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COVID-19 | UC Davis Graduate Education Guidance

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), shows the appearance of the novel coronavirus wich causes COVID-19. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

General Information for Incoming and Continuing Students and Postdoctoral Scholars


The Graduate Studies offices are currently closed to the public in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. Graduate Studies staff will continue to work and will provide student advising and other services remotely. We encourage you to read the information below to inform you on current guidelines and processes. 

We continue to follow the developments of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and monitor situations on campus and around the world. Your safety, wellbeing, and educational experience are our priorities. 

The campus provides updates about the evolving situation on the main UC Davis website. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your graduate program coordinator.

Campus Updates

Updated 8:30 p.m. March 19: UC Davis is taking steps to comply with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s statewide stay-at-home order, and further information will be posted on the UC Davis update page once it becomes available.

Please visit the UC Davis Coronoavirus Information page for the latest updates.

Graduate Admissions

The Graduate Admissions offices at UC Davis are currently closed. While our staff will still be able to review applications, process materials, and release decisions remotely, we do anticipate that these processes will be delayed. We appreciate your patience. At this point in time, we are continuing the usual rollout of graduate admission notifications. The global uncertainty surrounding coronavirus has not changed our application review or admission process.

We understand that some of our applicants and prospective students have been affected by the Coronavirus outbreak, including school closures, travel restrictions and shelter-in-place or quarantine measures. The thoughts of our office and our community are with you in this time of uncertainty. We are monitoring school closures and government actions in California, the nation and around the world. We will work with individuals as needed to stay on track with the admissions process and make sure everyone has the information they need.

Please review the sections below for guidance on specific admissions materials or concerns. We will share more Coronavirus information and updates, when available. If you have any questions, please email us at

  • Academic Credentials / Transcripts 
  • Some of our applicants and admitted students may be attending schools that are temporarily closed, and access to end-of-year tests, transcripts or normal graduation procedures may be uncertain. Graduate Studies will continue to work with you and your schools to navigate individual needs. At this time, we do not anticipate any school situations that would prevent our admitted students from normal enrollment for summer or fall 2020.

    If there is a situation that you would like to make us aware of, please email us Due to the COVID-19 situation, the review and processing of any official transcripts sent to UC Davis Graduate Studies will be delayed. We will not be updating the status of any Official Transcript checklist items in your status portal until April 30, 2020. We appreciate your patience and understanding in this matter.
  • GRE Test Score Requirements 
  • A number of our graduate programs require GRE test scores for official admission. If you are unable to take these exams due to the COVID-19 epidemic and the temporary closing of testing centers, please contact your proposed program of study. 

    GRE is providing updates regarding testing centers on their website.
  • International Students and Visas 
  • International students need visas to study in the United States, and we understand that travel restrictions or other concerns may impact visa preparation or travel plans. Admitted students should proceed with visa requests as usual. UC Davis Services for International Students and Scholars (SISS) handles any questions about the visa process. Please visit the SISS website for more information.

    Our campus is closely monitoring the global travel situation. We are hoping that improvements in the situation may allow current travel recommendations to be eased in the coming months, and that the visa process will be smooth this year for all incoming students.

International Students

We are aware that many international students at UC Davis are impacted by travel, housing and public health concerns given the situation with COVID-19.  Global Affairs is maintaining an updated resource page with information specific to international students and scholars on the Services for International Students and Scholars (SISS) website. We will continue to update the graduate education considerations below as new developments take place.

  • Travel, Visas, and Immigration

  • Minimizing international travel is recommended since re-entry into the U.S. could be restricted. Services for International Students and Scholars is available for those with questions or concerns related to traveling to and from UC Davis, visas, immigration status, and specific programs such as the Planned Educational Leave Program. Email or call 530-752-0864.

  • Candidacy and NRST

  • The deadline for international students to pass their first qualifying exam and submit the advancement to candidacy form to receive the NRST waiver is extended until May 15, 2020 (prior to the drop for nonpayment deadline) in order to support students who must postpone their qualifying exam or who are unable to pay the candidacy fee prior to March 26, 2020.  Spring 2020 NRST will be removed from the student’s account when the candidacy has been processed and approved by Graduate Studies.

Instruction and Research

UC Davis is focused on protecting the health and safety of students and the teaching community and upholding the quality of education so students can continue progress on their academic goals. Graduate Studies is working with the Office of Research and Undergraduate Education to compile guidance related to their research and instructional responsibilities.

  • Teaching Resources
  • Instructors should talk to their TAs to determine their availability for in-person proctoring, in alignment with campus directives.

