You’re Ready to Advance to Candidacy, Now What?

Doctoral students undertake an oral Qualifying Examination to show they are qualified to advance to candidacy. Masters students apply to advance to candidacy after completing requirements specified for each program.

Advancing to candidacy means you are ready to complete a capstone project or final examination (Masters Plan II), write a Masters thesis (Masters Plan I), or research and write a doctoral dissertation (Dissertation Plan A and B) and defend the doctoral dissertation (Dissertation Plan A).

Doctoral students and Masters students completing a thesis submit individual applications for advancement that list the proposed committee for the thesis or dissertation. Other Masters students are advanced as a group by their program. Either way, it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that advancement is requested, and to maintain progress to completion. Here are some things to be aware of:

1. Maintain your Registration

Graduate students are expected to be registered continuously, with a few specific exceptions (such as formal medical or parental withdrawal). Being registered not only maintains your access to libraries and online research resources; it is what gives you the right to work with the faculty. If your research requires you to be away from Berkeley and the immediately adjacent counties in northern California, you may be eligible for in absentia registration, with reduced registration fees.

2. Make Sure You Can Work with Human Subjects or Animals If Needed

If your research plans change after advancement and you will be working with human subjects or animals, you must complete training in human subjects research by taking and passing the online CITI Program, a basic course in the Protection of Human Research Subjects. Before you begin your research, you must have obtained an approved protocol from the Committee for Protection of Human Subjects. If you will be working with animals, there is a CITI module you should complete.

3. Stay on Track with Research and Writing

You will be working relatively independently. Make a point of communicating regularly with your faculty advisor and committee. Doctoral students advanced to candidacy are required to meet annually with at least two committee members (including the dissertation chair) and must complete the online Academic Progress Report. Having a positive Academic Progress Report on file from the previous year is required for students in participating programs seeking to use the Doctoral Completion Fellowship.

Students writing theses or dissertations may benefit from workshops offered by the Graduate Division’s Academic Services department. Academic Services can also help students form or participate in dissertation writing groups.

You should make every effort to complete your final examination, capstone project, thesis or dissertation within the period of time established for your graduate program. The specific time limits that apply are available from your program. If you exceed the time limit, your candidacy for the degree will lapse and you will not be able to complete the degree until it is reinstated. Reinstating candidacy will require a petition from the program, and is not automatic.

4. Develop your Professional Skills

You may want to deepen your skills as a teacher. The Graduate Student Instructor Teaching and Resource Center offers workshops throughout the year on topics of interest, including developing teaching portfolios and syllabi. The GSI TRC offers a Certificate in Higher Education that you can complete, and participating in some of these workshops fulfills requirements for the certificate.

The Graduate Division also annually offers a Summer Institute for Preparing Future Faculty, an intensive program to help students prepare for the academic job market, with tracks emphasizing teaching and academic writing.

Depending on your field, this may be an appropriate time to being sharing your research at conferences and through publications. The Graduate Division offers a Conference Travel Grant for students at any stage who are presenting their research at professional conferences. The Graduate Division’s Academic Services department offers workshops on academic writing.