- Search Policies
- F. DEGREES
- F1. Master’s Degrees
- F1.1 Degree Plans
- F1.2 Academic Residence Requirement for a Master’s Degree
- F1.3 Concurrent Master’s Degree Programs
- F1.4 Unit Credit for the Master’s Degree
- F1.5 Advancement to Candidacy for a Master’s Degree
- F1.6 Master’s Thesis (Plan I)
- F1.7 Comprehensive Final Examination or Capstone Project (Plan II)
- F1.8 Completion of Courses for the Degree
- F1.9 Master’s Time in Candidacy
- F2. Doctoral Degrees: Policies Prior to Advancement to Candidacy
- F2.1 Doctoral Degrees with a Designated Emphasis
- F2.2 Academic Residence Requirement for a Doctoral Degree
- F2.3 Program Review Requirement for First-Year Students
- F2.4 Foreign Language Requirement
- F2.5 Preliminary Examinations
- F2.6 Qualifying Examination
- F2.7 Qualifying Examination Results
- F2.8 Advancement to Candidacy for a Doctoral Degree
- F2.9 Normative Time and Calculation of Normative Time in Candidacy
- F3. Doctoral Degrees: Policies Governing Doctoral Candidates
- F3.1 Doctoral Completion Fellowship (DCF)
- F3.2 Dissertation Plans A and B
- F3.3 Final Report
- F3.4 Candidate in Philosophy Degree
- F3.5 Annual Review of Doctoral Candidates
- F3.6 Reduction in Nonresident Tuition
- F3.7 Lapsing, Reinstatement, and Termination of Candidacy
- F3.8 Planning for the Dissertation
- F3.9 Faculty and Student Interaction During the Dissertation Process
- F4. Policies Affecting Both Master’s and Doctoral Students
- F4.1 Time Limits on the Use of Courses for Degrees
- F4.2 Change or Add a Major or Degree Goal
- F4.3 Duplication of Graduate Degrees
- F4.4 Submitting the Thesis or the Dissertation in a Foreign Language
- F4.5 Faculty Committees for Higher Degrees
- F4.6 Academic Senate Status
- F4.7 Configuration Requirements for Higher Degree Committees
- F4.8 Role of Committee Members
- F4.9 Exceptions to Policies on Committee Membership
- F5. Student Records
- F6. Student Parent Policies
All policies and procedures dealing with graduate student progress are monitored by the Degrees office of the Graduate Division. Graduate students at Berkeley may be pursuing a Master’s degree or a Doctoral degree. In addition, doctoral students may add a Designated Emphasis, a form of interdisciplinary concentration in addition to the doctoral degree. Specific policies that govern the Master’s and Doctoral degree programs are discussed first, followed by policies that apply to both. Most matters should be referred to the Degrees Office. Some requests for exceptions are addressed to the Associate Dean for Degrees, submitted via the Degrees office.
F1. Master’s Degrees
The Master’s degree recognizes mastery of the fundamentals of a field demonstrated through coursework culminating in a final examination, capstone project, or thesis. To be eligible to receive the Master’s degree, the student must complete at least two semesters in residency and undertake the total coursework units defined for the program, earning a GPA of at least 3.0 based on letter grades of C- or better on two-thirds of all course work. Master’s students pursue Plan I (thesis) or Plan II (comprehensive exam or capstone project), depending on their program.
Programs set their own subject requirements for degrees. When programs propose to change requirements, they must inform the Graduate Division for approval before implementation. If the proposed changes are substantive, the Graduate Division will submit them to the Graduate Council for its approval. All students must be informed in writing of any requirement changes. Programs must permit students who entered under one set of requirements to elect to follow either the new or old rules.
F1.1 Degree Plans
requires a minimum of 20 semester units of upper division and graduate courses, and completion of a thesis. For the 20 unit minimum, the Academic Senate has established that a minimum of 8 units be in 200 series courses in the student’s major subject. Majors may require more than the minimum of 20 units. If the degree requires more than the 20-unit minimum, 40% of the unit total must be 200-level course work.
requires a minimum of 24 semester units of upper division and graduate courses, followed by a comprehensive final examination or, if approved by the Graduate Council, a capstone project administered by the program. Of the 24 units, Academic Senate regulations state that a minimum of 12 units must be in 200-level courses in the student’s major subject. Majors may require more than the 24-unit minimum. If the degree requires more than 24 units, half of the unit total must be 200-level course work.
Group Projects and the Plan I (thesis) and Plan II (capstone project) Master’s degree
The Graduate Council has stated that joint or group work is not acceptable as the basis for awarding graduate degrees. Students may collaborate on research projects under the supervision of a faculty guidance committee. However, each student must write a thesis or capstone project report that represents a cohesive presentation of the research conducted and is capable of standing independently from the project. Each student’s work must be evaluated individually.
F1.2 Academic Residence Requirement for a Master’s Degree
Academic residence is defined as payment of registration fees, and enrollment in at least 4 units in 100 or 200 series courses each semester of academic residence. A Master’s degree requires a minimum of two semesters of academic residence, with variations as follows:
- Master’s degree — two semesters of academic residence.
- Master’s, two separate degrees — a two-semester minimum of academic residency is required for each degree, for a total of four semesters minimum.
- Master’s, concurrent degrees — a minimum of two semesters of academic residence.
- Master’s and doctoral degrees — a minimum of six semesters of academic residence is required to complete both a master’s and a doctoral degree
Academic Residency and Summer Sessions
For a master’s degree, residence during Summer Sessions may be counted under the following conditions:
- Enrollment in two six-week Summer Sessions counts as one term of residence provided the candidate is enrolled in each session for the equivalent of at least two units of upper division and/or graduate work as given in a regular term (four units total)
- Enrollment in an eight-week Summer Session counts as one term of residence provided the candidate is enrolled for the equivalent of at least four units of upper division and/or graduate work as given in a regular term.
See Section D1.1 for the minimum enrollment requirement for graduate students who are not yet advanced to candidacy.
F1.3 Concurrent Master’s Degree Programs
Established concurrent degree programs combine two separate master’s degree programs. Students are permitted to count a limited number of courses towards fulfillment of both degrees. Since “double counting” is otherwise not allowed, an official concurrent degree program generally decreases the time required to earn both degrees. Although requirements for one degree may be completed during an earlier term, the two degrees of the concurrent program are awarded the same semester the second one is completed.
F1.4 Unit Credit for the Master’s Degree
Courses in the 300 series or higher do not count toward the unit requirements for either Plan I or Plan II Master’s degrees. For either the 20-unit Plan I or 24-unit Plan II, a maximum of 6 units of 299 course work may be used toward fulfilling degree unit requirements. For degree programs requiring more than 24 units, up to 25% of the unit total may be units in 299 courses.
The same course work cannot be used toward two different master’s degrees unless that course work has been permitted as part of a concurrent master’s program officially approved by the campus.
Unit Credit from Non-UC Institutions
A master’s student may transfer up to 4 semester units or 6 quarter units of course work completed as a graduate student at another institution. The student must have received at least a B in the course(s) and have a grade-point average of at least 3.3 at both Berkeley and the other institution. Students cannot use units from another institution to satisfy the minimum unit requirement in 200 series courses or the minimum academic residence requirement. In addition, they may not present course work previously used to satisfy requirements for another degree program at Berkeley or at another in another institution.
Unit Credit from Another UC Campus
Academic Senate Regulation 726 allows for the possibility for graduate students to receive credit for more than 4 semester or 6 quarter units of 200-level courses completed on another UC campus, by exception. The Graduate Division will consider such petitions on a case-by-case basis.
