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COVID-19 Graduate Student FAQ

Frequently Asked Question Menu

Last Updated 9/14/20

Academics Admissions Campus Operations
Coursework Financial Support and Employment

Incoming Students

International Students

Professional Development Research

Work-Life and Wellbeing




  • Who can I contact about graduate admissions?
  • The best place to start is to click the name of your prospective program on the Programs webpage.  Each program page has a link to the program admissions website and contact information for graduate program coordinators and advisors in the People section.  Graduate program coordinators can give you information about the program and their admissions process and requirements.  General information about graduate admissions is available on the Admissions tab of the Graduate Studies website.  Review our list of graduate admissions FAQs.  For general admissions questions, email  
  • Do I need to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) for my 2021-22 application?  
  • Some UC Davis graduate programs have opted to waive the GRE requirements for the 2021-22 admissions cycle. You may contact the graduate program directly to determine if they are requiring applicants to take the GRE for 2021-22 admissions.  Please note that this updated information may not appear on graduate program websites yet, so it is best to contact the Graduate Program Coordinator directly with your inquiry.
    GRE General Examination: ETS has gradually begun reopening some in-person testing centers for the GRE general examination, but they are also continuing to offer an at-home version of the GRE examination. UC Davis does accept both the in-person and at-home exam scores as official. Please note that the at-home version of the GRE may not be available to all applicants. Information about ETS at-home testing availability can be found on the GRE website.
    GRE Subject Examinations: Although GRE Subject examinations may be available at ETS testing centers which are currently open for in-person testing, there is no at-home version of this examination.  
  • How can I take an English Language Test for my 2021-22 application?
  • TOEFL iBT: ETS has begun reopening some in-person testing centers for the TOEFL iBT, but they are also continuing to offer an at-home version of the TOEFL iBT examination.  UC Davis does accept both the in-person and at-home exam scores as official.  Please note that the at-home version of the TOEFL iBT may not be available to all applicants.  Information about ETS at-home testing availability can be found on the  TOEFL website.  UC Davis does not accept the TOEFL ITP Plus examination.
    IELTS Academic: IELTS has begun reopening some in-person testing centers but is not currently offering an online version of the exam.  UC Davis does not currently accept the IELTS Indicator examination.


