COVID-19 Information for Graduate Students
Updated January 5, 2021
Below are resources for graduate students, as well for faculty and staff who support graduate education. Please check back frequently, as updates will be made on an ongoing basis. Refer to the central campus resource hub, news.berkeley.edu/coronavirus, for general campus updates and information.
Office Hours + Virtual Appointments
- Appointments with the Dean: Dean Lisa García Bedolla would love to hear your concerns related to your graduate education. Sign up for a 15-minute appointment with the Dean: https://calendly.com/graddeanberkeley/15min
- Appointments with the Director of Graduate Student Life: For assistance navigating the resources listed below, sign up for a 15-minute virtual appointment with Graduate Student Life Director Larissa Charnsangavej: https://
Academics • Guidance for GSIs • Appointments + Employment (including loss of) • Fellowships
Establishing Residency • Housing • Basic Needs + Financial Assistance • Student Parents • Undocumented Students
International Students • Health & Wellness • Billing + Payments • Equity + Inclusion
Libraries, Student Spaces & Events • Student Life Office Hours • Prospective Students
Temporary Policy Revision Regarding Part-Time Enrollment for Graduate Students
August 17, 2020 update: For the 2020-2021 academic year, the Graduate Council has decided to widen the scope of allowable exceptions given the challenges posed by the pandemic. Specifically, graduate students who have increased caretaking duties can be approved by their department to transition to part-time status for the Fall 2020 and/or Spring 2021 semesters and receive a waiver equivalent to half of the tuition for those terms. We note that students in programs whose requirements are under the purview of outside accrediting bodies (such as Law and Optometry) are unlikely to be able to take advantage of this option. Graduate students should consult with their program advisor in order to find out whether part-time status is possible within their program.
This change will allow students with additional caregiving duties due to COVID-19 to be enrolled in up to six units at one-half the tuition rate (including NRST and PDST). Student Services and Campus Fees will still be assessed at 100%, as per systemwide policy. Part-time graduate students are allowed to hold Academic Student Employee positions, but systemwide policy limits these appointments to “no more than one-half the maximum appointment available to full-time students” (see FAQs for additional explanation). During the semester(s) for which they are enrolled part-time, students are eligible to maintain whatever fellowship support that they were scheduled to receive.
Please read the full memo for more detail.
Announced October 30, 2020:
In addition to the first two weeks of the semester being remote for all classes as previously announced, the first week of instruction following spring recess will also be remote for all classes. Spring recess will take place as originally scheduled and students will be strongly encouraged to avoid travel. According to the CDC, travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. Over the coming months, the campus will partner with student groups to develop spring recess activities in the Berkeley area.
Students will not be required to take in-person classes or to be present on campus for the spring semester. Almost all academic offerings, including those with in-person instructional activities, will also be delivered remotely. For the small number of courses that will only be offered in person if public health conditions allow, departments are ensuring that other classes are available that can be substituted so that students can continue to make progress towards their degrees. Talk to your advisor for guidance. Students who require disability-related accommodations for classes, whether online or in person, can contact the Disabled Students’ Program.
Assessments and Exams
To facilitate social distancing and improve accessibility, effective immediately, all examinations and assessments are to be conducted remotely.
Guidelines for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 final examinations will be the same as those for Spring 2020, listed below. The Committee on Courses of Instruction (COCI) has formulated the following guidelines regarding final examinations. We urge instructors to bear in mind that students are facing heightened levels of stress and anxiety in all aspects of their lives and that disparities relating to housing, family situation and internet access now that most students have left campus. The committee hopes that instructors will use some of the flexibility provided here in order to address, as much as possible, not simply instructional continuity, but student well-being as well.
The Academic Senate does not require final exams for graduate courses. Instructors in graduate courses currently approved with final exams may make adjustments such as:
- Providing alternate final examination methods such as take-home exams, term papers, etc., in lieu of an in-person (or proctored online) final exams. Departments should track such changes to final exam methods and report them to the Office of the Registrar.
- Altering the value of the final exam or final assessment from what was originally listed in the syllabus at the beginning of semester. For example, if a syllabus lists the final exam as being worth 40 percent of the total grade, the instructor may redistribute a portion of that 40 percent to one or more other assignments. It is vital that any such change be communicated to students in a clear and timely manner, and that an updated grading rubric be posted in a revised syllabus distributed to students via bCourses and/or other appropriate mode of communication.
- Expanding the timeframe for examination. For exams that will still be administered during the assigned time and day slot in the Final Exam Week, instructors should be mindful that many students are now in different time zones across the globe. Imposing the same examination time for all students, regardless of circumstances, on the other hand, may cause unneeded hardship for students who may thereby be forced to take the exam at an inopportune time. Where feasible, consider using available tools in bCourses to assign a time limit to an activity during a specified period (e.g., a 3-hour time limit in a 24-hour period).
All changes mentioned above should be made by the instructor of record with approval from the department chair. See also COCI’s statement on Fall 2020 Instruction.
Qualifying Exams and Milestone Exams
- A blanket exception has been approved to the policy to allow all members of a qualifying exam committee to participate via Zoom or other video conferencing software through Summer 2021.
