Updated Message to Graduate Students

Sent April 2, 2020

Dear Graduate Community,
The Coronavirus pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges for the Texas A&M community. In addition to updates to the University’s Coronavirus Information page, you have received communications from President Young and Provost Fierke over the last week or so about how we’re attempting to help students confront those challenges.
I wanted to reach out to you to clarify some details and explain how the S/U grading option will work for graduate students, as well as provide guidance on remote work for graduate assistants and share information on summer practicums, internships, clinicals, and courses.
S/U Grading

  • As the Provost’s message indicates, you may elect to change from A-F grading to S/U grading for courses eligible for graduate credit and applicable to credit requirements for your degree, including undergraduate courses taken for credit toward your degree. This is a spring 2020-only exception to item 10.14.1 of the Texas A&M Student Rules.
  • In graduate courses, per Student Rule 10.14.2, an “S” grade represents an A or B; a grade of “U” will be given for grades of C and below.
  • S/U grades will not affect your GPA; you will simply receive credit hours for an S, but no credit hours for a U.
  • Grades of D, F, or U for courses on the degree plan must be absolved by repeating the courses and achieving grades of C or above (for grades of D or F), or S (for grades of U). For this semester only, a grade of S will absolve a D or F from a previous semester, but will count only for credit hours towards the degree, not in GPA calculations.
  • The option to change the grade mode may not apply to all courses (i.e. courses already set to S/U grading, professional program courses, etc).
  • To elect S/U grading, log into Howdy and follow these steps: My Record Tab > My Schedule > Change Class Options. Select “Change Grade Type for Spring 2020.” A-F grading is the default.
  • The deadline for making changes to your grading options is 5pm on Tuesday, April 28.
  • Before choosing the S/U option, please consult with your instructors, supervisors, advisors, departments, and/or financial aid so that you understand the full implications of that choice. For instance, a C in some graduate courses may earn you credit toward degree plan completion, but lower your GPA below minimum requirements. Think carefully, use tools like a GPA Calculator, and ask for help about when deciding whether the S/U option would be advantageous for you.
  • As a strategy, it may be best for you to wait as long as possible before the April 28 deadline to decide. Consult with your instructors so that you have a good idea of where you stand before making your final choice.
  • A process is in place to allow graduate students receiving a grade of U who would have received a passing grade with A-F grading (a C for graduate courses) to request a change back to letter grade mode so that the course may apply to their degree program. Contact your dean’s office for details.

Remote Work for Graduate Assistants

Graduate assistants were expected to return to work on Monday, March 16, and continue to perform their duties, whether in-person or remotely. We are seeking to avoid work disruptions and maintain continuous employment for graduate assistants as best we can.
Advisors/supervisors should determine graduate assistantship responsibilities. As outlined on the TAMU Division of Research Website, some scientific research and laboratory operations may be approved as essential by Texas A&M University, the A&M System, and by local authorities. Students should not be required to carry out research on campus, unless that student is designated and approved as essential personnel via a process required by the university. Even then, essential research or lab work performed on campus must follow social distancing guidelines and be limited to necessary time.
No one in a high-risk category should come to campus. If students have reservations or concerns about work assignments, or especially if you feel you are being asked to perform work that compromises your safety, please email ombuds@tamu.edu.
Summer Internships, Practicums, Clinicals, Courses
At this time, Summer I and 10-week courses will be conducted online-only. No decision has been made on Summer II. Instructors may request exceptions to hold small classes face-to-face, provided social distancing guidelines can be followed. 

If you are planning to participate in an internship, practicum, or clinical this summer, we are currently processing requests to add these to degree plans as normal. Obviously, there is uncertainty about whether or not internships, practicums, and clinicals will be feasible. Much will depend on what happens over the next month or so. Employers’ operations and travel may still be limited. The University will respond to this uncertainty by being flexible and addressing requirements and concerns on a case-by-case basis.    

Let Us Know How We Can Help
You are attempting to keep learning, working, and progressing toward your degree during a period of unprecedented challenge. In addition to adjusting to online instruction and limitations to your ability to collaborate and conduct research, many of you have experienced the distressing disruptions of job loss, abbreviated travel, self-isolating and quarantining, and even illness.  We hope that the steps we’re taking will alleviate some of the stress you might be feeling at this time. We want to keep you safe while helping you procede toward your degree without delay, and continue your employment.

We have attempted to provide useful information on the OGAPS Coronavirus info page or Coronavirus FAQs. Monitor these and University’s Coronavirus Info page. You may also contact our office with Coronavirus-related questions at ogaps-info@tamu.edu.

Dr. Karen L. Butler-Purry
Associate Provost for Graduate and Professional Studies
Texas A&M University Office of Graduate and Professional Studies

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