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This resource is intended to help keep PhD students informed during the COVID-19 crisis. Below you will find answers to Frequently Asked Questions that are relevant to Business School PhD students. We will also post key communications that were sent by University Administrators, the PhD/MS office, or the Business School’s Leadership.
If you have questions, please direct them to Elizabeth Elam (firstname.lastname@example.org)
University COVID-19 Updates
Table of Contents
What do I need to do to attend classes virtually? (last updated: 3/17/20)
By now you have received several messages about how to setup zoom for online classes. Please make sure that you can access that account before classes start. As a reminder, you will have your own Zoom account with CBS. If you do not have Zoom already installed on your laptop, you can download the client from https://zoom.us/download. Within 4 hours of registering, you will receive an email directly from Zoom with instructions for login. Your username will be your GSB email address (please do not use Google or Facebook).
What is the attendance policy? Does it apply if I am in a vastly different time zone? (last updated: 3/23/20)
For PhD classes, the attendance policy continues to be at the discretion of the faculty member. Following the MBA directive, we encourage synchronous attendance. The exception to this policy are students in time zones where class falls outside the 6am to 10:30pm local time window. If your class falls outside this window, you may attend class asynchronously by watching the recording on Echo360. Students who need to attend asynchronously due to their time zone should contact their professor and cc Elizabeth Elam and specify their location.
What is the add/drop policy? (last updated: 3/23/20)
So that you can make changes to your schedule before classes begin, we have expanded add drop to start on Monday, March 23 at 8:00 am EST ending on Friday, March 27 at 4:00 pm EST. Please be sure to pay close attention to the add/drop deadlines for B-term. Add/Drop runs in real-time, so please plan accordingly – seats in classes can become available throughout the entire add/drop round, therefore it’s important to monitor email and keep an eye on your email during this time. As is the case with in-person classes, you will be able to attend the first session of classes that you hope to be enrolled in during the add/drop period via Zoom. Links will be made available on the Announcement section of BOSS during add/drop so you have the opportunity to “shop” for classes. Once add/drop is over, only registered students may continue to attend classes. All currently enrolled students will be able to access their course Zoom links via Canvas.
What is the grading policy? (last updated: 3/23/20)
All University classes will be graded pass/fail for this semester to recognize the complications that remote instruction in a now global classroom presents. For further clarification and as it relates to CBS, all A-term courses will be graded as is with letter grades that impact your GPA. All B-term and full-term courses will be graded pass/fail. We will also work to address any issue to which this may give rise.
Anything to keep in mind as I am registering for BOSS courses? (last updated: 3/23/20)
When adding classes to your schedule, please make sure to note any required pre-or co-requisites. BOSS will allow you to add courses to your schedule for which you do not have the appropriate pre- or co-requisite, but MBA OSA will remove you from these courses at the end of add/drop if you do not fulfill requirements. It is your responsibility to ensure that you meet the requirements of the class. Course conflicts cannot remain on your schedule following the end of add/drop. If you have an MBA conflicting class on your schedule after add/drop ends, MBA OSA will resolve the conflict by removing you from the MBA class.
Resources and Software
I need software that enables online conferencing. What can I use? (last updated: 3/24/20)
If you are looking for ways to communicate and collaborate remotely through video conferencing, Skype for Business and Google Hangouts should be sufficient. You already have an account for these via the School/University, and they do not impose meeting time limits. They also have very generous participant limits (usually more than 200). Alternatively you can download Zoom Basic which lets you participate in online conferences as well as host online conferences that are less than 40 minutes in length. If for some reason these won’t meet your needs, you can borrow a license from your Department Administrator, borrow a license from the MS/PhD office, or Elizabeth Elam can set the call up for you. If you would like to pursue the latter two options, please contact Elizabeth.
The screen of my laptop is very small. Will the PhD Office buy me a screen? (last updated: 3/24/20)
The PhD Office will purchase external monitors for any PhD student who requires one to continue their research from remotely. Elizabeth Elam emailed the group of you explaining that she would purchase and ship monitors too students who need them to be productive. If you missed this message and need a monitor, please contact Elizabeth Elam (email@example.com).
We will be updating this page as policy changes are made. Note that there will likely be a brief delay before we can post updates. Your first stop for all housing-related questions should be their website: https://preparedness.columbia.edu/node/241
I live in a Columbia Residence. Can I stay in my apartment during the crisis or do I have to leave? (last updated: 03/17/20)
Students in Columbia Residential are not required to leave housing. That said, having more space and fewer residents would make it is easier for the University to properly care for the people who need to stay because they cannot return to their home country, etc. For that reason, any student who voluntarily cancels their housing contract can do so without incurring the usual cancellation fee, and rent will be prorated based on their move-out date. For details and updates on the housing policy, please see here.