Unit Credit from Summer Session Course Work at UC Berkeley and Other Institutions
Transfer of summer session course work completed at another institution is generally not permitted. An entering student admitted for fall semester may petition to receive unit/course credit toward the degree for UC Berkeley Summer Session courses taken in the immediately preceding summer, if the Admissions Office of the Graduate Division issued the offer of admission before the end of that Summer Session.
Unit credit from Backdated Graduate Standing
Berkeley undergraduates who take graduate course work during their last undergraduate semester may petition to backdate graduate standing in order to receive graduate credit for that course work. Graduate standing may be backdated for only one semester, and students may petition for credit only for course work that was not required for the undergraduate degree. In addition, if the last undergraduate semester was used to satisfy students’ senior residency requirement, then the petition must note this.
Unit credit from Concurrent Enrollment with University Extension
Berkeley Division Regulation A208 allows UC Berkeley Extension courses carrying the “XB” designation on University Extension transcripts to be accepted for unit requirement and grade-point credit on the Berkeley campus. Without these designations, extension courses generally cannot be applied to a Berkeley degree. Exceptions are made only when there is clear evidence that the student took the courses while a graduate student at another institution, and intended to apply those units toward a graduate degree at that institution.
Unit Credit for Different Degrees (PhD vs. master’s)
Matriculated Berkeley PhD students may enroll in a master’s program in a different academic unit subject to the following conditions.
- The student applies to the master’s program via the admissions process (SLATE), adhering to program deadlines;
- the units counted toward the master’s degree in the second program are not counted toward any master’s degree that the student may have earned in her/his PhD program;
- the student obtains a memo from his/her advisor and/or Head Graduate Advisor supporting his/her earning a master’s degree in another program (required signatures should be determined by each program); and,
- the student completes the required capstone element for the master’s degree (i.e., thesis, comprehensive exam, or project).
For programs that do not offer a stand-alone master’s degree, PhD students may earn a master’s degree on the following additional conditions.
- The department’s faculty agree that the department will offer a terminal master’s degree to matriculated Berkeley PhD students; and
- the department establishes a transparent admissions process by which students will be admitted to a terminal master’s degree program with a capstone element.
Any program wishing to admit matriculated Berkeley PhD students may waive the requirement of letters of recommendation and of GRE scores. Additionally, matriculated PhD students will not count against a program’s admissions allotment.
Procedure to request exceptions to policies on unit credit: Exception requests must come from the Head Graduate Adviser, in a memo addressed to the Associate Dean for Degrees, submitted in care of the Graduate Degrees Office. The memo must specify the units and courses to be credited. It can be submitted either before or when a student applies for advancement to candidacy.
In a request for backdating graduate standing, the memo must be accompanied by a written statement from the student’s undergraduate college confirming that the course work was not undertaken in fulfillment of an undergraduate degree requirement. If the last semester was used to satisfy the senior residency requirement, then the memo must note this, as well.
For transfer of summer session course work completed at another institution, the memo must be accompanied by (a) an official transcript from the other school showing that the student was in graduate standing at the other institution and (b) a statement from the other institution that the courses are acceptable toward a master’s degree but were not used at that university.
F1.5 Advancement to Candidacy for a Master’s Degree
By Academic Senate regulation, students must formally advance to candidacy before the master’s degree can be conferred. Plan I students must be advanced to candidacy before filing their theses. Plan II students must be advanced prior to taking the comprehensive examination or submitting the capstone project.
Students advancing under Plan I submit individual applications for candidacy that list the proposed thesis committee. Students advancing to candidacy under Plan II are included on a list submitted by their program to the Graduate Degrees office.
Every candidacy form must be signed by the Head Graduate Adviser. For students under Plan I, the Chair of the Thesis Committee must also sign the form.
Foreign Language Requirement
Students must pass any required program language examinations before they are advanced to candidacy.
Grading of Course Work
Two-thirds of all course work (not only those courses required for the master’s program) must be letter-graded, and only courses graded C- or better, or Satisfactory, may be counted toward degree requirements.
For the degree to be awarded, the student’s overall grade-point average must be at least 3.0, computed on the basis of all upper division and graduate courses taken in graduate standing up through the student’s final semester (not only those required for the master’s program). If the grade-point average is above 2.85 at the time of application for advancement to candidacy (but below 3.0), the student may apply for advancement if it is numerically feasible to achieve the required 3.0 through completion of current course work.
A student may be advanced to candidacy with the following course deficiencies, but these must be rectified for award of the master’s degree:
- Incomplete or In Progress grades for required courses.
- Completion of courses to remove academic deficiencies, required by the program as a condition of the student’s admission to the degree program. In some cases, course work completed in University Extension may be used to correct deficiencies, but it cannot be counted toward fulfilling unit requirements for the degree.
Thesis Committee (Plan I)
Students must have a properly constituted thesis committee of three members, who must belong to the Academic Senate unless an exception has been granted. It is optional for students following Plan I to have an Academic Senate Representative on the thesis committee. If a proposed committee member does not belong to the Academic Senate, then a request for an exception must accompany the application for advancement to candidacy. For more information on faculty committees and requesting exceptional appointments, see “Faculty Committees for Higher Degrees” in the section below on “Policies Affecting Both Master’s and Doctoral Students.”
Advancement and Human Subjects Certificate Requirement
Students who are using human subjects in their research must complete the “Course in the Protection of Human Subjects” (referred to as the CITI course) available online and print out the certificate of completion. This certificate must be submitted with the advancement form.
Procedure to apply for advancement: Students advancing under Plan I submit individual applications for candidacy that list the proposed thesis committee. GSAOs notify the Graduate Degrees office that students advancing to candidacy under Plan II have completed their milestone (i.e., comprehensive final exam or project) in Campus Solutions. The Graduate Division reviews each student’s application against his or her record to determine eligibility for advancement to candidacy. If the student is eligible, a formal notice of advancement to candidacy will be sent to the student, to the program, and for Plan I students, to the thesis committee members. If a student is not eligible, the program and the student will be notified that advancement has been deferred. The application will be held for future review once the student has notified the Graduate Degrees Office that the deficiency has been cleared and can be verified.
For an academic master’s degree, students must show that they will complete the minimum program for their plan (20 units required for Plan I or 24 units required for Plan II, in the 100 or 200 series). A minimum of 8 units for Plan I or 12 units for Plan II must be completed in the 200 series in the major subject. No more than 6 units of a 20-unit Plan I or a 24-unit Plan II program may be research units. If the program requires more than 24 units, up to 25% of the unit total may be research units.
Procedure for changes to thesis committee membership (Plan I): A change in committee is requested by submitting a completed Change in Higher Degree Committee form. The Head Graduate Adviser has the final authority to approve changes. The Head Graduate Adviser must state the reason for the change and sign the form. The Head Graduate Adviser should consult with faculty members to assure that they are aware of membership changes.
Procedure for exceptions to thesis committee membership (Plan I): If a proposed committee member does not belong to the Academic Senate, a request for an exception from the Head Graduate Advisor justifying the inclusion must accompany the application for advancement to candidacy. The curriculum vitae of the proposed committee member must be included.
F1.6 Master’s Thesis (Plan I)
The Master’s Thesis is required for Plan I programs. “Policies Affecting Both Master’s and Doctoral Students” (below) covers preparing the thesis, required registration status, and use of human or animal subjects.
