Update on Graduate Programs - June 15, 2020

Dear Simmons Graduate Students,

Thank you for your continued patience, flexibility and determination during this time. During the past few months, Simmons has been working hard to prepare for a variety of fall contingencies associated with the global pandemic. Though there continues to be much uncertainty as a result of COVID-19, our planning and the guidance of public health experts make it clear that we must expect complex and significant changes to the way we operate, socialize, live, and learn for the foreseeable future. 

Today we're writing to share that after careful consideration and planning, we will move graduate and certificate programs online for the fall, with limited exceptions (please see below). 

Throughout this process, our planning has been guided by several principles, including a determination of what learning must be done on campus and the most effective way for us to provide a safe and engaging learning environment for students. These graduate programs are well suited for virtual learning, particularly given that social distancing requirements will alter the traditional on-campus classroom experience. 

Online Learning at Simmons

Simmons has long been a leader in online education. We have a strong track record of success in virtual learning and are confident that we can deliver a powerful experience to help you achieve your goals as a scholar and a leader in your profession. Our ability to leverage 2U's and Simmons Online's technology platform enables us to successfully make this transition for our graduate programs. Courses are being intentionally designed for this format and will feature a blend of synchronous (live) and asynchronous (self-paced) coursework. Students will also have access to robust support services, including the advising and mentoring you expect from Simmons, as well as an engaged learning experience with faculty and peers.

Exceptions for Fall 2020 

  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT): The laboratory practice component of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program will continue on campus due to its specific requirements.
  • Programs with clinical, field or internship experiences: In some programs, these experiences may still occur in person. Program Directors will be in touch with further information in the next few weeks. 
  • Off-site Programs: Whether these programs will be delivered in person, online, or in a hybrid format will be determined at the program-level in the next few weeks. 

Our work to make a decision about our undergraduate program is ongoing. We hope to communicate a decision in the next few weeks. 

We look forward to the day when we can safely welcome all students back to campus, but until then we are committed to delivering the very best online learning experience. We're grateful for the commitment and passion of our graduate students. The learning and studies you are engaged in are experiences you will use to positively contribute to a post-pandemic world. Please see our current list of FAQs. If you have additional questions, please email [email protected].

Sincerely,

Interim Provost Russell Pinizzotto 
Dean Stephanie Berzin, College of Social Sciences, Practice, and Policy
Dean Marie desJardins, College of Organizational, Computational, and Information Sciences 
Dean Brian Norman, Gwen Ifill College of Media, Arts, and Humanities
Catherine Paden, Deputy Provost and Dean of the Undergraduate Program
Dean Lepaine Sharp-McHenry, College of Natural, Behavioral, and Health Sciences


Frequently Asked Questions

All campus-based graduate programs will be conducted online except the Doctor of Physical Therapy program. This includes certificate programs and non-credit graduate courses in all colleges, schools and departments except in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program. 

It is important for graduate students in all programs to note that there will be some variation in the delivery of instruction and completion of requirements in each program. For example, some programs may take advantage of live, synchronous classes using Zoom, and others asynchronous learning through recorded lectures and online discussion groups. In addition, programs requiring clinicals may also make arrangements for those experiences to happen in person at locations to be determined. Your program director or advisor will be in touch with you directly with further details. 

In our continuing efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and the risk of serious illness to our students, faculty, and staff, Simmons has determined that the safest and most effective way of proceeding with graduate instruction in the Fall of 2020 is to move those programs (except the Doctor of Physical Therapy) online. 

Fortunately, Simmons has a long and successful history in providing online graduate education in many of the same programs offered on campus. Our technology partner 2U will provide the online learning platform for our campus-based graduate programs as they have for online graduate programs over the last decade, and Simmons faculty will continue to design and teach courses, advise, mentor, and guide you through your graduate program. In programs that require clinical experiences, Simmons will still work with you to provide the best possible experience in a manner that is convenient and safe. Further details about the structure of online programs for the fall will be forthcoming from your program director. 

Because all graduate programs except Physical Therapy will be conducted online in the upcoming fall semester, students in those programs will not be required to come to campus at all during the semester. In most programs, that means you will not have to relocate to Boston for Fall 2020 if you are not already there, and for those who already live in Boston, there is no requirement that you stay there if you wish to make alternative living arrangements. However, students in programs requiring in-person offsite training, such as field work and clinical rotations, will still be required to complete those rotations and should consult with program directors or advisors about where and when those requirements can be completed. 

It is important to note that the decision to go online only affects the Fall of 2020– Simmons has not yet made a determination about whether the Spring of 2021 semester will be held on campus or online. 

Tuition costs for the fall semester will remain the same for online instruction.

Many graduate students are entitled to take a leave of absence from their program. Leave must be approved by your program director and the Registrar's Office, and the length of leave permitted may vary from program to program. Your program director can provide more details. New graduate students may choose to defer their admission to next semester or a future term, but no more than a full calendar year.  Please contact your admission office for more information.

We encourage all graduate students to try out online instruction this fall— we are confident that you will find the quality of teaching, the rigor of coursework, and the personal attention provided by faculty and advisors equal to that of campus-based courses, even as it may not be your preferred mode of learning. 

Graduate programs allow very limited if any transfer credits. Check with your program director for further details on what your program may permit. Graduate programs typically only allow 1-2 classes as transfer eligible, and in all cases would need to be pre-approved.
 

Completion of clinicals and internships may vary from program to program; however, Simmons will work with individual students to schedule, reschedule, or otherwise facilitate those experiences, including, for students who do not plan to be in the Boston area for the Fall of 2020, helping them to find internships or clinicals in an area more convenient to them. Your program director will be in touch with more specifics about clinicals and internships.

Simmons is still in the process of determining which, if any, parts of campus might be safely open to students in the fall of 2020, and we will announce those plans as soon as we are able. Regardless of those plans, it is likely that there will continue to be severe restrictions on how many people can congregate in enclosed areas, so we encourage all graduate students not to come to campus even if parts of it are open during the fall semester. Student services such as the registrar, student financial services, student activities, veteran services, and advising will continue to be available via email, phone, and video conference, and library services, including consultations with librarians via phone or email, and online research databases, will continue to be available to you. Faculty and program leaders will also be available, outside of classes and regular meetings, via phone, email and video conference throughout the semester.  

The Simmons Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) PPO plan provides nationwide coverage for students. For questions about plan coverage and providers, please visit the University Health Plans website or contact them directly. For questions about COVID-19 testing and treatment under the BCBS plan, please contact the BCBS Coronavirus Resource Center or contact the BCBS Coronavirus helpline at 888-372-1970. Please reference group ID 002329487 for the 20-21 AY policy when speaking with University Health Plans or BCBS. 

On campus students who are currently registered for 9 or more credits for the Fall 2020 semester are automatically billed for the BCBS plan when statements are issued within the coming weeks. Coverage on the BCBS plan is effective 8/15/20 for the 20-21 academic year. To expedite your enrollment in the plan, please complete an enrollment form as soon as possible. If you are registered for 9 or more credits and have your own insurance, you can submit a waiver form online.

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