Page updated June 15, 2021
This page provides information for Duke Graduate School students and will be updated as Duke's operations evolve with the pandemic situation. Graduate School students who have questions about Duke’s pandemic-related plans should first check this page and returnto.duke.edu. If the answer is not on either site, please send your question to email@example.com. We will try to answer questions as quickly and fully as we can, but please understand that plans could change on short notice depending on how the pandemic develops.
Click each header below to expand that section.
[6/15/21] All Duke staff, faculty and students can receive the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost, either by scheduling an appointment at the clinic at the Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center or by going to the walk-in clinic (no appointment needed) at the Duke Medicine Pavilion (Room 2 West 91) from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Monday to Friday. | Details
[5/18/21] Duke announced it will maintain the requirement for social distancing and wearing masks indoors for the next several weeks.
[5/11/21] The Graduate School has emailed Ph.D. students with information about Duke Rec access for summer 2021. TGS will cover the cost of a summer membership for Ph.D. students who are in their guaranteed funding period. Eligible Ph.D. students who purchase a summer membership will receive a reimbursement for the membership cost.
[5/10/21] The university has announced changes in restrictions on gatherings and events on campus. Effective June 1, Duke schools, departments and units may host events, activities and performances on and off campus, including meetings of faculty, staff, students and invited guests, without prior approval as long as they observe current CDC and State of North Carolina guidelines for capacity. Food and drink will be permitted subject to state and local regulations.
- [5/11/21] The Graduate School has emailed Ph.D. students with information about Duke Rec access for summer 2021. TGS will cover the cost of a summer membership for Ph.D. students who are in their guaranteed funding period. Eligible Ph.D. students who purchase a summer membership will receive a reimbursement for the membership cost.
- [5/10/21] The university has announced changes in restrictions on gatherings and events on campus. Effective June 1, Duke schools, departments and units may host events, activities and performances on and off campus, including meetings of faculty, staff, students and invited guests, without prior approval as long as they observe current CDC and State of North Carolina guidelines for capacity. Food and drink will be permitted subject to state and local regulations.
- [5/3/21] The university has announced it will no longer require students, employees, or visitors to wear masks or face coverings while outdoors, unless they are in crowded areas and gatherings where social distancing is not possible.
- [4/27/21] The university sent an email on April 27 to all students who will be on campus in summer 2021, outlining community expectations, summer plans for COVID entry and surveilliance testing, and directions for updating COVID vaccination records.
- The university has announced some information about its fall 2021 plans, including registration, classes, and vaccinations. See the following FAQs:
- Duke announced that it plans to require all new and returning Duke students to present proof of vaccination to Student Health before they can enroll for the fall 2021 semester. This policy will cover all undergraduate, graduate, and professional students—in all degree programs—who intend to be on the Duke campus for any period of time starting with the fall 2021 semester. Documented medical and religious exemptions will be accommodated.
- We know that many incoming international students have questions about their ability to secure visas in time to travel to Durham for the Fall 2021 semester. While we do not have any information at this point, Duke has been actively advocating on behalf of international students. For instance, the university recently joined with other institutions in the American Council on Education and sent a letter to the U.S. Department of State and Department of Homeland Security, advocating for specific actions to be taken to allow international students to study in the U.S. this fall.
- The university has released a set of FAQs for international students about fall 2021. Please refer to that information.
Health and Safety
- Most students will need to complete an entry COVID-19 test to have their DukeCards activated for summer 2021. Some graduate and professional students enrolled in specific programs may be exempt from entry testing; your program director will communicate with you if you do not need an entry test. Otherwise, you should plan to participate in entry testing this summer. See Duke's April 27 announcement for details about summer entry testing.
- Duke's testing data are posted at coronavirus.duke.edu/covid-testing/. The information is updated every Monday.
- We have set up a page for Graduate School-specific COVID testing updates.
COVID-19 vaccine information
- All Duke staff, faculty and students can receive the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost, either by scheduling an appointment at the clinic at the Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center or by going to the walk-in clinic (no appointment needed) at the Duke Medicine Pavilion (Room 2 West 91) from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Monday to Friday. | Details
- See covidvaccine.duke.edu for information about Duke's COVID vaccine distribution.
Public health measures
- Duke announced on May 18 that it will maintain the requirement for social distancing and wearing masks indoors for the next several weeks.
- The university has announced changes in restrictions on gatherings and events on campus. Effective June 1, Duke schools, departments and units may host events, activities and performances on and off campus, including meetings of faculty, staff, students and invited guests, without prior approval as long as they observe current CDC and State of North Carolina guidelines for capacity. Food and drink will be permitted subject to state and local regulations.
