Last Revised: July 3, 2020
OGAPS is working to communicate accurate and timely information as it evolves. Below are frequently asked questions and answers that may help to provide context or details not included on our Coronavirus Information Page.
Options for May Graduates
I graduated in May (or will in August) and I’m concerned about the current job market. Can I just stay in school for an additional semester?
Employment opportunities will vary depending on your field. According to the Texas A&M Career Center, many fields are hiring as normal. The Career Center has a page devoted to graduate-specific resources.
You need a degree-related reason to continue in your current degree program. If you have met degree requirements or—for research degrees—cleared your thesis, dissertation, or record of study, there is no policy in place that would enable you to delay graduation.
Master’s or doctoral students who have been asked to make corrections to thesis or dissertation submission could submit final corrections after deadlines for graduation. Master’s students in non-thesis programs who have not completed all requirements could seek approval from their program to add summer or fall courses to their degree plan.
There are implications on meeting “satisfactory academic progress,” excessive hours, financial aid, and registration. There are additional implications for international students. Consult your graduate advisor and, for international students, ISS to make sure you understand these implications.
If I’m a graduate student, is it too late to apply to other graduate programs?
No. In fact, we are encouraging students completing graduate degrees who have an interest in pursuing other graduate programs (stand-alone certificates, master’s, or doctoral) to do so, and we have simplified the process through the Quick Admit Program. No application is required. Contact your desired program to ensure you meet qualifications. Then, simply complete and send the “Letter of Intent” form to the admitting department’s head/intercollegiate faculty chair, delegated departmental staff, or authorized signer for approval. The signer will submit the completed and signed form to OGAPS from their official TAMU email address. Once processed through OGAPS, you are eligible to register for courses.
Health and Wellness
How do I know if I need to Self-Monitor or Self-Isolate? What’s the difference?
According to the CDC, you should self-monitor if you have traveled to or through an area with widespread, ongoing COVID-19 cases; you should self-isolate if you show symptoms or know you have been exposed to someone who is sick or has tested positive.
Self-monitoring involves staying home for 14 days, practicing social distancing—if you live with others, and taking the following steps:
- Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever. Also watch for cough or trouble breathing.
- Stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school for this 14-day period. Discuss your work situation with your employer before returning to work.
- Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares during the time you are practicing social distancing.
- Avoid crowded places (such as shopping centers and movie theaters) and limit your activities in public.
- Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).
To download the CDC Check and Report Every Day (CARE) Booklet which helps you understand how to self-monitor your health and how to check your symptoms daily visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/COVID-19_CAREKit_ENG.pdf.
You should self-isolate if you show symptoms or know you have been exposed to someone who is sick or has tested positive, by following these guidelines:
- Report any symptoms of COVID-19 immediately to your medical provider – preferably by calling to get advice and instructions. TAMU students may contact Student Health Services at (979) 458-8310. For after-hours contact/inquiries, call the Dial-a-Nurse program at (979) 458-8379.
- Stay in your room or apartment. Do not go to work, classes, athletic events, or other social or religious gatherings until 14 days after your return to the United States from the country in question.
- Limit contact as much as possible. This also means limiting close contact with others including persons living in your residence.
- Wash your hands with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand rubs after coughing or sneezing or throwing a used tissue in the garbage.
- Avoid sharing household items. Do not share drinking glasses, towels, eating utensils, bedding, or any other items until you are no longer asked to self-isolate.
- Keep your surroundings clean. While the virus is not spread very well from contact with soiled household surfaces, try to clean surfaces that you share with others, such as door knobs, telephones, and bathroom surfaces (or any other object that you sneeze or cough on), with a standard household disinfectant wipe. Wash your hands after cleaning the area.
- Monitor yourself for symptoms at least daily including measuring your temperature. Any symptoms of COVID-19 should be reported to your physician. To download the CDC Check and Report Every Day (CARE) Booklet which helps you understand how to self-monitor your health and how to check your symptoms daily visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/COVID-19_CAREKit_ENG.pdf.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with your upper sleeve or a tissue. Never cough in the direction of someone else.
- Only discontinue home isolation if you meet the “recovered” criteria provided by the CDC.
What if I live in campus housing or in an apartment near campus and have roommates/housemates?
You have a heightened sense of responsibility to adhere to guidance if you have roommates. Whether a student is only showing symptoms or a student has tested positive for the COVID-19, the student should contact Student Health Services for further guidance and support. SHS can be the student's primary medical provider or can answer questions and provide information. Any student who has tested positive or been exposed to COVID-19 should follow the self-isolation guidelines above. SHS can provide a surgical/procedure mask to a student who is showing symptoms. Roommates should let SHS know for guidance or so that accommodations can be made. Each case will be different and may require a different response, but SHS here to help and support students. Emergency aid is available through Student Financial Aid, which may be used to secure alternate housing while the sick roommate self-isolates.
