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OGSR COVID-19 Response

Updated December 17, 2020

This page compiles important information for Graduate Arts & Sciences. The Office of Graduate Studies and Research will update this page as necessary. We are committed to working with you to ensure you are able to continue your graduate study. Please work closely with your advisor(s) and the director of graduate study (DGS) in your program to determine what is and is not feasible given the current circumstances. Please take care of yourselves and each other.   --Virginia Torczon, Dean of Graduate Studies and Research

For the most complete and current information please visit the university's main Path Forward and W&M's Covid-19 Response pages. Here we provide Graduate A&S-specific information and tips only; this page is not intended to be comprehensive.

Stetson House Closed but Staff Available

Spring 2021: Stetson House will not be open but the staff in the OGSR will continue to telecommute. All OGSR staff will be available by email. Vicki Thompson Dopp, Administrative Coordinator, will also be available by phone, 7:30-4:30 on business days. She can be reached at 757-221-1966. Visit our Contact Us page for staff email addresses.

Defenses, Comps, Quals, etc.

The Graduate Arts & Sciences Catalog stipulates that students must be physically present on campus for milestones including defenses, comprehensive exams, and qualifying exams. However, until further notice, we now allow remote participation by students for all colloquia, comprehensive exams, qualifying exams, and dissertation/thesis defenses. We recommend the use of Zoom because of its features and have compiled advice on how to make the most of a remote defense or examination in this tip sheet. Defenses and exams may take place in person if all health and safety protocols are followed.

Forms and Signatures

The OGSR typically requires original signatures on official forms which means signed copies need to be dropped off or mailed to the OGSR in Stetson House. With Stetson House staff working remotely, we will grant an exception to this rule. While Stetson House remains closed, the OGSR will accept forms submitted via a W&M email address ( for faculty and for students) sent to [[dean-gsr]]. There are several methods for signing forms remotely. Here is a tip sheet that describes a number of methods and offers advice on specific OGSR forms.

If you are filing a Notice of Candidacy to Graduate form for the first time, pleases send this directly to [[wdcart,Wanda Carter]]. Otherwise, please submit all forms directly to the OGSR [[dean-gsr,using this email address]]. We urge you to keep copies of all forms for your own records. 


If your research progress has been impacted by the pandemic, we encourage you to work on your dissertations and theses in ways that will allow you to continue to progress, for instance in writing or revising chapters or in conducting analyses. The Graduate Writing Resource Center will be open for online consultations in Spring 2021. Writing consultants can help you with the framing of your key conclusions and provided you useful feedback on how to construct your arguments. During this pause in many types of research activities, consider whether the central arguments of your dissertation or thesis can be reformulated in a way that can still lead to a satisfying outcome while keeping you on track for graduating as you had planned. If so, then discuss this possibility with your advisor(s) and committee members.

Funding for Research & Conference Travel

As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, a variety of restrictions are now in place not only on university-funded travel, but also on procurement, and on the use of university funds generally. We must adhere to these restrictions. Therefore, we have suspended the cycle of OGSR research and conference travel grants, as well as the Dean's Funds (for humanities). Until further notice, we will not be accepting applications for these funds. We recognize and deeply regret that this will make it difficult for many A&S graduate students to conduct research in the field, in archives, and to procure necessary equipment. We will be watching the situation unfold over the next few months and will work hard to make research funding available if and when we are able.

Note that these suspended research grants are separate from the Graduate Summer Research Fellowships that many A&S graduate students receive. Read more on our Financial Matters FAQ page.


Remote and blended instruction can pose new challenges to anyone in a teaching role, including graduate students. TAs should work closely with their instructor of record to determine what their role will be. Both Teaching Assistants and Teaching Fellows (those teaching their own course as instructor of record) should familiarize themselves with the online resources developed by W&M's Studio for Teaching and Learning Innovation (STLI); this site is intended to help you transition to remote instruction. W&M Libraries has also compiled resources to support remote teaching and learning. As always, visit the Graduate Teaching Handbook, created for grads by grads, and take advantage of workshops and other opportunities offered through the Graduate Center.

If you have questions or concerns about your teaching responsibilities, please contact the director of graduate studies in your program or contact [[sgglos,Sarah Glosson]], Director of the A&S Graduate Center.

Support Services Across Campus

Our partners across campus continue to provide you with a variety of support services.

  • W&M Libraries has expanded ebook and subscription database offerings. Research librarians are available for remote appointments. Read more on the W&M Libraries website.
  • The Cohen Career Center is offering remote programming in addition to its usual online resources.  Check out their extensive tips about interviewing, including a link to online platform Big Interview designed to help you prepare. They also offer general tips for graduate students on many career preparation topics. A&S graduate students are welcome to reach out directly to [[dlsnyder,Don Snyder]] (Sciences) and [[tmnations,Tonya Nations]] (humanities) for career advising.
  • The Wellness Center is offering remote programming. Take a yoga class, do guided meditation, art therapy, and more. Also download the Wellness Center's new mobile app.
  • The Reves Center has compiled resources and information for international students.
  • The Campus Food Pantry continues to provide free and anonymous access to grocery and hygiene items.
Graduate A&S Newsletter

We will continue to update you on changes, important information, and upcoming deadlines through the Graduate Newsletter that is sent out on Monday mornings.