- In addition to qualifying exams, other types of milestone exams can be conducted using Zoom or similar video conferencing software through Summer 2021. These include:
- Comprehensive exams in master’s degree programs,
- The defense of position or field papers required in certain programs, and
- Preliminary exams.
Exams need to be scheduled with enough advance notice so that students can seek accommodations through the Disabled Students’ Program if needed. For each unique test and circumstance, we advise you to arrange for an exam location that is not excessively private or to use a virtual background to obscure personal effects, if possible. Read this Best Practices for Zoom Qualifying Exams page for recommendations on exam conduct and committee members’ responsibilities.
- Graduate Student Grades, Message to Graduate Programs
Divisional Council (DIVCO) has asked the faculties of schools and colleges to “enact flexible and compassionate policies and practices” with respect to undergraduate grading policies (see here). The Graduate Council likewise encourages graduate programs to enact similar measures, including the acceptance of Satisfactory grades for courses that meet degree requirements. Some programs may, however, be limited in their ability to accept S/U grades due to accreditation or other requirements.
Note that students who matriculated in fall 2020 or spring 2021 can only take up to 1/3 of their total units on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) basis. However, the Berkeley Division has authorized DIVCO to temporarily suspend or amend Berkeley Division Regulations to support student needs related to COVID-19 during this academic year. If the faculty of a graduate program believes that suspension of this limit is necessary to support their students, a request can be made to DIVCO. Please contact Assistant Dean Linda Song of the Graduate Division (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information. Graduate Council has approved an extension of the deadline for students to change their grading option for a course. The fall deadline has passed, but late or retroactive changes may be requested according to Graduate Division procedures (see here). The deadline for spring 2021 has been extended to April 29, 2021. Note that this extension only applies to students wishing to change their grading option from letter grade to S/U. It does not apply to students who wish to change their grading option from S/U to letter grade.
- Graduate Student Grades, Message to Students
Fall 2020 Semester: Graduate Council has approved an extension of the deadline for students to change their grading option for a course. The fall deadline has passed, but late or retroactive changes may be requested according to Graduate Division procedures (see here).
- Spring 2021 Semester: Graduate students may change the S/U grading option themselves via CalCentral. The deadline for spring 2021 has been extended to April 29, 2021. Graduate Student Affairs Officers may change a student’s course enrollment, unit count, and grading option as well. Instructors must continue to maintain and submit records of letter grades earned. Please direct any questions to Linda Song (email@example.com), Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs in the Graduate Division.
Below are updates, extensions and accommodations regarding graduate student degree progress.
- Filing Deadlines
We will be allowing all students to file dissertations and theses during the summer, for Summer 2020 degrees, free of charge. Normal enrollment and other eligibility requirements will not apply to standard summer filing. The Graduate Division will be extremely flexible with the logistical procedures for filing (including obtaining signatures, submitting paperwork, etc.) International students should consult with the Berkeley International Office (BIO) before making any enrollment decisions.
Given the unprecedented disruption to graduate education, the Graduate Division will also allow Plan II master’s students to file for a summer degree in 2020, free of charge. Please note that this exception for Plan II master’s students applies for Summer 2020 only. International student considering Summer completion should contact BIO for advising.
Please review the doctoral and thesis filing guidelines on our website for specifics:
- Normative Time
The Graduate Division and Graduate Council have approved a one-year increase in normative time for doctoral students. On 5/31/2020 a 1-year credit to normative time was applied to all doctoral students. There is no need to make specific request for this COVID-related extension. International students should consult the Berkeley International Office regarding any changes to their degree plan.
Departments are encouraged to be extremely flexible in accommodating disruptions to graduate students’ academic milestones. If you have any questions or concerns, please get in touch with the appropriate Graduate Degrees Office staff member.
- Other Extensions to Program Length
Please consult your Head Graduate Advisor (HGA) and GSAO regarding master’s and professional degree program extensions or variances. Those administrators may write to Linda Song, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, to seek guidance regarding specific programs or student cases. The Graduate Division aims to support student and program needs and to streamline processes where possible.
- Filing Fee Status
The Graduate Division will allow students on Filing Fee in Spring 2020 to continue on filing fee status in Fall 2020. To request a continuation of filing fee status, Graduate Student Affairs Officers should request a “Second Use of Filing Fee” exception through the Graduate Division Exceptions eForm. Students who continue their filing fee status in Fall 2020 will be billed for this second usage.
- Petitions/forms (such as in Absentia, Leave of Absence, Committee Forms etc.)
We are still reviewing and processing all requests made through the Special Enrollment Petition, Degrees Exceptions eForm, and the Higher Degree Committees eForm. Work with your department on any concerns or status inquiries.
- Master’s and Professional Degree Completion
Please consult your Head Graduate Advisor (HGA) and GSAO regarding completion of non-thesis based master’s and professional degree completion in light of disruptions this spring. Concerns about completion of coursework and capstone projects should be addressed with your department which will work with the Graduate Division (contact Asst. Dean for Academic Affairs Linda Song) to explore options. The Graduate Division will be extremely flexible regarding processes and policies that we control and will work with the Academic Senate and the Office of the President (UCOP) on policies that are beyond our authority. The Graduate Division aims to support student and program needs and to streamline processes where possible..