  • I’m a newly admitted student, can I submit electronic transcripts?
  • Graduate Studies is currently encouraging all students who have attended U.S. colleges and universities to submit those transcripts electronically if that service is offered by the academic records office at your institution. Transcripts must be ordered from the school and emailed to  For students sending academic records from international institutions, please see our Transcript Requirements for New Admits webpage for specific instructions about sending your documents to us so that we can process them as quickly as possible.
  • I ordered my transcripts.  When will my application portal be updated and my registration hold removed?
  • Due to the campus shutdown in response to the pandemic, please note that transcript processing for admitted students has been delayed both at UC Davis and at most other institutions. Estimated processing time for electronic transcripts is 4-5 days after receipt by Graduate Studies. Physical transcripts may take weeks to arrive and be routed to Graduate Studies, and will then take a minimum of 5-10 business days for processing once received by our office.
  • I haven’t been able to obtain all my official transcripts, will I be able to register?
  • All the registration holds for students who currently have missing transcripts have been moved to winter.  You may register now even if you have not submitted all your transcripts (Please note, there is a campus registration freeze from 9/15 at 12AM PST to 9/18 at 6AM PST).  You will need to submit missing transcripts before you may register for winter quarter.  Winter quarter registration begins in mid-October.  If you are still having trouble obtaining transcripts prior to winter quarter, email and explain the situation and steps you have taken.  Admissions staff can often assist students or communicate with schools directly to resolve missing transcripts.
  • Can I defer my admission to a UC Davis graduate program, and how long can I defer?
  • For students who have not already enrolled, you may contact the graduate program directly to inquire about whether they are willing to offer you a deferral of your admission offer. Admitted students may defer for up to one year.
    If you have already enrolled at UC Davis, unfortunately deferral is no longer an option. You will need to complete an administrative withdrawal through the UC Davis Registrar and complete an application for readmission when you’re ready to return.
  • What is the deadline for deferral?
  • For students who have not already enrolled, the graduate program must submit your deferral to Graduate Studies by the first day of instruction of the term to which you have been admitted. If you would like to be considered for deferral, we advise you to contact your graduate program as soon as possible.
  • Is there financial support available for first quarter students who cannot receive pay or fellowship until November 1?
  • New first quarter graduate students cannot receive TA/GSR pay or fellowship funds until they've been employed/enrolled at UC Davis for a month.  Financial Aid and Scholarships has opened  no-interest Emergency, Short-Term, and Graduate Assistance Loan programs for Fall Quarter.  Learn more by visiting the Loan Programs webpage
  • Can I attend Graduate Student Orientation remotely?
  • Graduate Student Orientation will be held online on a Zoom webinar platform on Monday September 12 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.  Registration and more information is available on the Graduate Student Orientation webpage.
  • Do I still need to pay Non-Resident Tuition (NRST) if I’m taking courses remotely outside California?
  • Yes, the NRST policy has not changed.  Non-California residents will be charged NRST.  If your program has agreed to pay your NRST as part of your financial offer letter, your billing account will be updated once payment from the program has posted.
  • How can I obtain California residency if I cannot come to California?
  • Residence is established through 1) physical presence in California for more than a year (366 days), 2) demonstrated intent to stay in California, and 3) financial independence (assumed for graduate students unless your parents claimed you on their 19-20 taxes. 
    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UCOP has issued temporary guidance for UC students in the process of fulfilling physical presence and intent requirements and who have become ill, who need to care for someone who is ill, and/or who need to leave California as a result of the COVID-19 emergency:
    Physical Presence
    • An Out of State Absence exceeding the six weeks allowed by current policy will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis according to the student’s respective campus curtailments and other documentation supporting the link of their absence to the COVID-19 emergency.
    • For students establishing residency for Fall 2021, enrollment in Fall 2020 classes delivered remotely will serve as a replacement for physical presence if the following conditions are met:
       1) the UC campus has extended the opportunity for remote instruction, and
       2) the student may qualify for residency on their own without regard to a parent.
    • Students unable to secure required Government Indicia (e.g., California Driver’s License or ID) due to reduced or delayed agency services and absences will be evaluated on a case by case basis where the link to the delay can be tied to the COVID-19 emergency.
    • For Fall 2021, students will still need to acquire applicable legal indicia to prove their intent to stay in California (as they do now) and will have until the end of the Spring 2021 term to do so.

    More information and contact information for UC Davis Residence Deputies is available on the Registrar’s Residency website.


Guidelines for new and continuing international students are in development.  It is imperative you stay in contact with your graduate program and Services for International Students and Scholars (SISS).

Visit the SISS Announcements and SISS Student FAQ pages regularly for updates.

  • Can I be employed as a TA or GSR if I’m a) in the US but outside of Davis, b) outside the US, c) an incoming student without a Social Security Number (SSN) or US bank account?
  • A) Yes, this is covered in the current ICE guidance.

    B) Yes, UC Davis has allowed temporary work from outside the US for Fall 2020.  It is expected that employees working from abroad will return to Davis or Sacramento, with appropriate work authorization when travel bans and visa restrictions allow.  We will make every effort to adjust to changing circumstances, but we cannot currently guarantee employment to students outside the U.S. beyond Fall quarter.

