COVID-19 Updates for PhD Students

Messaging relevant to PhD students during the COVID-19 outbreak will be posted here. In addition, please also note the following important links:

Following is the most recent communication sent to PhD students:


November 24, 2020

Dear PhD Students,

As we wrap up the Fall 2020 term, I’m writing to share information regarding the Spring 2021 term.  First, I want to thank each and every one of you for your part in helping our community have a successful fall term.  During the past 4 months we have opened campus and launched our hybrid NUflex education model to promote the safety and wellbeing for our whole community during the COVID-19 pandemic.   Working together this semester we successfully reimagined almost every aspect of the university from the research spaces to the classroom to recreation facilities.  As a community we have settled into our new adjusted way of life – wearing masks and practicing healthy distancing – as we eagerly await a vaccine.  Visit Northeastern Is Open for information related to the university’s response to the COVID pandemic.  At this site you will find university messages as well as information about health and safety protocols, testing FAQs and travel guidelines.    The feedback you provided to your departments, colleges and to the PhD Network have informed decision-making enabling us to support you as you continue your PhD education journey whether you are on campus or at a remote location.  Hybrid NUflex will continue during the Spring 2021 term.

Have you been to campus recently?  If not, I suggest that you come and visit.  Come in to get a COVID test (it takes about 10 minutes), sit by one of the firepits located around campus, and say hello to your fellow students (at a healthy distance, of course) and see that campus is and has been very alive.  The PhD Network looks forward to seeing you on campus in this spring when we will re-engage with in-person events.



Spring 2021 1st day of classes.  The first day of classes for the Spring 2021 term will be January 19th.  Students who receive a Stipended Research Assistantship (SGA) normally receive their first stipend disbursement on January 15th.  Since the SGA requires that students be enrolled with full-time status please refer to the following deadlines for stipend disbursements.

  • Register by January 2 to receive 1st SGA disbursement on Jan. 15th
  • Register by January 18 to receive 1st and 2nd SGA disbursement on or before Jan. 31st
  • Register by February 2 to receive 1st, 2nd, and 3rd SGA disbursements on or before Feb. 15th

PhD students on fellowship will receive their entire fellowship payments through disbursement to their Northeastern student accounts in the mid-February timeframe.  The disbursement process will begin after the Spring 2021 term drop date, February 8th and may take up to a week for students to have access to their fellowship funds.

PhD “I Am Here” Process.  Last year we initiated the “I Am Here” process for PhD students.  This process is designed to ensure that PhD student course registration is appropriately aligned with research or experiential PhD activities they are doing during the upcoming term as well as the location of those activities.  You will be invited to complete the “PhD I Am Here” by email mid-December.  The process consists of your answering questions about your registration and research intentions.  Students planning to continue their studies while outside the greater Boston area are asked to update their local address through the My Northeastern portal.

Requesting a COVID-MAP to pursue PhD education away from campus. Given our successful fall 2020 term we expect to welcome all students back on campus in the spring 2021 term.  The COVID-MAP temporary policy and procedure provides information about how PhD students who wish to may request an arrangement to continue all of their PhD education activities (including assistantship responsibilities) remotely during the spring 2021 term.  All requests must contain a supporting rationale and you are encouraged to discuss options with your department prior to requesting a MAP.  Students with a medical rationale should choose Option 1 as the reason for the request.  Do not include medical conditions or concerns in the MAP request form.  PhD students who receive a COVID-MAP for the spring 2021 term must complete all activities research and teaching away from campus.  A PhD student request of a COVID-MAP will trigger a review of course registration, assistantship responsibilities and any research activities within the context of student location while continuing their PhD education.  The intent is to develop and approve a MAP that will enable academic progress and maintain assistantship funding.  All reasonable requests with supporting rationale will be honored consistent with operational needs.  PhD students on an approved MAP that allows them to remain remote for the spring 2021 academic term will be required to remain away from campus for the duration of the term.  Students with approved MAPs for the spring semester will need to re-petition for a summer 2021 MAP.  MAP requests should be submitted by December 11.  Recognizing that circumstances may change over time, PhD students may request a MAP with a supporting rationale at a later date.

MasParc Parking subsidy program.  The MasParc parking subsidy program will continue for the spring 2021 term.  I will send relevant information about this to PhD students in the coming days.

PhD Network Travel funds.  The travel fund program is picking up again with PhD students requesting up to $500 (with qualifying matches) to participate in virtual conferences and workshops.  Visit the Travel Funding website for more information.  Students seeking to use funds to travel must follow the current University Travel policy available at the Northeastern is Open website.

Health and wellbeing of the university community.  Please take the time to review information at Northeastern Is Open, which contains information about policies on campus as well as testing and university messages.  Northeastern maintains a dashboard of COVID-19 testing results. All students are expected to maintain safe physical distancing on and off campus.  Please ensure that you read about gatherings and associated sanctions, which applies to all students including you as PhD students.

Traveling from out of state.  The State of Massachusetts has issued a travel order that requires a quarantine or qualified testing for individuals who enter the state from a high-risk area or international location.  The required quarantine is 14 days unless the traveler has a qualifying test result within 72 hours of arriving in Massachusetts.  Northeastern’s own testing is a qualifying test.  If you have arrived from a high-risk area or an international location you may come to campus for your first test and then immediately quarantine in your apartment or hotel room until you receive the test result.

Prior to coming to campus.  All community members are expected to complete the Daily Wellness Check each day prior to coming to campus.  I suggest taking a screen shot of the confirmation page and saving it in your photos for quick reference – just like we do at the airport.  You can schedule a time for your test at the Cabot Testing Center at the Student Hub. Use Microsoft Edge or Chrome web browsers (Safari doesn’t work) and have your screen shots and NUID ready so you can move through quickly.  Information about the test scheduler and notification about results is available here.

Mental Health: PhD students in Boston have access to University Counseling and Health Services.  In addition, the Northeastern University Student Health Program (NUSHP) provides Blue Cross Blue Shield based health insurance to PhD students, unless a PhD student has explicitly waived this insurance in preference an alternate provider.  Resources available to support mental health include [email protected] where PhD students can access a mental health provider through tele or in person visits anywhere in the world.

In closing, as you review the information in this email, I know you will have many questions.  Hundreds of staff are working tirelessly to plan for the spring and to make it a success for all community members, guided by the health and wellbeing of our entire community.  Please continue to monitor your email and the Northeastern is Open website .  Your questions and ideas are beneficial to many; please continue to share your questions, concerns, and ideas at the PhD COVID-19 Question Website.  Answers to common questions from PhD students will be made available at the PhD Network site here.

As always, thank you for your cooperation in the interests of the broader health and safety of our community.  We will be in touch again soon.

Best regards,

Sara Wadia-Fascetti

Sara Wadia-Fascetti
Vice Provost for the PhD Network
Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115