Due to numerous uncertainties caused by the current COVID-19 pandemic including embassy and consulate closures throughout the word, we encourage new Fall 2020 admitted international graduate students to consider beginning their academic program online from their home country.  We have developed a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) below that we hope will be a valuable resource for international students considering the opportunity of online enrollment.

Please note, doctoral students are encouraged to reach out to their respective College graduate office and/or academic advisor to discuss options regarding Fall 2020 enrollment. There exist significant considerations, which are specific to doctoral students, not discussed below. 

FAQ for new international students considering online enrollment:

Who teaches the online courses and what is the lecture method?

The same qualified faculty who teach in our on-campus courses also teach our online sections.  The course structure or deliverables may vary slightly in an online mode, but the same course learning objectives are met.  

The University of Michigan-Dearborn is not new to teaching online.  We have been doing so for almost 20 years. The College of Business is currently ranked #19 in the US for online MBA programs (Poets&Quants).



If I finish in a fully online format (note: this is only available for those degree programs approved by our accreditor to be completed fully online), would my degree credential be any different?

There is no difference in the degree credential awarded for those degree programs approved by our accreditor to be completed fully online. The diploma would read exactly the same.

How will I access an online course? What technology requirements are needed?

The University of Michigan-Dearborn campus uses Canvas as its learning management system (LMS).  Courses are accessed via this platform.  More details can be found at our Canvas for Students webpage: https://umdearborn.edu/canvas/canvas-students We suggest closely reviewing the following areas of the webpage: 

Our Digital Team has set up a test course site to try out in-country, which can be accessed here


If I choose to go fully online for Fall 2020, how does this impact any existing course registration? Will I need to make any changes or will the university do that for me?

You will likely need to make changes and you are encouraged to do so soon to be sure you get into the courses you need.  Online course sections are itemized as such in the instructional method field.  Open Fall 2020 online courses are itemized here: https://selfservice.umd.umich.edu/BANP/zwskonli.p_start?termstr=10. (Note: graduate-level courses are numbered 500-level or above). 

If you have any questions about course selection, please reach out to your assigned advisor or program director.  A list by program can be found here: https://umdearborn.edu/academics/graduate-studies/office-graduate-studies/graduate-program-specific-contacts

Describe the basic semester structure.

Online courses follow the same academic calendar, https://umdearborn.edu/students/office-registrar/academic-calendar-important-dates, as on-campus courses. Fall and Winter Terms are generally 15 weeks long. Course structure and requirements may vary by individual course. Each instructor will provide a course syllabus at the beginning of the term with all course assignments, deadlines, and grading weights itemized in detail.

If I go online, will I be expected to pay for additional course materials or is everything embedded within the course? What are the specifics for obtaining any course materials?

This may vary by course. In the event that any additional materials would be needed, this would be itemized in the course syllabus. One can also check the Campus Bookstore site, https://umd.bncollege.com/shop/um-dearborn/page/find-textbooks, to see if any specific additional books are itemized.

What are the course deliverables i.e. the frequency and type of exams and assignments? How are exams conducted? Do you have advice on how best to manage your time to meet course expectations?

This may vary by individual course. 

Each course instructor will determine the method(s) of assessment and that detail will be included in the course syllabus. Possibilities include, but are not limited to, take home exams, timed Canvas-based exams or, in some cases, paper/pencil proctored exams. Individual or group projects may also be used.

Is everything asynchronous (not tied to a specific meeting time/covers differences in time zone concerns)?

Faculty are guided to keep requirements for fully online courses asynchronous. Another guideline provided to faculty is to hold synchronous online office hours for online students.  Most instructors will also answer questions asynchronously via Canvas conversations or email for those students who are unable to participate in the synchronous office hours.

How much group project work is expected in an online course? Would I be needing to work with others in different time zones?

This will vary from course to course. There might be group discussions, group presentations, group projects, etc. or no group work at all.  

College of Business (COB) online courses typically involve some sort of group project, but it varies course by course, just as it does for a campus-based course. Regardless, interaction and discussions among students and with the professor are standard features of every online course in COB.

An example from a College of Engineering and Computer Science student: Group projects are an effective part of course work. A group project may consist of 30-40% (subjected to change) of weightage in a subject. Equal contribution of students is appreciated. You have to work in groups but in almost all cases, there will be a free hand to choose your group partners according to convenience.