Library Permission Form
A completed “Master’s Thesis Release Form” stating whether or not the student is willing to allow the University Library to supply copies of the thesis to any interested persons immediately, or if permission to do so should be withheld (for two years), must accompany the submitted Master’s Thesis.
F1.7 Comprehensive Final Examination or Capstone Project (Plan II)
For master’s students under Plan II, each program decides the content and format of the capstone element (either a comprehensive final examination or a capstone project), which should cover the knowledge and skills reasonably expected of a master’s degree recipient in the field. For comprehensive final exams, a committee of at least two (and preferably three) Academic Senate faculty members should conduct the exam. The exam may be written, oral, or a combination of the two.
For capstone projects, a committee of at least two members need to evaluate the capstone project. At least one of them needs to be an Academic Senate member, at least one of them should have no direct vested interest in the student’s success (e.g., the student is not the reviewer’s GSR or collaborator), and both of them must be affiliated with UC Berkeley.
Students must be registered or on filing fee status during the term that they take the comprehensive final examination or complete and submit the capstone project. The deadline for successful completion of the comprehensive exam or the capstone project is the last day of the semester in which the degree is to be conferred.
Procedure to report results of the Comprehensive Final Examination or Capstone Project: At the end of the fall and spring semesters, the Graduate Division sends to programs a list of all Plan II master’s candidates who are advanced to candidacy. The Head Graduate Adviser should indicate whether or not each student has passed or failed the exam, the date of the exam, the date the student filed the capstone project if applicable, and whether any of the student’s Incompletes, No Reports, or In Progress grades are required for the degree.
F1.8 Completion of Courses for the Degree
Master’s students must finish all courses required for the degree by the last day of the semester in which they expect the degree to be conferred. For award of the Master’s degree, a student can have no more than one Incomplete per year of the degree program in a non-required course, up to a maximum of two incompletes. If the program is longer than two years, no more than two Incompletes total can be included to remain in good standing.
After completion of requirements for the degree for which they were admitted, students may not register and enroll for a subsequent semester unless they have been previously approved for a new degree goal or a new major.
Procedure to report completion of courses for the degree: At the end of the fall and spring semesters, the Graduate Division sends to programs a list of all Plan II master’s candidates who are advanced to candidacy. If students have Incompletes, No Reports, or In Progress grades, the program must indicate on the list of Plan II master’s candidates whether the courses would be required for the degree.
F1.9 Master’s Time in Candidacy
Master’s students have six semesters after advancement to candidacy in which to complete requirements for their degrees. If they do not finish in that period, their candidacy will lapse unless the Head Graduate Adviser requests an extension of time and it is granted by the Associate Dean for Degrees.
Reinstated students must be registered or qualify for Filing Fee status during the semester in which they complete the final requirements for their degree. The student’s thesis committee must have approved a final draft of the thesis, or the student must indicate readiness to take the comprehensive final examination or submit a capstone project, to be eligible for reinstatement.
Programs may request that the Graduate Division terminate the candidacy of a master’s student if, after a period on lapsed status, the student does not show ability to complete the degree.
Procedure for reinstatement of candidacy: To reinstate candidacy, the Head Graduate Adviser must certify that the student’s previously completed course work is still valid. For all fields, there is a time limit of four years on use of previously completed coursework for the Masters degree.
Procedure to request termination of candidacy: The Head Graduate Adviser should submit a separate memo for each student recommended for termination, addressed to the Graduate Degrees Office.
F2. Doctoral Degrees: Policies Prior to Advancement to Candidacy
In the first stage of doctoral programs, students are guided by faculty in their programs, operating under the policies of the Academic Senate Graduate Council, intended to ensure their progress through advancement to candidacy.
Administered by departments, Schools, or Graduate Groups, the doctorate is awarded in recognition of a student’s knowledge of a broad field of learning and for distinguished accomplishment in that field through an original contribution of significant knowledge and ideas. To be eligible to receive the doctorate, the student must complete at least two years (four semesters) of academic residence, pass a Qualifying Examination administered by a committee approved by the Graduate Division on behalf of the Graduate Council, and submit an approved dissertation completed under the guidance of Berkeley Academic Senate faculty members. The dissertation must reveal high critical ability and powers of imagination and synthesis. There are two dissertation plans:
1) Plan A, which requires a five-member committee (three members charged with approving the dissertation who are joined by two additional members for the student’s required final oral defense of the dissertation)
2) Plan B, which is followed by most doctoral programs, requires a three-member committee with a final defense at the discretion of the committee.
Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program
The Graduate Division has established a procedure by which students may propose to pursue an interdisciplinary major of their own design, with the support of a committee of five sponsoring faculty members. Fulfillment of academic residency, passage of the Qualifying Examination, and completion of a dissertation are all required of interdisciplinary doctoral students. Only students who have completed at least two semesters of a doctoral program at Berkeley with a superior academic record may be considered for an individual interdisciplinary doctoral program. The Interdisciplinary PhD follows Plan A requirements.
The doctorate is based on a course of study tailored to fit the needs of individual students, and to fulfill the curriculum approved for each program. Each program defines specific coursework required, which must be completed before admission to candidacy. Departments, Schools, and Graduate Groups may informally recognize that students have completed relevant courses at other institutions, if they wish, but no units will be officially transferred for the doctoral degree, unlike the master’s degree, as there are no university unit requirements. Thus, with the exception of the units required to fulfill residency requirements (see below), and the policy requiring students to be continuously enrolled for at least 12 units (absent an exception), doctoral students do not have specific unit requirements.
All doctoral programs of the University of California system have an established length of time for completion of a doctoral program, which is called Normative Time. Each doctoral program submitted its Normative Time for review and approval by the local Graduate Council and the University-wide Coordinating Committee on Graduate Affairs.
There are two components of Normative Time: NTA – normative time to advancement to doctoral candidacy; and NTIC – normative time in candidacy, which begins after advancement and ends when the degree is awarded. The Graduate Division monitors a student’s Normative Time progress since it affects, among other things, the allocation of new admissions slots for academic programs, and is one measure of a program’s ability to successfully conduct its students through the degree program.
F2.1 Doctoral Degrees with a Designated Emphasis
A “Designated Emphasis” is defined as an area of study constituting a new method of inquiry or an important field of application relevant to two or more existing doctoral degree programs. It is not a free-standing degree program, but must be added as an additional major along with an existing doctoral degree program. Students electing to add a Designated Emphasis are required to complete the academic work in the Designated Emphasis in addition to all the requirements of the doctoral program. There are no adjustments made to the normative time of the student’s major when a student undertakes a Designated Emphasis.
To qualify for the Designated Emphasis, students must have on the Qualifying Examination committee a representative of the DE and must be examined in that area of study. Students are consequently required to be admitted to the DE before taking the Qualifying Examination. When students also enrolled in a DE are advanced to candidacy, the advancement application must include the signature of the Head Graduate Adviser for the DE to signify that the dissertation committee had an appropriate representative of the DE in its membership and that the student was examined on the area of the Designated Emphasis.
Prior to filing for the degree, a Final Report for the Designated Emphasis, verifying that all of the requirements for the DE have been met, must be submitted. Students approved for a DE must include the name of the DE on the title page of the dissertation, following the major name.