Health insurance / Duke Student Medical Insurance Plan (SMIP)
- Incoming and continuing Ph.D. students who remain outside the U.S. can ask for coverage through the Duke SMIP, but it is important to note that the SMIP only covers emergency care if you are outside the U.S.
- Please visit the Student Health Insurance website for information regarding coverage, enrollment, and eligibility. If you have questions related to your insurance coverage, enrollment, and eligibility, please contact the Duke insurance coordinator.
- If you have specific questions regarding your health insurance scholarship provided by The Graduate School, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Campus Access, Facilities, and Services
- For summer 2021, most students are required to complete an entry COVID-19 test to have their DukeCards activated for summer. They are also required to participate in surveillance testing every week. See details in the university's April 28 announcement.
- For the fall 2021 semester, Duke announced that it plans to require all new and returning Duke students to present proof of vaccination to Student Health before they can enroll. This policy will cover all undergraduate, graduate, and professional students—in all degree programs—who intend to be on the Duke campus for any period of time starting with the fall 2021 semester. Documented medical and religious exemptions will be accommodated.
Graduate School offices
The Graduate School is limiting the number of staff members at its offices (third floor of Old Chemistry Building) at any one time and implementing a set of safety protocol for interactions with students, facutly, staff, and other visitors to our offices. The protocol includes such measures as meeting by appointment only (no walk-ins) and meeting remotely as a rule. Please review the protocols before you come to our offices.
- Parking and transportation: Please check the Duke Parking and Transportation site for the latest bus schedule and information about parking permits. Questions should go to the Duke Parking & Transportation office at email@example.com, 919-684-7275.
- Libraries: Current hours and access restrictions
- Duke Rec: Duke Rec facilities have reopened to graduate students. See the Duke Rec site for information about memberships, and see The Graduate School's May 11, 2021, email to Ph.D. students about coverage of the cost of the membership for eligible doctoral students. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about the membership or Duke Rec access. Financial questions should be sent to email@example.com.
Duke currently prohibits all travel by faculty, staff, others, and students with Duke support (defined as Duke “financial and logistical support, academic approval, granting of credit for activity or work completed based on the travel, mentorship or any kind of material role for Duke in the travel.").
There are certain exceptions to this travel suspension. See the latest policy for details.
At this time, due to current restrictions outlined in the Duke travel policy, The Graduate School will not award conference travel awards related to actual travel until further notice, but will award funds to cover web-based conference registration expenses. The same guidelines regarding the expense and application process should be followed.
Students participating in exchange programs funded by Duke should not plan to travel until the current Duke travel suspension is lifted or modified.
Both competitive and guaranteed Summer Research Fellowships for summer 2021 have been 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 Duke travel policy.
To provide students with greater flexibility in seeking funding opportunities during the COVID-19 disruption, we have lifted caps on stipend supplementation for recipients of the Summer Research Fellowship.
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. At this time, due to current restrictions outlined in the Duke travel policy, new conference travel awards will not be considered until the Duke travel policy removes restrictions on non-essential travel. TGS will award funds for web-based conference registration with the same guidelines regarding the expense and application process.
Students who have received the following research travel fellowships from The Graduate School for the 2021-2022 academic year must follow current Duke travel restrictions. If travel restrictions prevent planned travel, fellows will not be asked to return fellowship awards to TGS.
- Dissertation Research Travel Award: Domestic
- Dissertation Research Travel Award: International
- James B. Duke International Research Travel Fellowship
- Julian Price Graduate Fellowship in Humanities and History
- Brown-Nagin Graduate Fellowship
Fully funded academic year fellowships that include a travel component, such as the James B. Duke International and the Julian Price, as well as the Domestic and International Dissertation Research Travel Awards, will be disbursed as originally awarded. However, recipients cannot use fellowship funds to facilitate travel while restrictions on Duke-sponsored travel are active. If travel restrictions prevent planned travel, fellows will not be asked to return fellowship awards to TGS.
The Dean’s Research Award for Master’s Student is available for non-travel research applications soon. Until Duke University lifts the current restriction against university-funded travel, applications for travel research/conference support cannot be considered. Qualifying applications may propose support for items such as equipment and software purchases, licensing, and materials acquisition.
Fellowship questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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)
Financial support during COVID-19 disruptions
- Duke has created a mechanism for Ph.D. students whose progress to degree has been significantly delayed by the pandemic to apply for funding extensions as they approach the end of their guaranteed funding period.
- Tuition for Graduate School students for the 2020-2021 academic year reverted to the 2019-2020 rates, and a number of fees were adjusted as well.
- Duke provided funding and employment opportunities during summer 2020 for any enrolled and continuing Ph.D. student who needs it and does not have 12-month funding. As part of that commitment, Duke created more than 100 experiential fellowships with external organizations and RAships of various kinds with internal Duke units.
