FAQ for Current Grads

Financial/Employment Questions

I'm going to be a TA/GSR for the first time. What do I need to do?
Notify your department of your employment plans. TAs should contact Arturo Vazquez to do this.  GSRs (formerly know as RAs) should contact Arturo Vazquez as well.

If you have not worked at UCSD before, you will need to fill out New Hire paperwork with the department. This paperwork requires that you bring in proof of your eligibility to work. See page 5 of the I-9 form (PDF) for a list of acceptable documents to establish this. New hires should also bring in a voided check to apply for Direct Deposit. International students will need to bring in additional documents when filing out New Hire Paperwork.

First time TAs are required to attend the Associated Student Educator training with CTD.

How much can I work?
During the academic year students may be employed at up to 50% time; total GSR appointments may not exceed 49.99% time. This includes the total of all combined employment at UCSD.

When no other student is available, you may be able get an exception to that rule for up to 75%. This requires a satisfactory Spring Evaluation on file and an exception letter written by your Graduate Coordinator, signed by the Chair, and approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies at OGS. No student will be approved to exceed the 50% rule retroactively (after starting work).

DO NOT begin work exceeding 50% time until you have received formal approval. Failure to do so may result in the inability to be paid.

During the summer students may be employed up to 100% time total. There are no exceptions.

How much can I work (international student)?
During the academic year international students may be employed at up to 50% time. No exceptions can be made to exceed this amount.

During the summer international students may be employed up to 100% time total. There are no exceptions.

How many hours does a 50% employee work?
40 hours a week is considered 100% employment. Therefore, a 50% TA/GSR should work an average of 20 hours a week over the course of their appointment, a 25% TA/GSR should work an average of 10 hours a week, etc.

How much will I be paid?
The amount you make corresponds to your employment percentage. For the 09/10 year, a 100% TA makes $3697 monthly before taxes. A 100% GSR at step 2 (the regular employment level for GSRs in our department) would make $2912 monthly before taxes. See more details on the academic employee pay rates.

In addition, students employed on academic titles for 25% or more during the quarter will have their TA Health Insurance, Registration Fees, and Educational Fees paid for them. These employees must pay the balance of approximately $260 in other fees (PDF) due each quarter before the start of classes.

How do I sign up for direct deposit?
Domestic students can sign up for direct deposit through Student Business Services for stipend payments. TAs, Graders, and GSRs may sign up for direct deposit through Payroll. To sign up for direct deposit for travel and other personal reimbursements see Disbursements.

I'm a TA. When will I receive my paycheck?
Regular TAs are hired for 3 full months for each quarter they work. They are paid equally for each month. TAs for Fall Quarter should be aware that they do not receive their first paycheck until after their first full month of work (end of October).

Below is the general schedule of paycheck disbursement. See here for current payroll calendars (PDF).

Fall TA – October 31st, November 30th, December 31st; 3 equal payments.
Winter TA – January 31st, February 28th, March 31st; 3 equal payments.
Spring TA – April 30th, May 31st, June 30th; 3 equal payments.

I'm a TA. Can you take the balance of my fees out of my paycheck?
If you are hired as a Teaching Assistant at a minimum of 25% time, the University pays health insurance and partial fee remission for you. You are responsible for paying the balance of fees. The TA Fee Deferment Program allows graduate students who have an appointment at a minimum of 25% to pay the balance of their registration fees (not tuition) through payroll deduction.

DEADLINE: To avoid a $50 late fee, applications must be received in OGS at least one day prior to the registration fee deadline.

I'm a TA, and I can't wait until the end of October to receive my first paycheck.
The TA loan fund provides Teaching Assistants with a loan for living expenses until receipt of the first paycheck on 11/1. If you are employed as a TA for a minimum of 25% for the entire quarter, you are eligible for this loan. Find information about the loan program and review the application (PDF).

Are there any teaching opportunities in the department?
Each year, the department has a limited number of opportunities for graduate students to serve as instructors. A call for Department Teaching Fellows will go out in Spring quarter. Course assignments are based on preparedness to teach, the student's progress in the program, and the fit and quality of the course proposal; only advanced students may apply.

I'm an Associate-In, TA or grader and my undergraduates have questions. Where do I go?
Check out our Instructional Support page. It contains information on how to reserve audio visual equipment, alternative examination information, how to make copies or handouts, and so on.

I have tax questions. Where can I go for answers?
For tax questions, please see our Tax FAQ.

I want to defer my student loans. How can I do this?
You may request verification of enrollment with the Registrar.

