Winter has come to the Arborteum with the leaves changing color to yellow as the rain falls on the Waterway

Help and Support

Dealing With Challenges 

Whether you're experiencing a gap in funding or a conflict with a professor, UC Davis Graduate Studies can help you navigate and overcome obstacles to your academic success. 

Our staff and faculty are available to meet with all graduate students individually to discuss any problems or concerns you are experiencing. 

  • Faculty/Graduate Student Relationships (including Mentoring Guidelines)
  • Conflict Negotiation
  • Academic Progress & Status
  • Interpersonal Concerns
  • Funding/Program Concerns
  • Your Rights And Responsibilities
  • Research concerns, including foreign financial conflicts of interest (COI), conflicts of commitment (COC) and other financial support and foreign affiliation issues
If you are in distress and in need of immediate counseling, mental health staff are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by phone at (530) 752-2349. 

Your Support Team

Early action is key. If you are experiencing an issue and need help, please email your SAA, and we will promptly connect you with someone who can help.

Depending on the nature of the problem or concern, you may be referred to a Senior Academic Advisor, a staff psychologist, financial services, or one of our Diversity Officers.

Contact Us

Should your situation require additional support, Ellen Hartigan-O'Connor, the Associate Dean for Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars, can act as an advisor and advocate for graduate students. The Graduate Studies leadership team takes a student-centered approach and can provide help problem-solving, identifying resources, and taking formal action if requested by the student.

Common Questions

Academic Performance

  • What options do I have if I fail the preliminary examination or qualifying examination (QE) and want to remain in the program?
  • If you fail your preliminary exam or QE, you are subject to disqualification. (Note that a “Not Pass” result, which is only possible on the first attempt, is not ”failing” the exam). You have the right to appeal disqualification. This appeal must be filed with the Dean of Graduate Studies within 30 days of a disqualification decision, and you must have cause for an appeal (e.g. procedural error or bias).  If you are being disqualified from a doctoral program, you can ask your Graduate Advisor or Chair about the possibility of receiving a terminal master's degree. For more information, review the Disqualification page.

    Main contact: The Senior Academic Advisors (SAA's) in Graduate Studies (  Appeal documents must be sent directly to
  • What are the repercussions of receiving a marginal or unsatisfactory progress assessment?
  • There are no direct consequences for receiving a marginal or unsatisfactory progress assessment.  Your Graduate Advisor and major professor should explain the reason for the outcome, the steps required to make good progress, and a timeline in their SPA comments.  Graduate Studies Senior Academic Advisors (SAA's) and the Associate Dean for Students review all unsatisfactory assessments to ensure students and programs have a plan in place.  If so, the Associate Dean will send you a notice confirming the requirements and timeline.  If you do not complete the requirements within the timeframe, you may be eligible for a program recommendation of disqualification.  Review the Student Progress Assessment (SPA) page for information about assessments and outcomes.    

    We recommend communicating with your major professor and/or Graduate Advisor if you have any questions about their reasons, requirements, or timeline.  If you feel you were not given sufficient information to meet the requirements, are involved in a mentorship conflict, or disagree with the reasons or requirements, make an appointment with one of the Senior Academic Advisors (SAA's) or the Associate Dean for Students.  Both SAA's and the Associate Dean are available to advise, refer resources, and act as an advocate.  
  • I was told that I should consider a master’s degree rather than continue with a Ph.D. program.
  • First, talk to your Major Professor about the issue.  If there is a disagreement about your continued study as a Ph.D. candidate, you can contact your Graduate Advisor or Graduate Chair to discuss the conflict.  Contact information is available on your Program page.  If you would feel more comfortable talking to someone outside your program, make an appointment with one of the Graduate Studies Senior Academic Advisors (SAA's) or the Associate Dean for Students.  
  • What can I do if am struggling to finish writing my thesis or dissertation because I do not have proper guidance?
  • Meet with your Graduate Advisor or Graduate Chair to discuss the conflict.  Contact information is available on your Program page.  If you would feel more comfortable talking to someone outside your program, make an appointment with one of the Graduate Studies Senior Academic Advisors (SAA's) or the Associate Dean for Students.  
  • I have been disqualified from my Graduate Program or Graduate Group.
  • Disqualification is a process, and not an immediate dismissal from graduate study.  If your program has recommended disqualification, Graduate Studies will be in contact with you to inform you of your right to appeal, and provide support through the process.  For more information, review the Disqualification page.

    If you are past the point of appeal and have been disqualified from your program, you may not return to complete that major/objective.  You may apply for admission to another UC Davis graduate program or apply for a different degree objective in the same program.  Contact the 

    Main contact: the Senior Academic Advisors in Graduate Studies (
  • I have problems with authorship.
  • The best way to prevent authorship conflict is to begin discussing authorship with your major professor and colleagues as soon as possible, i.e. before or at the beginning of the work.  Some authorship issues are field dependent, and the best contact may be your Graduate Advisor or Graduate Chair.  You may also use the mediation services offered by the Ombuds Office.  Review the Guidelines for Facilitating Publication of Graduate Student Work for information about the conflict resolution process. 

    If you would feel more comfortable talking to someone outside your program, make an appointment with one of the Graduate Studies Senior Academic Advisors (SAA's) or the Associate Dean for Students.  

    Information on copyright and intellectual property
    UC Open Access Policies
    UC Copyright Ownership Policy
    NIH General Guidelines for Authorship Contributions
  • Do I need to disclose an unpaid research collaboration with a foreign university as a potential conflict of interest?
  • Disclosure rules depend on the specific circumstances, and you should consult with the Office of Research.

