Graduate Education and COVID-related Disruption
Date: April 20, 2020
To: Doctoral Students at NYU
From: Provost Katherine Fleming and Deputy Provost Cybele Raver
We hope that you are well and safe, that this is also true for your families and loved ones, and that you are getting by as best you can in this time of strain and worry, isolation and restriction.
We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has unique implications for you – that many of you are experiencing disruption of your scholarly work, the accompanying anxiety about future plans, and distress about your financial security. For those students experiencing immediate financial hardship, please know that you are eligible to apply for emergency financial assistance through the Office of Financial Aid. For those students who are experiencing debilitating physical or mental health problems, please know that the Student Health Center and the Wellness Exchange are still available to you, and it is still possible for you to be approved for medical leaves of absence.
Flexibility for Those Working on Dissertations: COVID-19 has been difficult for all graduate students, but it has arguably posed the most significant setback to doctoral students in research-oriented programs carrying out dissertation research. The Office of the Provost is working with your deans and program directors to support students’ completion of work on extended timelines. Ultimately, the decision to extend deadlines rightly resides with schools and departments; however, the Provost’s office has encouraged doctoral programs to extend the timeline for students to complete dissertations where appropriate.
Support for Existing Graduate Students and Reduced Admission of New Doctoral Students: In order to support existing doctoral students’ financial needs, the Provost’s office is directing schools to admit fewer candidates for this year’s incoming doctoral cohort (due to join NYU for the 2020-2021 academic year). The Provost expects all doctoral programs to meet this objective by honoring those offers of admission that have already been made but sending rejection letters to those candidates on all doctoral programs’ waitlists. A number of deans have led the way on this front, and have already implemented this strategy within their units. We recognize this represents disappointing news to many candidates and to the faculty who had hoped to work with them. We made this tough decision in accordance with the same principle we followed with faculty hiring – namely, to hold off on growth of NYU’s community in the short term in order to be best positioned to try to alleviate the hardships faced by those students who are already here at NYU.
Developing Additional Stipend Support: We recognize that COVID-19-related delays to completing doctoral research represent significant financial hardship and uncertainty for graduate students. We want you to know that we are working with schools to identify graduate employment opportunities in teaching and research, as well as to develop additional funding mechanisms to complete dissertation-related research. Those funding mechanisms involve complex budget modeling across NYU; we are working with program directors, deans, and financial officers on those models and will send out an update on funding options as soon as we can.
You are part of an exceptional cohort among those who lead lives devoted to higher inquiry and education. We appreciate the resilience and perseverance you have brought to your scholarship and to NYU in this difficult time. We remain focused on supporting you as you strive to achieve your goals and above all else, we hope you are healthy and safe.