SEAS master’s students facing travel restrictions can begin fall semester online

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SEAS Dean John Lach said the Flex-Start program will be expanded to all students if the fall semester is held online University-wide.

Students accepted to Master of Science programs in the School of Engineering and Applied Science who face travel restrictions under COVID-19 will be able start their degree online this fall.

The Flex-Start program will be available for all students in most master’s degree programs who face visa delays or other restrictions that make it difficult to return to D.C. for the fall semester. SEAS officials said they created the program earlier this year to assist international students accepted to on-campus master’s degree programs who faced visa issues, but they have expanded the program to include any student facing travel restrictions in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

SEAS Dean John Lach said eligible graduate students can take up to nine credits online in fall 2020 to begin progress on their degree remotely and continue classes in-person once travel restrictions have been lifted and visa delays are resolved.

“By doing their first semester online, students can make progress toward their degree and then travel to Foggy Bottom to complete the program when they are able to do so,” he said in an email.

Officials have designated three to five classes in 11 out of the 12 SEAS master’s programs to be offered online during the fall semester, according to the program’s website.

“The online offerings in the Flex-Start program were selected to suit the curriculum needs of new MS students, but these courses also are available to all SEAS graduate students; official status in the Flex-Start program is not required,” Lach said.

He added that the online course option will be expanded to all students in the program regardless of whether students face travel restrictions if the upcoming fall semester needs to be held online.

Officials will provide more information about fall classes by May 15, according to a University website.

Brittany Wright, the director of graduate enrollment management and advising in SEAS, said the program does not require a separate admissions process.

“Any student admitted to an on-campus SEAS Master of Science program may opt into the Flex-Start program based on an inability to relocate to D.C. for their first semester,” she said in an email.

Wright said no additional faculty members will be hired to teach the classes included in the program online.

“Like all courses in SEAS, courses in the Flex-Start program will be taught by existing full-time and adjunct SEAS faculty members,” she said.

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