Pandemic Procedures

Graduate Studies Temporary Pandemic Procedures

In response to the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic, the following procedures are currently being followed by the Graduate Studies Office: 

Original signatures on milestone paperwork

Students and advisors/committee members should determine the most appropriate method of approving milestone documents. The Graduate Studies Office will accept the following forms of approval:

  • emails as signatures.
  • verified electronic signatures.
  • physical signatures.

All documents and approvals must be submitted to department staff. If department staff are working from home, then students should submit their items via email attachment. Graduate Studies will not accept documents directly from students.

Official IU email addresses must be used if approvals are being made by email.

Staff will obtain approval from the departmental chair if applicable, and then upload the form to GEMS and add the document to be processed to the queue. Documents will still be processed in the order they are received. Due to the additional steps in the submission process, students and faculty should allow additional time for approval.

Procedures for Defenses and Dissertations

The School of Education and the University Graduate School request that thesis and dissertation defenses be held remotely using tools such as Zoom and Skype.  Any defenses that proceed in-person must adhere to IU, City of Bloomington, Monroe County, and State of Indiana public health regulations.

EdD and Master’s: After revisions are complete and the thesis or dissertation has been accepted, each committee member should email their approval to in lieu of signed acceptance pages. Official IU email addresses must be used.

PhD: In place of signed acceptance pages, after the thesis or dissertation has been accepted, the candidate must initiate the Defense Signature Collection eDoc found on One.IU. The form will route to each member of the committee to record approval.

The remaining submission methods and deadlines remain the same. Properly formatted but unsigned versions of the acceptance page and abstract are still included in the dissertation.

Best Practices for Conducting Defenses Online

Defense Format: Defenses conducted online should follow the same format and include the same components normally required by the department for in-person defenses as closely as possible.  Any portions of the defense in which the candidate is not normally present may require the candidate to temporarily leave the conference and any recording to be paused.

Public Components:  Departments should adapt their normal practices to allow for online public access.  For online defenses, this could be facilitated through public distribution of the conference link after the defense has been formally scheduled.  Following the public session, the conference should be restricted to the candidate and research committee only.  See the resources below for participant management instructions for Zoom.

Logistical Guidelines for Online Defenses

Defenses conducted online during this period should follow these logistical guidelines:

  • The candidate and all members of the committee must agree in advance to remote participation and to all video communication arrangements.  Video conferences must be hosted by a member of the research committee or a department staff member and not by the candidate.
  • The examining department is responsible for providing adequate technical accommodations that allow all participants to see and hear each other throughout the defense and to view any text, graphics, or other visuals referenced
  • If, at the onset of the defense, these accommodations are not found to be adequate for the examination, the candidate or the research committee may elect to postpone the defense until a later date without penalty
  • In the event of a technical failure, the defense proceedings must be stopped and may not resume until any technical issues are resolved
  • Defenses conducted through remote technology may only be audio or video recorded with advance permission from the research committee chair and candidate and must adhere to departmental and school guidelines for recording defenses

Resources for Conducting Defenses Online

"About Zoom at IU," Knowledge Base: Learn more about how to use the Zoom web collaboration tool available to all IU faculty, staff, and students.

Zoom Help Center: Get help using Zoom through an extensive directory of help topics.

"Improve and troubleshoot your Zoom experience," Knowledge Base: Troubleshoot common issues with operating Zoom.

"Prevent Zoombombing using Zoom privacy and security features," Knowledge Base: Learn how to make Zoom more secure and avoid "zoombombing."

"How to Keep Uninvited Guests Out of Your Zoom Event," Zoom Blog: Best practices for improving Zoom conference security.

For additional help with Zoom, contact UITS Learning Spaces Support at or 812-856-2020

We understand that travel restrictions and other difficulties may have resulted in a delay of the defense so that it impinges on academic benchmarks, such as candidacy limits. Please know that we will continue to entertain requests for exceptions to any deadline that might be missed because of the pandemic.

Updated 12/7/2020

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