Graduate Student Orientation - Frequently Asked Questions

Graduate Student Orientation Questions

  • Who should attend Graduate Student Orientation (GSO)?
  • All new graduate students are welcome and highly encouraged to attend GSO.
  • Does my graduate program have its own orientation? If so, do I need to go to both Graduate Student Orientation and my program's orientation?
  • Many graduate programs and groups host separate orientation programs for new students. Some are elaborate, multi-day affairs that include tours of field sites around the state, while others are a simple, half-day of lectures and discussion. Regardless of its scope, each graduate program’s orientation is a chance to meet graduate student peers, as well as faculty and staff members in the program.
  • Check with your graduate program coordinator for more information about the dates and times of the program’s orientation.
  • We strongly recommend that students attend both their program and the general orientation, as each event covers a different set of critical resources and services.
  • I have already taught at another university, do I still need to attend TA training and Graduate Student Orientation?
  • Yes, if you are a new teaching assistant (TA), you are required to attend TA Orientation (TAO) and Graduate Student Orientation (GSO) regardless of prior teaching experience.
  • Is the Sexual Violence Prevention Training mandatory?
  • Yes, UC Davis requires that all new graduate and professional students complete in-person mandatory sexual violence prevention training (SVPT) within the first six weeks of their beginning classes at UC Davis. Topics covered in the program include definitions of sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating and domestic violence, stalking, and consent; social norms which contribute to violence; upstander intervention; confidential campus and community resources; and reporting options. 

    If you are unable to attend the mandatory sexual violence prevention training, it is your responsibility to make arrangements to take it another date and time by contacting
  •  I was an undergraduate at UC Davis, do I need to take the Sexual Violence Prevention Training again?
  • Yes. The information in SVPT is updated each year and contains material specific to graduate students that is not covered in the undergraduate sessions.
  • I will be a TA or an employee, do I need to attend this session too?
  • Possibly. Graduate students who received SH prevention training as former or current UCD employees prior to becoming new graduate students this Fall must attend SVPT. The session includes material specifically for students that is not included in employee training. However, SVPT for graduate students now also includes SH material for employees. So new Fall 2018 graduate students who will also be employees do not have to also attend an SH session for new employees.  Attending SVPT covers both requirements.
  • What if I have a department meeting or obligation during part of GSO?
  • GSO is designed to supplement departmental orientations. Graduate Studies and the programs attempted to avoid scheduling conflicts. If you have any conflicts, please send an email to
  • Is there a separate orientation for International Graduate Students?
  • International Graduate Students have requirements to complete through their iGlobal portal to ensure they maintain their F-1 or J-1 visa status. Instructions will be sent to your UC Davis email address. Services for International Students and Scholars (SISS) will also offer optional sessions on topics related to employment and adjusting to life in Davis. For more information, visit the SISS webpage   
  • I am an International Student who has already passed the TOEFL, do I still have to go through the ESL process?
  • All international teaching assistants are required to verify their English language proficiency in order to obtain employment as a TA. To determine what steps you must take to (a) verify your proficiency or (b) improve your language skills, please consult the International and Academic English (IAE) office’s English Language Requirements for Graduate Students guide.
  • How do I register for Graduate Student Orientation?
  • We highly recommend pre-registering for Graduate Student Orientation.  Registration for Graduate Student Orientation, SISS/International Graduate Student Orientation and the Holistic U Program will open in July.
  • Do I need to have my AggieCard (the UC Davis identification card) in order to register for GSO?
  • No; students do not need to have their AggieCard in-hand prior to registering in advance for orientation events. Students will, however, be required to present their ID cards upon orientation check-in and for the mandatory Sexual Violence Prevention Training and TA Orientation sessions. For this reason, we strongly recommend ordering an AggieCard online in advance and retrieving it upon arrival to campus. For more information, please see the question below: “How do I obtain an AggieCard?”.
  • How do I obtain an AggieCard (the UC Davis identification card)?
  • You will want to obtain an Aggie Card in order to access certain services on campus. This card is also required for check-in at GSO as well as the Sexual Violence Prevention Training and TA trainings held during Orientation. You can visit the AggieCard website and scroll down to see specific steps required for graduate student AggieCard applications.

    Note that you must have a UC Davis Kerberos ID and password—and have submitted your Statement of Intent to Register (SIR)—before you can order your AggieCard. You will also be required to present government-issued photo ID for verification.
  • How do I get to UC Davis?
  • UC Davis is located near two international airports: Sacramento International and San Francisco International. Depending on where you are coming from, you will likely fly into one of these airports and then take ground transportation to Davis or Sacramento. There are a number of transportation options from each airport depending on how much money and time you wish to spend.