Do you think it is more work or less in an online environment? Do you learn as much as you do in a face to face environment?

Course content and learning objectives will be similar between the two formats, but the delivery method may look quite different.  Each student may have a different response on which is more or less work depending on what they personally find more easy or difficult to digest and deliver on.  To see if your personal profile might be well suited to online learning, consider taking the Student Readiness for Online Learning quiz and reviewing the success strategies itemized on the Canvas for Students webpage, https://umdearborn.edu/canvas/canvas-students, to maximize what you get out of the online learning environment.  Some students may find they get more from an online course than an in-person course.

How does grading work for an online course?

It may vary by course and will be itemized in the course syllabus.  Online courses usually have different activities than in-class. The syllabus should always itemize the grading and provide a grade scale for the course. Online courses may have graded discussions, which can be a big difference from in-class courses.

What are the pros and cons of starting online vs. deferring to a future term?

Starting Online:  Pros: Finish your program sooner, work advancement or new career path sooner, may cost less (living expense savings)  Cons: have the full cultural immersion experience for less total time, some may not find the online learning environment to be a good fit for their personal circumstances (learning style, availability or cost of reliable internet service), uncertainty about when specifically one will be able to physically arrive on-campus 

Deferring: Masters-level applications are valid for one academic year from your initial term of application. If a change in start term is needed, a deferral request must be sent to the Office of Graduate Studies via the Graduate Admissions Deferral Request Form (https://umdearborn.formstack.com/forms/deferral_request ). All documents previously submitted will be transferred to the new term along with your admission if you are eligible for a deferral. If you choose to attend another university in the meantime, your application will require a second review by the Faculty Review Committee with official transcripts from that institution.

If you are in need of a student visa, a new I-20 will need to be issued for the term you plan to arrive on campus. Additional financial documentation may be required if materials on file are older than one year.


What if the issue continues for longer than one term or one year?

If you are enrolled in a program already approved to be offered in a fully online format (list is available here: https://umdearborn.edu/academics/graduate-studies/online-learning), you will be able to complete your program fully online. There will be no difference in the degree credential awarded. The diploma would read exactly the same.   

If you are enrolled in a program that is not approved to be offered in a fully online format, you will need to transition to on-campus instruction when campus reopens in order to graduate. By starting this degree program online, there is a risk that you will not be able to complete your degree if you cannot obtain the F-1 student visa or enter the US when you need to transition to on-campus attendance.


If I opt to go online for Fall 2020, what are the implications for my CPT and OPT eligibility?

The semesters that you complete remotely, online, will not count toward CPT or OPT eligibility. In order to be eligible for CPT or OPT, students must have been enrolled full-time, on-campus, in F-1 status for two consecutive semesters. 

For example, if you complete the Fall 2020 semester remotely, but then arrive on campus and complete Winter 2021 and Summer 2021 in F-1 status, then you will become eligible to apply for CPT beginning in the Fall 2021 semester (assuming that your Summer 2021 enrollment was full-time). 

The timing of your arrival on campus and the full-time semesters that you are able to complete in F-1 status are important considerations to keep in mind if you intend to participate in co-curricular internships and work opportunities as part of your graduate program.


How do I handle getting a new I-20 and what deadlines do I need to keep in mind?

You are not required to obtain an F-1 student visa in order to begin your graduate program online from your home country. You must have your visa, however, for the semester in which you plan to physically join the University and enroll for the on-campus program.  

If your current I-20 is for the fall semester and you will not be able to obtain your visa in time to join the University for the fall, then the Office of International Affairs (OIA) will need to issue you a new I-20 with program dates corresponding to the semester of your on-campus enrollment. Therefore, please plan to work closely with the OIA before September 1, 2020 to ensure that you are issued an updated I-20 and any health insurance charges are removed from your student account. The OIA can be reached directly at umdoia-international@umich.edu

Is the fee structure any different for online vs. on-campus?

This varies by college.  It is the same cost for our College of Business (COB) and College of Arts, Sciences and Letters (CASL). The College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) offers a discounted tuition rate for students who are classified as non-resident and enrolled in a fully online program. If you elect to go completely online for Fall 2020 and you are enrolled in a College of Engineering and Computer Science program, this discounted rate would be applied.

