing relief to those who need it as quickly as possible. These relief funds are intended to cover immediate needs arising before summer funding opportunities begin.

The Graduate and Professional Student Council has an Emergency Travel Fund that students can apply for, and the application window restrictions have been lifted.

The GPSC Community Pantry has stopped its walk-in hours to comply with Durham's Stay-at-Home order. The pantry will continue its Weekly Bag Program, with safety precautions in place.

If you need additional sources of emergency funding, The Graduate School has two short-term loan programs.

What about prepaid expenses for a conference or research travel that I can no longer go to because of Duke’s new travel restrictions?

For Conference Travel awards from The Graduate School, we will allow submissions for reimbursement of non-refundable prepaid travel expenses in lieu of the already awarded fellowship. This only applies to students who have already applied and received notification from TGS of their award. Proof of non-refundable status will be required with submissions. Students who reschedule their trips can apply for a new fellowship in the new academic year.  

Students who have received the following research travel fellowships from The Graduate School for the 2019-2020 academic year must follow Duke’s travel restrictions. Recipients will have until the end of the 2020-2021 academic year to use those funds.

[Updated 3/17] The Graduate School needs to keep track of which recipients have used their awards already, and which recipients must now wait until research travel is possible to use them. To that end, recipients of the above fellowships are asked to submit the following information to by March 31, 2020:

  1. Have you already used your award for AY 19-20?
  2. If you have already used your award, please email scanned copes of 1 or more MAJOR receipts related to your travel, e.g., airfare, lodging, etc. Receipts for small purchases such as meals, parking, etc. are not required, only major purchases that confirm the travel has already taken place.
  3. If you have not yet used your travel award, please confirm that you intend to follow Duke’s current travel restrictions and plan to use the award by the end of the 2020-2021 academic year.

For those students who have not yet undertaken travel, please do not feel you must provide new travel plans at this time. The Graduate School understands that may not be possible, given the fluidity of the COVID-19 situation. We will be in touch at a later date to request information on upcoming research travel plans.

For students who applied to the most recent cycle of the Dean’s Research Award for Master’s Students (deadline: February 15, 2020): Proposals that do not involve travel will be reviewed, and awardees will be notified in April. For proposals that involve travel, The Graduate School cannot consider those applications at this time because of the current suspension of all non-essential Duke-funded domestic and international travel. Once we know more about how the evolving COVID-19 situation will affect future university-sponsored travel, we plan to open a new application period at a later date.

Fellowship questions can be sent to

Are Summer Research Fellowships for summer 2020 affected?

Both competitive and guaranteed Summer Research Fellowships for summer 2020 will be awarded as planned. However, recipients must follow current restrictions on university-funded travel. Currently, all non-essential university-funded travel, both domestic and international, is suspended, per the president’s March 10 message to the university community.

With the restrictions on coming to campus, how do I get my stipend check if I am not participating in direct deposit?

Payroll services is mailing all live checks generated in the regular biweekly and monthly payrolls to home addresses. If you have elected not to participate in direct deposit, please make sure their home addresses are updated using Duke@Work. (Details)



What is happening to Graduate School events, such as professional development workshops and RCR Forums?
  • The Graduate Summer Academy for 2020 has been canceled
  • The Ph.D. Hooding Ceremony and other commencement activities have been postponed. The Graduate School is waiting for the university to announce its make-up plans before we update plans for our events.
  • The Dean's Awards Reception on March 25 is canceled.
  • All in-person events during Graduate & Professional Student Appreciation Week (March 30-April 3) are canceled. Where possible, events will be hosted virtually via Zoom. The Appreciation Week page highlights the current status of all events that will be hosted virtually.
  • Please consult The Graduate School's professional development events calendar for the status of upcoming events. As of March 12, all events on that calendar through April 20 have been updated with relevant status changes in their titles. Most in-person events have now been converted to webinars or will be hosted in Zoom, but a few have been canceled.
  • The remaining sessions of spring 2020 RCR Forums will be held via Zoom at the time originally scheduled. Individual forum facilitators will follow up with registered students to provide details about accessing the forum. We strongly suggest you familiarize yourself with Zoom before joining the online forum; we won't be able to provide tech support during the event.
Will the Ph.D. Hooding Ceremony still be held?

The university has announced that the 2020 commencement, including departmental ceremonies and other associated events have been postponed to a date to be determined. Therefore, the Ph.D Hooding Ceremony has also been postponed, and we will provide more information when we know the make-up date. In the meantime, see the commencement postponement FAQs for updates. (Updated 3/19)


Other Questions

I am a prospective student and have an upcoming departmental visit scheduled. What should I do?

Please contact the department about how departmental visits/admission events will be affected.

The March 10 message from President Price mentioned that students who need to return to campus must register with Student Affairs in advance. Does that apply to me?

We have verified with Student Affairs that this specific guidance only applies to students who live in on-campus student housing. Student Affairs has emailed the small number of graduate students living in on-campus student housing about this. Other Graduate School students do NOT need to register with Student Affairs before coming to campus.


Graduate School Communications to Graduate Students


Page last updated: April 6, 2020, 4:11 p.m.