Below are policy changes made in light of semester adjustments due to coronavirus. Specifically, these changes are in regard to the S/U option for the spring 2020 semester and for requesting a third semester. After reading through the information below, if you have questions please contact Gilly Leshed ( or Barbara Woske ( for clarification. We realize this is a very stressful time period and want to make sure the information provided below is clear before you make any decisions regarding your course enrollment and/or your enrollment in the program for a third semester.

Please visit Cornell's coronavirus page for the latest updates. Additionally, Cornell Info Sci is updating this Spring 2020 Guidance page with department-specific updates and changes.

Essential Info for all MPS students:

  1. It is critical that you update your checklist to reflect any course grading changes or if you apply for and are approved to extend your graduation date. If you are having trouble accessing the checklist please let Barbara ( or Terry ( know via email immediately. We are all working remotely and will answer your emails in a timely fashion.
  2. Gilly will continue to have office hours although they will now be virtually via Zoom:, Monday 10 a.m. to noon EDT. There is a waiting room, which means students joining the room will not come in immediately but will have to wait for Gilly to approve them joining. This allows for a private conversations during the office hours.
  3. Barbara is also available for 1:1 meetings via Zoom. Please email her a date and time you are available and she will set up a Zoom in order to meet virtually. If you have any questions it is important that you contact Gilly ( or Barbara ( immediately.

S/U Grading option for the spring 2020 semester

Students may count up to 8 additional credits (for a total of 10) of S/U course work toward the MPS degree, with the following restrictions:

  1. The additional 8 S/U credits must be taken in the Spring 2020 semester, switching from letter grade to S/U prior to the May 12 deadline. No exception to the deadline will be made. The change can be made in Student Center starting April 6; students do not need the instructor's permission to change the grading option.
  2. The course must be initially offered on a letter-grade basis on the Spring 2020 course roster.
  3. The course must count towards the student's MPS degree if taken for letter-graded credit during the Spring 2020 semester. Courses for your personal enrichment or that count toward a different degree program (e.g., if you are an Early Admit student taking in parallel undergrad and MPS courses) are not counted in these 8 S/U credits.
  4. At the conclusion of the MPS degree, students will need to have a minimum of 6 letter-graded credits in each of the HSS and IS categories.

The exceptions to the above are as follows:

  1. Spring 2020 courses that had already concluded by March 10th (e.g., first 7-week courses) are not eligible for S/U grading.
  2. MPS Project: INFO 5900/5901 and/or NBA 6480 (DTI) are not eligible for S/U grading.

Third semester options 

Students who are on track to graduate in May 2020 may petition to stay a third semester (fall 2020) to take classes in the fall semester and change their expected graduation date to December 2020. Please see the attached policy for enrollment for a third semester. The petition is due May 1. But you are encouraged to let Gilly and Barbara know as soon as possible if you will be staying for a third semester. Full tuition for the third semester will be charged along with the student health insurance.

International students will need to extend their I-20 form and show proof of living expenses along with the tuition and insurance in order to extend their I-20 end date.

Students petitioning a third semester and those who have already been granted a third semester may request to delay their third semester, taking a leave of absence during Fall 2020 and returning to their third semester in January 2021. Please see the information below for details. Please let Gilly and Barbara know if you intend to do this as soon as possible but no later than July 30, 2020.

Students may request to extend their graduation date to May 2021 as explained above with the following timeline:

  • Take a leave of absence for the fall 2020 semester (email Barbara for more details)
  • Return in January to enroll and register for spring 2021, complete the degree requirements and graduate in May 2021

Please note international students are encouraged to discuss these 3rd semester options with the office of Global Learning (ISSO) to be sure their immigration status can be maintained.

Third Semester Extension Request Process and Policy

Due to the suspension of the in-person spring semester, we are extending the deadline to request a third semester. This is a one-time policy change for the following:

  • Students who were expecting to graduate in May 2020
  • Students who want to take a gap semester and return in January 2021


Requesting a third semester (starting in August 2020 or in January 2021): May 1, 2020, at 12:00 p.m. (noon). Please do not wait until the deadline if you have made your decision to stay another semester, let us know as soon as possible. This is a hard deadline. If you cannot meet the deadline, please contact Gilly ( or Barbara ( as soon as possible.

Requirements for a Fall 2020 third semester extension requests

  1. Students who opt to extend their MPS Degree Program must enroll in a minimum of 12 MPS related credit hours of coursework for their third semester.
  2. Students must enroll in their 12 credit hours of coursework for a letter grade only. Above the 12 MPS credits students may enroll in additional non MPS related courses, i.e. PE, music/art courses, 1000 -3000 Undergrad level for S/U credits.
  3. Students may not audit any of their 3rd semester coursework. There will be no exceptions to this requirement.

Costs for Third Semester

There are NO prorated dollar amounts available for students who voluntarily request to extend their MPS Degree Program for a third semester.

If you opt to extend for a third semester, you must pay full-time tuition and fees for this additional semester.

Submitting a Third Semester Extension Request, indicates that the student understands and agrees to pay full-time tuition rates and associated fees.

Submission of Third Semester Extension Requests

All requests require the submission of a completed Third Semester Extension Request Form.

Completed request forms must be approved by the Director, Gilly Leshed via email and returned to the Graduate Program Coordinator, Barbara Woske, via email.

Incomplete request forms will not be considered.

Third semester extension requests submitted after the deadline will not be considered.

Next Steps Following Third Semester Extension Request

* Upon receipt of a completed Third Semester Extension Request Form, a formal letter for the extension will be produced and sent to the Graduate School, the Office of Global Learning (ISSO) if applicable, and to the student so that the expected degree date may be changed.

* For example, the expected graduation date of a student who should be graduating after the standard 1-year / 2-semester program in May 2020, will be changed to a 3-semester program with an expected graduation date of December 2020.

U.S. Citizens

For U.S. Citizens, nothing additional will be required at this point.

International Students

International students will be required to follow the directions of the Office of Global Learning (ISSO) to work out the details regarding extending their I-20. You will be notified by their office on what documents are required.

Students are solely responsible for making sure to apply for an extension of their I-20.

Please be aware that additional Financial Certification documents will be required.

Requesting a Third semester to begin January 2021

Some students may want to rejoin their studies starting in January 2021. The above requirements would still be required when your studies are resumed in January. The added requirement would be filing out a Leave of Absence (LOA) petition with the Graduate School for the fall 2020 semester along with the third semester petition. Please contact Barbara ( for information and instruction on filing the LOA petition as soon as possible but no later than July 30, 2020.

International students should contact the office of Global Learning International Student and Scholars to discuss visa and I-20 issues, requirements etc. prior to filing out the third semester and leave petitions. Taking a leave in the fall 2020 semester may require you to return to your home country.