    Keep Teaching: Strategies and Resources for Instructional Resilience — This site provides practical resources and strategies for moving part or all of a course online to help instructors keep teaching. It provides contacts for support from Academic Technology Services and the Center for Educational Effectiveness. Teaching and technology experts stand ready to consult with instructors on any part of the process of maintaining instructional excellence while teaching elements of a course online. Please contact Academic Technology Services at (educational technologies) and the Center for Educational Effectiveness at (pedagogical and instructional strategies) for support. 

    A new student resources page, featuring laptop loaner and free internet service information, has also been added to the Keep Teaching site. 
  • Research
  • On March 17, the Office of Research posted a webpage on research continuity and planning for COVID-19 . The guidance on the site remains valid and in effect as of 8:00 pm on March 20 2020. The guidance is intended to help the campus research community limit the impact and potential risks associated with the growing outbreak of COVID-19. We ask that you review the guidance, particularly the definitions of critical research activities, and discuss continuity or closure plans with your PI or major professor.

    If you are engaged in a research activity that is defined as critical (based on the criteria defined in the guidance from the Office of Research) and must work on-site, please follow the safety guidelines and the protocols described in the Office of Research guidelines. You must coordinate your schedule and working protocols with your PI.

    In addition to the guidance from the Office of Research to ramp down any non-critical on-site research activities, we want to stress that your health, the health of your family, and public health come first. You should not feel pressured to conduct research that makes you uncomfortable. If you are being provided with conflicting information, we ask that you voice your concerns to program directors, thesis committee members, program administrators, or email

    We appreciate that, for some students, stopping on-site, non-critical research activities could be damaging to academic progress. Again, your health, and public health, must come first. Please engage with your Major Professor and/or dissertation committee to establish a plan that gets you back on track when these in-person research activities become possible again.

Advising, Form Submission, Degree Filing, and Student Progress Assessments

The Graduate Studies office is closed to the public as part of the response to the Coronavirus outbreak.  Although our physical location is closed to the public, Graduate Status will still continue in an operating status. We will continue student advising and other services, but following new procedures described below.

  • Advising and General Questions

  • Students should contact Graduate Studies for general questions using email.  The central Graduate Studies email address is  For advising, contact your Senior Academic Advisor (SAA) directly.  Zoom (video conferencing) and phone advising can be scheduled using our appointment system.  Please note your preferred meeting method when scheduling.

  • Submission via Email 

  • Senior Academic Advisors are not available for in-person drop off and the Graduate Studies drop box is temporarily closed.  Students should submit their forms to their graduate program coordinators according to their department process. Program coordinators are responsible for emailing completed forms to their Senior Academic Advisor (SAA).

    Forms with Associated Fees: The Cashier’s Office accepts in-person payment or mailed checks from graduate students.  There is not currently an online payment option for graduate candidacies or filing fees forms.  The updated payment process is available on the Student Accounting webpage.  Forms with associated fees must still be submitted to Graduate Studies by their due date even if the fee has not yet been paid.  These forms will be held and not processed until receipt of payment is shown. Once we receive proof of payment, the forms will be processed based on the date the form was received by Graduate Studies.

  • Signatures

  • Electronic signatures (either facsimiles of original signatures or digital signatures) are normally allowed on all Graduate Studies forms as long as forms are submitted through the graduate program coordinator.  Submission dates and timelines still apply according to the policy associated with the form.

  • Degree Filing

  • The Spring 2020 degree filing deadline for students submitting a thesis or dissertation has been extended until June 11, 2020
    Students completing their thesis or dissertation must arrange remote filing with their SAA. Filing students may email all paperwork to their assigned SAA except the signed title page.  Title pages may be signed by committee members electronically, but must be submitted by the committee chair or graduate program coordinator with all committee members CC’d.  As is standard procedure, theses and dissertations will be uploaded via ProQuest ETD and reviewed by an SAA. More information on remote filing is available on the Preparing and Filing Your Thesis or Dissertation webpage.

  • Student Progress Assessments (SPA)

  • Graduate Studies will no longer require in-person meetings to discuss progress, but asks faculty and graduate students to discuss progress through remote means such as Zoom or Skype for the 2019-2020 academic year. Major professors and graduate program advisors should adjust expectations and timelines to acknowledge the possible limitations of remote work and accommodate a graduate student’s personal and/or medical situation. The student annual progress report will still be sent out on April 1 and expected to be completed by June 30.  

Graduate Qualifying, Comprehensive, and Final Exams

Update (March 18, 2020): In compliance with current campus and state-wide directives, all examinations must now be conducted remotely until the end of Spring 2020. No in-person examinations will be permitted due to both personal and public health risk. All exam participants (committee members and students) must make necessary arrangements to engage in the examination virtually. This action is a provisional exception to the Policy on Service on Advanced Degree Committees (GC1998-01) and only applies to the rules regarding remote participation. All other aspects of the policy remain in effect. 