    C) Yes, you may be employed without a SSN and/or US bank account.  You can apply for a SSN and self-report the information once issued.  If employed without a US bank account with direct deposit, wages will be mailed via check from UCPath to your domestic or international address on file. 
  • Can new/continuing international students enroll in all online coursework?
  • This depends on your circumstances:
    • Continuing students: Yes. Continuing students who left the country during spring and need to renew their visa may continue taking classes online. However, these students must maintain at least 12 units.
    • First-year students who plan to study outside the US: Yes. Students who we are admitted for fall but unable to secure a visa prior to the start of the term may enroll in online UC Davis courses while abroad. SISS will defer the start date of your I-20 to winter quarter.
    • First-year students coming to the US: No, recent federal guidelines require new international students studying in the US to take in-person coursework. Certain courses have been designated as in-person for Fall 2020 including some sections of 299 research. Discuss these options with your program Graduate Chair or Coordinator.   
  • How will completing my degree while outside the US impact Optional Practical Training (OPT)?
  • Typically, students are supposed to apply for OPT from within the US.  SISS is not yet sure how USCIS will adjudicate applications submitted while abroad.  There is a risk that students who apply while abroad could lose their application fees. Check the SISS website for current guidance before applying.
  • Will the Test of English Proficiency (TOEP) be available online for the Fall?
  • Yes, International and Academic English will offer the TOEP online throughout September. Registration is open now.
  • Do international students have access to UC SHIP (health insurance)?
  • All students must be insured per UC Policy.  You are automatically enolled in UC SHIP unless you’ve been approved for a waiver. If you have your own insurance, you can apply for a UC SHIP waiver.  Check the eligibility criteria before you apply.  The services at Student Health and Counseling Services (HCS) are available to all students, even if you waive enrollment in UC SHIP.
    • Review the Insurance for International Students webpage.
    • International students who are in Davis, CA - you can access the full services available at SHCS.  
    • If you are in the US, but outside Davis - Telehealth appointments can be made at the SHCS.  Other appointments, except emergency room visits, require a referral from SHCS.  You can learn more about how to access services on the How to Use UC SHIP website.
    • If you are outside the US - When outside the US, your UC SHIP plan acts as an out of network plan.  This means you pay up front and file a claim for reimbursement. UC SHIP covers most out-of-network care at 60% of Usual and Customary Charges. Use the Global Core website to search for a provider by country/city and to access claim forms.  Review the Services Outside the US section at the bottom of the How to Use UC SHIP website and the BCBS Global Care brochure for more information

    If you have questions about waving or using UC SHIP, email
  • Do I need to notify SISS if my address changes?  When should I do that?
  • It depends on the your circumstances:
    • Physical relocation within the US: Yes, International students who are in the United States are required to notify SISS of a change of address within 10 days of their physical relocation. This is done through your iGlobal portal.
    • Leaving the US due to COVID-19: No, international students who leave the United States or who are remaining out of the United States due to COVID-19 do not have to report a change of address. SISS has been surveying international students regarding their fall quarter plan. At the beginning of the quarter, SISS will make a required notation for these students in SEVIS.
  • How will international students receive funding?
  • • Tuition and fees covered by fellowships or remission from employment are processed automatically within the accounting system.  
    • Fellowship stipends - If you have signed up for direct deposit, you may have your stipend deposited directly to a bank account in a U.S.-based bank; otherwise, you will be issued a paper check that will be mailed to your international home address.  You have a choice to receive your stipend funds in fall or postpone receiving your stipend until you arrive in the US.
    • Pay from employment - If you have signed up for direct deposit, you may have your stipend deposited directly to a bank account in a U.S.-based bank; otherwise, you will be issued a paper check that will be mailed to your international home address.


  • How can I submit questions or schedule remote advising?
  • Email for general questions. Graduate Studies Senior Academic Advisors (SAAs) are available to advise on degree milestones, Graduate Council and campus policies, graduation requirements, and mentorship issues. Check the Contact Us page to identify the SAA for your program.  You can reach out to your SAA by email or you can schedule a Zoom appointment through the appointment system.
  • How do I submit forms to Graduate Studies
  • Students must email their forms to their graduate program coordinators according to their department process. Graduate program coordinators are responsible for emailing completed forms to their Senior Academic Advisor (SAA) in Graduate Studies.
  • How do I pay the fee for my form? (Candidacy application, Filing Fee, Readmission)
  • First, fill out your form and obtain all required signatures.  Currently, online payment is not available.  You have two options for paying the form fees:
    •You can drop off a copy of your signed form with a check or money order at the Cashier's Office drop box in Dutton Hall
    •You can mail a copy of your completed form with a check or money order to the Cashier’s Office.  Address available HERE.
    Checks should be made payable to ‘UC Regents’. After stamping the form, the Cashier’s Office will email it back to the student and CC Graduate Studies.

  • How do I file my thesis/dissertation?
  • Review the remote filing process on the filing webpage.  Email your Senior Academic Advisor to submit forms and ask questions about the process.
  • How will delays in my academic progress impact my time to degree?
  • In recognition of the impact that pandemic-related closures have had on all graduate students at UC Davis, Graduate Studies, with the support of Graduate Council, has provided a one-year blanket extension of time to degree for students. The quarters from Spring 2020 to Spring 2021 will not be counted against a graduate student’s normative time to degree.  No request or form is needed to utilize additional quarters.
    Doctoral students: According to the normative time to degree policy, doctoral students have 12 registered quarters after passing the QE to file their dissertation.  Graduate Studies will not count the quarters from Spring 2020 to Spring 2021 as part of the 12 quarter calculation.
    Master's students: Normative time to degree for master's students is determined by the student's graduate program and is listed in the program's degree requirements.  Programs should not count the quarters from Spring 2020 to Spring 2021 towards master's student's normative time.  