Our research community is directed to immediately transition to work remotely whenever possible. Principal Investigators should suspend on-campus research to the greatest extent possible, immediately, and implement plans to operate remotely. Essential access, limited to sustaining research capability, such as animal care, servicing of critical instrumentation, and maintenance of germ lines, will be authorized by the Vice Chancellor for Research Office in coordination with Deans and Chairs. Exceptional access will be considered by a campus review process, which is currently being developed, modeled on the one at the University of California, San Francisco.
Please visit the Vice Chancellor for Research website for specific information, answers to frequently asked questions, and more detailed guidance.
The Disabled Students’ Program will continue to partner with instructors to ensure students’ disability accommodations are provided.
The following are email addresses that instructors and students can contact for disability accommodations.
- For DSP captioning and American Sign Language accessible formats:
- For proctoring: firstname.lastname@example.org
- For note taking: email@example.com
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for additional questions or assistance regarding student accommodations. Faculty and instructors should work with DSP to ensure that all content is accessible to their students with disabilities before the content is posted. To ensure accessibility, use university-provided platforms, such as bCourses and Zoom. Posting public videos or other content via non-supported tools (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) is prohibited.
Technology Resources and Access
The university aims to ensure that all students have equitable access to the technology resources they need to support research, teaching, and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you require additional technology to teach a course, first reach out to your supervisor or department chair.
- Student Technology Equity Program (STEP)
This program will provide freely loaned laptops, WiFI hotspots with paid 12-month service plans, and peripherals like headphones and webcams to UC Berkeley students (including graduate students) who meet the eligibility criteria, while supplies last. Devices will be mailed to students’ homes directly. The priority deadline to apply for the STEP Program is Wednesday, July 15, 2020 for the fall semester.
- Zoom Pro Accounts for Students
All registered undergraduate, graduate and professional school students now have access to Zoom Pro accounts at no additional cost to them. Among other features, this enables students to unlimited meeting minutes and 300-person meeting capacity. More details are available at studenttech.
berkeley.edu/zoompro. Students who already have basic Zoom accounts can find instructions on how to transition to Zoom Pro accounts.
Student Tech Support Helpdesk
Advising Resources for Staff
UC Berkeley’s advising team has developed a COVID-19 resource hub for UC Berkeley student services staff.
Guidance for GSIs
GSI Fall 2020 Instruction FAQ
July 14, 2020 update: GSIs are experiencing a great deal of uncertainty about the rules and parameters surrounding their fall teaching. Your department chair, GSAO, and Faculty Advisor for GSI Affairs are the people best able to answer your instructional questions. Please refer to this brief FAQ page on the Graduate Division website which addresses the following global issues of concern:
- GSIs are concerned about remote instruction leading to increased workloads. What should GSIs do in that instance?
- What will the attendance policy be in the fall?
- What are the campus guidelines regarding student privacy in remote learning environments?
- What are the campus guidelines regarding synchronous vs. asynchronous instruction?
Instruction FAQ for Instructors – Fall 2020
The Berkeley Academic Senate has published an Instruction FAQ which lists questions commonly encountered by instructors and reflects the most current (July 8, 2020) planning on our campus for Fall 2020 instruction. Although subsequent developments in public health guidance may make changes necessary, these answers are intended to provide the best and most up-to-date basis for Fall 2020 instructional planning. This is a living document that will be supplemented and updated as needed on an ongoing basis.
For GSIs: Reducing and Discouraging Cheating on Exams
The most significant challenges with exams delivered remotely are the need to deliver asynchronous exams to accommodate students in different time zones, and the issue of cheating. The campus is working to secure a browser lockdown product that locks the browser into a single screen, disabling copy/paste functionality, during an exam. The use of other proctoring products, and Zoom proctoring, are not permitted for the spring 2020 semester. Details on this executive order are available via the CalMessages archive. There is no fool-proof solution to the challenge of cheating on online exams. The most effective solution is probably to deploy other forms of assessment that are less susceptible to cheating: oral exams, papers, group projects, poster sessions, discussion boards, etc. If exams must be administered, there are ways to discourage, if not eliminate, cheating and to mitigate its effects on other students. Please read this Best Practice and Resource Guide on the Center for Teaching and Learning‘s website.
The Keep Teaching website has been developed to provide new approaches, effective strategies and resources, and best practices to support remote learning.
Instructional Resilience Resources
The Center for Teaching & Learning’s Instructional Resilience resources page has best practices, webinars, tips, and resources. Resources and ideas for instructors will be posted on an ongoing basis and we encourage you to visit this site regularly.
Employment (including loss of) and Academic Appointments
Academic Student Employee Length of Service
June 19, 2020 update: The UC Provost has granted a seventh year (two semester) extension to the total length of service performed by Academic Student Employees, including Readers and Tutors on annual stipends, and Graduate Student Instructors.
Please read the complete memo online.
This temporary extension “is permissible for matriculated students at UC during the quarters/semesters in which instruction is substantially impacted by COVID-19.”
