PNW Graduate Studies COVID-19 Guide

Below is a list of frequently asked questions, resources, and policy updates created for graduate students and faculty.  University-wide updates and information can be found on the PNW and Coronavirus (COVID-19) page.

In these unprecedented times, updates occur frequently.  Please continue to stay aware of new developments by checking these pages regularly and keeping in touch with your advisor.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Graduate Studies Office is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Wearing a face covering is mandatory while in Lawshe Hall. Please continue to practice social distancing.

You can call the Graduate Studies Office at (219) 989-2258 or email our staff at  During the fall 2020 semester, some staff members will be available in-person during normal business hours while others will be working remotely.


Contact your Academic Advisor or the Graduate Chair of your department.

All currently enrolled graduate students who began in Spring 2020, Summer 2020, or newly admitted graduate students who will begin in Fall 2020 and have a Graduate School hold due to non-receipt of documents (transcripts, diplomas, English translations, etc.) listed as a condition of continued enrollment in their admission letter, have until March 1, 2021, to get these documents to the Graduate School. (This temporary policy modification is not applicable to students who must show degree completion of a degree in order to demonstrate English proficiency or have GPA requirements to meet). This extension recognizes the potential difficulty of acquiring these documents from previous institutions and the need to limit person-to-person contact during the pandemic. However, you may send these documents through campus mail to the Graduate Studies Office, 242 Lawshe Hall, when you arrive. In addition, you may send these via postal mail to Purdue University Northwest, Graduate Studies Office, 242 Lawshe Hall, Hammond, IN 46323. This extension will allow this group of graduate students to register for Summer and Fall 2020, and Spring 2021 without submitting these documents.

No, the Graduate School is relaxing this policy. If you are ready to take your final examination in the semester after, or two semesters after, you take your preliminary examination, you may do so. In these situations, your department should notify, via supplemental note on the final exam request, the Graduate School’s Office of Graduate Records that you are ready to take your final examination and confirm that your examination has been impacted by COVID-19-related interruptions. No additional review or approval is needed. This option is available for students who take preliminary examinations during Summer 2020 or Fall 2020. The Graduate School expects to see enrollment in research registration each session between the time of the preliminary examination and final examination. Beyond this special COVID-19 consideration, we are always open, on a case-by-case basis, for requests from major professors (endorsed by your director of graduate studies or chair of your departmental graduate committee) to consider an exception to the normal policy.

The Graduate School has relaxed this policy during Summer 2020 and Fall 2020 due to the COVID-19 emergency. We will not limit the number of members, including the student, that can participate via electronic media.

While the Graduate School permitted graduate students to take courses P/NP and use them toward graduate degrees during Spring 2020, this has not been extended to Summer 2020 and Fall 2020. Longstanding Graduate School policies regarding use of P/NP courses on plans of study and toward graduation will be in effect for courses taken in Summer 2020 and beyond. Likewise, deadlines for adding, dropping, and modifying courses, established by the Office of the Registrar, will be observed for Summer 2020 and beyond. If you are not going to use the course on a plan of study and it is not needed for graduation, the P/NP is acceptable

Please check with the chair of your departmental graduate program, major professor or department head for department specific requirements.

Yes, it will be possible assuming social distancing rules can be followed and everyone wears a mask. It is possible to do these virtually, and many students met virtually this past semester. It is up to you and the individuals that serve on your committee on how you would like to proceed. You might have individuals that have medical conditions that preclude them from coming to campus, and they might need to be virtual.

  • Allowances for second deferments, case-by-case review
  • Allowances for three semesters of eligibility to register to be extended (due to lack of enrollment) – case by case review
  • Most admission-related documents for students who began Spring 2020, Summer 2020, or will begin in Fall 2020 are not required for submission until March 1, 2021.
  • Ability to take final examination in semester following preliminary examination or two semesters after preliminary examination, by noting COVID-19 impact on exam request form (for those taking preliminary examinations in summer or fall 2020).
  • Through Fall 2020, all preliminary and final examinations may be held using electronic media.

Yes, many departments are offering courses that will be held on campus and virtually.  Please check with your department. Some courses will be offered in a hybrid format, meaning that there will be a combination of face-to-face and online work. Due to Homeland Security restrictions, at this time, three credits is the maximum – taken online – for residential international students this fall. Check with your department to see what they will have available for the fully online options.

Decide if online enrollment is a potential solution, in consultation with your graduate contact and major professor. The deadline to opt into the Fully Online Fall 2020 option is July 15. If you are enrolled this summer, you have the ability – without re-applying to return in Fall 2020, Spring 2021, or Summer 2021. And, we can – on a case-by-case basis – extend beyond that for COVID-19 related reasons. In any case, be sure to communicate your plans to your department. In addition, think about other commitments that you may have, like a contract for housing, which may help inform your decision.  Also, if relevant, have a discussion your advisor about your research progress and if it is possible to pause, or would you need to shift your research plans if you took a break.

Newly admitted international graduate students admitted for Fall 2020 may ask to defer their admission to Spring 2021, Summer 2021, or Fall 2021 for any reason. To defer to a later semester requires that a new application to be submitted. Admitted international graduate students who wish to defer their admission to a later semester must request that, in writing, to their departments. If approved by the department, the student’s request must be forwarded to the Office of Graduate Admissions so that the deferral may be processed and a new I-20 may be issued. Admitted international graduate students who know that they need to defer their graduate study may submit that anytime through November 15 (earlier is encouraged) in order to start in Spring 2021.

Newly admitted domestic graduate students admitted for Fall 2020 have the ability (without asking for a deferral) to register for Fall 2020, Spring 2021, or Summer 2021. If they need to start their programs in Fall 2021, they must ask for a deferral by requesting a change to that date in writing to their department. If approved, their department must forward the request to the Office of Graduate Admissions so that the deferral may be processed.

COVID-19 Policy Adjustment: For both of these above cases, the Graduate School will consider a second deferral — if the department requests on your behalf— on a case-by-case basis for admitted students who are unable to matriculate to the Purdue University Graduate School due to COVID-19-related reasons.

Currently enrolled students needing to defer registrations: If a current graduate student wishes to take a break from their program, they have three sessions of eligibility to register before they would have to re-apply for readmission into a program. Summer counts as a session. Students who do not register in their graduate program for three consecutive sessions will be asked to re-apply to continue study.

COVID-19 Policy Adjustment: The Graduate School will consider an extension beyond three semesters — if the department requests on your behalf— on a case-by-case, basis for US citizens, permanent residents, and international students. International students must work with the International Students and Scholars office to regain status when they are able to resume their graduate programs.

Yes, you will receive a new letter reflecting your deferment. That should arrive later this summer.

If you are a graduate student and you test positive for COVID-19, please contact Sue Miller in Human Resources at (219) 989-2254 (  Students are not required to inform instructors or classmates directly.  The Office of the Dean of Students will make appropriate arrangements with instructors for students to make up class work.