    The blanket exception of normative time to degree is not a guarantee of extended funding or employment, Graduate Studies is working closely with programs and campus partners to explore potential financial support options.  We will reassess in the future if additional measures may be required; in the meantime, we encourage all students to work closely with their faculty to adapt their plans to make progress in their research in different ways than anticipated.  Students can contact their assigned Senior Academic Advisor in Graduate Studies for more information.
  • What are my options for taking a leave or a break from my academic studies?
  • Students who need to take a leave or break have a number of options:
    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 confirm you discussed a leave with your SISS advisor.

    Normally, students who are enrolled and submit a PELP request after the first day of instruction are subject to the Schedule of Refunds and must pay a percentage of the quarter fees based on the date the PELP was submitted.  However, exceptions to the Schedule of Refunds can be made for late PELP requests in exceptional circumstances. To request an exception, students should submit the email PELP template with an explanation of the situation along with a memo of support from their major professor or graduate advisor, and any available supporting documentation.

    Students who need a long-term break from their program can withdraw from the university.  To withdraw, you should first notify your program, then fill out the webform linked at the bottom of the OUR withdrawal page.  When you’re ready to return to your studies, you will fill out the readmission form and request signature from a graduate advisor.  Please note, programs are not obligated to readmit you.  If you are planning to withdraw and return, you should discuss your intentions with your graduate advisor.  Enrolled students who withdraw after the first day of instruction are subject to the Schedule of Refunds.
  • Do I qualify for in-absentia status if I’m not in California?
  • Maybe, the eligibility requirements for In Absentia remain the same: 
    • Doctoral students must have advanced to candidacy, Master’s students must have completed at least three quarters.
    • Research or coursework must be directly related to the student’s degree program as evidenced by UC faculty approval.
    • Research or coursework must be of a nature that makes it necessary to be completed outside of California for at least one full academic term.
    • Research or coursework must involve only indirect supervision appropriate to evaluating the student’s academic progress and performance (e.g., correspondence via e-mail or review of written work) from UC faculty.
    • Research or coursework must involve no significant studying or in-person collaboration with UC faculty.
    If you meet those requirements, you may submit an in absentia form to Graduate Studies for review by a Senior Academic Advisor.
  • I am close to completing my degree and considering applying for filing fee.  What happens if I’m not able to complete my program requirements during my filing fee quarter?
  • In order to be eligible for filing fee, you must have advanced to candidacy and completed your required coursework.  Students writing a thesis or dissertation should only apply for filing fee once they’ve finished a complete draft of their paper.  In these uncertain times, delays are common and difficult to foresee.  We encourage you to consider your individual circumstances and be realistic about your timeline to completion.  Also keep in mind your committee members are facing similar challenges and may not be able to provide timely feedback.  Prior to applying for filing fee, discuss your remaining work and timeline with your committee.  

    Once on filing fee, you have until the last day of the quarter to complete the degree by passing your comprehensive exam, finishing your project, or filing your thesis/dissertation.  If you aren’t able to finish you will need to submit a filing fee extension or readmit and enroll full-time. Filing fee extensions are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and are only approved in highly exceptional circumstances.  
  • Can I take my Qualifying Exam, Final Exam, or Comprehensive Exam remotely in Fall 2020?
  • Yes, all exams must be conducted fully remotely during Fall 2020.  
  • How can I prepare to take my Qualifying Exam remotely?
  • Your program will have specific guidelines for how the exam is conducted and what format will be used. Discuss your upcoming exam with your committee, your graduate advisor, and your peers who have taken the QE.  Holding a practice remote QE with volunteers from your grad community can be extremely helpful in acclimating to virtual speaking and presentation.

