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Graduate Student Finals

Dear Graduate Student Community:

On Sunday night, we sent an email to undergraduate students informing them that we had asked their instructors to make all undergraduate final examinations and assessments optional. Since then, we have heard from many of you, asking for a similar message to graduate students. 

This is a challenging time. We know many of you are anxious about the impact of COVID-19 on the educational environment, as well as on your personal situations. We read the online petition some of you have signed, and we understand that some of you are angry. 

We appreciate the opportunity to provide more clarity about our decision not to include graduate students in our guidance to make Winter Quarter final course assessments optional. Graduate education is complex, and there are myriad differences among degree programs and degree requirements, which are not easily covered by a blanket policy. 

For example, some programs result in the licensure of graduates and thus have responsibilities to national accrediting agencies specific to the discipline. These agencies have requirements that must be met to ensure that students are able to earn their degrees and meet their career goals. Further, the form and timing of final assessments across our graduate programs vary significantly, and after careful consultation with leaders in all of the schools, we determined that instructors and degree programs have the greatest expertise to make good decisions for the benefit of our graduate students and their academic progress.

Please note that we have not said that graduate students must take final exams in person. University policy is unequivocal in stating that students -- including graduate students -- are not required to attend in-person Winter Quarter exams. Faculty should make arrangements for graduate students to complete remote assignments or assign grades based on work already completed. Graduate students in degree programs administered by The Graduate School should not receive an “incomplete” in a course if they complete the remaining work by the end of Spring Break. Graduate students in other schools will follow policies specific to their schools.

Our faculty colleagues across the University work in partnership with us and other institutional leaders to ensure the academic integrity of degrees. We have seen considerable evidence, even today, that they are doing so, while working with compassion and care to ensure the health of our entire community. In this difficult moment that we are navigating together, we likewise ask for your partnership in these endeavors. 

Sincerely yours,


Jonathan Holloway
Provost and Professor

Kathleen Hagerty
Interim Provost Designate