Art History and Archaeology COVID-19 FAQs

Last updated: Wednesday, April 1, 2020.

Health Questions

Are students or faculty who contract the virus requested to report that either within the department or to the university?

No, matters of personal health are confidential. There is a CU hotline, 212-854-9355, but it is for information only.

Additional information here:


Many courses have books on reserve that students will no longer be able to access. Instructors also typically require students to complete research projects that depend on access to non-circulating collections. Will course requirements change for the remainder of the semester?

Yes, instructors and students alike are encouraged to maximize use of materials available online, modifying assignments based on our new circumstances.

If students must take more than one incomplete this semester, will it affect their academic standing?

We recognize that with the libraries closed and only limited resources available online, students may not be able to research and write seminar papers for their Spring courses. In the event a student must temporarily take more than one incomplete, we will ask GSAS that it not affect the student’s academic standing. That said, students are strongly encouraged to complete coursework if possible.

A mail of March 20 from President Bollinger stated that “all classes this semester will be graded pass/fail.” May students petition to receive a letter grade instead?

No, this is not an option.

Update 4/1: A final letter grade may be used ONLY for Master's theses where academic work on the thesis spanned multiple semesters of formal MA thesis classes.


A number of students have qualifying exams scheduled for the following weeks. Should they postpone them?

No, if at all possible, students should take their exams using Zoom. Postponing may have longer term consequences for their progress through the program. All students preparing to take exams should discuss the situation with their committees.

Are in-person orals and defenses still permitted, or must all be done remotely?

As non-essential personnel have now been asked not to come to campus, all exams and defenses should be conducted remotely.

Will there be any change to the structure and content of oral exams, in view of the library closure?

Students who had been planning to take oral exams in the weeks after Spring Break and who feel that the closure of the libraries significantly impeded their preparations should speak with their advisors and indicate 1) what the student had covered before last week, 2) what the student can still do with online resources, and 3) what it is no longer possible to study.

If, following this conversation, the student and the advisor agree that the exam can still reasonably go forward, those three questions should provide a new framework for its content.

Courses have been canceled through Wednesday, March 25. May instructors nevertheless hold meetings with students to go over essential material they had hoped to cover?

Instructors may hold Zoom sessions and office hours over the extended break, but these meetings cannot be required and they must be so conceived as not to disadvantage students who do not be present.

Graduation dates and requirements

For graduate students who want or need to complete in May, can GSAS extend the deadline for the completion of degree requirements (including thesis deposit)?

On April 1, GSAS confirmed the following extended deadlines for May degrees:

For the PhD: students must deposit their dissertations by May 22, 2020.

For the MPhil: GSAS must receive the MPhil application by May 29, 2020.

For the MA: students must complete coursework in time for their MA programs to submit graduation lists to the Registrar by June 4, 2020.

Revised GSAS policies are archived here:

The current submission date for the MA thesis is May 4, 2020, and the current commencement date is May 20, 2020. How flexible is the May 4 deadline? Is it possible for a student to submit an MA thesis closer to the commencement date and still receive a May degree?

We have an inquiry in with the Registrar’s office about what is possible. The student’s advisors would also need to support the later submission date.

For those who want or need to complete in May, what is now the procedure for submitting the MA thesis?

Instead of submitting a final bound copy of the thesis in person to Nicole Meily, as is normally required, students should email her a PDF version of their final thesis (i.e., the version that your advisor has approved). Once the Department office reopens, Nicole will add these to the students’ files.

Students should also complete an MA Thesis Approval Cover Sheet and email this to their advisors. Once advisors have signed the sheet, they should email it to Nicole, CCing the student. Alternatively, they can write an email to Nicole, confirming that they have approved your thesis, CCing the student. All MA thesis advisors will be informed of the new procedure, so that they know what to do/expect.

For students who cannot complete their MA theses in May, what are the alternatives?

The main alternative is to take an incomplete for the thesis and apply for an October or February degree. Students do not need to be registered at Columbia during the summer and fall while completing their thesis. The IN will be changed to a letter grade once the thesis is approved by the advisor. Once the grade is submitted, the student will be cleared for degree conferral.

Will deferring a degree date impact the visa status of international students

According to Dean Alonso, if otherwise graduating students took incompletes in their spring classes, they would not need to register again; they could complete their work during the summer or fall and have the marks of incomplete changed to letter grades and be certified to graduate for the next degree conferral. If international students do not wish to complete the degree requirements remotely (from their home country) but instead wish to remain in the US after the spring term, they would have to be registered. We have asked for GSAS for clarification on what this means in terms of costs.

Will there be an online thesis event on April 24?

The Department is consulting and will make an announcement later.

International Students:

Link for information:

Summer funding, grants, and fellowships

Can the summer funding that students apply for through the Department, including Lee MacCormick Edwards and Casa Muraro fellowships, be awarded on an exceptional basis to research that is not performed on-site this summer?

While the Lee MacCormick Edwards Fellowships are primarily designed to support library, archival, and collection research in Europe between the months of June and August 2020, the Foundation has kindly granted us permission to support research activities that do not take place on site but can be accomplished with online resources instead.

An inquiry about Casa Muraro fellowships is pending.

What is happening with GSAS Travel Fellowships?

GSAS is moving forward with the normal review process, in the hope that by August or September, it will be possible for awardees to travel.

Use of offices and other Schermerhorn spaces

A March 16 message from the Provost stated: “Only essential research will be permitted to continue and only personnel who are essential to conduct the permitted research and to maintain the equipment and other laboratory assets may remain on campus.” Many faculty and staff members have their books and files in their offices. Are they still permitted to enter those offices?

Effective March 22 at 8pm, routine office use is no longer permitted. Faculty may use offices only when it is necessary in order to keep up the School’s distance learning efforts

May students use the Stronach Center?

No, use of common areas on campus is prohibited until further notice.


Will mail delivery continue to Schermerhorn?

As of March 16, the University was continuing to deliver mail to departments as usual. It will soon change its procedures, however, and deliver mail to a central location. An announcement about this is forthcoming.


Many students cannot satisfactorily complete their coursework or make progress in their research without access to Avery Library. Is it possible that some books may be allowed to circulate on an exceptional basis?

This possibility was being examined by the library staff when it was announced that the whole library system would close. There is at present no way for anyone to check out books.

AHAGA is gathering a list of online resources here.


A message from President Bollinger instructed all undergraduates who could leave campus housing to do so. Does this apply to graduate students as well?


If students opt to move out of Columbia housing this bring, must they remove all their belongings or may they leave things until they return? If they fully vacate their apartments, will they be able to move back into housing when the crisis is over?

As of March 16, students who opted to move out of Columbia housing were expected to remove all their belongings. Updates to this policy will be posted here:

If students opt out of Columbia housing now, can they move back into Columbia Housing again at a later time?

David Greenberg, EVP of Facilities and Housing, has agreed that students who break their lease now will receive priority to reenter Columbia housing. However, there will not be a guarantee that they will be assigned the same apartment.

(This was confirmed in a mail sent by Dean Alonso to the graduate students on March 20.)

If students opt to remain in their apartments, is there the possibility that the Department or the University will supplement summer stipends so that they will be able to pay Columbia rent?

The topic is under discussion. At the moment, there is no accommodation for this.

May students sublet apartments, beginning immediately rather than waiting until the summer?

Yes, but for the moment only to Columbia affiliates.