Obtaining signatures on paperwork and conducting graduate education exams remotely

We want to share with you some of the policies and best practices for completing paperwork that requires a signature and for conducting graduate exams remotely. This includes preliminary oral examinations (OPE) and final thesis defense for Ph.D. students, and thesis defense presentations for M.S. Plan A or B.

Please let the grad staff know if you experience any issues, complications or have any questions regarding the following guidelines. We will try to accommodate as best we can. Many of these rules were put in place prior to the recent events that have led to social distancing. Some exceptions have been made to accommodate the current reality.

Please also monitor the University of Minnesota's guidelines on the evolving COVID-19 situation for the latest updates and information

Conducting graduate level oral examinations remotely

Because campus is effectively closed to students, staff and faculty, all graduate level exams should be conducted remotely until further notice.

The following conditions must be met to allow remote participation (e.g., telephone conference call, video call, etc.) by graduate examination committee members and/or the student in the master's final oral examination, the doctoral preliminary oral examination, or the doctoral final oral examination. For the department, this also includes the thesis proposal exam. The chair of the examining committee is responsible for guaranteeing that all of the conditions outlined below have been satisfied.

  • If the student requests to participate remotely, all members of the examining committee must be notified and agree (they should) in advance to allow the remote participation of the student.
  • All participants must be able to communicate with each other at all times during the examination. This prohibits the use of a recorded presentation for later viewing, exams must be conducted live with all committee members “present”.
  • Accessible versions of all materials must be available to all examination participants. This should be done through as a Google doc. or sent as a word/PDF through email ahead of the exam.
  • Provisions must be made for independent balloting during the initial vote by examiners. This process is up to the committee chair and can simply be independent emails from each committee member.
  • Provisions must be made for signing the examination report form. Please refer to the processes and policies related to electronic signatures later in this message.
  • For doctoral final oral examinations, arrangements must be made for a public presentation, including opportunities for questions from the audience. This should now be done by hosting a Zoom meeting. The GPC’s can then share this information through an announcement as we have in the past.
  • The chair of the examining committee must recess the examination immediately if any technical problems unduly interfere with the proceedings.
  • All participants must be notified ahead of time of the options for recessing the examination.
  • The chair of the examining committee must guarantee that all the above conditions are satisfied.

Completing graduate education paperwork that requires a signature

Typically, the GSSP office requires “wet”, or handwritten signatures on all paperwork. They are relaxing this requirement in light of the current situation, limited to the following options:

  • GSSP will accept e-signatures that have been signed by mouse only, not typed. Useful instructions can be found here: https://helpx.adobe.com/reader/using/fill-and-sign.html.
  • Committee members are also welcome to use docu-sign or print, sign by hand and scan back.
  • When possible and to alleviate the strain placed on the GSSP office, please be sure to collect all signatures on a single page/form.

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to the graduate advisors through email or by scheduling a zoom or phone based appointment.