COVID-19-Related Leave Policies
August 31, 2020 update: In the most recent guidance, ASEs/GSRs are eligible for EPAL, EPSL and EFML. However, at UC, instruction is deemed an essential service of the University. GSIs would not be eligible to take EPAL. They are eligible for EPSL and EFML as these are federal leaves where the identified group of essential workers are health care workers and emergency responders. For more detail, please refer to the Academic Personnel Guidance Regarding COVID-19 Related Leaves and Job Protections (issued 4/27/20). More information can be found on APO’s COVID-19 page.
Paid Administrative Leave
For academic student employees, Paid Administrative Leave for COVID-19-related incidents is available for up to 16 working days or 128 hours.
Paid Administrative Leave may be taken only when at least one of the following circumstances are met:
- When an employee is unable to work due to the employee’s own COVID-19-related illness or that of a family member; or
- When an employee is unable to work because the employee has been directed not to come to the worksite for COVID-19-related reasons and/or the worksite has implemented a COVID-19-related remote-work program or is under a shelter in place order and it is not operationally feasible for the employee to work remotely; or
- When an employee is unable to work because a COVID-19-related school or daycare closure requires the employee to be at home with a child or dependent, and it is not operationally feasible for the employee to work remotely or in conjunction with the childcare commitment.
Paid Administrative Leave is available for all academic appointees, policy-covered and represented, as of March 1, 2020, but is not available for academic appointees with non-paid or without salary appointments.
Employees Temporarily Working Outside of California
Department managers or HR personnel of staff and student employees who temporarily relocated out-of-state are asked to complete and submit this form. For now, these employees will continue to be paid without adjusting their current California payroll withholding.
If the shelter-in-place order is rescinded in the near future, a reconciliation for tax purposes may be needed to adjust an individual’s tax withholding to align with their work location of temporary residence. If the shelter-in-place order is extended even further, employee records may need to be adjusted in UCPath to reflect the tax withholding of the location in which employees are working.
Reporting Lost Wages
If you have lost work-study wages due to the COVID-19 crisis, wages, please open a case in Cal Student Central.
Unemployment Due to COVID-19
If you have lost your job or had a reduction in hours, California unemployment benefits will come with an extra $600 per week on top of the state benefit (standard state benefit ranges from $40 to $450 per week) and an additional 13 weeks of coverage (standard state benefit duration ranges from 12-26 weeks). You will need to apply. Also, if you cannot work because you relied on child or elder care facilities that are now closed (only applies to work, not school), you may also be eligible for unemployment benefits.
If you rely on a school, a daycare or another facility to care for a child, elderly parent or another household member so that you can work (only applies to work, not school), and that facility has been shut down because of coronavirus, you may also be eligible for unemployment benefits. While the state is still awaiting specifics from the federal government, you can find current information and frequently asked questions online.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
If you are an independent contractor, self-employed worker, freelancer, or gig worker and only received a 1099 tax form last year, you are most likely eligible for PUA. You can apply for benefits starting April 28, 2020. Read more about PUA and how to apply on California’s Labor and Workforce Development website.
To be eligible for PUA, you must meet any of the following criteria:
Any criteria related to changes in employment status due to COVID-19:
- You had a definite date to begin work, but the job is no longer available, or you could not reach the job as a direct result of COVID-19.
- You are unable to travel to your job as a direct result of COVID-19.
- You quit your job as a direct result of COVID-19.
- Your workplace is closed as a direct result of COVID-19.
- You are self-employed or work as an independent contractor (with reportable income, such as a 1099) and you are unemployed, partially employed, or unable to work because COVID-19 has forced you to stop working.
Any criteria related to health issues due to COVID-19:
- You have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis.
- A member of your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- You are caring for a family member or a member of your household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- You are caring for a dependent because their school or another care facility has closed due to COVID-19 and you are now caring for them during the work day.
- Your healthcare provider has told you to self-quarantine because of COVID-19.
- You have become the main income provider due to a COVID-19 death in your household.
Academic Student Employee Hiring in Light of Staff Hiring Freeze
While UC Berkeley is instituting a campuswide hiring freeze effective April 1, 2020, academic student employee positions such as readers, tutors, graduate student instructors can be filled. Please read the Hiring Freeze FAQ page for more information. Additionally, student staff titles are exempt from this freeze.
The Graduate Division and Graduate Council have approved a blanket two-semester increase in normative time for doctoral students. This increase in normative time applies to Doctoral Completion Fellowship eligibility and one’s accompanying normative time +1 calculation. The normative time adjustment will be reflected in our CS fellowship reports so no additional action, such as an exception request, is required for DCF eligibility.
Spring block grant supplements will be released to programs the week of April 6th. The deadline for programs to use their 2019-20 block grant allocation has been changed from April 15 to Friday, May 15.
October 7, 2020 Update:
The UC Provost is extending and expanding temporary amendments issued March 17 and revised on June 12, 2020 to the University’s guidelines on establishing residency in the context of systemwide COVID-19 mitigation efforts. In order to receive in-state status under Regents Policy 3105, a student must demonstrate: (1) physical presence in California for more than one year and (2) intent to make a primary and permanent home in California. (Regents Policy 3105 I.B.1-2.).
