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Frequently Asked Questions: Current Students
Graduate Admissions & Recruitment Chair
Faculty Graduate Advisor
Staff Graduate Advisor
Student Affairs Manager
What is the deadline for completing the advancement to candidacy exam?
Students are expected to complete the advancement to candidacy oral examination by the end of the second year. The absolute deadline for doing so is the end of the summer quarter following the second year. Refer to the Graduate Division Calendar for quarterly deadlines.
When and how should I assemble my committee?
Is changing groups easy? Is flexibility encouraged or even allowed?
Of course, students can change groups. The choice of research advisor is not an absolute commitment. If the original choice is not ultimately the perfect match, you are permitted to switch groups. However, because this can cause your time to degree to be significantly delayed, this situation should be avoided when possible. Students are required to rotate in different groups for at least the first quarter in order to help minimize the need for later changes. However, students intending to switch groups should utilize the petition process to do so. While you are not required to complete additional rotations or interviews and there is no final deadline for changing groups, you must discuss the potential switch with your Area Advisor and/or the Faculty Graduate Advisor to help ensure that your new choice is the right one.
I received a B- in one of my required core courses. Will this apply toward the 18 required units? Can I retake the course in a future quarter?
No, a grade of B or better is required in order for a course to apply toward fulfillment of the 18 unit requirement. While you cannot retake any course in which you received a C or higher, you can take a different course to fulfill the requirement. It may also be possible to retroactively drop a course in which you received an inadequate grade. Refer to the Retroactive Schedule Adjustment Petition to pursue this option, and work with the Staff Graduate Advisor to fill this petition out. Consult with your PI or Area Advisor to discuss possible next steps or for course suggestions.
I am interested in teaching as a career when I graduate. Am I allowed to be a TA for more than 6 quarters? Are there other opportunities of which I should be aware?
Yes, you are permitted to TA in excess of 6 quarters given that (1) positions are available and (2) your PI approves (i.e. it will not delay or time to degree or hinder your research progress). From time to time, the Department is able to hire graduate students to teach General or Organic Chemistry lectures as Teaching Associates. Students must be advanced to candidacy (P2 status) to be eligible and are typically in the 4th or 5th year of graduate study. If you are interested in such a position, you should contact the Staff Graduate Program Advisor. Students interested in teaching are also strongly encouraged to pursue the CCUT Program.
What is the “L&S Collaborate Tech Fee" on my BARC bill? Will the Department cover this fee?
This fee supports instructional technology enhancements via Collaborate services. The fee is $2.50 per unit for all courses offered by the College of Letters and Science. All students (undergraduate and graduate) are responsible for this fee and it is not covered by Departmental tuition and fee remission. Detailed information can be found on the Collaborate website.
Why was I charged $50.00 on my BARC account? Will the Department pay or waive this fee for me?
Students are typically subject to an unexpected $50.00 fee for one of two reasons: late registration or late payment. If the reason indicated on your BARC statement is late registration, then you are responsible for the fee. All graduate students are required to register for at least 8 course units no later than the quarterly deadline established by the Office of the Registrar. However, if the reason indicated on your BARC statement is late fee payment, then you may be eligible for a fee waiver. If your tuition and fees were paid late through no fault of your own (administrative error, for example), please contact the Staff Graduate Advisor to request that a fee waiver be submitted on your behalf. If your fees could not be paid on time as a result of your own error (you registered for too few units, for example), then you are responsible for the fee. Note also that you may be subject to “Schedule Adjustment Fees” (usually $3.00) when late changes are made to your schedule. Refer to the Office of the Registrar’s website for specific deadlines.
Why am I required to submit the FAFSA every year?
As a public institution, a large share of our fellowship and graduate student support funds are provided through financial aid monies. Information from the FAFSA is used to determine eligibility and fund sources for support packages. Without the support available via FAFSA and the Work Study Program, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry could not offer employment and financial support packages to new and continuing graduate students. The FAFSA should be submitted by March 2nd each year that you remain a student.
How do I know if I qualify for work study?
Your Financial Aid Award Letter (typically available in mid to late September) will include a section on work study (usually tab #4). If you qualify for work study, your letter will indicate a dollar amount greater than 0.00 and include a hyperlink for Work Study Referral. If there is no link, you are not eligible for work study. Even if you do not qualify in September, you are strongly encouraged to ask the Financial Aid Office to re-review your eligibility in November, as additional funds may become available at that time.
