COVID-19: Information for Doctoral Students | Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis
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COVID-19: Information for Doctoral Students

We have anticipated as much as possible the various scenarios specific to our doctoral programs. Right now, our first priority is working with faculty and administration to assure that decisions made regarding  COVID-19 do not disrupt your educational progress. Equally important, we want to be supportive during this time. We will share resources and communications as new developments arise.

What will happen to my courses?
We assure that you are able to complete courses this semester. Instructors are retooling courses for online learning.

Can I complete my research and teaching assignments?
We will be reaching out to our faculty who are advisors of research and teaching practica to assure we are all on the same page regarding alterations, as needed, that will allow credit completion for those courses.

What if I am out of town now or planning a trip?
If you are out of town now, please review the university policy regarding travel and initiate screening and self-quarantine if you have visited areas of concern. As you may know from an earlier email, Washington University has suspended all international travel as well as all non-essential domestic travel. If you have any work or school-related travel plans outside our region between now and April 30th, you should be talking to your appropriate supervisors, managers, or project funders to make any needed changes in your plans.

Other PhD milestone concerns:
For those students doing their final dissertation defense this semester, we have permission to move to a distance format if necessary to accommodate persons who are out of town. Unfortunately, we will have to suspend our traditional celebration/gatherings following the defenses this semester. We will still send out our congratulations email and encourage you to send your electronic congratulations in return to your colleagues. Right now we are not making changes to the area statement process as this is not a group event, but we will let you know if this changes.

We do realize outside the classroom there are other issues to consider:

What about doctoral offices and computer access?
Per the stay-at-home orders, all work needs to happen off campus, at home.  

IT has secured free access to software needed for Brown School courses, as well as set up a virtual computer lab where you can remotely access machines from Goldfarb 330. You can find more about these options in the Student Remote Learning Resources page.  If you are still having issues with home computers or technology needs, please reach out to Melissa or Doug directly.

What about data collection/ research tasks for projects?
We have to think of both our own well-being and that of our community partners and stakeholders, and the situation is quickly evolving.  PhD students should work with their supervisors and/or center directors to determine the next steps for any current data collection practices.

What about meetings with mentors?
To the extent possible, please use the phone, internet, Zoom, etc. to handle weekly meetings and make arrangements for the best means to exchange drafts and products.

How do I practice self-care?
We urge all students to abide by the best practices made available by the CDC and campus approved communications. Practice personal preventive hygiene which includes frequent hand washing, avoiding physical contact while in public spaces, and staying home if you are sick. For more information on these and other precautions, see

Finally, we realize doctoral education can be both stressful and exciting and that this situation adds another layer of stress. There are a number of university initiatives underway to provide remote support to students that we will be sharing as soon as they become available. If you have questions about how WashU services have been altered to remote offerings, please visit the On-Campus Service Availability page.  Doug, Melissa and program managers will be available by email/phone/etc. to answer questions and assist with issues that may arise. If we do not have an immediate answer we will get one as quickly as possible.

We are very proud of all of you and the progress and contributions you are making and will continue to make. We will get through this together.

- Doug Luke and Melissa Jonson-Reid
Directors of the Brown School Doctoral Programs