The UC Residency Policy and Guidelines (the “Guidelines”) currently provide that students must be physically present within California for a year prior to the Residency Determination Date (RDD) and that absences of six weeks or more in a one-year period disqualify a student from receiving in-state status. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Guidelines are hereby further amended in three ways.
- To provide that a continuing student’s absence from the state for any length of time between March 9, 2020 and the Residency Determination Date for Fall 2020 at their campus shall not be counted toward the six week limit if the absence is caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that students who temporarily left California in response to the pandemic remain eligible for in-state residency for the 2020-21 academic year so long as they meet all other applicable eligibility requirements.
- The Guidelines are further amended to provide that a student, who has been or may be granted in-state status based on Financial Independence, may accept or use financial resources from another individual between March 9, 2020 and the end of the 2019-20 academic year without loss of eligibility for in-state status if the transfer of resources is made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The enrollment in courses for the Fall, Winter, and Spring terms delivered via remote instruction during the 2020-21 academic year 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 per Regents Policy 3105 I.C.2, or temporarily through a noncustodial California parent per Regents Policy 3105 I.D.4. Students meeting the above criteria will not need to acquire applicable legal indicia to prove their intent to stay in California by the deadlines in the Guidelines. However, UC expects students to acquire legal indicia as soon as is practicable. All students admitted and commencing enrollment after the end of the 2020-21 academic year will need to acquire applicable legal indicia by the applicable deadlines in the Guidelines.
Please read the amendment memo for complete information.
Any graduate student can apply for a housing contract by submitting this application form on the Berkeley Housing website. Eligible housing includes single student apartments, family housing, and summer transition housing. Family housing does currently carry a wait list, and units are unfurnished.
For more the most up-to-date information on housing, visit sa.berkeley.edu/covid19/housing.
Off-Campus Lease Termination Rights and COVID-19
On June 30, the Berkeley City Council passed an ordinance, effective immediately, that will remain in effect during the local State of Emergency: it allows tenants in Berkeley who have been impacted by COVID-19 to terminate their leases upon 30 days’ notice, without penalty. This right is available if “the tenants or roommates of the tenants are or were registered at an educational institution that cancelled or limited in-person classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” (Berkeley Municipal Code Section 13.110.020.D.
This right applies to all UC Berkeley students, since in-person classes were cancelled for the spring semester/summer session, and they were reduced for fall semester.
For more information, refer to the Final Ordinance Berkeley Municipal Code Section 13.110.020.D or see the FAQ prepared by Student Legal Services.
Basic Needs + Financial Assistance
Financial Assistance: COVID-19 Relief Fund
Applications for the UCB COVID-19 Relief Fund have now closed. Submitted applications will continue to be processed through June 5, 2020
CARES Act Direct-to Student Funding
The deadline to file a FAFSA or CADAA to be considered for CARES Act or Dream Act funds has passed. UC Berkeley’s Financial Aid and Scholarships Office aims to begin processing awards for eligible graduate students this month. .
Filing a FAFSA or CADAA and being Title IV eligible alone does not guarantee funding, as funds are limited.
Initial CARES Act awards will be issued as grants up to $1,000 depending on the number of eligible students. The award will be processed through your CalCentral account and be delivered to you via direct deposit (if you have this active on your account), or mailed to the address you have on file. To update your address in CalCentral, click on your profile and then “Contact Information.”
If you wish to return CARES funding you’ve been awarded, you can do so by opening a case at Cal Student Central.
CARES Act – Household Stimulus Checks
In order to provide immediate relief to taxpayers, the Internal Revenue Service sent tax rebate checks to individuals and families that have valid Social Security Numbers. The legislation calls for $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for married joint tax filers. The IRS is using 2019 tax returns to determine eligibility or 2018 returns for those who haven’t filed for 2019 yet. These rebate checks have income limits in order to ensure that this funding goes to low- and middle-income individuals and families.
Many UC Berkeley graduate students who filed taxes in 2019/2018 qualified for these tax rebate checks. Read more information about what to expect.
The IRS has included updated information on how to receive payments. If you used a tax preparer or owed taxes last year (i.e. did not receive a refund), you may have to update your payment information with the IRS. Visit the “Get My Payment” portal on the IRS website to check the status of your payment.
Basic Needs Center
The Basic Needs Center’s priority is to ensure that services will continue remotely. The Center, including the Food Pantry, has moved to 103 Sproul Hall. Please visit this Google doc for up-to-the-minute information on resources and services related to basic needs: tinyurl.com/UCB-BNC-C19
Resources for Student Parents and Caregivers
Below you will find highlighted resources and accommodations for balancing caregiving responsibilities during the pandemic. For a more extensive list of pregnancy and parenting accommodations, visit grad.berkeley.edu/financial/families.