What is the In-Candidacy Fee Grant? Am I eligible?
Effective July 1, 2006, the In-Candidacy Fee Grant (ICFG) was discontinued by OGS. If you meet the qualifications in addition to having an outside funding source, you may be eligible for departmental reimbursement of your Educational Fee. Verify your eligibility with your Graduate Coordinator.

I have other financial support questions.
Please see our financial page.

Academic Questions

I need to add/drop a class. It's past 2nd week. What should I do?
Please review the procedures on how to add a class (same procedure as for undergraduates) and how to drop a class. Contact your Graduate Coordinate for an add/drop card.

After the 10th week of the quarter, any changes to a student's class schedule are considered a retroactive action. As such, a general petition is required to be submitted for Dean Barrett's review and recommendation to Committee on Educational Policy (CEP).

I have experienced an unexpected circumstance of difficulty and need to file for an incomplete, what do I do?

  • An incomplete may be assigned if a student's work is of passing quality. An incomplete may be issued for extenuating circumstances only (e.g., death in the family) and the student must obtain the instructor's approval prior to the final examination.
  • The student has until the end of finals week of the following quarter to complete the remaining coursework. If the student fails to submit the remaining coursework by the deadline, the incomplete will lapse to a permanent U or F.
  • It is the student's responsibility, and not that of the instructor or department, to adhere to the deadline for proper removal of the incomplete.

Can I repeat a class I did poorly in?

  • A graduate student assigned a grade of D, F, or U only may petition to repeat the course on the same grading basis for which it was first taken. Consult your Graduate Coordinator to petition.
  • Degree credit for the course will be given only once, but the grade assigned for each enrollment shall be permanently recorded.
  • Only the grade received in the repetition will be used in calculating the overall GPA for the first 16 units repeated.
  • Petition must be submitted to OGS for approval prior to enrollment in course to be repeated.

Can I sit in on an undergraduate language classes?
Graduate students may take undergraduate classes. However, to be a full-time student, grad students need to be enrolled in 12 units of graduate level or upper division coursework.  Since most language classes are lower division only, graduate students must be sure to enroll in at least 12 units of full-time course work in addition.

Languages can be taken for a grade or pass-no pass. Some instructors may allow you to audit, but language courses are often very full and auditing may not be allowed, especially if there is a waitlist. Enroll early to avoid being on the waitlist yourself.

Can I transfer classes I took at another university?
With permission of the Department's Director of Graduate Studies a student that has received a graduate degree in political science at another institution may count up to four quarter-course equivalents (taken at other institutions) toward the eighteen-course requirement, including the core curriculum. Typically, we only allow credit for "skills" courses, such as statistics or game theory. The rest of our curriculum is highly specialized and not substitutable.

Note: non-UCSD coursework cannot count towards the “good progress” requirements at UCSD. See the Rules and Requirements for details.

Program/Procedure Questions

Do I need to complete a Spring/Annual Evaluation?

Yes! This is not only required by the department, but by the Graduate Council. They require that all doctoral students be evaluated every Spring. A satisfactory evaluation on file in OGS is necessary for future support to be approved. The following are exempt from Spring evaluations:

  • A student advancing to candidacy during Winter or Spring of the current academic year. These students may still elect to be evaluated.
  • A student on an approved leave of absence during Spring of the current academic year. In this instance an evaluation must be submitted by the end of the first quarter of return to continue support.

Students are advised to work with their advisor and graduate coordinator for the timely submission of their evaluation so that student support for the future is not jeopardized.

The student signature is required on every evaluation. Student signature does not indicate agreement with the evaluation. It is expected that an evaluation will include a face-to-face meeting between the faculty member(s) and the student, and also that the student will feel free to make comments on the evaluation.

I need information on comprehensive exams.
See the Rules and Requirements section of the website.

When/how do I apply for my mid-PhD Master's?
Doctoral students in the Department of Political Science who do not already hold an MA may apply for an MA after successfully completing fifteen quarter courses (some of these courses may be In Progress), nine of which must be numbered between Political Science 200 and 279, and one seminar paper approved by a member of the Department. Candidates must be in good standing.

Students should submit their Application for Candidacy for the Master of Arts form before the end of 2nd week Spring Quarter. The Degree and Diploma Application and Final Report Form must be submitted after the Application for Candidacy for the Master of Arts form is approved and returned by OGS; these two forms may be submitted at any time.