List of Designated Emphases
The following Designated Emphases have been approved by the Graduate Council:
- Computational and Data Science and Engineering
- Computational and Genomic Biology
- Critical Theory
- Development Engineering
- Dutch Studies
- Energy Science and Technology
- European Studies
- Film Studies
- Global Metropolitan Studies
- Indigenous Language Revitalization
- Jewish Studies
- New Media
- Renaissance and Early Modern Studies
- Science and Technology Studies
- Sociology of Organizations and Markets
- Study of Religion
- Women, Gender, and Sexuality
Procedure to add a Designated Emphasis (DE) as a program of study: Students apply for admission by the Designated Emphasis, following procedures described by the Graduate Group sponsoring the DE. Once approved, staff in the student’s home department must use the Acad Plan eForm in CalCentral to add the DE to the student’s record.
F2.2 Academic Residence Requirement for a Doctoral Degree
Doctoral students must register at Berkeley and complete a minimum of four semesters of academic residence, which is defined as payment of registration fees and enrollment in at least 4 units in the 100 or 200 series per required semester of academic residence. A minimum of six semesters of academic residence are required to complete both a master’s and a doctoral degree. A student in a joint doctoral program must pay fees and fulfill enrollment requirements for at least one year at each campus to complete academic residence requirements.
Summer Sessions and Academic Residency
For a doctoral degree, residence during Summer Sessions may be counted under the following conditions: (1) enrollment in two consecutive six-week Summer Sessions counts as one term of residence provided the candidate is enrolled in each session for the equivalent of at least two units of upper division and/or graduate work as given in a regular term (four units total); or (2) enrollment in an eight-week Summer Session counts as one term of residence provided the candidate is enrolled for the equivalent of at least four units of upper division and/or graduate work as given in a regular term. No degrees are awarded for work completed during Summer Session only.
See Section D1.1 for the minimum enrollment requirement for graduate students who are not yet advanced to candidacy.
F2.3 Program Review Requirement for First-Year Students
The Graduate Council suggests that programs should evaluate graduate students at the middle and end of their first year of graduate study. Many programs require that all first-year doctoral students be formally reviewed at the end of their first year of study. Programs should inform newly-admitted students if they will be reviewed.
The Graduate Division advises that the results of all evaluations be sent to students in writing. A negative evaluation may be considered a letter of warning if it includes the information required by the Graduate Council. A copy should be sent to the Graduate Division Degrees Office.
F2.4 Foreign Language Requirement
Doctoral students must satisfy a foreign language requirement, unless a blanket exemption has been approved by the Graduate Council at the request of the doctoral program. Students should satisfy the requirement as early as possible in their graduate careers. The requirement must be satisfied before students will be eligible to take the Qualifying Examination.
The Graduate Division will accept any natural language with a system of writing (with the exception of English and any pidgin or Creole of which English is the base), if the department or group certifies that
1) the language has scholarly value in the field;
2) the language is integral to the training of a particular student or group of students in the field; and
3) a person qualified to administer the examination is available.
Computer languages are not acceptable for use in satisfying foreign language requirements.
Each student selects the language(s) used to satisfy this requirement from a set of languages certified by the Graduate Council for that department or group. Students may substitute an uncertified language if the Head Graduate Adviser makes such a request based on academic relevance for the student’s research and it is approved by the Associate Dean for Degrees.
Program Changes in the Foreign Language Requirement
Academic Senate regulations allow programs to change or drop their foreign language requirements following review and approval by the Graduate Council. In 1985, the Graduate Council decided that “a program wishing to change its current foreign language requirement will be expected to notify the Dean of the Graduate Division in accordance with regulation 2001B of the Regulations of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate; a program wishing to reduce its foreign language requirement will be expected to present a detailed justification for the proposed reduction” for review and approval by the Graduate Council.
Options for Completing the Foreign Language Requirement
Programs that have a foreign language requirement may select from the following options for students to complete the requirement. A program may establish more stringent requirements than those required by the Graduate Council.
This option requires a reading knowledge of two languages. Students may pass both by examination, or one by examination and the second by completing a four-semester (or six-quarter) course sequence with an average grade of C or better.
The Graduate Council directs that for a language requirement to be fulfilled by examination, a passage of at least 300 words be translated into English within a time limit of 90 minutes, with or without a dictionary at the option of the program faculty. Examinations may be conducted by departments, Graduate Groups, or any outside testing agency that has been approved by the Graduate Division, such as the Educational Testing Service.
For one language to be fulfilled through course work, the student must have completed coursework within four years of admission to Berkeley. Completion of an upper division foreign language course at Berkeley that requires a four-semester (or six-quarter) course sequence as a prerequisite can satisfy the requirement for one language. Course sequences of four semesters (six quarters) in a certified language completed at any UC campus automatically fulfill the requirement for one of the languages. If students wish to use courses at other institutions to fulfill the requirement for one of the languages, the Graduate Division must validate the courses.
If a student completed an appropriate course sequence as an undergraduate, or if the student’s high school or undergraduate institution conducted courses in an approved language, the program can petition the Graduate Division at the time the student is admitted to graduate standing at Berkeley to recognize that the student has fulfilled the language requirement
The student is expected to demonstrate an exceptionally thorough reading knowledge of one language, as well as an adequate knowledge of the grammatical structure of the language. Knowledge is tested by a written examination consisting of a translation of a passage of about 1,000 words on a subject appropriate to the student’s major field of interest. The examination is limited to three hours and the translation is to be made without the aid of a dictionary. The translation must show an accurate comprehension of the meaning of the exam text, and since the exam text is in the student’s discipline, the translation should use the correct English technical terms.
As with Option 1, students may pass by examination or by course work, but the program requires competence in only one foreign language. The examination requires the translation of a passage of at least 300 words into English within a time limit of 90 minutes, with or without a dictionary at the choice of the program faculty. As in the case of Option 1, examinations may be conducted by a department, a graduate group, or an approved outside agency. To fulfill the requirement through course work, a course sequence of four semesters (or six quarters), whether taken at UC or elsewhere, must have been completed within four years of admission to Berkeley or during enrollment as a student at Berkeley.
Native Speakers Of a Language Other Than English
A native speaker of a language other than English may petition to use that language to fulfill the program requirement if the language is appropriate to advanced research in that particular discipline, as shown by important journals and research that has been carried out in that language.
Procedure to report completion of the foreign language requirement: As soon as a student completes all or part of the language requirement, the Head Graduate Adviser notifies the Graduate Division by sending a memo.
If a student satisfied the requirement for Option 3, or for one of the two languages for Option 1, by completing a four-semester (or six-quarter) course sequence, the Head Graduate Adviser should certify in the memo that the course sequence was acceptable to the program.
The program must retain the graded program exam, if applicable, in the student’s file. The program must provide a copy of any completed language examination to the Graduate Division when petitioning for the student to advance to doctoral candidacy.
Procedure to request approval of use of high school or undergraduate language coursework to fulfill the requirement: The Head Graduate Adviser can petition the Graduate Division to recognize that a student has fulfilled the requirement for a language at the time the student is admitted to graduate standing at Berkeley, if the student completed an appropriate course sequence as an undergraduate, or if the student’s high school or undergraduate institution conducted courses in an approved language.
Procedure to request approval of a native language other than English:A program may petition for a native speaker of a language other than English to use that language to fulfill the language requirement by submitting a memo to the Graduate Division specifying the language and certifying native ability, as well as explaining the language’s relevance to the student’s research. Evidence of native ability in a language may be demonstrated through secondary school or university transcripts.
Procedure to request program changes in the foreign language requirement: The Head Graduate Advisor of the program should consult with the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs about the timing and content of a proposal to change or drop foreign language requirements, for review by an Associate Dean of the Graduate Division and approval by the Graduate Council.
