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Admitted Graduate Students FAQs

Open House

What is open house all about?
Open house is typically held the beginning of March; only admitted students are invited to attend. Open house spans three days and admitted students are able to meet with current graduate students as well as schedule one-on-one meetings with faculty, tour the department and the greater UCSD community, and enjoy all that San Diego has to offer.

Email Accounts

When do we get our campus email addresses?
The Graduate Program Coordinator will inform you of your campus email address during the summer prior to enrollment.  You will need your PAC and PID to confirm your account.

Each grad needs to log into the Single Sign-On Self Registration site to obtain their password.

All correspondence from the department will go directly to your UCSD email address from now on. Certain confidential correspondence must go through this email, and cannot go through an outside account, such as gmail or hotmail. We therefore encourage you to make this your regular email address or set it up as a POP account.

Questions and problems with your email account should be directed to our Political Science IT specialist, Jeff Fritsch. If you would like to create an alias, please contact Jeff.


When will we get our PAC (Personal Access Code) and PID (Personal Identification Code)?
Your PAC and PID will be emailed to the email address you listed on your application during the summer prior to enrollment by the Registrar's Office.

What do I need my PAC and PID (Personal Identification Code) for?

Your PAC and PID are needed to log in to Tritonlink. From there, you will be able to register for classes, update your contact information, view your academic history, etc. The PACs are confidential and should be treated like one's personal bank PIN.

Campus ID Cards

I want to start using the facilities. When will we get our campus ID cards?
Incoming students will need a campus ID card in order to begin using campus facilities.  You may have your photo taken at Campus Cards (Student Services Center, 3rd Floor, Suite 354a, see map) and pick up your student ID card when the quarter begins. You may also now upload a photo online. If you need your student ID card prior to the start of the quarter you will need to request a letter from the Graduate Program Coordinator stating you will be enrolled in the Fall Quarter. Print the letter and bring it with you along with a photo ID and your PID number when going to the Student Business Services Office. There will also be an opportunity to go as a group to have your campus ID card created; this activity is usually scheduled around the time of orientation.

Getting Around

I don't have a car. What's the best way to get around campus?
UCSD offers a variety of transportation alternatives. For more information, visit UCSD Transportation Services. Here you can find information on parking, maps, shuttle routes, commuter solutions, etc.

Suggested Summer Reading

Is there anything I should read prior to beginning the program?
Please contact your first-year faculty advisor. 

Math Boot Camp

Is there a Math Camp for all incoming doctoral students?
There is an optional, but strongly recommended ten, half-day (four hours per day) "Math Camp" for incoming PhD students in political science. This is an intensive math refresher course that focuses on core concepts that you will use frequently as a graduate student. The teaching faculty varies from year to year. Professor Scott Desposato coordinates this math review session. The camp is typically held the first two weeks of September. You will receive additional information containing dates from the Graduate Program Coordinator by email. You do not need to register for this course; simply attend. 

Financial Support

When will I receive my first paycheck and/or stipend?
Students are supported through stipends and salary pay.  First-year students can expect to receive their Research Stipend on Sept. 1st.  Then, on Nov. 1st, you can expect to start receiving your salary for the 25% TAship and the monthly department stipend for the academic year (Oct-June).  Please refer to your admissions offer letter for additional details.

TAs will receive payment October 30. Even if you begin work late September, you must complete a full month of employment before receiving a paycheck. Fellowship payments are separate and completely unrelated to TA payments. Your first stipend (fellowship) payment will be October 30.

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.

How do I sign up for direct deposit?
Students can sign up for direct deposit through Student Financial Solutions for stipend payments. TAs, Graders, and GSRs may sign up for direct deposit through Payroll

I can't wait that long to receive my first paycheck. Is there a way to receive payments earlier?
You may apply to the TA loan fund should you have a TA assignment. The TA loan fund provides Teaching Assistants with a loan for living expenses until receipt of the first paycheck on 10/30. If you are employed as a TA for a minimum of 25% for the entire quarter, you are eligible for this loan. The maximum loan cannot exceed one month's salary minus the amount of any TA Fee Deferment requested. There is no interest charge. Loan processing takes up to ten working days. Checks are released in mid-September. The loan check will be mailed to your academic department (contact your Graduate Coordinator) unless you have signed a direct deposit form at the Student Business Services Office (a different procedure than the Payroll Office direct deposit form) that authorizes your check to be deposited directly into your bank account. The loan is repaid through payroll deductions in two equal installments from Dec. 1 and Jan. 1 paychecks. Review the loan application for further information.

Student Employment

What do the 25%, 33%, and 50% TA duties translate into in terms of teaching load (or grading load) per quarter?
In terms of hours per week, the average workload should be about as follows:

25% = 10 hours/week
33% = 13.3 hours/week
50% = 20 hours/week

Keep in mind that this is the average expected workload; in practice the workload will vary from week to week, especially for graders. Your primary responsibilities may be as either a grader or a section leader (normally, however, we do not assign first year students to lead sections). We have about 6 lower division courses that require section leaders, at up to 50% time.

