Academics

On September 2, SAIC will return to on-campus teaching and learning with modified in-person classes—those that may take place both in-person and online—as well as fully online classes. The new academic calendar, which includes slightly staggered class start times to reduce on-campus density, will go through Thanksgiving Break (November 25-29), after which point classes will resume for the remainder of the semester online.

PeopleSoft Self-Service and the course information on saic.edu provide information on how each course will be delivered. Students can review their updated academic schedule; weigh it against their needs, preferences, and circumstances; and make any necessary adjustments. They can also search for courses specifically based on how they will be delivered: “Modified In-Person” or “All-Online.” 

If undergraduate students have questions about their schedule, they should schedule an appointment with their academic advisor by emailing them directly or calling their office at 312.629.6800. Graduate students should reach out to their graduate coordinator, program director, or administrative director to make any needed schedule adjustments.

Academic Advising has prepared a list of common questions and answers that they’ve heard in their recent conversations with students related to course offerings. This document also includes screenshot instructions for using PeopleSoft Self-Service to identify how a course will be delivered and how students may search for courses by method of delivery.

Classes

Whether modified in-person or online, we have options to ensure that all students—including those who are unable to be on campus for any reason—​​​​​​​can participate in courses and make progress toward their academic goals. All fall 2020 courses will proceed in one of two formats: 

Modified In-Person Courses

These courses will include in-person activity and reflect SAIC’s commitment to on-campus instruction while adjusting class experiences to promote the health and well-being of our community. Many modified in-person courses will be “hybrid” courses, requiring in-person, on-campus elements, as well as online elements. Modified in-person courses will:

  • Focus time spent on campus toward giving students opportunities to use SAIC's tools, shops, and other campus-based physical resources
  • Schedule students to rotate when they work on campus or remotely to help de-densify campus
  • Include synchronous and asynchronous online activities to augment in-person instruction, such as lectures, demonstrations, critiques, and assignments
  • May have slightly modified start and end times to allow for social distancing, reduced elevator capacities, and traffic
  • Have an online curriculum prepared in advance for students in the event of illness, quarantine, or campus closure
  • Require regular access to a computer and a high-speed internet connection

Modified in-person courses will make up the majority of courses SAIC offers in the fall 2020 semester.

Fully Online Courses

These all-online courses will not include any in-person activity on our campus or elsewhere and will draw on SAIC’s versatile curriculum, faculty expertise, and technology resources to put forward digital learning experiences that take full advantage of the online format. All-online courses ensure that all students, whether they are on campus or not, have the opportunity to continue making, learning, and progressing toward their degree. These courses are also available to any student interested in taking some online courses to complement others they’ll take in-person. All-online courses will:

  • Allow students to take a course from anywhere, provided the student can engage in the asynchronous and synchronous requirements of the course
  • Likely include synchronous participation via video conferencing during the scheduled hours of the course
  • Emphasize direct interaction between students and faculty online. Students should expect to connect with their instructor weekly throughout the course
  • Seek to use materials that students are more likely to have at home or are more easily acquired
  • Focus on making that is more suited to home and non-campus environments
  • Require regular access to a computer and a high-speed internet connection

Academic Calendar

The 2020–21 fall semester begins on Wednesday, September 2, and ends on Monday, December 21. All in-person instruction will conclude by the Thanksgiving holiday (November 25–29) and will resume online for the remainder of the semester. Thanksgiving is one of the busiest times for travel in the US, so we will allow students on campus, where facilities and resources will remain open, through the end of the fall term only if they choose not to travel out of state for the holiday.

Current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires students coming from abroad to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in the US. The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) has ordered that individuals coming from states experiencing a surge in new COVID-19 cases are required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Chicago. Please note, travel restrictions may be updated, so as you’re planning your return to campus, please check the CDC and CDPH websites for guidance. If you are coming from areas from which you will be required to quarantine, we recommend you arrive in Chicago two weeks prior to your first class or by August 18. If a student is unable to arrive by this date and misses in-person class activity as a result, faculty will be prepared to work flexibly with them while they complete this required quarantine. More information on this can be found on our Residence Lifepage.

Below is the academic calendar for fall 2020.

  • September 2: Fall semester begins
  • September 7: Labor Day (no classes)
  • November 3: Last day to withdraw from a fall semester class
  • November 24: Last day of in-person course activity
  • November 25–29: Thanksgiving Break (no classes)
  • November 30: All courses resume online
  • December 21: Fall semester ends

Further Details Will Come from Individual Faculty and Departments

Faculty and departments continue to finalize critical details about course activities, working within the framework of Make Ready. We have strongly encouraged faculty to be in touch with enrolled students this summer to share more specific information on their plans and expectations for the fall, and we expect a great many will be in touch over the next few weeks to provide you with further detail on what you can look forward to in your classes this term. If you have any concerns about access to technology potentially impacting your ability to participate in your courses, please contact your faculty members.

Some faculty may not be in a position to correspond with students over the summer, but SAIC will ask faculty to share their completed syllabus with students no later than September 2, the first day of the semester.

In-Person Attendance Expectations

Any absence from in-person class activity due to illness, any symptoms of illness, or precautionary self-quarantine will be excused. This means that students will not face academic penalty for such absences, and instead, faculty will provide students with alternative work or ways to engage with the class while they are out.

The attendance policy and related expectations have undergone significant revisions due to the global pandemic. The full policy will be shared as a part of the Student Handbook and SAIC Bulletin and covered during New Student Orientation events.

Modified Class Meeting Times

To facilitate social distancing and de-densify our campus, in addition to running some courses all-online and others in a modified in-person format, students will attend classes with staggered start times. Classes may begin and end earlier or later than originally planned, by as much as a half hour. We are making these adjustments based on a detailed assessment of course enrollments and room and elevator capacities, and we are taking care to avoid creating conflicts in students’ existing schedules.