F2.5 Preliminary Examinations
Some doctoral programs require a preliminary examination before the student may apply to take the Qualifying Examination. This may entail the completion of a paper, a series of papers, a written examination, or some other requirement defined by the program.
The Graduate Council requires that students who fail a program’s preliminary examination on the first attempt be given an opportunity for reexamination following a reasonable delay for additional preparation.
If the performance on the exam was so poor that it is unlikely the student will pass it again within an acceptable period of time, the Graduate Council policy allows programs to petition for the student’s registration to be terminated, without allowing a second chance to pass the preliminary exam. With this exception, preliminary examination results need not be reported to the Graduate Division.
Procedure to request termination of a student who fails a preliminary exam: If the examining committee, with the concurrence of the Head Graduate Adviser, recommends that no second examination be given and that the student’s status as a degree candidate in that program be terminated, the chair of the committee must write a memo explaining this outcome, addressed to the Associate Dean for Degrees in care of the Graduate Degrees Office.
F2.6 Qualifying Examination
The Qualifying Examination is administered by the Graduate Division on behalf of the Graduate Council. Committee membership and the conduct of the examination are accordingly subject to the Graduate Division’s review and approval.
The exam is normally held on one day and lasts approximately two to three hours. The Qualifying Examination is an oral exam. The Qualifying Examination must be conducted in English; all members of the committee must be present either in person or through approved media.
A program may require written examinations or papers as preliminaries to the Qualifying Examination, but they are not a component of the Qualifying Examination required by the Graduate Council. Administration of the oral Qualifying Examination implies that the student has satisfactorily completed any written preliminaries.
The Purpose of the Qualifying Examination
The Graduate Council’s statement on the purpose and meaning of the Qualifying Examination should guide the conduct of the examination.
The intent of the Qualifying Examination is to ascertain the breadth of the student’s comprehension in at least three subject areas related to the major field of study, and to determine whether the student has the ability to think incisively and critically about the theoretical and the practical aspects of these areas. The examination may consider a number of academic points of view and the criteria by which they may be evaluated.
Some degree granting programs (departments, Schools, Graduate Groups) expect students to present a topic for the dissertation as part of the preliminaries for the Qualifying Examination, but the examination must not be narrowly limited to the dissertation topic.
The examiners should satisfy themselves, by unanimous vote, that the student demonstrated sufficient command of the three subject areas.
Qualifying Examination Committee
Please refer to Sections F4.7 and F4.8 for the configuration of the Qualifying Examination Committee and the role of the committee members, respectively.
Eligibility to Take the Qualifying Examination
To be eligible to take the exam, a student must:
- be registered and enrolled for the semester in which the exam is taken or, if it is taken during the winter or summer intersessions, be registered in either the preceding or the following semester (the exam may be taken up to the last day before the beginning of the next term);
- have completed at least one semester of academic residence;
- have at least a B average in all work undertaken in graduate standing;
- have no more than two courses graded Incomplete;
- have satisfactorily completed the program’s preliminary exam requirements, if applicable; and
- have completed the foreign language requirement.
Period of Eligibility to Take the Qualifying Examination
Once an application for admission to the Qualifying Examination is approved by the Graduate Division, the program has 18 months to administer the examination. Eligibility continues if the student fails on the first attempt but is recommended for reexamination. If the student does not take the examination during the 18-month period, he or she must file a new application.
Scheduling the Examination
Students should be encouraged to take the Qualifying Examination and be advanced to candidacy as soon as they are prepared, and unless exceptional circumstances exist, within the Normative Time to Advancement of the program.
The student should confer with the chair of the Qualifying Exam Committee when he or she is prepared to set the date of the examination. The student should begin this consultation well in advance of the planned exam date to ensure the availability of the examination committee and approval of the examination application by the Graduate Division. Students requiring accommodation for a disability must make this known before the exam so the chair can arrange appropriate accommodation. If, before the date of the approved examination, a change in the student’s health or personal situation makes it too difficult to take the examination as scheduled, the student must make this known to the examination chair so the chair can arrange for a postponement.
Conducting a Qualifying Examination
The Chair of the Qualifying Examination Committee is responsible for making sure that the committee administers the exam fairly and follows the procedures outlined in the next section. The committee’s Academic Senate Representative serves as the representative of the Dean of the Graduate Division to observe that the chair fulfills this responsibility and should report any infractions to the Graduate Division. An exam that is not conducted according to Graduate Division guidelines may be invalidated.
All members of the Qualifying Examination committee must be present to vote on the exam, and each member is expected to vote either “pass,” “fail,” or “partial fail” on the student’s performance during the entire examination. Committees should make every attempt to reach a unanimous decision.
The committee’s final decision should reflect the student’s performance on the exam. A vote to pass the student is only warranted if his or her academic performance was satisfactory and for no other reason.
It is not appropriate to add conditions to the examination verdict related to the dissertation topic, how the research should be conducted, who should be the dissertation chair, or how the student will be supported during the research phase. Conditions, such as subsequent service as a GSI in a particular course or presentation of a paper at a seminar, cannot be used to substitute for a student’s failure of any part of the examination and will not be accepted by the Graduate Division.
If allowed a retake, the student who has partially failed an examination must be orally examined before the full committee on all portions failed in the first Qualifying Examination.
Absence of Committee Members
The exam must be held with the entire committee present for the length of the exam. A student may not be examined separately by committee members.
A committee member not present on campus may participate through a conference call, videoconferencing, Skype, or other media with prior approval from the Associate Dean for Degrees. The distant member must be online for the entire examination and deliberation period and be audible to all present.
If any committee member cannot attend, the exam should be rescheduled or the committee reconstituted. The Graduate Division can expedite reconstitution of committees under these circumstances.
Related Temporary Policy Exceptions
If a student suffers from illness or psychological stress that prevents him or her from answering questions effectively during the exam, or if there are other problems that prevent the exam from proceeding properly, the chair should recess the examination immediately. The committee should meet without the student to decide whether or not to continue the exam.
If the committee decides that the exam cannot continue under the circumstances, the chair will adjourn the exam without a vote and immediately report the adjournment to the Graduate Degrees Office.
The committee should adjourn the exam only as a last step and only when other attempts to remedy the difficulty have been exhausted (such as a short recess to put the student at ease). Exams should not be adjourned simply because the student’s performance was not of passing quality, unless circumstances beyond the student’s control contributed to the failure. Committees should never recommend adjournment because a student’s English skills are not adequate for the exam.
An exam that lasts for more than one-and-a-half hours will be considered a complete examination by the Graduate Council and should not be reported as an adjournment but as a total or partial failure. If an adjourned exam is not resumed within 21 days, the reason must be reported and the exam may be judged to be a total or partial failure.
Nonappearance By the Student
If a student is not present at the time of the scheduled Qualifying Examination, the Administrative Committee of the Graduate Council will review the case, based on reports from the committee and the student involved. Only the Administrative Committee of the Graduate Council can rule on whether the student’s non-appearance at the scheduled time constitutes a failed examination. The Administrative Committee may find instead that the program, the examination committee, or both acted improperly, and act to monitor a rescheduled examination to ensure proper conduct of the exam.
Procedure to obtain permission to take the Qualifying Examination: Students must apply to take the Qualifying Examination no later than three weeks before the examination date, to allow the Graduate Division time to review and approve the application. Students must list on their applications at least three subject areas to be covered during the examination.
The application form must be endorsed by the Head Graduate Adviser. The Head Graduate Adviser must be certain that students who are non-native speakers possess the language skills necessary for participating in an oral exam in English.
