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Academics

This page contains vital information about Chatham's schedule and academic offerings for Fall 2020.  Please read it carefully.  

Modified Academic Calendar

Following the recommendations of the University-wide work groups and public health and safety experts, Chatham will end in-person classes on Saturday, November 21 and resume virtually on Monday, November 30 through the end of the term on December 11 (this time will include classes and final exams or projects). In addition, there will be no fall break in order to maintain the academic calendar. 

This strategy that helps reduce the risk associated with having thousands of Chatham students travel for the holidays; mix with families, friends and strangers; and then return to campus. If this occurs, it will increase the chance of the virus being brought into the community, hinder critical end-of-term academic progress with absences due to sickness, and make contact tracing very difficult. This strategy (or a variation) is being pursued by a number of other schools as well.

Key Dates:
Aug. 19 and 20: New student move-in
Aug. 22: Returning student move-in
Aug. 24: Fall term begins
Sept. 1: Course add/drop period ends
Sept. 7: Labor Day, no classes
Nov. 21: Fall term, on-campus classes end
Nov. 30: Virtual classes begin
Dec. 11: Fall term ends 
Dec. 11: Virtual Commencement Ceremony

*Check the Academic Calendar for additional Fall terms and relevant dates.


December Commencement

The current restrictions on large events in Pennsylvania and Allegheny County limit the size of both indoor and outdoor events. As December Commencement is normally significantly larger than these current limits, Chatham will hold a virtual commencement ceremony for winter graduates on December 11, 2020. More details will be provided later in the term. 


Course Delivery Options

As part of Chatham’s ongoing Fall 2020 planning, Chatham has been working to provide additional virtual and online course options for students (living both on-campus or off) for the fall academic term. 

While it is not possible to offer virtual or online formats for every course at Chatham, numerous changes have been made to provide a variety of courses in the different delivery options for students. We are continuing to make updates to the schedule and course deliveries, so please continue to check back. 

These options are available to any student enrolled this fall including those uncomfortable with returning to campus for medical or any personal reason

To begin the process, students should first review their Fall 2020 schedule in the Student Portal. On the Portal and Course Schedule, there is information labeled Delivery and Classroom Space, which will identify the format of the class. There are three format options:

  • Classroom
  • Online
  • Virtual (noted as Delivery = Online with the classroom space listed as Virtual)

Students should review their schedules to understand any changes to the Delivery format of their registered courses that has occurred. Additional descriptions on the delivery formats are provided below.

If a student is registered for Classroom-based courses and does not feel comfortable attending class in-person, they should search the Course Schedule for courses listed as an Online or Virtual format. The student can then register for these courses through the Student Portal 

In addition to Chatham’s courses, undergraduate students can explore additional online course offerings through our participation in OCICU. Students should work with their advisor to determine course equivalencies and substitutions as needed. Students should read all of the information on the OCICU page to understand the requirements of the online, asynchronous learning environment. Most OCICU courses are 3 credits and are 8 weeks in length. 

If a student is unable to determine appropriate online or virtual alternatives for currently scheduled courses, they should complete this request form as soon as possible to work with their advisor, Department Chair or Program Director to adjust their schedule for the fall. 

Students should follow the usual process for changes to their schedule through the Student Portal from now through the add/drop period on September 1, 2020. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: When making any schedule changes, students need to ensure they maintain the appropriate credit load for the fall semester or their financial aid will be impacted. If you have any questions about your credit load and financial aid, please contact the financial aid department at FinancialAid@chatham.edu.

The following is a summary of what students can expect within the different delivery formats:

Delivery - Classroom
In this mode, face-to-face instruction occurs in classrooms or labs. Students will be required to attend physical classroom/lab sessions during the semester. These will appear on the schedule with assigned days and times and an assigned room. The Delivery will be Classroom on the schedule.

Many courses may employ flipped learning strategies (See FAQ below). Faculty may choose a “hybrid” form of Classroom Delivery where only portions of the class meet on a given day (for example, Group A on Tuesdays, Group B on Thursdays, or Group A for two weeks in lab, then two weeks online, etc.). Any such arrangements are handled by the faculty and posted on the syllabus in the LMS, but not the course schedule. Supplemental instructional material and activities will be included in the LMS.

Students should plan to report to class for classroom listings unless instructed by faculty member. Be sure to check email frequently the week before classes.

Delivery - Virtual
These classes are delivered on scheduled days and times but instruction is delivered via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or another appropriate synchronous classroom platform. Students and faculty engage in the synchronous classroom remotely, from campus dorms, other campus spaces, or at home. These appear in the schedule as Online Delivery, with indicated days and times, but with the classroom space listed as Virtual. This delivery format may be preferable for many students as opposed to an Online Delivery (below). There may be some variations in required student participation in synchronous classes but minimum requirements will be clearly listed in the syllabus.

Delivery - Online
These classes are delivered online, in a traditional asynchronous mode. The Day/Time is listed as TBD and the delivery is Online. There is no requirement for campus attendance (with some exceptions for required residencies in fully online programs). These courses may have some required synchronous participation, but it is limited and accounts for students in varying time zones, etc. Online courses offered by Chatham are generally asynchronous and may be in 7.5-week formats. Be certain to pay close attention to the start and end dates of courses in the course schedule. 


Medical Academic Accommodations

If you need academic adjustments for the fall due to medically-related issues, complete the alternative academic adjustments form no later than noon on Friday, August 14. 

All requests will be reviewed by a committee coordinated by OAAR, and a decision will be communicated to the student via email. Appropriate faculty and administrators will be notified by OAAR of the nature of the approved academic adjustments. All decisions are final. Even with adjustments, not every class may be available via distance learning, and substitutions may be necessary. Adjustments may not be possible in the case of cohort programs. 