    • The MCIP graduate program and the College of Biological Sciences created a helpful remote oral exam guidance document.  
    • Review Student Best Practices for Remote Exams and Faculty Best Practices for Remote Exams
    Acing your Qualifying Exam provides general tips for QE success
    • UC Berkeley's Best Practices for Zoom Qualifying Exams
  • How do I make progress toward my QE when I cannot conduct the preliminary research to write a proposal?
  • The purpose of the Qualifying Exam is to show you are capable of doing independent research and progressing knowledgeably in your field.  Your completed dissertation will likely change dramatically from what you propose during your QE, and you shouldn’t spend too much time grieving the loss of new and specialized data.   In preparing for your remote QE you consider:
    • Come at your QE from a different angle - work with published data, develop the theoretical part of QE, focus on a qualitative aspect
    • Ask your Major Professor/P.I. if there are alternative data sources you can use.  Your collaborators may also have data that needs to be analyzed. 
    • Establish questions you will ask when you are able to gather preliminary data.  There may be alternative ways to ask those questions.
    • Keep in communication with your QE committee - ask them what they look for in a successful QE and if they have any similar experience in their own research that may help you.

  • What if there are technical issues during my Qualifying Exam?
  • You and your committee should work together, prior to the exam, to plan how the exam will be conducted and make arrangements for contingencies. 
    Some examples include: 
     • Share any concerns with your committee and strategize solutions
    • Determine the format of the exam and which remote platform will be used - students and committee members should be comfortable using the operating functions of the selected platform.
    • Document your exam game-plan and include it in a calendar invite to all participants
    • Hold a practice session with all participants logging into a virtual room to ensure their video and audio connections are functioning.
    • Pre-plan extra time for breaks and tech trouble-shooting during the exam.
    • A make-up session can be scheduled in case of significant difficulty (the chair will report a ‘no exam’ to Graduate Studies)
    • Participants should make every effort to engage from a location where you have a reasonable expectation of successful connection and limited outside distractions.
    • Each participant should conduct an equipment check to ensure hardware, software, and internet connection are operational. 

    If technological failures affect the committee’s ability to continue the examination and a decision cannot be made, the QE Chair should stop the exam and submit a ‘No Exam’ report to Graduate Studies along with an explanation of the situation.

     If the exam is interrupted and the committee feels they have enough information to make a decision, the QE Chair should submit the exam report to Graduate Studies with the committee’s decision and attach a statement explaining why the exam was interrupted and how the committee made the determination.  
  • What do I do if my Major Professor/P.I isn’t responding?
  • Advocate for yourself - If your major professor is difficult to reach, let them know how you feel when you have your next meeting and make suggestions for better communication.  
    • Use your network - Reach out to other members of your committee and other students you work with.  Your Graduate Advisor and Graduate Chair can also reach out to your advisor on your behalf.
    • Apply Peer pressure - Schedule meetings with your entire committee
    • Be Understanding - Remember that all faculty and students are adapting to extraordinary circumstances.  In some instances, it may not be possible for your major professor to respond right away.  Check in with them to see if there’s something going on.  If your major professor isn’t responding to anyone, notify your Graduate Program Chair.  
    • Four week policy - Committee members must review your thesis/dissertation draft within four weeks.  If you are consistently not receiving feedback in a timely manner or have not received feedback in more than four weeks and are trying to meet a deadline, contact your Graduate Chair, your Senior Academic Advisor in Graduate Studies, or one of the Graduate Studies Associate Deans. 


  • Will I be able to take in-person courses in Fall 2020?
  • The University has worked carefully to identify a very small number of graduate and undergraduate courses that justify having an in-person lab/studio/fieldwork component and has developed comprehensive safety plans for conducting each of these. Rotations and research units in laboratories that have been approved to open under the Research Ramp-Up plan can also be in-person. You can identify which courses will be remote or in-person via Schedule Builder and other portals you typically use or contact the instructor. The default format is remote, and all lecture and discussion sessions are remote.  
  • Can I take my courses Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) in Fall 2020?
  • Graduate students can take up to two courses S/U in Fall 2020 that are not regularly graded S/U. Each program has guidelines for which of their courses may be taken S/U.  Make an appointment with your graduate advisor to discuss the courses you would like to take S/U and the process.  First-year students must have a GPA in their first quarter and need at least one graded course.
  • How do I transition to remote learning?
  • A Student Resources page is available on the UC Davis Keep Teaching website.  Your best resource may be other students in your graduate program who have been learning remotely since spring.  Ask them what the challenges have been and what strategies they use to adapt.