I don't have any teaching experience. Is there training for Teaching Assistants?
Yes. All students awarded teaching assistantships (graders and section leaders) will receive training from the Senior Teaching Assistant in the department, in conjunction with the Teaching and Learning Commons.

What should I know about balancing my grader/TA responsibilities with my coursework?
Many PhD students before you have proven that it is possible to simultaneously perform TA duties and excel in coursework and other aspects of the program, such as general exams. A good strategy is to plan ahead, using slack times in grading to get a jump on peak periods in your coursework (and vice versa).

What are the summers like? Does the department tell you what to do with your summer, or is it up to the individual student?
It is up to the individual student. In practice, some students stay on campus during the summer, working as research assistants for faculty members or teaching in summer session (there are a limited number of TA-ships available in the summer session, for graders and section leaders). Some students travel to do fieldwork for their dissertations while others work off-campus or go home for the summer.

How do I go about getting a Research Assistant (RA) position for the summer?
You should contact the faculty member(s) with whom you would like to work, asking if they need an RA for the summer. A number of faculty members have large external grants which allow them to fund one or more RAs. Others have UCSD funding for this purpose. This is a great way to build ties to faculty and to learn skills that will be useful to your academic progress.

Does the department or university have a separate pool of funds for students presenting papers at professional conferences?

Students are allotted $300 per year for travel expenses to attend professional conferences where they are presenting work. Review the instructions for further details.

What are the funding opportunities for graduate student research at UCSD?
Please consult Fellowship & Funding Opportunities at UCSD for a compendium of university resources. Our students have also had success winning dissertation fellowships from the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (IGCC), which provides funding for UC graduate students from all campuses through its annual fellowship competition. There are additional fellowships for research travel provided by the Dean of Social Sciences.


What can I expect from the department orientation? Is it mandatory to attend?
Yes. The department orientation is usually set the week before fall quarter starts. All incoming students are required to attend. The orientation lasts all morning and contains introductions from the faculty, staff and Graduate Council plus important information on IT affairs, an overview of being a Teaching Assistant, and sexual harassment. The student led afternoon portion is optional and includes a peer-to-peer panel, information on how to get plugged into the department, and a department tour. More information on the department orientation will be sent from the Graduate Program Coordinator via email during the summer.

Are there any other orientations I need to attend?
The Graduate Division at UCSD hosts a one-day orientation for all incoming PhD students. The orientation aims to familiarize new students to all university programs and resources. Students who will be TAing for their first time at UCSD are required to attend a half day New TA Training workshop put on by the Teaching and Learning Commons. International students are strongly encouraged to attend the International Student Orientation hosted by the UCSD International Students and Programs Office.


I'm new to San Diego. What are my different housing options?
The Graduate Division provides a very helpful online guide for admitted students. This online guide will assist you with your arrival on campus and orientation to San Diego, and it will answer many of your questions on issues such as housing. Those interested in on-campus housing should apply to be put on the waitlist immediately. The Office of Housing provides full information on your housing options. In practice, students live in variety of locations on campus and throughout the greater San Diego area. It is a good idea to consult your housing options with current PhD students or visit the Grad Council Forum for a useful Where to Live Factsheet.

California Residency

I've been here for a year now and I don't want to pay out-of-state tuition. How do I apply for California residency?
There is a link to this form on the Application Status page of your electronic application. If you are unsure of your residency learn about how to begin establishing California residency for tuition purposes. Non-California residents should be sure to visit the above link and learn how to establish residency ASAP. Some steps, such as saving your moving receipts, may occur sooner rather than later. Please contact the Residency Deputy if you have further questions (858) 534-4586.

Students with Children

We're expecting! What can we do to prepare?
The University recognizes the special challenges involved in balancing participation in Doctoral programs and childbearing. For more information, review the university childbirth accommodation for doctoral students policy.

We already have kid(s). Are there any special services available?
Academic Student Employees with qualified non-school age dependents may also qualify for child care reimbursement.

For more information, visit Resources for Students Who Are Parents.

International Students

What else do I need to know about being an international student?
International students admitted to the Ph.D. program that have questions regarding visas, the I-20 form, or the DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility should contact Graduate Admissions directly.
All international students are required to check in at the UC San Diego International Students and Programs Office upon arrival to the United States. At check-in, you will need the following documents/information:

I-20 (F-1 Students) or DS-2019 (J-1 Exchange Visitors)
I-94 arrival / departure card
I-797 Approval Notice (if applicable)
Contact information (address, phone number, and email address) in San Diego

Additional questions regarding relocation to the United States should be addressed to the UC San Diego International Center or call (858) 534-3730.

International students are required to attend the “Mandatory New International Student Orientation” offered by the International Students and Programs Office.