Frequently Asked Questions for Corcoran Students

Students conversing
August 25, 2020

Frequently Asked Questions for Corcoran Students


Below are frequently asked questions from Corcoran students from both of our town halls on August 19-20, 2020. If you don’t see your question answered, please send a note to your program contacts or to [email protected] and we will get back to you as quickly as possible. You can also watch the town halls below:


Town Hall for undergraduate seniors and graduate students

Town Hall for undergraduate sophomore and juniors




For students who left items behind in Corcoran lockers or studios but are unable to return in the fall to schedule a pick up time, will the items be left in the lockers and studios until we can safely return to campus? How can we get our items back?


All items that were left in lockers, flat files, studios, etc. will not be thrown away and will remain where they are until students are able to retrieve them. If anything needs to be moved, we will contact you and let you know how they will be handled and where they will be stored. We don’t foresee much of this happening in the fall semester, but if anything has to be relocated it will be safely boxed and moved by studio staff to a secure location. If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at [email protected]


We also apologize for the short notice of the pick up schedules in August. We'll communicate information about additional pick-up opportunities as soon as we learn more ourselves.


What are some of the ways students can access studio tools from home?


Studio staff and faculty will be offering virtual assistance to students. Courses are planned with the idea that students will not have access to the tools of the studio so the items needed by students will be things they have or can purchase. If a student is having trouble setting up their home studio or getting a process to work they will be able to communicate with faculty and studio staff to help come up with a solution. Email studio staff at [email protected].


What support will students have when they encounter difficulties with remote access?


IT help is still available to all students via OTS.

Please keep your advisors and professors informed, too, as they may be able to give you additional support.


The OTS team has also created this helpful guide for the Corcoran:

Software Resources


Curriculum Questions


How will studio art classes work remotely without access to studios, equipment, etc? How are studios going to actively function? I ask about the lack of studio culture and inability to use studios and tech (printers, laser cutter, computers, etc.).


All faculty members understand that students will be working from home without access to the Corcoran’s studios and equipment. Everyone has been tasked with the challenge of completing the learning outcomes in each course under these new conditions. All of your faculty have experience producing work within less than ideal spaces, so students will certainly benefit from their faculty members’ collective experiences. Since students will not be on campus, we will not give assignments that would require them to have access to expensive equipment.


I am concerned about not having enough time to complete assignments. With in-person studio classes, they are mainly work driven and you are able to get help if needed but I am worried that it will now be filled with other instructions and questions that might give little time for actual completions.


Most studio courses will be structured in a similar way to how they function when we are in person. At the beginning of class, the faculty member will make some announcements and may deliver a short lecture and/or demonstration. Students will be given readings in many courses, which will be discussed synchronously with the faculty member and other students. Lastly, there will be a similar amount of open studio time during the regularly scheduled class time when the faculty member will be available to talk to students individually, not unlike how your professors move around the studio during in-person classes. As is always the case, the expectation is that students will spend a minimum of 4.5 hours outside of the regularly scheduled class period on their work for each studio course.


I’m concerned about receiving adequate and timely feedback on my work not only from professors but also from peers.


All faculty members have been instructed to meet synchronously with the entire class, so you should have opportunities to receive feedback from your faculty members and peers during virtual group critiques.  Like in-person courses, your faculty members will also be happy to meet with you one-on-one to provide any additional feedback that you desire, either during open studio time during the weekly meeting times and/or during office hours. We understand that group and individual critiques are critical components to how we learn as artists, so critiques will continue within the virtual classroom.


How are thesis classes supposed to work? Are my professors going to request expensive materials to buy for class which are then going to put a further financial burden on us?


Each of your thesis and capstone professors will be reaching out to you individually, but we wanted to provide some broad notes below:


Thesis projects are primarily student driven, which is unlike project-based assignments in many other types of courses. When students are taking thesis classes in person, many supplies for their personal thesis projects are not provided by the Corcoran. For instance, photography students must purchase their own paper and cover the cost of framing, even though the Corcoran provides the printers and ink (or enlargers and darkroom chemicals). The university has removed the lab fees for most studio courses given that most students will not have any access to the Corcoran studios. The lab fees for photography, photojournalism, and new media courses has been reduced to $55 because these fees not only help offset the cost of ink for the printers (which most students will not be able to utilize), but also provide funding for many of the software programs that will still be available remotely. Therefore, just as is the case when students are taking courses in-person, the final projects are, to some extent, dependent upon each student’s financial situation.


Having said all of the above, we realize that one of the major concerns is not having access to all of our studio spaces. As a solution, we worked hard to get permission for seniors and graduate students, who are enrolled in thesis or other studio capstone courses, to have a limited amount of access to their personal studios as well as shared studio spaces. Therefore, for those select students who will be in Washington, D.C., and agree to the strict COVID-19 testing protocol, they will have a limited amount of access to most of the labs and studios at the Corcoran. These students do have to request access, as it is not automatically granted.