The application form should be accompanied by the student’s foreign language examination (both text and translation) or certification of native fluency, unless the program has already submitted these materials.
Approval of the proposed committee by the Graduate Division is absolutely required before the exam may take place. An examination held before the student and the committee members have been notified by the Graduate Division of admission to the Qualifying Examination will not be accepted, and the committee will need to wait for approval and administer an approved examination.
Procedure to adjourn a Qualifying Examination: If the committee decides that an exam cannot continue, the chair will adjourn the exam without a vote and immediately report the adjournment to the Graduate Degrees Office. The chair must explain why this step was taken and give the committee’s recommendation for further action. The committee can recommend that the exam be continued, but no later than 21 days from the date of the adjourned exam. The student may be informed of the recommended action by the chair but must also be told that the recommendation must be reviewed by the Administrative Committee of the Graduate Council for approval.
Procedure for nonappearance by the student: If a student is not present at the time of the scheduled Qualifying Examination, both the committee chair and the student must submit written reports explaining the circumstances to the Associate Dean for Degrees, via the Graduate Division Degrees Office, within six working days following the date of the exam. The Administrative Committee of the Graduate Council will review the case, and rule on whether the student’s non-appearance constitutes a failed examination or a rescheduled examination should take place.
Procedure to follow when an emergency interrupts conduct of the exam: If an illness, accident, or other emergency occurs just before the scheduled exam, the committee chair should call the Graduate Degrees Office, explain the problem, and request permission from the cognizant Associate Dean, via the Degrees Office, to conduct the exam under special circumstances.
If an emergency situation compels a committee member to depart before the exam is concluded, he or she must write a memo to the cognizant Associate Dean, in care of the Graduate Degrees Office, explaining the reason for the absence and presenting an opinion of the student’s performance on topics covered during the time the committee member attended the exam. This information and a memo from the chair of the examining committee will be considered in determining the final results of the examination.
F2.7 Qualifying Examination Results
The Qualifying Examination Committee ideally will reach unanimous consensus on whether the exam was a pass, failure, or partial failure. If there is no unanimity, the result is a “split vote.” These categories are described below.
The Qualifying Examination committee unanimously votes that the student passed the examination with scholarship that is at least acceptable.
A total failure occurs if the Qualifying Examination committee votes unanimously that the student failed the entire examination. The committee either:
- recommends that the student take a second and final examination on all examination topics; or
- does not recommend reexamination, the consequence of which will be the student’s dismissal from the program.
If a second and final examination is recommended, committee membership for the student’s retake should be the same as for the first exam, unless an original member of the committee is unavailable because of sabbatical leave, medical leave, or similar circumstances. A memo from the Head Graduate Advisor explaining the need for a committee member to be replaced should accompany the Reconstitution of Higher Degree Committee form. The student may not retake the exam until 3 months after the first exam unless an exception is approved by the Associate Dean for Degrees. A third examination is not permitted. If the committee wishes to suggest preparation for the second examination through additional course work or special tutoring, this must be communicated to the student in writing with a copy to the Graduate Division Degrees Office.
If the committee does not recommend a reexamination, a written explanation by the committee chair must accompany the completed “Report to the Graduate Division on the Qualifying Examination”. If the Graduate Division concurs with the chair’s explanation, the student will be sent a letter of dismissal from the program by the Dean of the Graduate Division, with a copy to the program.
A Partial Failure
A partial failure occurs if the Qualifying Examination committee votes unanimously that the student passed some topics but failed others. In this instance, a second and final examination is required. The chair of the committee must write a letter to the student, with a copy to the Graduate Division, conveying information about his or her performance (pass, partial fail, or fail) on each of the three subject areas covered during the examination. The committee may choose to examine the student on all topics or only on those failed during the first exam, but must communicate its decision in the letter regarding the student’s performance. The retake must be scheduled no earlier than three months after the first examination unless an exception is approved by the Associate Dean for Degrees. A third attempt to pass the Qualifying Examination is not permitted.
A Split Vote
If the Qualifying Examination Committee cannot reach a unanimous decision concerning a pass, total failure, or partial failure, the chair should determine the areas of disagreement. The committee chair must request, and each committee member must write, a detailed assessment of the student’s performance for submission to the Administrative Committee of the Graduate Council. Such letters may be released to the student under provisions of the 1972 Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), current Department of Health and Human Services regulations, and California public records legislation.
If the exam results in a split vote, the committee should only inform the student that the matter was sent to the Administrative Committee for a final decision. The student has neither passed nor failed the exam until the Administrative Committee decides the results.
Procedure to Report the Results of a Qualifying Examination:
No later than two weeks after the Qualifying Examination, the committee must send the formal Report to the Graduate Division on the Qualifying Examination, signed by all committee members, to the Graduate Degrees Office.
If a re-examination is recommended, the committee may suggest preparation for the second examination through additional course work or special tutoring, communicated to the student in writing, with a copy to the Graduate Division.
The chair of the committee of a student who partially fails an examination must write a letter to the student, with a copy to the Graduate Division, conveying information about his or her performance (pass, partial fail, or fail) on each of the three subject areas covered during the examination. The committee may choose to examine the student on all topics or only on those failed during the first exam, but must communicate its decision in the letter regarding the student’s performance.
If the committee does not recommend a reexamination, a written explanation by the committee chair of why no re-examination is recommended must accompany the Report.
In the event of a split vote, each committee member must write a detailed assessment of the student’s performance for submission to the Administrative Committee of the Graduate Council by the Assistant Dean for Degrees, submitted to the Graduate Degrees Office. The chair’s letter should outline the progress of the examination itself, the efforts made by the committee to reach a unanimous agreement, the remaining areas of disagreement, and the chair’s own assessment of the student’s performance.
F2.8 Advancement to Candidacy for a Doctoral Degree
Eligibility for Advancement to Candidacy
To be advanced to candidacy, doctoral students must:
- have satisfied the foreign language requirement, if applicable;
- have passed the Qualifying Examination;
- have no more than two courses graded Incomplete;
- have a minimum 3.0 grade-point-average in all upper division and graduate work taken while in graduate standing;
- have no more than one-third of the total units undertaken for the degree be graded on an S/U basis,
- have fulfilled any additional program requirements, and
- have secured an appropriately configured dissertation committee.
Doctoral Dissertations Involving Human Subjects or Animal Research
Approval of a human subjects protocol must be procured from the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects before any dissertation research is conducted. Completion of required CITI modules must take place before research is conducted.
Information for New Doctoral Candidates
When doctoral students are advanced to candidacy, the Graduate Division posts a certificate of candidacy on GLOW that includes information regarding the length of candidacy and dissertation completion guidelines as well as information about meeting requirements if research will include animal or human subjects.
Procedure for doctoral students to advance to candidacy: The student submits the “Application for Candidacy to the Doctoral Degree” (Plan A or B) to the Graduate Degrees Office. The advancement form should be filed no later than the end of the semester after the semester in which the student passed the Qualifying Examination. A $90 Advancement to Candidacy Fee is required; revenue from this fee is used to support graduate student professional development.
The Head Graduate Adviser of the student’s major, the Chair of the Dissertation Committee, and, if applicable, the Head Graduate Adviser of the Designated Emphasis, must sign this form.
The student must indicate on the form whether human subjects or animal research will be involved in the dissertation research.