(Note: If you are considering a terminal Master's degree, please see Graduate Advisor, Arturo Vazquez)

Procedures:

  • Obtain Application for Candidacy for the Master of Arts Form from your Graduate Coordinator.
  • Fill in form with fifteen quarter courses, nine of which must be numbered between Political Science 200 and 279. No credit will be allowed for 299 research courses.  Select Plan II-Comprehensive Exams as core requirement.
  • Return completed form by the end of 2nd week of Spring Quarter.
  • Upon OGS approval of your application for candidacy, the Graduate Coordinator will provide you with the Degree and Diploma Application. Return completed form by the deadline assigned by Graduate Coordinator (usually mid-quarter). This form is submitted along with the Final Report for the MA (completed by Graduate Coordinator) to the Office of Graduate Studies.

Note: Normally, duplication of advanced academic degrees, M.A., M.S., Ph.D., is not permitted. A duplicate academic degree is one at the same level, e.g., a second master's degree or second Ph.D., regardless of the discipline or the specialization awarding the degree. A professional degree at the master's or doctoral level, e.g., Au.D., Ed.D., M.B.A., M.Ed., M.F.A., M.P.I.A., M.D. Pharm.D., is not regarded as a duplicate of an academic degree.

I already have a comp exam committee. Is this the same as a doctoral committee?
No. Comprehensive Exam Committees are assigned by Field Coordinators and are only for the second year comprehensive exam. Doctoral committees are selected by the student based on the criteria in the question below.

Who can be on my doctoral committee? How do I appoint my committee?
A doctoral committee conducts the prospectus defense, supervises the preparation and passes the dissertation, and administers the final dissertation defense.

  • The standard committee consists of five members: three members from the student's home department within UCSD and two members from outside the department, including one tenured, within UCSD. Thoroughly review the "Doctoral Committee Membership" Chart and the University Policy Governing Doctoral Committee Membership prior to proposing a committee.
  • Due to the complicated breakdown of committees, we suggest you consult your Graduate Coordinator at least 6 weeks prior to the examination. To appoint your committee, email the names, titles, and department affiliations of your selected committee members to Arturo Vazquez no less than 3 weeks prior to the scheduled qualification exam for Advancement to Candidacy.
  • An advancement exam must not be scheduled unless OGS has approved the student's committee. DO NOT defend to an unapproved committee. Doing so may result in having to re-defend.

How do I make a change to my doctoral committee?
For a variety of reasons a doctoral committee may need to be reconstituted. The request to reconstitute the membership of a committee, including departmental affiliation, with the reasons for requesting the change must be submitted in writing by the department to the dean of Graduate Studies. To initiate this process, send the names of your new committee members to your Graduate Coordinator absolutely no less than 3 weeks prior to the scheduled defense, indicating who the new members are and why the change is occurring. Requests must be approved by the department chair and committee chair. Review the Reconstituted Doctoral Committee page for further information.

What do I need to do to defend my prospectus/advance to candidacy?
In order to advance to candidacy, a student must prepare a dissertation prospectus and pass an oral examination. Good progress toward the Ph.D. requires that students advance to candidacy by end of the Spring Quarter of the fourth year. 

For graduate class entering in the Fall 2013. Good progress toward the Ph.D. requires that students advance to candidacy by the end of the fall quarter of the fourth year. A student who fails to advance to candidacy by the end of the fall quarter of the fourth year may receive no more than a 33% teaching or research assistantship from the Department for the following quarters until advancing to candidacy. Students on a UCSD fellowship may receive no more than two-thirds of their stipend for the following quarters until advancing to candidacy.

  • Select your committee. See, Who can be on my doctoral committee?  How do I appoint my committee? for full details. The qualifying examination/defense may not occur prior to OGS approval of the committee.
  • Coordinate a date with your committee. Find a date and time during which all of your committee members are able to meet (usually for 2-3 hours) for your oral examination. Coordinating schedules can be difficult so consider an online scheduling tool such as Doodle. All committee members must be present for the advancement to candidacy exam and must sign the form. Arrangements can be made for a committee member to be present via teleconference only under special circumstances.
  • Request a room. Email Christina Butler to request a room for your defense. You must let her know if you require a room with teleconference capabilities.
  • If applicable, request teleconferencing support*. If you require teleconference capabilities, contact Christina Butler to request support. You will be responsible for picking up the teleconference phone and returning the projector (SSB 301).
  • If applicable, request a projector*. Our conference rooms are not equipped with projectors. If you would like to reserve a projector, contact Christina Butler with the date and time of your defense. Reserve your projector as soon as possible to ensure availability. You will be responsible for picking up the projector and returning the projector (SSB 301). Please be sure to indicate any special connection adapters (Mac computer).
  • Coordinate paperwork. Contact Arturo Vazquez to schedule a pick-up time for your prepared Advancement to Candidacy form, typically the day before or the morning of your defense. You will need this form at the defense to collect committee signatures.
  • Defend your prospectus. It is the student's responsibility to inform and remind all committee members of their scheduled defense. If your committee elects you to pass, have all committee members sign the Advancement to Candidacy form. The form must contain all original signatures; proxy signatures are not accepted. If you have a committee member teleconferencing in, the student must mail the form for original signature.
  • Obtain the Chair's signature. After you have successfully defended your prospectus, return the form to your Graduate Coordinator, who will acquire the Department Chair’s signature and return the form to you.
  • Submit your forms. Bring the form with all signatures to the Cashier's Office and pay the $50 fee. Bring the fee and all completed paperwork to OGS.