One note about the BFA in photojournalism: We are aiming to provide the students with the required equipment to complete their thesis and help them to navigate the challenges of the moment within their studio practice. We are not planning to request the purchase of expensive materials, but we should be preparing students to print physical work for NEXT, with web presentation as an alternate plan.


Many of our computers struggle to keep up with Revit/Sketchup, etc. Mine usually works fine, but there's a constant fear of the computer breaking/crashing and having no solution (whereas normally, we can at least count on the lab computers).


Thank you for this question, which applies mostly to interior architecture students, but which we are sharing since others might have a similar concern. Our suggestions are below.


  • Students should save work frequently and post a copy to at least two locations.
  • If you are accessing Revit/AutoCAD remotely you have to save to Box, which could be a backup.
  • The software listed is supported by GW so students will have support available. (We believe Academic Commons has information on student support for software, but we are confirming that for you.)
  • Professors will also work with you to give you remote access to Corcoran’s computer labs. Please be in touch with your class’ professor for details about this.


I'm concerned about having access to the libraries for research.


Remote library services and resources and virtual tutoring services are available while library buildings are closed. Assistance with all services, including locating print materials or requesting materials be digitized, is available. Please be sure to check the GW libraries site for more information.


Diversity and Inclusion


What efforts are being made to diversify the curriculum, encourage professors to discuss BIPOC artists, bring BIPOC in to talk to us? What support exists for students getting together and organizing (ex. a fund for a speaker series hosted by MSSA, networking opportunities with alumni)?


These are important questions, and our programs will be discussing future efforts over the next few weeks. This year, we will partner with the Multicultural Students Service Center to share their programming with our students. See some of their incredible work. We also encourage students to get involved with the Visiting Artist and Scholars Committee where programming is set by students. This year’s advisor is Professor Lisa Lipinski at [email protected]. Gallery 102 has also created incredible programming highlighting BIPOC speakers and artists; to get involved email [email protected].


Our visiting artist this semester, Paul Rucker, is a visual artist, composer, and musician whose work investigates community impacts, human rights issues, historical research and basic human emotions surrounding a particular subject matter. Much of his current work focuses on the Prison Industrial Complex and the many issues accompanying incarceration in its relationship to slavery. We hope you will meet him and work with him at his upcoming events (see here).


This fall, the Corcoran is also hosting virtual events around the Women’s Mobile Museum, which interrogates access to the arts, and challenges who is educated by and represented in arts institutions. Compelling imagery asks us to question the gaze, housing, urban social infrastructure, memory, racism, and even what it means to make a photographic portrait. We are also inviting Jason De Leon and film director Raúl Paz Pastrana as part of Hostile Terrain 94, a participatory art project sponsored and organized by the Undocumented Migration Project. See some of the upcoming events. This includes a screening of Border South which explores stories of migrants from Mexico and the policies that force them into ever more dangerous territory.


Health & Safety Questions


What happens to students who get infected with COVID and get sick and have to recover and have to take a break from the semester?


Please reach out to your professors and advisors to work with them on course modifications if you experience illness or difficulties - COVID or otherwise. Our faculty members plan to be as compassionate and accommodating as possible in these situations. Please feel free to also reach out to Interim Director Kym Rice if you need any additional guidance or have any related issues during this time. Students may also reach out directly to the GW CARE Team in the Division for Student Affairs for additional assistance.


What is the protocol for testing and quarantining for students who are on campus?


More detailed information for students who are on campus will be coming over the next two weeks from the university, as well as from your programs on the available schedules and guidance for studio use (only for students who are working on thesis and capstone projects). See current guidance on which students this applies to here. For students who come from states that are considered by DC to be “high-risk,” GW must follow DC’s guidance on the time to self-quarantine.


I know that everyone is very focused on academics right now but I wanted to ask if there will be any non-academic events that are more for fun and for the Corcoran community? Like will there be online replacements for Corcoran balls and other events?


Yes, great question! At the Corcoran, we are hosting many events. In addition, our Corcoran student ambassadors are planning virtual events for our students. Dean Paul Wahlbeck also mentioned a cemetery walk around Halloween and other events planned by the Division for Student Affairs, so stay tuned for that! Many programs are also hosting virtual events and lounges for students to connect with each other. For example, here is what the Art History program plans to do:


Art History plans constant contact with students via the Graduate Advisor Lilien Robinson and Undergraduate Advisor Zan Dumbadze. As Program Head, Barbara von Barghahn is available for advice. We also are working on workshops for internships and resume building, career advice, etc. Weekly Coffee Hours are planned. The Visiting Artist and Scholars Committee lectures will continue.


Also, if you want to get involved with theatre, dance and music performances, auditions are open to everyone. Email [email protected] for details.


Is there a regular schedule of events/virtual meetings that is widely publicized?