The Graduate Division has two grant programs for students with dependents:
- Student Parent Grant for graduate students with dependents under the age of 18 (deadline to apply: August 31, 2020)
- Graduate Division Caregiver Grant This new caregiver grant can provide assistance to graduate students who are the primary live-in caregiver for an adult individual. Examples of those eligible for this grant include graduate students who live with and serve as the primary caregiver for an elderly parent or other individual that may qualify as a dependent adult. Deadline to apply: August 15, 2020.
If you have questions about applying for these grants, please email email@example.com.
Dependent Care Assistance
- Berkeley CareBubbles is a parent-to-parent resource to help UC Berkeley community members meet their child care needs during the Covid-19 pandemic. Find other Cal families looking to trade childcare, share tutors, create bubbles, and more.
- From September 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021, students with dependents are eligible for 120 hours of subsidized back-up care from Bright Horizons if their child’s school is closed, or their regular caregiver is not available. Students must verify their eligibility before registering with Bright Horizons.
- Fall 2020 Update: Childcare reimbursements are available for students with academic appointments. The processes outlined in the links below remain the same, with the addition of a temporary exception to the ASE Childcare Reimbursement Program detailed in this memo.
Student Parent Academic Accommodations
Extension of Time for Academic Milestones: Research doctoral students who experience substantial parenting responsibilities are eligible for additional time to meet established deadlines for certain academic milestones, including:
- passing preliminary and/or Qualifying Examinations,
- completing their dissertations, and
- calculating Normative Time for purposes of qualification for certain fellowships.
For more information, please see the Guide to Graduate Policy.
- The Graduate Assembly has compiled a graduate student parent resource page with information on financial, housing, legal, childcare, food and diaper assistance. Visit http://ga.berkeley.edu/resources/grad-parent-resources/ for ongoing updates.
- The Berkeley Parents Network is a site for Bay Area parents to seek advice, exchange information, and make parent connections.
Support for Undocumented Students
In efforts to limit coronavirus risk on campus, the Undocumented Community Resource Center (UCRC) is temporarily closed. However, USP services remain open and accessible. Graduate Division is offering $100 grocery gift cards to undocumented graduate students. To receive one, please go here.
Please visit the USP website for information on how to access services:
- Financial Aid
The financial aid office is offering virtual satellite advising. Please follow the link for instructions to sign up for an appointment: https://www.wejoinin.com/sheets/cyogi
- Financial Support
The emergency grant and USP scholarship application is still open and can be accessed here. If you have any questions, please, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Academic Counseling
All appointments with Valeria have been moved to virtual (phone or video) appointments through March 30, 2020. We continue to be committed to providing access and support to you during this ever-evolving time. You can schedule an appointment with Valeria here.
- Immigration Legal Support
EBCLC is the legal service provider for USP. As one of the largest providers of free legal services in the East Bay and home to eight of Berkeley Law’s community-based clinics, EBCLC places tremendous importance on the health of our staff, students, clients and the public. In an effort to support community well-being, we have closed our offices and have cancelled our drop-in appointments and in-person clinics from Thursday, March 12, 2020 through Thursday, April 30, 2020. We are committed to providing responsive legal services in the areas of housing, health, immigration, education, and economic security, and we will continue to do so with the utmost respect for our clients. Please schedule remote appointments through our online booking system, email us at email@example.com, or contact your caseworker for assistance with a legal matter. Thank you for your cooperation and support.
Current Clients of EBCLC : For current clients of EBCLC, please reach out to your caseworker directly regarding any questions or concerns.
General Consultations: As of March 12, 2020, all general consultations scheduled through our online booking system will take place by phone or Zoom.
For up-to-date information, visit the Undocumented Student Program website.
Support for International Students
Berkeley International Office
The Berkeley International Office has created a COVID-19 webpage to answer frequently asked questions and share support resources. Please visit this page for information on domestic and international travel, F-1 and J-1 visas, advising hours, enrollment, grading, deferrals, extensions, and more. For other important information regarding current U.S. immigration policy, Executive Orders, and travel advisories, please see BIO’s Immigration Policy Updates & FAQ webpage.
October 14, 2020 Update: International students that need a student visa to enter the U.S. have been advised by the Berkeley International Office (BIO) not to try to enter the U.S. for the spring semester because of the limited (if any) in-person instruction planned for this spring semester. In order not to disadvantage international students requiring a student visa from academic student job opportunities, we will permit those individuals to work remotely from outside the U.S. during the spring 2021 semester. For more information on academic student appointments and how they relate to international students, please read this memo from the Academic Personnel Office and contact the Berkeley International Office directly.
Non-Resident Supplemental (NRST) Tuition Waivers for Post-Candidacy International Students
July 31, 2020 Update:
The UC Office of the President has delegated the decision about NRST (non-resident supplemental tuition) waivers to each campus. This week the UC Berkeley campus Finance Committee agreed to Dean Lisa García Bedolla’s request that the Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 semesters not count towards students’ three years of NRST waiver eligibility for those students currently in candidacy. Please consult your department for questions.
Graduate Student Appointments for International Students
The practice around the hiring of international students living outside the U.S. to work as GSI/GSRs is currently under review by campus leadership and guidance from the campus has been shared with departments. If you have questions about your employment options for the fall semester, please consult with your GSAO or other departmental administrator that manages academic hiring. A list of department contacts for Academic Student Employee (ASE) job opportunities can be found in Labor Relations in the Berkeley People & Culture website.