If I am receiving full support from the Department and my PI, should I still apply for fellowships?
Yes! Graduate students should always be on the lookout for fellowships! In addition to relieving some of the financial strain on the Department and/or PI (which may be beneficial to you in other, indirect forms), fellowships can also free up extra time and opportunities to enhance your graduate student experience. Depending on the fellowship, this may include support for special research projects, personal development as a teacher/mentor, or special workshops and training in a particular area of interest.
What types of fellowships are available and what should I know about applying?
A wide variety of fellowships are available to grad students. Refer to the Fellowship Opportunities for Current Students web page to get started. Students often make the mistake of applying only for department or campus-based fellowships, when they may be equally or more competitive for many external and international fellowships. Students should be sure to explore opportunities outside of UC and take care to apply by the deadlines. Fellowship recipients are often decided a year or more in advance.
I need a letter verifying my student status and salary for visa purposes. Where can I obtain such a letter?
Students requiring verification of enrollment, student status, employment status, or financial support for housing, visa, student loans, childcare or other personal reasons may request a letter from the DCB Student Affairs Office. All requests must be made at least one week in advance of the date that the verification letter is needed and must be made by the student his or herself. Information will not be disclosed to third parties, such as building managers or loan officers, without the advance permission of the student and clear indication of to whom information may be disclosed. Letters can be emailed directly to the student or picked up from the Student Affairs Office during regular business hours on or after the agreed upon date. Employment verifications are also available via UCPath.
As an international student am I required to complete the FAFSA?
No, international students should not complete the FAFSA. However, eligible international students are strongly encouraged to apply for the President’s Work Study Program. To be eligible for the PRESIDENT’S WORK-STUDY, an international student must: A. Have a valid Visa status; B. Demonstrate financial need; C. Be registered as a full-time student for the upcoming academic year. D. Meet minimum cumulative GRADE POINT AVERAGE (GPA) requirements; E. Meet the University attendance requirements; F. Apply or re-apply for every new academic year (in May). President’s Work Study awards are administered through the Office of International Students and Scholars.
Where can I go if I am having problems with my advisor or with other aspects of graduate school/life as a graduate student?
There are a number of resources within the Department and across campus to assist you with whatever you may be going through. See the Resources for Conflict Resolution and Resources for Graduate Students web pages for a look at some of the available options. If you are not sure where to start, the Staff or Faculty Graduate Program Advisors within the Department are available to listen to your concerns, advise you, and/or direct you to the best resource for your particular situation.
What kind of job opportunities are available to me upon completion of the PhD?
Being a PhD student is not a regular job, so it is hard to define. The length or frequency of vacations can vary from group to group. You should speak to other members of your group and your PI about typical student vacation schedules.
My prospective landlord has requested that I provide a letter verifying my annual salary. Where can I obtain such a letter?
Students requiring verification of enrollment, student status, employment status, or financial support for housing, visa, student loans, childcare or other personal reasons may request a letter from the DCB Student Affairs Office. All requests must be made at least one week in advance of the date that the verification letter is needed and must be made by the student his or herself. Information will not be disclosed to third parties, such as building managers or loan officers, without the advance permission of the student and clear indication of to whom information may be disclosed. Letters should be picked up from the Student Affairs Office during regular business hours on or after the agreed upon date. Employment verifications are also available via UCPath.
What is there to do in the Santa Barbara area?
Santa Barbara offers a beautiful coastal setting, a lively downtown, culture, festivals, nightlife and close proximity to Los Angeles. Activities and opportunities include hiking, beautiful beaches and many parks, wine tasting, surfing, kayaking, shopping, international film festivals, theater and concerts, and lots of family-friendly activities. See the links below for a glimpse at what Santa Barbara has to offer:
- Santa Barbara Bowl
- Santa Barbara Visitors Guide
- The Santa Barbara Independent
- UCSB Arts and Lectures Series
- Places to See, Things to Do
- UCSB Recreation Department
I have read through all of the Frequently Asked Questions, but I was unable to find the answer to my question. Where else should I look?
The following resources on the web are likely to contain the answers to many of your questions. If you are unable to find the information you need online, please do not hesitate to contact the DCB Staff Graduate Advisor or other applicable resource.