Yes, there is. You can see all events on our website, and you should be getting emails every other week with events and opportunities starting in mid-September. If you aren’t getting these emails for whatever reason, please email us at [email protected] and we will make sure you are subscribed to the newsletter. In addition, programs and professors will also be in touch with their students to provide more specialized programming. If you have events to share, please also send them to [email protected]. Send any job openings to share on the newsletter to [email protected].


Will Credit / No Credit be made available this semester? The change of teaching platform is a great inconvenience to students and this should be made available until COVID restrictions are lifted.


Not at this time. In the spring, it was offered as an option because the move from in-person to virtual instruction was sudden and unplanned. We hope that this semester students will have the resources they need to be able to complete courses within GW’s usual academic structure.


Has the Corcoran/GW had any further conversations on adjusting tuition for grads?


Graduate tuition will be held at the 2019-2020 tuition rates for the 2020-2021 academic year effective in the fall semester. As conditions for the spring term become more evident, we will continue to discuss ways to support ongoing hardships that our graduate students are facing during the pandemic.


Paying course fees is difficult this semester because we don’t have any resources in Flagg to take advantage of. Normally this fee would help pay for supplies, printing, and access to the studios but we have none of that now. In addition, students are having to rebuy supplies that were either left at school or would have been included in the fee. Please consider waiving course fees due to the impact they have. If these fees cannot be waived, why does the 10% tuition reduction not apply?


Course fees have been removed for courses for which you may have paid for supplies and printing in the physical spaces. For fees on virtual classes, in order to use platforms digitally, some course fees still apply, but digital labs fees have been cut in half. See the “Curriculum” section above for more details.


Is it possible to provide the option for asynchronous attendance? During a pandemic with uncertainties so high, to expect people to make certain times is a no go. Time zone differences are also a factor for many out of state and international students when teaching a live class. Recorded lectures are often more convenient for students in other time zones.


All lectures will be recorded in case you have a time zone difference or connectivity issue. That said, synchronous class discussion is an important part of the curriculum and experience, so we hope that students will be able to participate at the same time when at all possible.


Can professors establish firm office hours that are CONSTANT and be easily accessible throughout the semester?


Yes, professors are required to be accessible this semester virtually, through consistent office hours. Please share any concerns with Kym Rice if you are having a different experience. We recognize that having access to your professors is an important part of the learning process, and so they will be available for questions outside of class hours.


Other Questions

Revised Financial Aid packages for Fall 2020:

For more information about this generally, please visit this FAQ page from the Office of Student Financial Assistance.

We recommend that you reach out to the Office of Student Financial Assistance directly to have a conversation specifically about your situation to make sure that everything was calculated correctly and to have a chance to speak with them to understand how your aid was calculated (and recalculated). If you have not yet spoken with them directly, we encourage you to reach out to speak with them. When you talk to that office, you may want to mention if you are paying rent where you would be living while taking courses remotely or let them know you want to apply additional aid due to special circumstances. This would give you an opportunity to talk about your particular circumstances to let them know why the change to your package would make it possible for you to attend this fall.

Office of Student Financial Assistance:
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 202-994-6620


Deferral or Withdrawal for Fall 2020:

Undergraduate students:

Please keep in touch if your advisor or program head as you decide about this fall. We certainly hope you are able to attend, but if you are not, we wanted to make sure you have the resources you need as you make your decision:


Graduate students:

Please keep in touch with your program’s Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) as you decide about this fall. We certainly hope you are able to attend, but if you are not, we wanted to make sure you have the resources you need as you make your decision:


Program Specific Questions


[Museum Studies and Art History:] If professors want us to write exhibition reviews/papers, how can we do that in a sophisticated way without going to see the exhibition in person?


You will not be asked to write exhibition reviews this semester in museum studies. The assignments will be different this semester given the conditions. Some classes, however, might suggest socially distant, safe activities such as looking at public art in their locations. But, your health and safety, including mental health, comes first and foremost in these decisions and requirements.


[Museum Studies specific:] Are there going to be opportunities to meet museum professionals outside of the program or other program professors outside of their classes as well?


Yes, there will be. The Museum Studies program will send out a calendar with details. And in many classes, we have upped the guest visits to increase your exposure as much as possible.


[Exhibition Design specific:] Are we supposed to buy and download software for classes before they start or should we wait until the first time we have the class?


There is no need to have everything set up before classes start. Our assignments are set up to allow time for acquiring resources.


[Museum Studies / Decorative Arts & Design History specific:] How will internships work this semester?


In Museum Studies, you will have the same guidance for securing internships that we usually provide.  We will send out open internships over our list serve and newsletter, and then you will work with your advisor once you have found something. We are also happy to write letters and serve as references.  If you have any particular questions, you will be able to discuss those with your advisor once the fall semester begins.

In Decorative Arts & Design History, you will have the same faculty guidance regarding your areas of interest that we usually provide. Just schedule an advising appointment with Prof. Erin Kuykendall to discuss. Our Program Administrator will continue to share internship opportunities with current students via email, as they are made available to the program. Your professors are always happy to write letters and serve as references.