Health & Wellness
The City of Berkeley is requiring a face covering be worn in common areas indoors, such as hallways, elevators, stairwells, laundry and mail rooms, and dining halls. If you work for the university on campus, please contact your supervisor for instructions about wearing a face covering at work. This health order also stipulates that face coverings must be worn when you go grocery shopping, visit the pharmacy, or enter other stores.
Keep Berkeley Healthy Pledge
All students using campus facilities will be required to sign a Keep Berkeley Healthy Pledge before being able to access physical spaces. Our approach focuses on accountability with developmental and educational principles, reserving punitive sanctions for repeat and/or egregious offenses (such as deliberately wiping your face on someone). While we hope that it is rare, refusing to comply with requirements such as physical distancing and facial coverings will result in consequences that could include being excluded from campus altogether. Be aware that off campus, the City of Berkeley (and possibly Oakland and other surrounding communities) can impose fines and even cite people criminally for failing to comply with public health orders.
Surveillance Testing for Asymptomatic Students on Campus
Testing is required for on campus residence hall students on the day of your scheduled move-in prior to receiving your keys, after a 7-10 day self-sequester period, then initially twice per week throughout the fall 2020 semester. This testing will be free of charge, regardless of your insurance. On-campus residence hall students have received an email about where to go to get tested and how to make an appointment for the initial move-in test; guidance regarding ongoing surveillance testing will be communicated shortly.
Symptomatic Testing for COVID-19 on Campus
For any student experiencing symptoms or who may have been exposed to COVID-19 (or any students with concerns), please call the University Health Services Advice Line 24/7 at 510-643-7197 for consultation or an appointment. You do NOT need to be enrolled in the Student Health Insurance Program (SHIP) to get tested or be assessed by UHS. There is no out-of-pocket cost to be tested at UHS.
Online Training Module
Essential student researchers and student workers who must work on campus are required to take a 10 minute online training (consult your PI or your supervisor for details). In the coming weeks, all students who will be on campus, including residential students, will be required to take a similar training. Stay tuned for additional information about this important training.
University Health Services
Please visit uhs.berkeley.edu for the most up-to-date information on hours and appointments. If you feel unwell, please call your healthcare provider or contact University Health Services (UHS) for advice or care. Please take all precautionary hygiene steps recommended by the university.
The following UHS changes are now in place until further notice to help make using your insurance and getting care easier wherever you may be:
No referrals from University Health Services are needed before accessing medical and mental health care. Most providers should not require any documentation of this, but if needed, you can take this UHS letter with you.
90-day refills are now available for most prescriptions at any pharmacy.
For students who are now away from campus and living internationally, international coverage now includes routine care along with emergency care.
The student health center (SHC) at each University of California campus gladly offers reciprocal access to currently registered students from all other UC campuses under the same conditions that apply to its own students.
Visit https://uhs.berkeley.edu/ship-updates for ongoing updates.
- Brief counseling model has been adjusted to meet the immediate needs of students and to preserve the health of students and staff.
- All initial visits with counselors are by phone.
- Students who need support and do not have an assigned counselor should call (510) 642-9494 to schedule a phone appointment.
- Students who have scheduled follow-up appointments should check their secure messages for updates from their counselor.
- Drop-in urgent counseling has been suspended. Students with urgent needs should call (510) 642-9494 to speak with a counselor.
- Many of our satellite offices are closed. Location-specific information is available on the satellite counseling page.
- All “Let’s Talk” drop-in at satellite locations has been suspended until further notice
- Hours: Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Be sure to check the UHS website for current hours.
- For after-hours support, please call (855) 817-5667.
Center for Support and Intervention
The Center for Support and Intervention addresses prevention and intervention for harm and violence on campus, and provides support to students experiencing or causing distress in the campus community. They are open for remote/virtual appointments and consultations during this period of alternative instruction. Please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, and visit their website at sa.berkeley.edu/csi.
We understand that the sudden shifts in social and academic guidelines can feel overwhelming and isolating. We recommend trying the following to decrease the negative impact of social isolation:
- Have Zoom dates with friends. This can be a good time to totally decompress or to chat with people about your research.
- For those of you caring for kids, parents, or partners during this time, don’t be alone, even if you are physically isolated. Have a virtual date via video call or check in with an online support group.
- Practice verbal gratitude. Giving thanks fosters a cycle of altruism, building trust and care with others.
- Play music and sing out loud. Music has been shown to help modulate your stress and strengthen empathy.
- Practice relaxation and mindfulness exercises.
Billing and Payments
Temporary suspension of onsite check payment processing
With the shelter-in-place order in effect for the Bay Area, Billing and Payment Services will suspend onsite cashiering of student and vendor check payments, effective March 17, 2020. This action is expected to remain in effect through the planned shelter-in-place period. Please note that Bill and Payment Services staff will continue to serve students by working remotely and that all payments submitted through CalCentral or via direct wire will continue to process as usual.