*The student is responsible for returning department property in good working condition and will be held accountable for any damages.

What do I need to do to defend my dissertation?

Defending the dissertation requires a series of steps you will want to become familiarized with well enough in advance to ask any pertinent questions or make alternate arrangements.  It is the students responsibility to oversee all aspects of the process, to obtain necessary signatures, and attend all meetings.  In the event that a student in unable to attend a meeting due to extenuating circumstance, the student will be responsible for assigning a proxy and making arrangements as needed.

  • Check your status.; Consult with your Graduate Coordinator if you are a student who has withdrawn or is not registered but is returning only to defend. You will follow these same procedures with an additional form and fee.
  • Review the Dissertation Manual. Read carefully over The Dissertation Manual from OGS outlining what must be done in your dissertation, including a strict formatting guideline.
  • If applicable, reconstitute your committee. If you have made any changes to your committee since it's last approval or if there have been any title changes or departures, you may need to reconstitute your committee.
  • Distribute your dissertation. Academic Senate policy states that a draft of the dissertation shall be given to each committee member at least four weeks before the examination date. The policy also states that the committee conducts the examination which is to be public and announced as such.
  • Coordinate a date with your committee. Find a date and time during which all of your committee members are able to meet (usually for 3-4 hours) for your oral examination. Coordinating schedules can be difficult so consider an online scheduling tool such as Doodle. All committee members are required to be present for the dissertation defense and must sign the form. Arrangements can be made for a committee member to be present via teleconference only under special circumstances.
  • Schedule and attend a Preliminary Appointment with OGS. Schedule your mandatory Preliminary Appointment with the OGS Academic Affairs Advisers at least 1 month prior to your defense (approximately 30 minutes). Schedule your mandatory Final Appointment for after your defense. Appointments can be made through the OGS Online Calendar. Be sure to include enough time to obtain all signatures on your forms. See page 57 of the The Dissertation Manual (PDF) for exact details
  • Request a room. Email Christina Butler to request a room for your defense. You must let her know if you require a room with teleconference capabilities.
  • If applicable, request teleconferencing support*. If you require teleconference capabilities, contact Christina Butler to request support. You will be responsible for picking up the teleconference phone and returning the projector (SSB 301).
  • If applicable, request a smart TV screen**. Our conference rooms are equipped with smart TV screens. If you would like to use it, please contact Christina Butler with the date and time of your defense. Reserve a conference room as soon as possible to ensure availability. Please be sure to indicate any special connection adapters (Mac computer).
  • Coordinate paperwork. Contact Arturo Vazquez to schedule a pick-up time for your prepared Ph.D. Final Report form and your Diploma Application form, typically the day before or the morning of your defense. You will need the Ph.D. Final Report form at the defense to collect committee signatures.
  • Defend your dissertation. It is the student's responsibility to inform and remind all committee members of their scheduled defense. If your committee elects you to pass, have all members sign your Ph.D. Final Report Form and your signature page. These must have the original signatures of all committee members; proxy signatures are not acceptable. If a committee member teleconferenced in, the form must be mailed to that member for signature either beforehand or after. Graduate Council has permitted a member who plans to teleconference to examine the candidate in advance of the exam date and to then sign off on the Final Report and the Signature Page. If the absent member has questions for the committee to consider at the exam, the committee chair should then withhold signature until those questions are resolved. This procedure should not be undertaken without the department and committee chair's advance approval. The committee chair and the tenured outside member must always be present at a defense exam. Whether you plan to mail the form to the telecommuting committee member before or after the defense, please allow adequate time for the form to be sent, signed, and returned.
  • Obtain the Chair's signature. After you have successfully defended your dissertation, return your Ph.D. Final Report form to your Graduate Coordinator, who will acquire the Department Chair's signature and return the form to you.
  • Schedule and attend a Final Appointment with OGS. Schedule your mandatory Final Appointment with the OGS after your defense. Appointments can be made through the OGS Online Calendar. Be sure to include enough time to obtain all signatures on your forms. See page 57 of the Dissertation Manual (PDF) for exact details. Bring your PhD Final Report with signatures, your Degree and Diploma Application, and 2 copies of your dissertation on 100% cotton paper (include signature page) unless you are filing electronically. You are not "finished" until the dissertation has been filed with the Library and OGS has signed off on all paperwork.