- Duke established a student assistance fund to provide resources to help students in immediate financial distress.
- 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 GPSG Community Pantry is open for weekly bag pickups and deliveries on Saturdays from noon to 2:00 p.m. The pantry remains closed for in-person shopping. Volunteer opportunities are also available. See the pantry website for more information, signups, and COVID-19 policies.
- If you need additional sources of emergency funding, The Graduate School has two short-term loan programs.
The Graduate School follows the Duke University academic calendar. Here are some key dates for fall 2021:
- July 7, 7:00 a.m.: Fall registration begins
- August 23: Graduate and undergraduate classes begin
- November 23: Graduate classes end
- December 3: Undergraduate classes end
- November 24-December 7: Graduate reading period
- December 8-13: Final examinations
Per the university's FAQs for graduate and professional students:
- All students who can travel to Durham should plan to study in-person in fall 2021.
- Duke expects that in-person will be the dominant form of teaching. Graduate/professional students who cannot attend in-person should consult with their academic program directors/advisors about fall 2021 options.
Please see the published schedule. For students planning to graduate in May 2021, thesis and dissertations exams must take place by April 1, and Non-thesis master’s examinations must be held by April 15.
Preliminary exams, as well as qualifying exams, must occur by May 1, 2021.
Here are The Graduate School's updated guidelines regarding defenses and examinations in summer and fall 2020:
- See published deadlines for summer and fall 2020 Ph.D. dissertation and master’s thesis submissions and defenses, as well as submission of non-thesis master’s documentation.
- 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 2020 semester is extended to the end of fall 2020 semester.
- For fall 2020 and spring 2021, all parties may participate in milestone exams (prelims, master’s thesis, master’s non-thesis and dissertation defense) remotely as needed. The student and committee members may participate in-person if they desire, but they must follow university social distancing guidelines in effect at the time of the exam.
- There is no need to submit a formal email request to hold a remote milestone exam.
- If there is a public component to a defense, such as a seminar, university social-distancing guidelines must be followed. Guests can participate remotely, and we recommend using Zoom meetings.
- For all dissertation and thesis defenses, students 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 has been 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.
- 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 (email@example.com).
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.
Graduate School Communications to Students
- May 11, 2021: Coverage of Summer Duke Rec Membership for PhD Students
- December 23, 2020: IMPORTANT: Sign up by 12/30 for COVID entry testing for graduate students
- November 19, 2020: Winter Break Info for Graduate School Students
- November 19, 2020: Winter Break information for graduate and professional students (sent to students who indicated they need campus access over winter break)
- November 6, 2020: Important end-of-semester info for graduate students
- October 2, 2020: Re: Thank You and Looking Ahead
- September 21, 2020: COVID surveillance testing FAQs and Follow-up
- August 21, 2020: Reminder: COVID Testing; Duke Compact
- August 13, 2020: Duke Rec Access, TA Guidance, Duke Compact and Testing
- August 11, 2020: Coronavirus Testing Information and Sign Up (PDF)
- August 8, 2020: COVID-19 Testing for Graduate and Professional Students (PDF)
- August 7, 2020: Follow-up on Duke Compact and Student COVID Policy Plan
- August 5, 2020: Tuition and Fees Changes; Health Insurance Continuation
- August 3, 2020: Campus Access, COVID Plans and Testing, Other Fall Info
- July 31, 2020: Safety Protocols for Visiting Graduate School Offices
- July 27, 2020: Course Registration Information for Graduate School Students
- July 16, 2020: PhD Funding Extensions, Milestones, and Program Climate
- July 11, 2020: Update on ICE Policies Regarding Online Courses for International Students
- July 7, 2020: International Students and Online Courses
- June 22, 2020: Important Updates on Fall Semester
- May 18, 2020: Summer Ph.D. funding opportunities still available (PDF)
- May 15, 2020: Summer opportunities for professional development (PDF)
- May 4, 2020: Update on Summer 2020 Funding Opportunities for Ph.D. Students
- April 12, 2020: FAQs for International Students (PDF)
- April 6, 2020: Supporting master's students during COVID-19 disruptions (PDF)
- April 4, 2020: Provost's message to Ph.D. students about support during COVID-19 disruptions
- March 20, 2020: Check-in and updates (PDF)
- March 20, 2020: Commencement postponement (PDF)
- March 16, 2020: Graduate School shifts to remote operations (PDF)
- March 13, 2020: Guidance on graduate lab research (PDF)
- March 12, 2020: COVID-19 update: Class schedules, dissertation defense logistics (PDF)
- March 11, 2020: Re: Urgent Message from President Price Regarding COVID-19 Plans (PDF)