If you would like to make a payment on your student account, please submit the payment online through CalCentral. UC Berkeley offers alternative payment options to students and delegates through CalCentral and we encourage students to submit payments online. You can make payments online through ACH, credit card, and IFT for our international students. Payments submitted through CalCentral will continue to post to student accounts as normal.
Temporary suspension of late fees
We understand that some students may have already mailed payments that will not be processed in as timely a manner as usual. We also understand that some of our students may be experiencing hardships as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. In light of these challenges and to alleviate students of these potential pressures, UC Berkeley will temporarily suspend the assessment of late fees on student accounts. Effective as of March 16, 2020, late fees will not post to student accounts. We will revisit the late fee assessment as appropriate and will continue to update you with current information.
If you have any questions, please open a case in Cal Student Central or call 510-664-9181.
Equity & Inclusion
For information about how UC Berkeley’s Division of Equity & Inclusion is supporting the university’s diverse community members through virtual classrooms, virtual advising, webinar events, and remote work, visit diversity.berkeley.edu/covid-19-ei-here-serve-you.
Office for Graduate Diversity
The Office for Graduate Diversity (OGD) provides support services for prospective and continuing students on the Berkeley campus in an effort to maintain a more diverse graduate student community. The Office for Graduate Diversity will be closed until further notice, though OGD staff are working remotely and responsive to emails. Getting into Graduate School (GiGS) classes are continuing remotely, STEM*FYI programming is postponed, and information for the Firebaugh program can be found at tinyul.com/FirebaughAppGuide.
Students can contact OGD staff at email@example.com with any questions or concerns.
American Indian Graduate Program
The American Indian Graduate Program (AIGP) seeks, through outreach, individual recruitment, and student services to remove perceived barriers which prevent the full participation of American Indian and Alaska Native students participating in graduate level research at UC Berkeley. For COVID-19 updates related to AIGP, visit the program’s website.
Berkeley Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program
For updates on the Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, visit diversity.berkeley.edu/programs-services/postdoctoral-diversity
Libraries, Student Spaces and Events
It is likely that pandemic conditions and/or public health guidelines will make it inadvisable to hold in-person events as we have done in the past; this consideration will likely cause us to greatly restrict the use of campus facilities for events and meetings this fall. Students will be supported in engaging in clubs, activities and events remotely and we will do all that we can to enrich the student experience for all.
The Graduate Division’s New Graduate Student Orientation (NGSO) for incoming students will be offered remotely as a weeklong series of afternoon workshops from August 18-25, 2020. Many of the workshops will be repeated, and some will be recorded and posted for later viewing. New graduate students will receive a series of informational messages throughout the summer that will include a schedule of workshops and events. Please check with your academic program for information about program-specific orientations.
All libraries are closed, but library staff are working to provide as many remote services as possible. Visit the Berkeley Library COVID-19 portal for ongoing updates. You are welcome to contact your subject librarian for assistance or chat with a librarian 24/7.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Union, Eshleman Hall, Cesar Chavez Hall and the Recreational Sports Facility (RSF) are closed. Many other campus facilities are closed as well. Please check their websites for current information. As public health conditions and testing capacity allow us to resume more activities on campus, the top priorities will be instructional and research spaces. We will then prioritize study spaces for students.
Open study spaces for students
We plan to create structured outdoor spaces using, for example, chalk circles for physical distancing and enhanced wireless internet signals. As public health conditions permit, we plan to have a student-centered space, such as the MLK Student Union or the library, open to students for limited amounts of time. Access would be controlled to limit the number of people in at one time; facial coverings and physical distancing would be required. If study spaces become possible, the amount of time spent there by any single student will be limited — these have been identified as typical spaces to spend no more than several hours in.
Please note: we are still awaiting state guidelines for colleges and universities which may provide further restrictions and limitations.
Visit news.berkeley.edu/coronavirus for the most up-to-date information.
Student Life Office Hours
If you would like assistance navigating these resources, sign up for a 15-minute virtual appointment with Graduate Student Life Director Larissa Charnsangavej: https://
In Spring 2020, the Council of Deans endorsed a statement indicating that departments would not penalize students who adopt P/NP grades during the spring 2020 semester.
Below is an updated statement from the Graduate Division which reaffirms this holistic review:
UC Berkeley evaluates applicants for admission to its graduate and professional schools holistically, meaning that we consider an applicant’s combination of personal accomplishments, letters of recommendation, personal statements, academic record, and test scores in making our admissions decisions. Such a review will take into account the significant disruptions of COVID-19 when reviewing students’ transcripts and other admissions materials during the pandemic. Thus, we will not penalize students for the adoption of P/NP grades and reduced research experiences during this unprecedented period, whether the choices were made by institutions or by individual students. What is most important is that applicants demonstrate that they pursued a challenging curriculum that was relevant to their plan for graduate or professional school.
As we have continued to observe in admissions cycles, Berkeley graduates have a remarkable track record of success in graduate school admissions to the most competitive programs in the country. Our graduates are admired for their academic abilities and resilience, and are assessed, as always, on their overall performance. We are confident that graduate admissions committees will make generous allowances for the academic challenges produced by the COVID-19 pandemic.