Pre-candidacy represents the first stage of a graduate students’ career.

All of your activities should be planned with the advice of the Head Graduate Advisor or academic advisors assigned on admission to the program.

1. Take Care of the Basics

  • Fulfill residency requirements
  • Fulfill any departmental course requirements
  • Satisfy any foreign language requirement
  • Take and pass preliminary exams if required
  • Plan I Masters students: identify thesis committee members
  • PhD students: identify Qualifying Exam committee members
  • PhD students: complete any preliminaries required before the Qualifying Exam
  • Complete CITI modules if working with human subjects or animals

2. Teach

The GSI Teaching and Resource Center provides support for your development of teaching skills, offering workshops every semester. Your department is required to offer a course on pedagogy that all first time GSIs must take either before, or at the time of, the first GSI appointment (often numbered 375). Also required of first time GSIs are attendance at the annual Teaching Conference for First-Time GSIs organized by the GSI Center, and completion of the Online Course in Professional Ethics and Standards for GSIs.

3. Consider Interdisciplinarity

Now is the time to decide if you want to formally engage in interdisciplinary study. Masters and doctoral students can add a second degree goal, with the approval of relevant faculty.

Plan I Masters students can add a faculty member from another department to the thesis committee.

Designated Emphasis (DE) programs formalize interdisciplinary concentrations for doctoral students. You need to follow guidelines to apply for the specific DE, and include a faculty member from the DE as a member of the Qualifying Examination committee. If after at least a year of doctoral study in an established program you think your project will require engaging across disciplinary lines and cannot be accomplished within an existing doctoral program, you can propose an Interdisciplinary Doctoral degree.

4. Pursue Fellowship and Research Grant Funding

Fellowships for continuing students offered by the Graduate Division require nomination by the individual program, usually based on an internal application initiated by the student. Many outside fellowships are available for continuing students, with deadlines and links provided by the Fellowships Office.

The Graduate Division offers workshops on applying for some major fellowships (the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, the Fulbright Fellowship).

Small research grants are available internally from many of the Organized Research Units and Area Studies Centers on campus, as well as the Bancroft Library.

5. Share Your Research

Graduate students already engaged in preliminary research may want to present their results at conferences. The Graduate Division provides Conference Travel Grants for academic Masters and doctoral students. In some disciplines, students at this stage may publish in conference proceedings, student journals, or peer-reviewed journals. Consider registering with ORCID so that your published work is uniquely identified from your earliest days in graduate school throughout your career.

Your discipline may encourage you to be involved in outreach or community engaged scholarship. You may want to participate in a formal research mentoring program like the SMART program offered by the Graduate Division, or other mentoring opportunities you might have through your research sponsor, program, or college. There are many ways to share your research, and you should explore them now.


Next: Advancing to Candidacy