*signature page – this is page iii of your dissertation. See page 18/19 of the Dissertation Manual (PDF) for an example.

**The student is responsible for department property and maintaining its working condition and will be held accountable for any damages.

My Pre-Candidacy Time Limit is up at the end of Spring Quarter. When is the last day I can defend my prospectus?
The official Pre-Candidacy Time Limit is the end of Spring Quarter of the 4th year. Fourth year students who have not defended by the end of spring cannot register again. Because of the difficulties that sometimes arise when selecting a committee and scheduling a defense, we urge you to prepare for and schedule your defense before the very end of the quarter.

Can I take a Leave of Absence?
Review your situation with your Graduate Coordinator to determine eligibility and alternative options. Students are allowed a maximum of three (3) quarters Leave of Absence during their tenure in the program. Reasons for a Leave of Absence can include employment, family, financial, health, transfer, or other. It is the student's responsibility to ensure their paperwork has been properly coordinated adhering to academic deadlines. This can be done by monitoring your Academic History through TritonLink. For information regarding Health Insurance while on an approved leave, visit Student Health Services.

Can I register in-absentia?
Advanced doctoral students performing research away from campus and outside the state of California may be eligible to register in-absentia for up to two (2) years. During this time a student enrolls in units and pays reduced fees. Time registered in-absentia does count towards all established time limits. Review the In-Absentia Policy (PDF) and FAQs guide for further information. Consult with your Graduate Coordinator to determine eligibility and make arrangements.

What are the time limits I need to know about?

  • 1st year progress – completion of 9 or more courses, including 6 core courses
  • 2nd year progress –At the end of the second year good progress requires completion of eighteen courses, of which at least fifteen must be numbered between Political Science 200 and 279. A student must also complete the General Examination by the end of the second year. A student who has not attempted all parts of the General Examination by the end of the second year may not continue in the program.
  • Pre-candidacy limit – 12 quarters – Maximum registered time in which a student must advance to doctoral candidacy.  Students will not be permitted to continue in doctoral status if they have not advanced to candidacy before the expiration of the pre-candidacy time limit or if they have not completed their program before the expiration of the total time limit.
  • Normative time limit – 18 quarters – The period within which students, under normal circumstances, are expected to complete requirements for the doctorate. 
  • Support limit – 21 quarters – Maximum time during which a doctoral student is eligible for support. Students will not be permitted to receive UCSD-administered financial support after the expiration of their support time limits.
  • Total time registered limit – 24 quarters – Maximum registered time in which a student must complete all doctoral requirements.
  • 18TA Quarter Limit -- Effective Fall 2013, no one student may be employed as a teaching assistant and/or associate (teaching a course) for more than 18 quarters.

Time limits are affected by the following:

  • Up to three quarters time spent on approved Leave of Absence from the graduate program will not count in the above limits.
  • Time spent registered in-absentia will count towards the above time limits
  • Time spent withdrawn from the graduate program will count toward all time limits (pre-candidacy, support, total, and normative) for a student who is readmitted to the graduate program.
  • Time spent at UCSD as a master's, non-degree graduate, or intercampus exchange student will count towards the above time limits.
  • Adjustment to the time limits for students who change departments or enroll for one year or more of half-time study may be made upon departmental recommendation and approval by the Dean of Graduate Studies (normative time is not adjusted for quarters registered at half-time status).

When will I receive my diploma?
Diplomas are only issued 4 times a year. Diplomas take 2-4 months after the end of the quarter to issue. The date on the diploma will always be the last day of that particular quarter. The registrar does not start processing diplomas until the quarter is over. Students who finish in spring should expect to receive their diplomas sometime over the summer.

Diplomas are mailed to the address on your TritonLink account, so be sure to keep it up to date.

I have a question that I couldn't find the answer to. What do I do?
Contact your Graduate Coordinator, Arturo Vazquez.

Our Ph.D. program in Political Science is designed to break down barriers and build bridges across the subfields and give all of our students a broad command of the discipline as a whole, regardless of their area of specialization.


Contact Us

Director of Graduate Studies
Karen E. Ferree
(858) 822-2309
SSB 391

Student Affairs Manager
Vacant
(858) 534-7381
SSB 302

Graduate Coordinator
Aubrey Rudd
(858) 534-2705
SSB 305 (301)