Document/Form Submission and Review
If I’ve submitted a thesis or dissertation, is review being conducted as usual?
Yes. We are processing submissions just as we would under normal operations. As there would be with any aspect of shifting from in-person to remote work and changing the way we process documents, we may experience difficulties. Please be patient as we make this transition. Our goal is to avoid holding anyone up. If you think it is taking longer to process documents, contact us.
How can I submit written approval forms?
We have implemented some document processing changes to reduce the need for person-to-person interaction for signatures and submission of documents. Visit our new forms page, which includes detailed instructions on these new procedures.
Are you extending deadlines in Summer 2020 for students who may have been delayed?
We are extending three key summer deadlines for master’s thesis and doctoral students. The new effective dates are as follows:
- Friday, June 5: Last day to submit “Request and Announcement of the Final Examination” [formerly May 29]
- Monday, June 22: Last day to take final exam (defend thesis) [formerly June 12]
- Monday, June 29: Last day to submit a signed approval form and a PDF file of the thesis in final form by 5:00 p.m. [formerly June 19]
Accordingly, the thesis and dissertation submission portal will now open for Fall degree candidates Wednesday, July 29 [formerly July 22] in order to ensure adequate time to clear summer degree candidates for graduation.
I am planning on participating in practicum or professional internship for summer 2020. Will I still be able to participate? Should I still submit a petition to add this course to my degree plan?
If you are planning to participate in an internship, practicum, or clinical this summer, we are currently processing requests to add these to degree plans as normal. Obviously, there is uncertainty about whether or not internships, practicums, and clinicals will be feasible. Much will depend on what happens over the next month or so. Employers’ operations and travel may still be limited. The University will respond to this uncertainty by being flexible and addressing requirements and concerns on a case-by-case basis.
There’s a hold on my account pending approval for a petition to alter my degree plan. Will I be able to register for fall classes?
Degree plan holds are initiated by your College. They will be lifted once a student’s degree plan is approved by their committee and department and arrives in OGS status in DPSS. If a student is unable to file a degree plan due to extenuating circumstances, the Dean of the College can also approve a degree plan or lift a hold on a case-by-case basis.
How can I get approval for my CPT or OPT petition?
Petitions and degree plans are processed in the order they are received. Please submit your petition to add CPT or OPT to your degree plan as early as possible.
Will I be affected by President Trump's “Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Nonimmigrants of Certain Students and Researchers from the People’s Republic of China”?
The proclamation suspends entry or issuance of F or J visas for graduate students or researchers who are:
- Outside the United States and
- Currently, “employed by, studies at, or conducts research at or on behalf of…an entity in the PRC that implements or supports the PRC’s “military-civil fusion strategy””
- Previously, have “been employed by, studied at, or conducted research at or on behalf of, an entity in the PRC that implements or supports the PRC’s “military-civil fusion strategy””
- Inside the United States,
- “The Secretary of State shall consider, in the Secretary’s discretion, whether nationals of the PRC currently in the United States pursuant to F or J visas and who otherwise meet the criteria described in section 1 of this proclamation should have their visas revoked pursuant to section 221(i) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1201(i)”
- You are not affected if you are a graduate student or researcher who does not meet the mentioned criteria.
- Texas A&M's International Student Services will keep the international student community updated with the latest information.
I have been offered a GAT position and have not met English language proficiency certification requirements due to restrictions on travel or testing center closings in response to the pandemic. Also, I am not able to schedule the English Language Proficiency Exam (ELPE) offered through the Texas A&M University Testing Center. What can I do?
On rare occasions, a department may need to hire an international graduate student as a Graduate Assistant – Teaching (GAT) who has not achieved English Language Proficiency Certification based on standardized test scores, ELPE or Alternative Certification. In such cases, a department may request a one-time, one-semester emergency deferral - “Emergency Deferral of Certification.”
A deferral, if granted, would enable the international graduate student to begin the semester as a GAT under the agreement that the student will participate in a CTE-ELP program and meet the ELP certification requirements during the semester.
If you are in this situation, then you may ask your department to submit an Emergency Deferral of Certification request on your behalf.
Can I work as a graduate assistant or student employee in Fall 2020 if I will be taking courses and initiating research remotely from outside the United States?
No. Due to legal concerns, Texas A&M has concluded that significant barriers exist to employ new or continuing international and domestic graduate students who cannot physically be present in the United States. As such, Texas A&M will not allow this employment arrangement until we receive further guidance from counsel. This restriction applies to any graduate student employment position including Graduate Assistant Teaching (GAT), Research (GAR), Non-Teaching (GANT), and Lecturer (GAL). This restriction does not apply to graduate students currently employed and residing in another country on a temporary basis, and for the purpose of conducting research specific to that location.