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Hybrid Delivery of Classes in Fall 2020

These past few months have been the hardest time most of us can remember, and the problems we face are ongoing. If you feel like you’ve been tossed into the deep end this summer, believe us when we say you are not alone. We’re all trying to figure out the best path forward from a slate of imperfect options—in the meantime, we hope that you and your loved ones are healthy and safe.

While we look forward to seeing everyone back on campus, we know that there are many complications and obstacles that may prevent that from happening. Some are logistical, some are political, some are personal.

At the same time, the challenges we face as a college are many, including the new protocols, procedures, and restrictions necessary to safely resume in-person teaching, learning, and research. Things will be different than they were last year, we want to level with you about that. It will feel strange at first, but for students who return to campus:

  • We’ll resume in-person classes to the extent possible, making sure you have at least one person-to-person interaction per week
  • Masks will be required in Hamburg Hall, as they will be required across all of CMU
  • We’ll be following stricter cleaning and social distancing policies, including limitations on student group gatherings and meetings
  • We will be 100% online after Thanksgiving (November 26, 2020)

We also have to recognize that we have many faculty and staff who are members of high-risk populations, and we need to take appropriate care to ensure their safety. Everyone wants to get back to some semblance of “normal,” but we won’t take avoidable risks—we will all need to adapt and work through this together.

Finally, a note to our students who hail from outside the United States. Many of you have seen the June 22 order from the White House that temporarily halts certain visas—including the H-1B program—and you are likely wondering about the impact of this announcement. Our assessment of the order is that it does not have a direct effect on our current students’ ability to study or gain employment. Regardless, we strongly oppose the spirit and substance of these orders, and we are working with government officials and our industry groups on your behalf.

Frequently Asked Questions

We will continue to update this section as new information becomes available.

The following FAQs address the questions we have been receiving from you. Our responses reflect current local public health conditions as of the time of this posting, but may change. These policies only apply to Heinz College current/returning students and not to other parts of CMU. We commit to sharing information with you on a regular basis and working with you to address any questions you may have to the best of our ability. We look forward to seeing you in person in Fall.

  1. With all of the uncertainties surrounding travel, social distancing, and public health measures, how can I be kept up to date on how the CMU/Heinz College Fall 2020 semester will roll-out?
    We are committed to keeping you informed throughout the summer in a timely, transparent, and accurate manner. We will be updating this webpage and others in the admitted student portal as we gain more information. Websites will be updated, emails will be sent, and webinars will be offered in a manner that supports participation from multiple time zones. You can also reach out to our admissions team and your individual program director with questions.
  2. What safety protocols are being implemented to make sure that students, faculty and staff are safe?
    The health and safety of our community remains our number one priority. In addition to following guidance from local and state health officials, CMU is:
    • Adhering to health and safety practices, including use of facial coverings, disinfection of surfaces, and testing and tracing protocols.
    • Reconfiguring classrooms, learning spaces, and common areas to support physical distancing.
    • Making arrangements to reduce density of in-person classes, including small class sizes and moving some courses, including larger lecture courses, to remote instruction only.
    • Striving for a consistently high quality experience across both in-person and remote learning environments.
    • Re-imagining countless other facets of our operations – across instruction and research, as well as student services.
  3. Can I get reduced tuition if I am taking classes remotely?
    The tuition is the same for all modes of delivery of the educational experience. While there are differences between on-site vs. distance learning, we are committed to more than just an online learning environment under the hybrid model. CMU is a world leader in teaching innovation and the science of learning. That campus-wide expertise—led by the Simon Initiative—enables us to maintain academic excellence no matter our mode of delivery.

    For our part, Heinz College has an established reputation in supporting remote learning in both graduate school and executive education contexts.
  4. Can we extend our term of education so that we graduate in the following semester than is established with our Heinz College masters’ program?
    For international students, current U.S. visa policies do not allow for you to extend your graduation date except under severe health or academic hardship. In those extreme cases, new immigration paperwork needs to be filled out and requires approval by relevant government authorities. For students with U.S. residency, you can extend your stay if you have not met graduation requirements and are able to pay another semester’s tuition. However, extension should not be counted on by international students and is not recommended for students with U.S. residency.
  5. For international students currently OUTSIDE of the United States:
    If I am unable to complete the immigration process, if there are travel restrictions, or, if I have concerns that prevent me from arriving in Pittsburgh by August 31, how will that impact my visa status and by ability to obtain a U.S.-based internship or full-time employment?
    CMU and Heinz College will offer remote delivery of all of our classes for Fall 2020 for students unable or unwilling to study in-person beginning August 31, 2020. Your remote start would be followed by a second semester on-campus, beginning January 2021. Please direct any questions pertaining to I20 and visa documents to the Office of International Education (
  6. How will courses be offered to students not on campus?
    For students who are taking courses remotely, they will be engaging in a mix of synchronous and asynchronous coursework to accommodate global time zones. Professors and Teaching Assistants will designate real-time office hours with remote students.
  7. What are the assessments/exams going to look like?
    As was done in the spring 2020 semester, exams and quizzes will be administered online for remote students. To ensure the academic integrity with online assessments, most faculty will be utilizing remote monitoring software.
  8. If there is a resurgence of the virus and CMU is forced to close in spring 2021, what will happen?
    If this happens, as we did in spring 2020, we will move all courses to an online delivery mode. We had great success with this this past semester and expect a minimal impact on teaching and learning. Any student who would not want to continue in this fashion would be given the option to take a leave of absence.
  9. Will campus be open for students this fall?
    CMU is committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for our students. As such, the CMU campus will be open for the August 2020 semester with modifications to support the health and safety of our community. We will continue to work closely with—and follow guidance from—state and local health officials. Their guidance will be used to establish how the campus community will be able to engage in-person in the fall. In addition to following guidance from local and state health officials. For more information on safety protocols that are being implemented to make sure that students, faculty and staff are safe, please see question #2 above.
  10. When will we know which courses are being offered for Fall 2020, and in what modality these courses will be delivered?
    Our fall course schedule is currently posted. While the timing of the classes may change, the course offerings will not. We are in the middle of the process for determining course delivery modalities. We will share information with you as soon as appropriate.
  11. How would the cost of health insurance change if a student studies remotely? Will health insurance cover COVID-19? And if students are not present for Fall 2020, do we still need to buy the school’s insurance plan?
    The requirements for having medical insurance while attending CMU remains in effect. If there is something that changes over the summer or close to the start of the academic year, we will review the policy at that time. Fall 2020 Open Enrollment will be from July 15, 2020 to September 14, 2020. During those times you may enroll in the student insurance or apply for a waiver if your medical insurance meets the waiver requirements. Given that there is 2 months of time to decide, with 2 weeks after the semester starts, I would recommend not taking any action with regard to student insurance until you have a better picture of your attendance, and hear what the situation will be for student insurance.

    If purchased, the CMU insurance plan does include coverage of COVID-19. Aetna, the insurance carrier for the CMU Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP), has indicated that medical treatment and coverage for COVID-19 remains the same as any other viral infection. Aetna is waiving co-pays for all diagnostic testing related to COVID-19. For more information please see the links below.

    The CMU SHIP is a PPO plan and covers throughout the US. Please find an in-network provider to maximize the benefits (select Open Choice PPO):
  12. Will students taking remote classes be eligible for jobs at university?
    The student’s location will determine whether or not they are eligible to work for the university. This answer will also depend upon the type of work a student would potentially be engaging in.

    For international students in F-1 or J-1 status: we are awaiting government guidance as to whether on-campus employment will be permissible for F-1 or J-1 students enrolling remotely in the fall 2020 semester.