Absences Due to Illness, Isolation, or Quarantine

Students will remain responsible for notifying faculty of illness whether a transitory ailment or COVID-related symptoms.

Any student who becomes ill with COVID or COVID-related symptoms, or needs to isolate or quarantine during the term due to exposure to COVID-19, will notify Health Services and work with the Office of Academic & Accessibility Resources (OAAR) who will coordinate with faculty members and others to develop a reasonable and individualized plan to meet their needs. Options for students unable to complete their courses will be discussed on an individual basis as there are many factors that impact these options for each student.

As is Chatham’s standard protocol, students should address concerns first with the faculty member; if concerns are not resolved, the department chair or program director should be contacted.


Internship Requirements & Exceptions

For information on Internships and Internship Exceptions, visit our Internships & Student Work page. 


Safety in Classrooms and Labs

Classrooms and labs have been arranged for physical distancing and sanitation stations installed. Students will sanitize their desks/workspaces when entering and before leaving classrooms and labs. Classrooms will be disinfected at least once, if not twice, daily. Some classes have changed room assignments to accommodate occupancy with recommended physical distancing. At the start of the term, please verify the meeting location of your courses.


Study Abroad and International Students

All spring, summer, and fall study abroad programming has been canceled for calendar year 2020.

Due to the continuing travel advisories and restrictions, Chatham Study Abroad is cancelled for the Spring 2021 term.

Decisions regarding Summer 2021 Study Abroad and Field Experience will be made in January 2021.

Per the latest federal guidance, changes from an in-person to a virtual environment at Chatham will NOT affect international students’ current standing as enrolled students. All immigration-related questions should be directed to the Office of International Affairs.

International students must be enrolled in at least one course that meets in person. If Chatham must move all courses virtual, as we did in Spring 2020, students may continue to study full-time within the US and retain immigration status.

FAQ: Academic Delivery

Flipped Learning is an approach to teaching in which direct instruction (such as lecture) moves from the classroom to “homework”. The classroom time is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the faculty member guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter.

In most instances, the change that students will see is that the lecture usually held in the classroom will move to a recorded delivery, viewable by the students prior to the scheduled class time. The physical class time will move toward more interactive activities, discussion, and engagement.

Flipped learning involves four pillars:

  • flexible learning environments,
  • student-centered classrooms,
  • just-in-time content, and
  • more-intentional instruction.

Adapted from: Talbert, R. (2014)

In flipped learning, the student work before class is meant to introduce concepts on the lower levels of Bloom’s taxonomy.  The higher levels, that are most valuable for real world success, are practiced and refined in the classroom problem solving sessions.  In this approach, the flipped-classroom really mimics the professional world where employees are asked to come prepared to meetings where they can address more complex problems as a team.  This is professional development that also leads to better understanding of the material.

Benefits of Flipped Learning for Students

  • Flexibility and Learning Styles. Students can watch recorded lectures on their own time and at their own speed. Students can review the material as often as they need before class. In addition, it gives students more time to think through questions or problems with the content.
  • Increased One-On-One Interactions. A flipped class provides space to devote class time for collaborative learning, case-based learning, and peer engagement. There is more class time for extended discussion and to address individual questions.
  • Student Accountability. Students are asked to come prepared for class and to learn. This is a life skill that helps students grow in their own responsibility and accountability. If students work with the fundamental material before class, they are better prepared to apply the information and engage in higher level discussions with their peers and the instructor.
  • Efficient Use of Class time and Higher-Level Learning. Class time is focused on higher-level discussion, problem-solving, application, analysis, and synthesis of material. There is more time to engage in active learning and challenge students in new ways.
PCHE cross-registration opportunities (for Chatham students to take courses at other Pittsburgh schools and vice-versa) are still in place. If this changes, we will update this FAQ accordingly.

FAQ: Accommodations

Chatham University will continue to provide on-campus housing accommodations to students who register for 12 credits or more, whether they are held in-person or online. Students who transition to a completely virtual or online class format will have the ability to remain in on-campus housing unless they decide otherwise. 

Any student interested in canceling their housing should complete the Housing Cancellation Request Form before checking into on-campus housing during student move-in.  Your account will be updated and the housing reservation fee will be credited to your fall tuition.

Current students who may need to take the fall semester off should contact their academic advisor or department chair (program director for graduate students) to notify them. New students must contact the Office of Admissions at chathamadmission@chatham.edu to request a deferral. This must be done before September 1 (the end of the add/drop period). It will also be important to contact the Financial Aid office to determine any impact to your aid package.

Students in an integrated degree program (IDP) will need to delay entry into the graduate program and should discuss the impact with their academic advisor or department chair.

FAQ: Academic Calendar

To maintain the academic calendar, there will be no fall break in October; however, there will be a full week’s break with no classes from Monday, November 23 through Sunday, November 29. Virtual classes will then begin on Monday, November 30 and run through Friday, December 11 (includes classes and final exams or projects).

Some programs, particularly in the health sciences, may continue on ground on a separate schedule. Those exceptions will be announced at a later date to the students in those programs.

Currently, the plan is for the spring term to operate on-campus under the same physical distancing and other health protocols as the fall term, with the exception of holding the last two weeks virtually. Any additional changes to the academic calendar or operations will be determined based on experiences during the fall term and the health conditions and requirements in November, December and/or January.  

After reviewing this information, if you have additional questions or need assistance, please contact your academic advisor or AcademicAffairs@chatham.edu for guidance.