Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

Questions regarding Spring 21 - July 28, 2020

UMass Collective Fall 2020, 

Thank you again for your note and your continued support of and interest in the UMass Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences. 

As you suggested in your original message, plans for Spring 2021 are still very uncertain. UMass Amherst is still working through the details of its Fall 2020 re-opening implementation and, as you've probably seen, the COVID-19 cases are on the rise in many parts of the U.S.

With all of this said, I am going to try to answer your questions to reflect our current thinking, with the understanding that the University's plans for Spring 2021 have not been thought through. None of this should be taken as a guarantee, just our thoughts on what we think Spring 2021 will look like. 

Our responses in blue, below. 

Method of instruction -  As the ICE mandate still applies to newly admitted students, getting an F-1 visa for a completely online term will not be possible for us. It would help to know if CICS plans to be completely online in the Spring21 term or there are plans to move to a hybrid/in-person mode of instruction.

We anticipate that many graduate courses will still be offered remotely in Spring 2021, but if the university asks us to resume face-to-face instruction, that could change. Note that updated ICE guidelines (See Section 2A, last sentence) state that the visa restriction is for Fall 2020 only; we have not yet been provided guidance for Spring 2021. 

Course load requirements - Due to the uncertainty around consulates' functioning for new visa applications and international travel, we need to know the minimum course load requirements for Spring21 term for each of the following possible scenarios -

Completely online instruction mode. 

At this time, we anticipate requiring a 6 credit minimum course load for Spring 2021, and strongly encouraging that students take 9 credits. This way, if students are able to get to campus in Fall 2021 they will have at least one semester of coursework under their belts. Students who have taken 9 credits by May 2021 will also be eligible under CPT guidelines to participate in an internship in Summer 2021. Students could also meet this 9-credit goal by taking 3 credits in the Fall 2020 and 6 credits in Spring 2021. 

Hybrid/in-person instruction with travel/visa delays due to pandemic. 

We will know more during the fall, but if it looks like students will be able to travel to the U.S. at some point in the Spring 2021 semester, we anticipate recommending that students register for 3 courses (9 credits), so that once they are physically in the U.S. they have a full course load, and don't fall afoul of regulations that require "fulltime" student status.   

We will continue to keep all of our Master's students up-to-date as the University begins planning for Spring 2021. 

With best wishes for your health and safety, 

Mark Corner
Master's Program Director