If I decide to leave Columbia housing completely, what do I need to do to officially move out? (last updated: 03/15/20).
All the information you need to prepare for your move can be found on Columbia Residential’s website: see here.
If I move out of housing during the crisis will I lose my place in line? (last updated: 03/23/20)
Columbia Residential is tracking the names of those who move out, and will prioritize them over new applicants when next year’s housing allocation decisions are made. If you decide to move out, you will need to re-apply to receive housing next year. You’ll want to do that ASAP as the housing office is currently planning on starting to approve applications in April.
I want to move out of housing, but I can’t make it back to NYC to complete my move. What will happen to my unit and my belongings? (last updated: 03/15/20)
You will continue to be responsible for rent until you officially move out and return keys, and will be subject to the cancellation policy if you move out May 31 or later. If you want to store your belongings in your current housing and continue to pay rent past the end of your current housing agreement end-date, renew your rental agreement if you are eligible for renewal. If you want to move out completely but you won’t be in NYC, you can arrange for a friend to move your belongings via proxy and return your keys using the Express Move-out Box. Send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org to pursue this option.
Visa and ISSO Questions
We will be updating this page as policy changes are made. Note that there will likely be a brief delay before that can take place. Your first stop for all visa- and ISSO-related questions should be their website: https://isso.columbia.edu/content/covid-19-hub
How do I obtain a travel signature from ISSO if the office is virtual? (last updated: 03/20/20)
ISSO has posted more information about who actually needs a signature and how to obtain one while they office is operating virtually. See here for more information
What happens if PhD students leave the country? Can they be reassured that the F1 status is not compromised? (last updated: 03/23/20)
We cannot guarantee that the F1 status won’t be affected if you choose to leave the country. Your ability to re-enter the US, and your CPT, may be impacted. Please reach out to ISSO about any question or concern regarding travel outside the US
Health and Mental Health Questions
Whom do I contact if I or a friend feel overwhelmed and stressed during these times? (last updated: 3/24)
We understand that with all of the challenges facing students, some may feel overwhelmed or anxious. Counseling and Psychological Services continues to offer individual virtual appointments and virtual support spaces across a variety of topics. We encourage you to use the services offered through CPS to help you maintain your balance as you adjust to all of the changes to your normal routine related to COVID. See here for information on how to make an appointment.
GSAS Milestones and Graduation
The University requires dissertation committee members to participate in person. How do I handle that? (last updated: 3/24)
GSAS is suspending the requirements relating to in-person participation in dissertation defenses until further notice. For the time being, any and all participants may participate remotely. If you need help setting up a Zoom conference, please contact Elizabeth Elam.
What are the dissertation deposit deadlines? (last updated: 3/24/20)
If you would like your name to appear in the Convocation booklet, you must deposit your dissertation by 4pm ET on Friday, April 17th. The absolute last date to complete deposit of a dissertation for a May 2020 conferral is 4pm on Friday, April 24th. Note that if you miss the 17th deadline but make the 24th one your name will appear in the addendum of the Convocation booklet.
Do we still need to take qualifying exams or give required presentations? (last updated: 3/24/20)
This is a question best handled by your Division’s PhD Coordinator. We will reach out to them and suggest they communicate with you about this matter.
Will we have commencement this year? (last updated: 3/24/20)
Unfortunately, they had to cancel commencement this year. Please see Bollinger’s 3/20 message for additional information. GSAS is working on a virtual ceremony for PhD students.
Resources for PhD Students with Children
How can I keep my children entertained while I work from home?
Columbia’s Work-Life Office has compiled a list of online, educational resources that might help you keep your children engaged and entertained during the Covid19 crisis. See here
Socializing with Community Members during the Outbreak
I think I need to socialize with my peers. Are there any mechanisms for doing so? (last updated: 3/25/20)
This is something that we will ask the PhD Council to look into. We will send an email and update this page as soon as we have information to share; In the mean time, we encourage you to check the University Life page for information about how to connect with other students at the University during the crisis.
Important Email Announcements
March 25th, 2020: University Life Forum: Update on COVID-19 for the Columbia Community.
March 23rd, 2020: Dissertation Policy During the Crisis from Elizabeth Elam
March 20th, 2020: Message from Dean Maglaras regarding B-term courses