The 2020-2021 academic year tuition rates are expected to be finalized in June. You can find more information about current tuition rates at our Graduate Tuition Calculator page: https://umdearborn.edu/admissions/graduate/graduate-tuition-calculator.

Please note that all colleges have options for a non-residential scholarship. More information can be found here: https://umdearborn.edu/students/financial-aid/types-aid/scholarships/graduate-student-scholarships

An example for 9 credit hours of enrollment for CECS using today’s tuition rates (cost per term if enrolling full-time): 
Non-resident on campus: $13,575
Non-resident in fully online program:  $10,179
Note: eligible students for the non-residential scholarship (only available to those studying on-campus in CECS) would pay: $9,583


In this uncertain economic environment, are there payment plans to spread out the cost?

Yes, there are.  Full details can be found at https://umdearborn.edu/students/student-accounts/tuition-payments-due-dates/payment-plans  Any questions can be directed to the Student Accounts office at myaccount@umich.edu

With all this uncertainty, how should I plan for housing/move date?

Your arrival and move-in date should be planned in coordination with your ability to obtain an F-1 student visa. Once you have secured your visa, you may proceed with making travel and housing plans. We strongly encourage students to not proceed with airfare or housing payments before receiving a visa.

With regard to housing, the vast majority of international students choose to live near campus at one of three available options: The Union at Dearborn, Fairlane Meadows, and Fairlane Woods. The Union is the only housing provider that has a formal agreement with UM-Dearborn (although it is not University owned or operated). The Union provides apartment-style housing and is conveniently located adjacent to campus. You may learn more about available housing options on the OIA "Prepare to Arrive" page, https://umdearborn.edu/offices/office-international-affairs/incoming-international-students-prepare-arrive.

Student organizations such as the Indian Graduate Student Association (IGSA), the Graduate International Student Organization (GISO), or the Chinese Student and Scholars Association (CSSA) are also available to assist with detailed information regarding local accommodations.

Find contact information for each below: 

Graduate International Student Organization (GISO):
Email: giso.umdearborn@umich.edu
VictorsLink Page

Indian Graduate Student Association:
Email: umdigsa@gmail.com
VictorsLink Page

Chinese Student and Scholar Association:
VictorsLink Page
President’s QR Code (Please add him and he will invite you to the WeChat group)

How soon will I be allowed to travel to the USA and arrive on campus once I have received my F-1 student visa?

The earliest you are allowed to enter the USA with an F-1 student visa is up to 30 days ahead of your program start-date. Your program dates will be recorded on your visa, and on page 1 of your I-20. If you receive your visa in the middle of a semester, you will most likely have to plan to arrive on-campus for the following semester. This may require a new I-20, although you will not need to re-apply for your visa. 

What if my visa gets denied after already investing time and money in a term?

In the unfortunate situation that your visa application is denied, you will be allowed to reapply. There is no limit to the number of applications you will be allowed to submit to your local consulate or embassy. However, you will have to pay special attention to the reason you are given for your visa denial. Unfortunately, the University has no control over whether or not your visa application may be approved.

If your program is one that is traditionally offered completely online, then you will still be able to complete your program, and receive your Michigan degree, independent of whether or not you are able to receive an F-1 student visa. However, please note that, for programs that are not typically offered completely online, the University cannot guarantee whether all program requirements will continue to be made available online after the University resumes on-campus teaching.

When will a final decision be made about the format for the Fall 2020 term?

The University of Michigan-Dearborn has now made the formal announcement that most Fall 2020 courses will be fully online. You may learn more about the UM-Dearborn plan for the Fall 2020 semester, here [link].

When will US embassies reopen and resume visa processing for Fall 2020?

The global COVID-19 situation is dynamic and quickly changing. As of March 20, 2020, all U.S. embassies and consulates around the world have suspended the routine processing of visas due to COVID-19. Please check the U.S. Department of State's visa page for announcements and updates in order to stay informed about the resumption of consular services and visa processing times. You may also wish to check the website of the US embassy or consulate nearest to you for other updates. Embassies and consulates will resume routine visa services as soon as possible, but the Department of State has yet to provide a specific timeline for when this will occur.

Office of International Affairs

Room 108
The Union at Dearborn
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