General Information

  • When does spring semester start?:
    • The spring semester will start Tuesday, January 19. Spring break is scheduled for April 5-9 and there is still no decision on if we will pivot to completely online after spring break.
    • UMN Return to Campus website
  • What are the different ways courses will be taught this spring?
    • You will find four types of classes being offered again this spring—in-person, remote, online, and blended. SPH courses will mostly be remote though you may see your courses in any or all of these modalities.
  • When and how will I know whether a specific course is taught in-person, online or remotely?
    • Check out the Class Format Guide to see details on class formats, how to reach your schedule and how to search for classes in a specific instructional format. Most SPH courses will be online or remote. Questions regarding specific courses can be directed to the course instructor.
  • What does it mean for course content to be “synchronous” and “asynchronous”?
    • When a course is synchronous the teaching and the learning happen at the same time. Asynchronous courses allow students to access course materials within a weekly schedule, and interactions are via email or online discussion boards. Note that asynchronous courses do still include set due dates for assignments, discussion posts, and assessments.
  • What will the grading policy be for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021?
    • Students have the option to change grade basis from A/F to S/N (satisfactory/not satisfactory) for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 courses. This is the same policy that was in place for Spring 2020 and Summer 2020:
      • Courses taken for S/N during Spring 2020, Summer 2020, Fall 2020, and Spring 2021 will not count toward the 20% S/N credit cap for MPH students.
      • The 30% credit cap for MS and PhD students will not change (this is a decision of The Graduate School).
      • SPH students can continue to change their grading basis option until April 30, 2021 and can make the changes through MyU.
      • Students who do not think they can complete the work before the end of the semester, are encouraged to discuss all options with their instructors.
      • The deadline for SPH students to withdraw from a class is May 1, 2021.
      • Students should consult with their program directors or faculty advisors for any questions regarding changing the grading base to S/N.
    • You will receive additional information from your program coordinator once the S/N option becomes available in MyU and are ready for you to review.
  • What do I do if I am immunocompromised or live with someone who is?
    • Instructors are required to make accommodations for students who are not able to engage in an in-person setting. Contact your instructor directly if you need assistance with making accommodations.
  • Where can I study on campus?
    • The Study Space Finder is available for students to find a space in a library, classroom, or lounge on campus that meets their needs. Students can also use classrooms for studying/meeting while they are not in use. There will be QR codes posted on doors for students to review the room schedule. Stop the Spread guidelines will need to be followed. Additionally, the SPHere Lounge will be available for SPH students to use on a limited basis and some classrooms in the new Health Sciences Education Center (HESC) are available to just health sciences students who request access.


  • What technology resources will I need to prepare for my courses?
    • Internet Access: In Minnesota, both Comcast and the City of Minneapolis have opened up their networks so that people who need internet access can get it. Students should check with internet providers in their area regarding access that might be available to them.
    • Zoom, Office 360 (available free from the U), and internet browser; Chrome or Firefox recommended.
    • Additional resources necessary to complete your coursework will be updated here as more information is available.
    • Contact the Disability Resource Center for general questions related to accessibility.
  • What is Zoom and how do I set it up on my electronic device/computer?
  • What is Canvas and how do I set it up on my electronic device/computer?
    • Canvas is an online platform used by faculty and staff to provide learning materials and activities that may supplement a face-to-face or blended course, or deliver a fully online experience. UMN Information Technology has instructions for how to access courses in Canvas as well as how to get the Canvas Mobile App.
  • How will my tuition rate change with the majority of classes being offered online?
    • Tuition rates are set by the Board of Regents and were approved earlier this summer. SPH committed to no tuition increase for fall 2020 and there will be no tuition decrease University wide. SPH is continuing to teach, research and serve our community while also expanding course delivery options to prioritize flexibility and safety during the pandemic.
  • What does the University’s Student Services Fee cover?
    • Students will still have access to all of the services that are supported by the Student Services Fee. For a detailed listing of these services, visit One Stop Student Services.
  • What does the SPH Collegiate Fee cover?
    • The SPH Collegiate Fee covers costs associated with supporting online learning and student support services like the SPHere Lounge and computer lab.
  • How will SPH prepare me for the start (or continuation) of my SPH experience?
    • New Student Orientation will launch for new incoming students on August 26. Returning students will have access to virtual events and opportunities the week prior to the start of fall semester as well.  Visit Orientation 2020 and keep an eye on your UMN email for more information.
  • When is SPH Commencement?
  • Will Commencement be in person or virtual?
    • There has not been a decision regarding the format for Commencement next spring.
  • What are my options for Experiential Learning? (returning students)
    • Field Experiences, Applied Practice Experiences, internships and experiential learning experiences can only be done remotely. Work with your preceptor, supervisor, or instructor about options on how to move forward. Discuss the timeline of your projects, and the feasibility of developing remote or online alternatives to continue your assignments.
    • Requests for exceptions should be directed to Dr. Betsy Wattenberg, SPH students also were granted a blanket exemption that allows them to work onsite at the Minnesota Department of Health as student workers or for experiential learning.
    • Contact Mercedes Taneja ( if you need to modify the start/end dates of your Learning Agreement, or if you have any other questions. Please keep your academic advisor, program coordinator, and Mercedes Taneja informed about changes.
  • Should I move to the Twin Cities? How do I find housing?
    • U of M Off Campus Living has resources to assist you with your off-campus housing search, including a Roommate Finder Tool.
    • Deciding where to live is an individual decision that depends on your own circumstances and what is best for you. Keep in mind that if classes are held online this fall and on campus for spring semester, there may be reduced housing options available as leases tend to coincide with the academic calendar, not the calendar year. Consider reviewing these options before you make your decision.
    • International students should refer to International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) for details related to the latest information regarding arrival in the US.
  • Is there emergency funding available?
    • The Graduate School and Provost’s Office, in partnership with many colleges and departments, have created an emergency fund for graduate and professional students. The types of things we know students may need help with include, but are not limited to: assistance with food/rent, temporary housing, space to self-quarantine, loss of job/income, and technology equipment support (laptops, WiFi, etc.). The goal of the program is to get students the relief you need as quickly as possible. Students needing emergency financial assistance should email the appropriate office on your campus and use the subject line “COVID-19 Emergency Fund Request.”
    • ISSS emergency fund for international students
    • OneStop student emergency fund webpage

Key Resources Related to Fall 2020 Academics
The following resources will be updated regularly and will provide the most up-to-date information. Check these resources frequently:

SPH Contacts

  • General Questions: SPH Student Services Office
  • International Students: International Student and Scholar Services office
  • Applied Practice Experience: Mercedes Taneja (
  • Career & Professional Development Center: Resources
  • Questions about the progress of your degree program? Contact your program coordinator who will make sure your questions get routed to the person best able to help you.

Ongoing Questions 
We know you have many questions and concerns during this extraordinary time of adjustments, and we are here for you. Please either work with your instructor(s) or submit your questions through this Google form; we will be monitoring it regularly, and will respond as quickly as possible.

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