  • What if I need more time to complete my degree, but I reach the 18 quarter ASE (TA, AI, Reader) limit?
  • On Friday, June 19, UC Provost Michael Brown announced a temporary extension of the total length of service for academic student employees (ASE) up to 21 quarters, for matriculated students during the quarters in which instruction is substantially impacted by COVID-19. This means that all matriculated students in Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 (and perhaps beyond, "should these conditions persist") can receive permission to extend their total length of service to a maximum of 21 quarters at any point in the future.

    For example, a Fall 2020 incoming Ph.D. student who starts their first ASE appointment before 2022-2023 will likely not reach their 18 quarter service limit until 2028-2029, but they would still be able to request additional quarters (up to 21) of ASE appointments because the student was a "matriculated student at UC during the quarters/semesters in which instruction is substantially impacted by COVID-19."
  • Can I work as a TA or GSR remotely in Fall 2020?
  • Domestic students may be employed while away from UC Davis and working remotely.  Employment information for international students is available in the international section of this FAQ.  
  • What happens if my TA/Reader section is cut due to low enrollment?
  • You should communicate with your supervisor and departmental staff to remain aware of the changes to operations, course appointments and instructional delivery methods.  Compensation equal to that in your employment contract is protected for students with contracts in place for Fall 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.
  • Are there funds to buy equipment or help me start in fall?
  • Financial Aid and Scholarships can provide eligible graduate FAFSA filers with a computer loan for up to $2,500. This loan can be requested once during a student's time at UC Davis. Visit the Financial Aid website to learn more. Financial Aid and Scholarships is opening its Emergency and Short-Term Loan programs for Fall Quarter on August 31. Learn more by visiting the Loan Programs webpage

  • What if I become ill or need to care for someone who is?
  • The Graduate Studies Policy for Family and Medical Leave Accommodation for Graduate Students with Funding (GS2015-01) is designed to accommodate outside demands so 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.


  • Where can I find guidance about remote teaching?
  • First, check in with your TA course instructor and discuss their expectations and recommendations. Then, talk to other students and faculty who have already taught remotely in spring - ask how they adapted and what they consider are 'best practices'.   

    Review 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. 

    The Center for Educational Effectiveness (CEE) offers courses on remote teaching including the new course ACCELERATE Asynchronously to help faculty and teaching assistants prepare for remote teaching.  The program is designed to support the creation of inclusive and equitable e-learning environments during the transition of face-to-face courses into online courses.
  • What if I need equipment, WiFi, or space to TA remotely?
  • Discuss your needs with your hiring department coordinator or chair.  They are responsible for ensuring your access to connectivity and campus space.  A student resources page, featuring laptop loans and free internet service information, is available on the Keep Teaching site.  Ask your college Dean's office about graduate student teaching enrichment grants.
  • Will TA Orientation take place this year? 
  • Yes. The campus wide TA Orientation for all new Teaching Assistants will be held on Monday, September 28, and Tuesday, September 29, 2020. All TAs who have not yet attended the UC Davis TA Orientation are required to do so by the University of California Office of the President and UC Davis Graduate Studies, even if they have taught previously. For more information and to register, visit the Center for Educational Effectiveness website.


Guidelines for UC Davis Research Ramp Up/Ramp Down
Guidelines to Address Graduate Student Concerns Related to the Research Ramp-up

  • When will I hear if my lab is deemed essential?
  • There are different phases of the research ramp up with varying and incremental definitions of what is essential and what is allowed based on current county and university safety protocols.  The person most knowledgeable about the status of your lab is your PI.  For information you should:
    • Talk to your PI and ask if they’ve proposed or are planning to propose that the lab opens
    • Ask what is the estimated time-frame of the lab opening?
    • Check in to ask if there have been updates.
    Your program chair is another resource as they oversee the research ramp up within the program
  • What do I do if my project is taking longer due to Covid shut-down or additional lab safety protocols?
  • Delays are inevitable and understandable when you have limited access to resources.  Try to manage your expectations.  Most projects take longer than expected in the best of times. It’s ok to request an extension when you need one.