  • Information for Program Chairs and Coordinators
  • You are no longer required to submit the online Remote Participation Request form that was sent on March 12. Since the current expectation is that all exams are to be conducted remotely, no advance reporting of remote participants will be required. Please contact Jasmine Bonite, Project/Policy Analyst, at for any questions or concerns. 
  • Exam Committee Chairs and Students
  • Prior to the examination taking place, the following requirements should be completed:

    All committee members must be approved by Graduate Studies prior to the exam through the appropriate committee application form. Proceeding with an exam without an approved application and/or proceeding with unapproved member(s) will result in the examination being void and a result of "No Exam" being recorded. If you are unsure whether the associated application has been approved, please contact your assigned Senior Academic Advisor (SAA)

    The exam committee chair must develop a clear plan for how to administer the exam and communicate it to all members and the student. At minimum, this plan should include:
    • - Agreement on the platform (e.g. Zoom or Skype) used to conduct the remote examination.  All participants must have live visual and auditory capability for the exam.

    • - A technical support/troubleshooting plan should issues occur.  Equipment and applications should be tested prior to the examination commencing.

    • - A plan for deliberation following the exam. The student must be able to exit the virtual meeting and return when notified by the exam chair.

      If you have questions or concerns about coordinating or conducting your remote examination, please contact your Program Coordinator.

  • Postponing Exams
  • Students do not need to report postponed exams to Graduate Studies unless the approved committee must be reconstituted. When selecting a new exam date, please remember it is unclear how the current situation will develop in the coming months. As usual, committee chairs must list the exam date on the exam report. 
  • Master’s Comprehensive Exams
  • Comprehensive exam format varies between programs.  Graduate Studies recommends programs make adjustments to their current exam format in keeping with the campus directive of  ‘maximum flexibility’.

Employment and Leave Options

UC Davis is committed to supporting employees and their families during the COVID-19 emergency. Graduate Studies has compiled information about academic employment and leave and will be updating the sections below as details emerge.

  • Spring Quarter Employment

  • As the campus responds to changing needs, there may be a need to update the Description of Duties for some appointments and make reassignments for our graduate student teaching staff.  Student employees should communicate with their supervisor and departmental staff to remain aware of the changes to operations, course appointments and instructional delivery methods.

    Compensation equal to that in the contract is protected for students with employment contracts in place for Spring 2020 quarter. For more information, talk to your supervisor or refer to the collective bargaining agreement between the University of California and the United Auto Workers 2865.

  • Leave Information for Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars

  • The Office of the President has issued guidance regarding COVID-19 related administrative leave use by academic employees.  The guidance for supervisors is available at the campus COVID-19-Related Leave for Academic Appointees page. (Mar 20)

    This paid administrative leave is available to salaried and hourly postdoctoral scholars and graduate student employees.  As indicated in the guidance, Paid Administrative Leave may be taken only when at least one of the following circumstances are met: 

    1. When an employee is unable to work due to the employee’s own COVID-19-related illness or that of a family member; or

    2. When an employee is unable to work because the employee has been directed not to come to the worksite for COVID-19-related reasons and it is not operationally feasible for the employee to work remotely; or

    3. When an employee is unable to work because a COVID-19-related school or daycare closure requires the employee to be at home with a child or dependent, and it is not operationally feasible for the employee to work remotely or in conjunction with the childcare commitment.

    If an employee themselves is ill or is caring for an ill family member, medical and sick leave under applicable university policy and collective bargaining agreements are also available in addition to the administrative leave program. 

    Administrative leave should only be requested when the employee is unable to perform any work.  Alternate duties may be assigned and reasonable flexibility should be applied given the ever-changing situation.  Employees should consult with their supervisor or department chair regarding appropriate alternate duties.  

    President Napolitano has stated that the use of paid administrative leave must not adversely affect the delivery of essential university services.  Delivery of instruction and UC Health clinical services are essential university service and thus every effort must be made to ensure their continuation.  The campus is working diligently to facilitate remote instruction. 

    The Office of the President has allowed an extension of APM and collective bargaining agreement leave policies to allow leave that is normally available only for one’s own illness to also be used in the following cases:

    - to care for an ill family member 
    - if the employee is directed by a supervisor not to come to work and remote work is not operationally feasible
    - if the employee is under a public order not to come to work and remote work is not operationally feasible  

    In other words, medical or sick leave may be available for use in circumstances beyond the stated policy.  This extension of policy is in effect during the dates outlined in President Napolitano’s March 16, 2020 Executive Order.