F2.9 Normative Time and Calculation of Normative Time in Candidacy
The term “normative time” refers to the elapsed time (calculated to the nearest semester) that students would need to complete all requirements for the doctorate. Normative times for doctoral programs have been recommended by program faculty and approved by the Graduate Council. The usual total normative time for doctoral programs is 12 semesters.
Calculation of Normative Time
The Graduate Division computes a student’s normative time from the time a student first enrolled as a graduate student at Berkeley.Policies That Modify Calculation of Normative Time
Students in certain circumstances may request and be granted modifications in the calculation of normative time. These circumstances include:
Students who are parents: The Graduate Council Student Parent Policies allow certain modifications to Normative Time calculations for parents. These are discussed in subsequent sections regarding specific circumstances that are covered by this policy.
Students with disabilities: Modifications in normative time are provided to students who have received appropriate letters of accommodation from the Disabled Students Program (DSP).
Students previously enrolled in master’s programs at Berkeley: the normative time clock may be “reset” for a student in the following circumstances:
- A student who was enrolled at Berkeley for a master’s degree and later pursues a doctoral degree in a distinctly different field.
- A student who had completed a master’s degree at Berkeley, did not pursue further study immediately thereafter, and returns to Berkeley for doctoral study at least one year later.
Procedure to request a “reset” of the normative time clock: The student’s head graduate adviser should submit a memo of request to the Graduate Degrees Office, by way of the Graduate Exceptions eForm, citing the specific circumstances that justify the change (break in enrollment between graduate degree programs, or pursuit of a new graduate degree in a distinctly different field).
F3. Doctoral Degrees: Policies Governing Doctoral Candidates
Once students advance to candidacy, they come under the jurisdiction of the Graduate Council, rather than that of the individual departments, Schools, or Graduate Groups, and are governed by a variety of policies intended to ensure their completion of the doctoral degree. The Graduate Council states that “the department must monitor the progress of students, but the completion of the dissertation is the responsibility of the student working with the dissertation committee, which is appointed on behalf of the Administrative Committee of the Graduate Council”.
F3.1 Doctoral Completion Fellowship (DCF)
The Doctoral Completion Fellowship (DCF) provides an incentive for students in certain graduate programs to complete their degree within a reasonable time. The DCF applies only to students admitted in Fall 2010 or later, in specific programs eligible for the fellowship.
The fellowship pays in-state tuition and a stipend for two semesters. Recipients of the DCF are limited to working, on average, no more than 25% time across the two semesters of DCF funding (e.g., 50% during one of the two semesters or 25% during both). No other positions or appointments may be held.
Eligible majors were selected after analysis of net stipends received by doctoral students in the program, recourse to loans by students in the program, and challenges with respect to time to degree and completion rate. Eligible majors were required to submit plans for improved advising and professional development of students; these plans were reviewed and approved by the Dean of the Graduate Division. Program eligibility is subject to review and could be discontinued.
Eligibility for the DCF
- Students must be advanced to candidacy
- Students must be in good academic standing with a minimum GPA of 3.0
- Students must have completed a satisfactory online Doctoral Candidacy Review for the most recently completed academic year
- Students must have participated in PhD completion activities or in other requirements, as directed by their program
- Students must apply for at least one external fellowship in order to be eligible for the DCF.  DCF eligibility is not contingent upon winning an external fellowship, nor would the receipt of external funding in any way affect a student’s eligibility for a DCF. This requirement is intended to enhance students’ intellectual and professional development by making them aware of funding opportunities and working with their advisors to prepare application materials. International students are exempt from this condition, however, because there typically are very few external fellowships for which international students are eligible.
 External fellowships are defined as funding sources awarded outside the Graduate Division or UC Berkeley, i.e., not open only to Berkeley students, and there is no minimum amount. The department will confirm that this requirement has been met.
Timetable for Using the DCF
Eligible students may use the fellowship at any time after advancement to candidacy, through the end of the year Normative Time to Degree (NTD) plus one year. Programs may establish more specific guidelines regarding the advisable timing for their students to use the DCF, which will normally be a dissertation writing year, not a research year.
Doctoral Candidacy Review
A student wishing to activate the DCF must have initiated the online Doctoral Candidacy Review (DCR) in the previous year (ending the day before the start of fall semester) and their dissertation committee chair must attest that the student’s academic progress is satisfactory. For students who choose to use their DCF within the first semester of candidacy, the Application for Candidacy Form serves as the first Academic Progress Report. Students must file DCRs annually after the first year of candidacy.
Removal of Consequences of Using the DCF
Prior to Spring 2021, no university fellowship funding  could be awarded to a student who had activated the DCF beyond one year past Normative Time to Degree (Normative Time plus one year grace period). Effective spring 2021, students who have activated the DCF (including those who have activated the fellowship prior to Spring 2021) are no longer subject to university fellowship funding restrictions one year past normative time to degree. Thus, students who have activated DCF and continue beyond one year past normative time to degree remain eligible for university fellowship programs and block grant funding.
 University fellowship funding is defined as funding awarded or controlled by the Graduate Division or UC Berkeley. This includes departmental block grants, Graduate Division Conference Travel Grants and Summer Grants, Berkeley Connect, and Hellman Graduate Awards, etc. Exceptions include awards from departmentally restricted funds, reimbursement for travel and conferences from non-fellowship funds, tuition support for external fellowship awards, student parent grants, FLAS stipends used to pay non-Berkeley fees, and awards for meritorious service (e.g., Teaching Effectiveness Awards for GSIs, Outstanding GSI Awards). For more information, contact email@example.com.
Normative Time Calculation
The DCF requires students to maintain progress based on Normative Time for their degree program. Every semester enrolled or withdrawn, formally or informally, counts in the calculation of elapsed semesters of Normative Time, with limited exceptions for approved medical withdrawal or parenting accommodation (see below). Any withdrawal for research or other academic purposes will count in accrued time, as will semesters included in retroactive withdrawals (except approved retroactive medical withdrawals).
A maximum of two semesters of withdrawal for medical purposes, documented by a formal medical withdrawal, will not count in calculating a student’s eligibility for the DCF.
An adjustment to Normative Time calculation for the purposes of eligibility for the DCF will be granted to students in accord with Section F6.
F3.2 Dissertation Plans A and B
Students are advanced to candidacy according to the dissertation plan followed by their programs.
Plan A requires a five-member committee and a final oral defense (also known as the Final Examination) is mandatory. Three members of a Plan A committee, including the Chair and the Academic Senate Representative must approve the dissertation and sign the signature page. The other two committee members may also sign off on the dissertation, but that is optional. Under the direction of the committee chair, the five members administer the student’s final oral defense of the dissertation.
Most doctoral programs follow Plan B, which requires a three-member committee to evaluate the dissertation. A final defense may be required at the discretion of the committee.
Procedure for reporting results of the Final Examination: For Plan A dissertations, a written memo reporting the results of the Final Examination must be sent to the Graduate Degrees Office before the degree can be awarded.
F3.3 Final Report
A Final Report, which verifies that students have completed all requirements except for the dissertation, will be sent to programs for each doctoral student at the time the student is advanced to candidacy. Programs at that time must verify completion of requirements by returning to the Graduate Division an endorsed Final Report that all course work and other individual requirements have been completed.
If a student’s file does not have a Final Report, the student cannot be placed on the degrees list for award of his or her degree even though the dissertation has been filed.
F3.4 Candidate in Philosophy Degree
Programs which are approved to offer the Candidate in Philosophy (C.Phil.) degree may recommend students for the C.Phil. each semester. Nominated students must
1) already be advanced to candidacy;
2) be candidates in good standing;
3) be eligible for the Ph.D. upon completion of an acceptable doctoral dissertation;
4) possess the intellectual capacity to complete the requirements for the doctorate, according to Academic Senate regulations; and
5) be planning to file for the doctorate during a subsequent semester.