    Getting to Davis from Sacramento International Airport
    Davis Airporter Van Service
    ​- Yolobus
    - Taxi Service/Uber or Lyft

    Getting to Davis From San Francisco International Airport
    Davis Airporter Van Service
    BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) and Amtrak (take the BART to Richmond Station, connect to Amtrak at Richmond and stay on until Davis)
    - Zimride - Ride Sharing Service
    UC Davis's website includes the Zimride Service, where you can register to share rides with other people from UC Davis. Once you've registered with Zimride, you can add when you're heading to the airport (either Sacramento or San Francisco) to connect with people who can either give you a ride or share the cost of a taxi with you.
  • How do I obtain a parking permit?
  • For one-day on-campus parking, you may purchase a visitor parking pass for $9 at any of the yellow dispensary machines located in designated visitor lots. Students wishing to purchase quarterly or yearly parking passes will need to visit the Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) office, located next to the Hutchinson Boulevard parking deck, to purchase a permit.

    For a map of parking areas on campus, please click here. Most graduate students purchase C (“student”) or L (“commuter”) passes, although some individuals with GSR appointments are eligible for A (“faculty and staff”) permits under specific circumstances. For more information on the different permit types, please click here. For more specific information on which permit type is right for you, please contact TAPS directly.
  • Is there a map of UC Davis?
  • Yes, an interactive campus map can be found here.
  • What sort of attire is appropriate or expected during GSO?
  • Most students feel comfortable wearing casual clothing and comfortable walking shoes.
  • I cannot attend any of the Orientation events; what should I do?
  • 1. Each department has a graduate program adviser and a graduate coordinator or administrative assistant. We strongly urge you to identify these key people - they can be excellent resources.
    2. Obtain any materials from your department that describe requirements for satisfactory progress and degree completing. Keep these items in a permanent file.
    3. Take a guided tour of campus.  
    4. Scan the headlines in your monthly issues of GradLink, our graduate student e-newsletter which will be sent to your UC Davis email address on the first Tuesday of every month.
  • I am an out-of-state student who wants to establish my California residency for tuition purposes as soon as possible. Are there things I need to do before Orientation?
  • There will be a detailed presentation from the University Residence Deputy (RD) during GSO on the process for applying for California residency. However because you cannot apply for residency until 366 days after arriving in-state, please take the following steps as soon as you arrive in California:

    - Apply for a California driver’s license
    - If you own a vehicle, obtain a California vehicle registration
    - Change your voter registration

    Taking these and other appropriate steps will document your date of arrival into the state, a necessary step in securing residency for tuition purposes. For more information, consult this list of key information for graduate students prepared by the RD or consult the UC system’s residency website. The steps for obtaining the indicia of residence must be completed during the first quarter of residence in order to be ready for California residence determination the following year.
  • I have questions about Student Health Insurance.
  • Student health insurance services are provided through the UC-wide Student Health Insurance Program (SHIP). For more information, please visit the UC Davis SHIP website.
  • don’t have employment (TAship, GSR, Readershp, etc.) for fall quarter. Is there a job search tool I can use to find openings relevant for graduate students?
  • Yes; the university-wide jobs database, Aggie Job Link (AJL), contains the most up-to-date job listings on and off campus. The Internship and Career Center (ICC) has partnered with Graduate Studies to provide a special filter that returns only those jobs targeted toward graduate students. Please consult the AJL page on the Grad Studies website for more information or to search the listings.

    Note that the weeks just before and after the start of the quarter often see an increase in job postings—a result of last-minute employment and staffing changes. For this reason, it is important to regularly check and re-check the listings when seeking on-campus employment.
  • I'd like to learn more about the City of Davis. Is there an online resource with more information?
  • Yes! Davis has an extremely thorough (and award-winning) online city guide called DavisWiki; this is an open-source, communally edited compendium of information related to all things Davis. Because the wiki relies on its users to remain relevant and up-to-date, you are encouraged to create an account and add your own thoughts to life in Davis during your time here. 
  • How do I find housing in Davis?
  • Because of the low vacancy rate and high demand, housing in Davis can be challenging to secure. The best approach is to start searching early and to remain persistent. Please visit the UC Davis Housing website or the DavisWiki Rental Housing Guide for more information.
  • Where can I purchase a bike?
  • Davis is one of the most bike-friendly towns in the United States; because of this, many Davis residents commute by bicycle. In addition to shops downtown, there are several options for securing a bike at UC Davis: The Bike Barn on campus has great deals on new bicycles, and Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) holds a bike auction twice a year, in mid-October and early May.