April 8, 2020
Provost Richard M. Locke and Dean of the Graduate School Andrew G. Campbell
Tags Grad and Medical Students

To Brown Doctoral Students: Support for Doctoral Students During COVID-19


Dear PhD Students,

Our community is facing challenges unlike any we have seen before as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the last few weeks, graduate students, faculty, and staff have shown incredible resilience as research labs have had to ramp down, instruction has moved online, and scholarship has been forced to find new ways to continue under substantial constraints.

Every day, we are hearing from graduate students about the distinct issues affecting them amid this period of disruption and change, and we have also met with the Graduate Student Council and surveyed all graduate programs to assess the needs of students across campus. While we know our community will rise to the evolving challenges we all are facing, it’s clear that this health crisis will continue to have significant impacts on graduate education for many semesters. We feel it’s important to outline the actions Brown is taking to support graduate students.

As President Paxson’s April 6 message underscored, we are guided by core principles during this highly fluid period, including supporting students with the greatest financial need and taking steps to ensure that all students are able to continue with their educational programs. Graduate students are central to Brown’s mission, and the University will offer support to graduate students who may need extended time to complete their degrees, in addition to implementing the following initiatives to address both immediate and longer-term needs:

  1. COVID-19 Emergency Funding: The University has established a new Graduate School COVID-19 Emergency Fund to support students facing immediate financial hardships. The application for these funds has been available in UFunds since March 30.
  2. Enhanced Summer Funding and Professionalization Opportunities: The University is developing teaching, professional development, proctorship, and other competitive opportunities to enable PhD students to earn additional summer funding. These positions will be targeted to those students with reduced summer funding, and students will work to support remote instruction for pre-college and undergraduate courses. Applications for summer positions will be available under “Graduate School COVID-19 Summer Positions” in UFunds.
  3. Extended Time for Students with Disrupted Research/Progress: Beginning fall 2020, PhD students will be eligible to apply for an additional semester of stipend support to compensate for time lost due to COVID-19. Applications will be available under “Graduate School COVID-19 Extended Time” in UFunds. For students potentially needing extended time as early as this summer, please contact your DGS who will review with the Graduate School.
  4. Teaching Opportunities for Recent Graduates: Recent PhD graduates will be eligible to apply for a limited number of postdoctoral teaching fellowships through an expansion and modification of the Deans’ Faculty Fellows program.
  5. Extended Health Insurance Coverage for Recent Graduates: All PhD students graduating this May will also be able to apply for University support for an extension of their student health insurance coverage. The coverage would extend current coverage beyond August 15, 2020, for up to three months. Students will be asked to submit a Request for Extended Coverage Form by July 1 (by emailing Graduate_School@brown.edu).

In addition to these initiatives, we are aware that there are added concerns — related to visa and compliance, tax support, and travel restrictions, among others — facing our international graduate students. The Graduate School and Global Brown teams are working directly with this community to address these issues.

We look forward to communicating with you the further details about these initiatives in the coming weeks. Many of these plans will require planning and collaboration with your graduate programs and with other offices and staff across campus. The variances in graduate programs' duration, curricula and support mechanisms are complex, and we therefore ask for your patience as we coordinate our responses to the needs of the community at this time. We will continue to explore additional opportunities, including for recent graduates.

We know that in addition to the academic and daily disruptions of our lives, many in our community are being impacted personally by the global pandemic. We are inspired by seeing daily examples of the empathy and generosity of spirit that distinguishes our community, given substantial pressures that so many are confronting right now. Kindness, patience, and empathy are so important for our community. Below is a listing of resources that may be helpful as you continue to navigate these challenging times.

We are committed to the health and well-being of our graduate students, and to working collaboratively to support you in your educational and research endeavors.


Richard M. Locke, 


Andrew G. Campbell, 

Dean of the Graduate School

Please review these COVID-19 FAQs for Graduate Students, which are being continually updated. If your question is not answered there, please email Graduate_School@brown.edu.

  • For questions about academic issues, please contact your DGS or Dean Thomas A. Lewis;
  • For questions about teaching and appointments, contact your faculty mentor, DGS, or Dean Vanessa Ryan;
  • For financial, technology, or food needs, please submit a Graduate School COVID-19 Emergency Fund application in UFunds or contact Dean Maria Suarez;
  • For questions about equity and inclusion during COVID-19, contact Dean Marlina Duncan;
  • For questions related to Master’s education or international student concerns, contact Dean Shayna Kessel.