The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose unique challenges and uncertainties for international students planning to pursue higher education in the USA. We are aware of continued embassy and consulate closures in many parts of the world that are still struggling with outbreaks. Students who are unable to obtain an F-1 visa in time to arrive at the University for the beginning of the upcoming fall semester of 2021 are encouraged to consider beginning their academic program online from their home country. No visa is required for online study from abroad. Therefore, students are able to begni their academic program online, from home, while they finalize the F-1 visa application process.

To support students interested in the possibility of online enrollment, we have developed the below list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Please note, doctoral students are encouraged to reach out to their respective College graduate office and/or academic advisor to discuss options regarding fall 2021 enrollment. There exist significant considerations, which are specific to doctoral students, not discussed below. 

Additional information regarding how ongoing immigration changes and University protocols may impact incoming international students can be found at the University's COVID-19 webpage for international students

UM-Dearborn students studying remotely from China can now use MLane for reliable, high-speed access to UM-Dearborn teaching and learning tools and resources. Learn how to configure MLane on your device, here

(Last revised 07/07/2021)

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: 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


Describe the basic semester structure.

Online courses follow the same academic calendar,, 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,, 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,, 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 generally valid for one academic year from your initial term of application. Due to COVID-19 challenges for many, requests may be approved for later than one year at this time. Please note, doctoral students are encouraged to reach out to their respective College graduate office and/or academic advisor to discuss their deferral options. 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 ( ). 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:, 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 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 2021, 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 2021 semester remotely, but then arrive on campus and complete winter 2022 and summer 2022 in F-1 status, then you will become eligible to apply for CPT beginning in the fall 2022 semester (assuming that your winter and summer 2022 enrollments were 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 academic 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 academic 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 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, 2021 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

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

Yes, there are.  Full details can be found at  Any questions can be directed to the Student Accounts office at

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. You may learn more about available housing options on the OIA "Prepare to Arrive" page,

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):
VictorsLink Page

Indian Graduate Student Association:
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. 

The latest day by which F-1 students are allowed to arrive in the USA for in-person enrollment for the fall semester is September 15, 2021. We regret that no exceptions can be ade for late arrivals. 

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 in the coming semesters and years. 

When will US embassies reopen and resume visa processing for fall 2021?

US embassies and consulates around the world continue to experience closures, visa appointment cancellations, and delays. Closures and reopenings are contingent on local conditions. Therefore, we encourage students to check the website for their local US consulate or embassy.

Many consulate and embassy locations have reopened and resumed visa services for the upcoming fall semester of 2021. However, future COVID-19 spikes may potentially lead to further closures in affected areas. The ongoing COVID-19 situation is dynamic and quickly changing. 

Office of International Affairs

Room 108
The Union at Dearborn
Back to top of page