    The COVID-19-Related Leave for Academic Appointees letter (Mar 20) contains provisions specific to Postdoctoral Scholars-Paid Direct, Reader/Tutor hours, Work Study awards, by-agreement flat rate payment, and requirements for leave tracking. 

    Additional Details
    - Employees may still use accrued sick, vacation or paid time off in order to address their own illness or the serious medical condition of a family member.
    - The 128-hour allotment may be used consecutively in one block or incrementally.
    - The paid administrative leave may be used prior to usage of accrued leave.
    - The allocation for employees with less than full time appointments (e.g., student employees) shall be prorated based on appointment percentage.
    - Subject to the University’s ongoing operational needs, the paid administrative leave provided pursuant to the Executive Order must be used during the period from March 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020 for the reasons stated in the covered categories only. All hours must be used by December 31, 2020, or any remaining hours in the allotment expire.

    Questions may be directed to Graduate Studies Academic Personnel, Tracey Pereida,

  • Requesting Paid Administrative Leave

  • The employee should complete the Emergency Administrative Leave form (PDF), and submit it to their immediate supervisor. The request will be reviewed by the employee’s immediate supervisor who shall be responsible for determining whether to grant the administrative leave.

    The employee will be contacted by the department and/or service channel leave administrator to assure FML designations are in place, if applicable, and to coordinate administrative leave and other applicable medical or personal leave as prescribed by the APM and/or collective bargaining agreement. If administrative leave is exhausted, the employee may be eligible to use accrued vacation, PTO or sick leave. Following approval, the department is required to submit a case to the service channel for leave to be entered into UCPath.

  • Determining Whether to Grant Administrative Leave

  • In making the determination whether to grant the leave, supervisors must take into account the operational needs of the University with special consideration given to the critical importance of maintaining the continuity of medical center operations. Supervisors are responsible for determining whether their employees may work remotely, whether they are performing essential functions and requiring employees to be at work on campus.

    Essential functions include, but are not limited to:

    - Clinical services delivered by UC Davis Health
    - Patient and animal care
    - Critical campus infrastructure
    - Diagnostic laboratories
    - Critical ongoing research
    - Delivering ongoing instruction

    When a supervisor denies a request to use this emergency leave, the supervisor should inform the employee the basis for the denial and inform Employee & Labor Relations of the employee’s name, job title, and reason for denial.

  • Reporting Paid Leave

  • Davis Campus: The Time Reporting System (TRS) is updated for reporting approved COVID-19 related Emergency Administrative Leave (EAL). Visit the Time Reporting System (TRS) webpage for information.

    UC Davis Health (Medical Center, Schools of Health): Employees on approved COVID-19 Emergency Administrative Leave (EAL) should record their time and attendance in Ecotime. View Ecotime Guide (.pdf)

    Manual Leave Report: Departments must submit a case to manually report approved COVID-19 related Emergency Administrative Leave (EAL) to the appropriate Service Channel for employees unable to use a campus time reporting system.

  • Planned Educational Leave Program (PELP)

  • Students have the option to apply for the Planned Educational Leave Program (PELP). PELP is a leave from your academic studies at UC Davis for up to three cumulative quarters. Extensions beyond three quarters will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. To apply for PELP, submit the filled email template to your Graduate Program Coordinator. 

    Be sure to review all the information on the PELP instructions before submitting. Please pay special attention to restrictions on UC SHIP (health insurance). PELP applications for international students will not be approved unless you have confirmed you discussed a leave with your SISS advisor.

  • Family and Medical Leave for Funded Graduate Students

  • The Graduate Studies Policy for Family and Medical Leave Accommodation for Graduate Students with Funding (GS2015-01) is designed to accommodate outside demands so that students can successfully complete their program of study. There are several types of leave available to doctoral and master’s students, including students in self-supporting and professional degree programs, who hold an academic employment appointment. For more information on eligibility requirements and the different types of leave, visit our Family and Medical Leave webpage.

  • Student Parents

  • Many graduate student parents will be impacted by school and daycare closures. The Women's Resources and Research Center has put together a COVID-19 Student Parent Community Resources document for on- and off-campus resources for parents.  This document includes resources on paid administrative leave available to employees (including graduate student employees experiencing a lack of child care), emergency child care, and education resources.

Graduate Studies Operations

The Graduate Studies offices are currently closed to the public in response to the Coronavirus outbreak.  Although our physical location is closed, Graduate Status will still continue in an operating status.

Graduate Studies staff will continue to work, making arrangements with supervisors to work from a remote location. We will continue student advising and other services, but following new procedures described above.