    Information from the Office of Research
    Research Compliance and Integrity 
    Policies and Regulations
    Individual Financial Conflicts of Interest (FCOI) in Research


  • How do I secure funding if my major professor can no longer fund me?
  • Available funding options include, TAships, Reader positions, GSR positions, loans, or fellowships. If your GSR appointment has been disrupted by an unexpected gap in your PIs extramural funding, they may consider applying for Bridge funding.  This program is administered by the Office of Research, but applications are processed through the appropriate college/school.

    Additional information can be found through Graduate Studies Student Financial Support.
  • What can I do if am struggling to finish writing my thesis or dissertation because I need to continue working, but have no funding
  • Funding options available are TAships, Reader positions, GSR positions, loans, or Fellowships. Graduate students may work a maximum of 18 quarters in a teaching title (TA Reader, Tutor or AI). The 18-quarter limit is a UC Policy across all 10 campuses. It is absolute and no exceptions are granted. GSRs are limited to a maximum of 21 quarters of employment under campus policy. There is no flexibility once those maxima are reached.

    Main contacts: Your Major Professor and/or your Program Coordinator, as well as Student Financial Support.
  • How do can I stay in school if I cannot find a funding option (e.g. TA, GSR, fellowship)?
  • 1. Personal loans are available.
    2. PELP, provides a way to take time off from school to resolve financial problems and return within a year without having to readmit.

    Main contacts: Your Graduate Program Coordinator and/or the Senior Academic Advisors (
  • My Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition (NRST) waiver has run out and I still have not completed my degree. What are my options?
  • The NRST waiver extends for 9 registered quarters after you advance to candidacy.  International students can apply for a non-competitive NRST fellowship for 6 additional quarters.  This is a fellowship directly from Graduate Studies that allows International Ph.D. students to continue their studies within the normative time to degree that would be afforded to domestic students.  More information is available on the Non-Residential Supplemental Tuition page.

    If you are an international student and no longer have quarters of NRST waiver or fellowship, you can request one-time funds from your graduate program to assist with the NRST cost.  
  • I had a TAship, but due to low enrollment, it was terminated.
  • Summer appointments can be withdrawn because of low enrollment (Emergency funding through loans is available). During the academic year, if you sign an agreement accepting a TA position, the program must provide you one and you will be reassigned (Academic Student Employee Unit). If you were expecting a TA position and the opportunity did not materialize because of low enrollment before you formally accepted the position, the program has no obligation to provide another position. However, it makes sense to let the program know that you are looking for a position in case one becomes available unexpectedly.

Health/Well-Being/Personal Life

  • My health is starting to dramatically affect my academic performance or ability to do research.
  • Your health and well-being should be a top priority. You can find a number of on campus resources through Student Health and Counseling Services. A list of off campus resources is provided on the Resources page of the Graduate Studies website and on the Student Resources page of the UC Davis website.

    If you are interested in taking time away to focus on your health, graduate students are eligible for up to 3 quarters of Planned Educational Leave (PELP), with graduate program and Graduate Studies approval.  If you have used your three quarters of PELP, you may request an extension. The purpose of PELP is to enhance the prospect of a graduate student successfully completing their academic program by allowing time for the student to focus on personal, financial or medical needs, including care for a child or family member. To apply for PELP, visit our PELP page and then contact your graduate program coordinator to apply.
  • How do I take time off for myself? How long? What are the consequences?
  • If you are employed as an Academic Student Employee (TA, Reader, Tutor, AI), or as a Graduate Student Researcher (GSR), or supported by an internal or external fellowship, you may be eligible for certain leaves. See our campus policy on graduate student leaves and speak with staff in your hiring graduate program for more information. For all students, a Planned Educational Leave (PELP) provides a way to to temporarily suspend academic work and return within 1-3 quarters without having to readmit.
  • I just became a caregiver or parent. What services are available to me?
  • Consult the Parenting and Childcare page. Child care grants are available to graduate and professional students. Also, see our campus policy on graduate student leaves and speak with staff in your hiring department for more information.

Interpersonal Challenges

  • My major professor and I have different expectations; expectations have not been clearly communicated or understood.
  • Bring up this issue with your major professor or your Graduate Program Advisor first. Check out our Mentee Resources and Mentor Resources pages for setting and aligning expectation tools. If you still are experiencing an issue, you can also speak to your Graduate Program Coordinator, Graduate Program Chair, or Senior Academic Advisor. 

  • I believe I have experienced discrimination against myself based on my race/ethnicity, gender/gender-identity, age, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or citizenship status.  What can I do?
  • The Harassment & Discrimination Assistance and Prevention Program (HDAPP) is available to receive complaints of harassment or discrimination against anyone affiliated with UC Davis and UC ANR. If you believe you or someone you know may be experiencing any discrimination, or if you have questions and want to consult, please contact them. They are happy to speak with you about the process, your concerns, and support resources. If you prefer a confidential resource, the Ombuds Office can provide consultations. Also our Graduate Diversity Officers are designated as a resource to meet with graduate students from historically excluded groups.
  • How do I change major professors?
  • Consult with your Graduate Program Coordinator or Graduate Program Advisor for program-specific guidance. This is not an uncommon occurrence and Graduate Studies will provide an approved form to facilitate this process.

    Main contacts: Your Program Coordinator and/or your Graduate Program Advisor.
  • What can I do if I am the subject of retaliation?
  • Retaliation is a violation of the faculty code of conduct and, possibly other policies, and laws. Contact the Associate Dean for Graduate Students. For whistleblower retaliation reports, contact the Campus Compliance Officer.
  • I cannot talk to my Graduate Program Advisor.
  • Contact our advising team at