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Frequently Asked 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). If you are disqualified you have the right to appeal. This appeal must be filed with the Dean of Graduate Studies within 30 days of a disqualification decision and your appeal must be responded to within 60 days The Disqualification and Appeal Procedure can be accessed here. The appeal must be for “cause”, e.g. the exam was not conducted correctly.  If you choose not to appeal a disqualification decision resulting from failing the preliminary exam or the QE, you can discuss with your Graduate Academic Advisor and Program Chair the possibility of receiving a master’s degree instead. It is possible, but hopefully rare, for a QE committee to have a non-unanimous vote. Technically, a QE committee is an ad-hoc committee of Graduate Council. In cases of divided outcome, the authority goes to Graduate Council for a decision. 

    Main contact: Your Senior Academic Advisor in Graduate Studies. All appeal documents must be sent directly to
  • What are the repercussions of receiving a marginal or unsatisfactory progress report?
  • Marginal progress reports are reported to Graduate Studies. There are no other repercussions at this stage. Instructions must be provided in that report that describe how you can get back to satisfactory progress.

    Unsatisfactory progress reports are also reported to Graduate Studies. An unsatisfactory progress report will result in your being placed on academic probation. You will also receive a formal letter from the Associate Dean outlining the requirements and timeline for reestablishing satisfactory progress. At this point you should follow the instructions in your report to get back to satisfactory progress. Failure to do so will result in your being subject to disqualification from further studies in your graduate program. If there is an impediment to you following the instructions, we recommend engaging in a conversation with your Major Professor. This can be done in mediations with your Graduate Academic Advisor or the Ombuds Office.

    If you are disqualified from your graduate program, you have the right to appeal (see answer to Question 1 above, for details on the appeal process; Disqualification and Appeal Procedure).

    Main contact: Your Major Professor and/or your Program Coordinator.
  • 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. If there is a disagreement about your continued study as a Ph.D. candidate, you can talk to you Graduate Academic Advisor about this difference in opinions. If you cannot talk to your Graduate Academic Advisor you can set an appointment with the Associate Dean for Graduate Students in Graduate Studies.
  • What can I do if am struggling to finish writing my thesis or dissertation because I do not have proper guidance?
  • Consult with your Graduate Academic Advisor or with your Senior Academic Advisor in Graduate Studies.
  • I have been disqualified from my Graduate Program or Graduate Group.
  • In certain cases, you can appeal to Graduate Studies. See the Disqualification and Appeal procedures. If you are disqualified and past the appeal stage, you can apply for admission in a different program. You cannot apply to the same graduate program.

    Main contacts: Your Program Coordinator and/or your Senior Academic Advisor in Graduate Studies.
  • I have problems with authorship.
  • The best way to prevent such issues from developing is to start discussing authorship with your major professor and colleagues as soon as possible, i.e. before or at the beginning of the work starts. If there is disagreement about authorship that cannot be resolved locally (i.e. with the Graduate Group/Program), the Ombuds Office offers mediation services. You can also consult with the Associate Dean for Students in Graduate Studies.

    Information on copyright and intellectual property
    UC Open Access Policies
    NIH General Guidelines for Authorship Contributions

    Main contacts: your Graduate Academic Advisor and/or the Associate Dean for Graduate Students.


  • How do I secure funding if my major professor can no longer fund me?
  • Funding options available are 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 your Senior Academic Advisor.
  • My Non-resident Student Tuition (NRST) waiver has run out and I still have not completed my degree. What are my options?
  • NRST remission lasts for 3 years after advancing to candidacy. If you are a domestic student, you can establish residency within a year.
  • International students can apply for a Post-Candidacy NRST waiver during years 4 and 5 after they have advanced to candidacy.  This is a fellowship directly from Graduate Studies which allows International Ph.D. students to continue their studies to meet the normative time to degree that would be afforded to domestic students.
  • If you are an international student and your NRST remission has lapsed, you can secure a GSR position (which includes full tuition remission) or appeal to your Program/Group for a one time fellowship to cover 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). However, during the academic year, if you have signed an agreement accepting the TA position, the program has to 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 opens up unexpectedly.

Health/Well-Being/Personal Life

  • My health is starting to dramatically affect my academic performance or ability to do research.
  • On campus resources include 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.

    Graduate students are eligible for a maximum 3 quarters leave of absence with graduate program and Graduate Studies approval; an extension can be requested. 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 resolve personal, financial or medical problems, including care for a child or family member. The “clock” is stopped during the time a student is in PELP. To apply for PELP, read the informational materials and then contact your graduate program staff coordinator for the application form.
  • 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, PELP provides a way to to temporarily suspend academic work and return within a year without having to readmit.
  • I just became a caregiver or parent and can no longer meet all the same expectations in the same way. What services are available to me?
  • Consult the Student Parents & Families 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 Academic Advisor first. If a resolution is not achieved, it may make sense to engage your Graduate Academic Advisor additional resources are available depending on the severity of the issue as outlined in the flowchart below. The first point of contact for this question is your Major Professor and/or your Graduate 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 Ombuds Office can help mediate such issues.  If the situation is of a more serious nature the Office of Student Support & Judicial Affairs should be contacted.  Also our Graduate Diversity Officers are designated as a professional resource to address graduate student diversity experiences.
  • How do I change major professors?
  • Consult with your program coordinator for program-specific best course of action. A consultation with your Graduate Academic Adviser (this consultation can be confidential if needed) is also advised. 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 Academic 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 Academic Advisor.
  • Contact your Senior Academic Advisor.