    Maintain communication with your committee.  Meet with them to discuss delays and brainstorm ways to adapt.  Ask for input about your content - are there areas you could reduce, increase, or reprioritize?  Work with your committee to adjust the timeline.  Be sure to document your new timeline and email it to the committee members after the meeting to ensure you’re on the same page.  

    Delays can have an impact on your time to degree and financial support.  In order to mitigate that conflict, UCOP has provided a three quarter blanket exception on time to degree for all students and three additional quarters of TA eligibility.  If you have an internal or external grant, you may request a ‘no-cost extension’.
  • What do I do if my lab has not been deemed essential and I can’t conduct my research?
  • This is a situation many students and faculty are dealing with.  Remember that even if you are allowed to be in-person at the lab, your work is likely going to change because of new lab safety requirements.  Much of your success will depend on your lab’s ability to work as a group and come up with creative alternatives.  Some suggestions include:
    • Ask your advisors, P.I. and colleagues how they’ve coped with limited or no access to the lab. 
    • Strategize new questions or different ways the questions can be asked to accommodate the resources you have. 
    • Make progress in a different area of the project (i.e. parts of the project that can be written, process description, utilize published data).
    • Take time to learn a new tool 
          • Shields Library offers online tutorials/workshops and research support resources (i.e. reference management systems such as EndNote)
                • Try out the library's temporary access trial databases
                • Click your field on the Subject Guide
          • Join the Davis R Users Group
    • Conduct collaborative Zoom group meetings to discuss alternatives to traditional research

  • As a first-year student, how can I select a lab when my rotations are remote?
  • While you have limited opportunity to experience the interpersonal style of the lab group while remote, there are some aspects of the group you can observe that you may not have seen in-person. Use this as a litmus test for how lab culture handles unprecedented circumstances, unforeseen delays, adjusting priorities, and creative problem solving. If the lab is working well now, they can probably adapt to the commonplace ups, downs, and occasional epic failures involved in lab work.

    Ask your grad chair or the professor you’re thinking of working with for the names of advanced students in the lab. Schedule a meeting to ask about their experience - what kind of student is going to be successful in that lab, what were the obstacles, how did they overcome these?

    There are and will be many labs open.  You can do your rotation in-person in these labs even if the course is not in person.

  • What do I do if I'm working as a GSR from home and can't learn essential tasks or skills?
  • Try to maintain realistic expectations in this situation.  Some tasks and skills cannot be learned from home and you’ll need to wait until you’re able to return to campus.  In the meantime:
     •  Talk to your P.I. and other students in your lab, many of whom have experienced this in spring quarter.  How are they working and adapting?  Are there resources or internal protocols available (i.e. a lab Box folder)?
     •  Search for classes, workshops, tutorials in your field on professional websites
     •  Browse through relevant videos on Youtube

  • My major professor/P.I. is pressuring me to return to the lab/field-site, but I’m not comfortable returning in-person.  What can I do?
  • In many cases, your P.I. may not be aware of personal circumstances that affect your ability to begin in-person lab/field work.   
    • Your first step should be to let them know of your concerns and ask for or offer any suggestions for alternatives to in-person work.  
    • You and your PI should discuss the lab safety plan in detail. There may be aspects you or they have not considered (i.e. we can social distance at the field site, but how are we going to social distance on the way to and from the site?). 
    • If there are other students involved in the project, talk to your colleagues about their feelings.  Meet with the P.I. as a group to discuss the plan moving forward.  

    If you’ve had these discussions and you are still feeling pressured or you do not feel comfortable speaking to your P.I.:
    • Notify your Program Chair, your College Dean’s Office, or one of the Graduate Studies Associate Dean’s and explain the situation and your concerns.
               • The above-mentioned authorities will do their best to protect you from potential retaliation. Retaliation is never acceptable.  
               • Reporting safety concerns is encouraged for both your safety and the safety of all the other students working in that lab and with that P.I.


As the campus has shifted to remote learning, departments within the Division of Student Affairs have gone virtual to continue to support and empower students in ways that align with public health and safety guidelines. We anticipate that services will evolve and expand over time, and we will continue to update and add information to their Virtual UC Davis web page. We encourage you to check both the Virtual UC Davis page and this FAQ frequently for updated information.

