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Preparing for the year ahead

graphic of the VPGE Shield
Jul 22 2020
Announcement, COVID-19, Stanford, Students, VPGE

Dear Graduate Students, 

We hope your summer is going well so far. We know you’re eager to hear about plans for the next academic year and hope this message answers many of your questions. We’ll communicate as more information becomes available, and are creating a new website where you can find updates. Please be sure to read messages from your school, department, or program which may better address your individual situation.

Academic Calendar & Instructional Plans

The university is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in a number of key ways to ensure the health and safety of people on campus and in the surrounding community, while providing the best possible educational experience for our students. A modified 2020-21 academic calendar was approved by the Faculty Senate on July 2. Some graduate and professional degree programs follow a different academic calendar so please be sure to read email from your school, department, or program.

  • For most students, autumn quarter will begin September 14, one week earlier than usual, and end on November 20, with no finals week. Future quarters will also be on a modified calendar, and the course meeting pattern has been changed.
  • Some programs within the Graduate School of Business (MBA, MSX), Graduate School of Education (STEP), School of Medicine (MD, MSPA), and Stanford Law School follow a different academic calendar.
  • Most courses will be offered online, with limited in-person classes due to safety and social distancing requirements. The course schedule and mode of instruction for most departments or programs will be posted in mid-August. Enrollment will open September 1 for most students.
  • The university’s Faculty Senate will make a decision about the course grading basis soon; some programs within the Graduate School of Business, School of Medicine, and Stanford Law School will determine the grading basis for their courses.
  • Questions about leaves of absence or, for new students, deferral of the start of your studies, should be directed to your department or program.

Arriving on Campus: Health & Safety

In order to keep all members of the Stanford and surrounding community safe and healthy, the university is closely following public health guidelines, which are updated frequently in response to the pandemic. Current university health and safety guidelines about arriving on campus can be found on Health Alerts.

  • If you feel sick or think you have been exposed to the coronavirus, please stay home. Follow these directions about assessing and reporting your symptoms. Contact Vaden Health Center for information about care and testing.
  • If you are arriving on campus from outside of Northern California, whether you are moving into housing or entering a research or academic space, you must self-quarantine in your residence on or off campus for 14-days. A testing process that may reduce the self-quarantine time is under development.
  • If you are already in Northern California (see map) and are coming to a campus library or other academic or research facility, you must complete the online COVID-19 Hygiene Best Practices training and conduct a daily Health Check before coming to campus. (Read more about returning to research on campus on Cardinal Recovery.)
  • All students who will be coming onto the Stanford campus, starting in autumn, will be required to sign a compact confirming that they will abide by the health and safety standards of the university. More information on this campus compact will be available soon. 

Immigration & Visa Issues

We know many of you are deeply affected by the multiple immigration announcements from the federal government and uncertainties about obtaining visas and traveling to the US due  to the pandemic. The Bechtel International Center is providing Town HallsFrequently Asked Questions (FAQs), and individual appointments with students to resolve issues as soon as possible. You can also find the latest university communications on the Immigration Issues and Resources webpage.

Campus Housing

Residential & Dining Enterprises has posted extensive FAQs about the Graduate Housing lottery and campus housing contracts. They are also working on details about the move-in timing and process to ensure everyone’s safety (see section above about Arriving on Campus). Please be patient as they carefully prepare for thousands of students to move out of and into campus housing. You can send your questions, including those you may have about your contract, directly to Housing via Service Now.

Stanford Graduate Summer Institute (SGSI)

Those of you starting classes on September 14 may want to participate in the week-long, immersive SGSI which runs August 31- September 4. SGSI courses are free, not for credit, and will be completely virtual this year. Applications are welcome now for those courses that remain open. 

Looking ahead

Together, we are facing many difficult challenges and uncertainties in the year ahead. Please know that we are working closely with university leaders and faculty and staff in your schools, departments, and programs to provide the best educational experience we can. We are also looking forward to turning our attention to new ideas and initiatives in partnership with you, so we can better support your dreams and aspirations.

We welcome your comments and questions here, as they help us communicate better with all students.

With best wishes for a healthy summer,
Stacey F. Bent
Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs

Susie Brubaker-Cole
Vice Provost for Student Affairs