Are in-person A exams currently allowed?

Date: March 2021


Dear Deans,

Is the Graduate School currently allowing in-person A exams?

-Hopelessly Devoted


Dear Hopelessly Devoted:

Beginning in spring 2020, the Graduate School shifted all A, B, and M exams to online format in response to the COVID pandemic. In the fall semester, as some in-person instruction resumed we opted not change the policy because so many students and faculty were still fully remote. We are maintaining this same policy for the spring 2021 semester for similar reasons.

It may seem reasonable that a student and three committee members could safely gather in a room for an in-person A exam with masks and appropriate distancing. However, a core principle for all Graduate School exams is that any member of the Graduate Faculty can participate or observe if they wish. This is the reason why exams need to be scheduled and announced at least seven days in advance. In practice it’s pretty rare for other faculty members pop into an exam but it would be hard to accommodate this right now so exams should remain online through at least May.

With recent COVID infection rates and vaccination trends both moving in the right direction we are optimistic we’ll be able to have more in-person activities in the coming months. The feedback we’ve received from the many of the hundreds of students who’ve taken exams via Zoom over the past 11 months has been overwhelmingly positive. Before COVID nearly all exams were in-person, but I think there will be much more openness for online exams for students in the future, and our goal is to leave that choice to students and committee as soon as it’s safe to do so.



Jason Kahabka
Associate Dean for Administration