UC Davis Basic Needs Resource Hub - This online document is a comprehensive, up-to-date compilation of local on and off-campus resources for students, encompassing Food Access, Housing, Financial Stability, Academic Performance, Physical and Mental Wellness, etc.  If you are concerned about your basic needs resources (food, housing, financial stability), you can fill out a basic needs assessment, and be contacted by staff who can provide options for support.

  • What mental health services are available?
  • Counseling Services is offering individual counseling via secure video conferencing or by telephone consultation.  You can schedule an appointment via the Health-e-Messaging secure portal or by calling (530) 752-0871.  More information about counseling services, and options specific to your location in the US or abroad, is available on the Counseling for students during COVID-19 webpage.

    Dr. Bai-Yin Chen is a psychologist specializing in college mental health and graduate student concerns and issues.  Graduate students can email her at  

    Case Managers from the Office of Student Support and Judicial Affairs (OSSJA) are available to assist graduate students with a variety of needs. Submit a CARE report and a campus case manager will reach out to help.
  • Who can I talk to about academic or employment accommodations?
  • Disability Specialists from the Student Disability Center (SDC) are available by phone or Zoom appointments and drop-in hours.  The SDC staff provide support for students with disabilities but also advise faculty and TA’s on providing accommodations in the classroom. The Graduate Studies Disability Specialist is Abigail Tilden (  

    Disability services for graduate student employees are provided by Disability Management Services.
  • If I’m not at UC Davis, how do I use UC SHIP (health insurance)?
  • All students must be insured per UC Policy.  You are automatically enrolled in UC SHIP unless you’ve been approved for a waiver.  If you have your own insurance, you can apply for a UC SHIP waiver.  Check the eligibility criteria before you apply.  The services at Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS) are available to all students, even if you waive enrollment in UC SHIP.

    If you are outside Davis, CA, you can make a telehealth appointment with providers with SHCS.  All appointments except emergency room visits require referall from SHCS.  Find out more about access on the How to Use UC SHIP and UC Get Care websites.  If you have questions about waving or using UC SHIP, email
    Information about using UC SHIP if you are outside the US is available in the International Student section of the FAQ.

  • I need access to childcare in order to devote time to my instruction and research. Are there any programs available for graduate students?
  • The UC Davis Child Care Funding program consists of two grants, the Graduate Student Child Care Grant and the Community Based Care Grant. Both are designed to partially defray student families' child care expenses. The Graduate Student Child Care Grant (GSCCG) is available to Graduate and Professional students, while the Community Based Care Grant (CBCG) is available to all students identified with financial need. To learn more about each of these grant opportunities and application processes, please visit the Human Resources website.
    Student parent resources are listed on the Women’s Resources and Research Center Website, and here is a How to Find Childcare guide from UC Davis Worklife.
  • What are my child care options?
  • The Human Resources website features a list of child care options in both Davis and Sacramento.


  • Are the Graduate Studies offices open?
  • The Graduate Studies offices are currently closed to the public in response to the Coronavirus outbreak.  Although our physical location is closed, Graduate Studies will still continue in an operating status, with most staff working from home.  Email general questions to  Contact information for Graduate Studies staff members is available on our Staff Directory.
  • Can I reserve on-campus rooms so I can study or meet with colleagues?
  • Acting in the interest of public health remains the top priority. We continue to strongly recommend against being on-campus to abide by the local and statewide directives. However, we understand the need for some people to access on-campus resources and/or work spaces in order to effectively continue essential duties related to their academics and/or student employment.  Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to exercise their greatest discretion when deciding to be physically present on campus. If you are planning on utilizing on-campus space for any reason, please note the following guidelines:

    Though many parts of campus remain accessible, some department-specific space may be limited due to the strict enforcement of “shelter in place.” If the space(s) you wish to utilize require another person’s assistance (e.g. staff) in order to access the space, it may not be possible to use that space. It is best to check with your supervisor or department staff if you are planning on accessing department space. Please be mindful that you must still adhere to public health guidelines of social distancing.

    Students who have concerns about conducting required work or research duties on campus are strongly encouraged to discuss their concerns to their supervisors or contact Graduate Studies at


  • Where can I go to get career advice, writing support, and other professional development resources now that everything is virtual?
  • In response to the campus changes resulting from the evolving COVID-19 situation, the GradPathways Institute for Professional Development is working to bring professional development support for UC Davis graduate students and postdocs online. Visit the GradPathways Institute website to learn more.