If faculty have any doubts about whether or not a student can complete the requirements, they should not recommend the student for the Candidate in Philosophy degree.
Procedure: The list of students recommended for the C.Phil. should be sent to the Graduate Degrees Office no later than the end of the fifth week of instruction for the semester in which the degree is to be conferred. The form must include the student’s name, SID, and major, and be signed by the Head Graduate Adviser of the program.
F3.5 Annual Review of Doctoral Candidates
The Graduate Council requires that all doctoral students who have been advanced to candidacy meet annually with at least two members of the Dissertation Committee. The annual review is part of the Graduate Council’s efforts to improve the doctoral completion rate and to shorten the time it takes students to obtain a doctorate.
Procedure for annual review of students advanced to candidacy: As of Fall 2013, this review includes the completion of an online Doctoral Candidacy Review. The Doctoral Candidacy Review is an eForm and can be submitted by students through a link in CalCentral.
The doctoral candidate initiates the review by beginning completion of the online form. He or she is asked to state what progress has been made toward the degree in the previous year, and to outline expected steps toward completion in the coming year.
Once the student has submitted their part of the review form, the dissertation chair should be notified and then review the student’s submitted responses. He or she should then convene a conversation with the student and at least one other member of the dissertation committee. The members of the Dissertation Committee should comment on the student’s progress and objectives for the coming year. The agreed upon assessment is entered in the report by the dissertation chair, and submitted for the student to review.
Submission of the completed Doctoral Candidacy Review makes it available to the Graduate Division, the GSAO, and the dissertation chair, as well as the student.
- September 27, 2013: Online Academic Progress Report; 2021 Memo Update: The Doctoral Candidacy Review is an eForm and can be submitted by students through a link in CalCentral.
F3.6 Reduction in Nonresident Tuition
The nonresident supplemental tuition (NRST) for nonresident graduate students who have been advanced to candidacy for the doctorate is reduced to zero for a maximum calendar period of three years calculated from the semester subsequent to the students’ advancement, whether registered or not. Any student who continues to be enrolled or who re-enrolls after the three-year period will be charged the full nonresident tuition rate that is in effect at the time.
F3.7 Lapsing, Reinstatement, and Termination of Candidacy
Lapsing of Candidacy
Candidacy for the doctorate is of limited duration.
When a student exceeds their major’s total normative time, they enter a four semester period during which candidacy is still valid, but which is beyond the norm for their discipline.
Four semesters after the end of normative time for the particular program, candidacy ends, or “lapses”. Lapsed candidacy indicates that the student has exceeded the time that their doctoral program has indicated the Qualifying Examination should be considered valid. If otherwise in good academic standing, the student may continue to register, but to file the dissertation, the program must affirm that the student still possesses the currency of knowledge originally demonstrated in the Qualifying Examination. The program or the Dean of the Graduate Division may require a new Qualifying Examination or other evidence of currency of knowledge before recommending the award of the degree.
Candidacy can be extended when circumstances beyond the control of the student have delayed progress to the degree, using the procedure outlined below. Extension of time in candidacy should be requested at the time that the student experiences the circumstances leading to the delay, and in no case any later than the last semester in candidacy.
The dissertation may be filed any time during the period of candidacy, either within the normative time or the four semesters that follow. Unless extended, candidacy must be reinstated in the semester when the student will file the degree. Once candidacy has ended, it is not possible to request an extension of candidacy; instead, the program should request reinstatement of candidacy, following the procedure outlined below.
Extension of Candidacy
If a student in candidacy experiences a delay in progress that can be attributed to factors largely beyond the student’s control (for example, unavoidable problems with the scheduling of experimental facilities or disruption of data collection) or for which extensions of candidacy are part of policy (as a parental or medical accommodation), the Head Graduate Advisor may request an extension of the student’s candidacy.
When deciding whether to extend a student’s candidacy, the Dean of the Graduate Division will defer to the department’s Head Graduate Advisor and a student’s dissertation chair, provided a current Doctoral Candidacy Review (DCR) is submitted with the request. Extensions are granted on a one-year basis. Each subsequent request for extension will require an updated DCR.
Reinstatement of Candidacy
Once Normative Time in Candidacy ends, filing of the dissertation will require reinstatement of candidacy. The student must submit a dissertation draft to the dissertation committee in a form complete enough that the committee determines that its approval and submission to the Graduate Division will take place by the next filing date.
Because the Graduate Council has established that the Qualifying Examination and submission of the dissertation are not separate “hurdles”, but together form an integrated educational experience for doctoral candidates, the program must determine that knowledge tested by the Qualifying Examination is still current.
The Graduate Division usually will not accept a Qualifying Examination more than five years old as representing current knowledge unless the student gives other evidence of continuing scholarly activity besides research for the dissertation.
Termination of Candidacy
The Graduate Division may terminate a doctoral student’s candidacy two years after the student’s candidacy lapses. Termination may be based on any of the following circumstances: 1) the student no longer holds the qualifications appropriate for the award of the degree, because knowledge tested by the Qualifying Examination is no longer current; 2) continued lack of progress indicates that the student will not be able to complete the remaining requirements; or 3) the student fails to correct major deficiencies in a dissertation previously submitted for committee review within the period determined by the Graduate Division and the program.
Procedure to request an extension of candidacy: The Head Graduate Adviser may request an extension of the student’s candidacy by memo addressed to the Associate Dean for Degrees, in care of the Degrees Office. This memo must be accompanied by a current Doctoral Candidacy Review (DCR). Extensions are granted on a one-year basis. Each subsequent request for extension will require an updated DCR. To promote timely progress to degree, Graduate Division will require additional information regarding a student’s progress after repeated extension requests.
Procedure to request reinstatement of candidacy: Reinstatement of candidacy should be requested in the term during which the student plans to file the dissertation. The Head Graduate Adviser must send a memo addressed to the Associate Dean for Degrees, in care of the Degrees Office, verifying: 1) that the student is still competent in any required foreign languages; 2) that the student has submitted a dissertation draft to the dissertation committee that the committee determines will be approved and submitted by the next filing date; and 3) that the results of the student’s Qualifying Examination are still valid and represent current mastery of relevant fields. If the Qualifying Examination is more than five years old the student should give other evidence of continuing scholarly activity besides research for the dissertation.
A program that intends to re-enroll a student who has exceeded Normative Time in Candidacy may request reinstatement of candidacy at the same time as re-enrollment, providing the assurances of competency in required foreign languages and currency of the Qualifying Examination, and indicating when the student is expected to file the dissertation.
A recommendation for reinstatement may be subject to review and approval by the Administrative Committee of the Graduate Council.
F3.8 Planning for the Dissertation
Each doctoral candidate is responsible for filing with the Graduate Division a dissertation representing his or her own contribution to original scholarship that has been approved as such by an appropriately constituted dissertation committee.
The Graduate Council has stated that joint or group work is not acceptable as the basis for awarding graduate degrees. Students may collaborate on research projects under the traditional supervision of a faculty guidance committee. However, each student must write a dissertation that represents a cohesive presentation of the research conducted and is capable of standing independently from the group project.
F3.9 Faculty and Student Interaction During the Dissertation Process
Selection of Dissertation Committee members
Both faculty and students alike should be aware of the requirements governing selection of the Dissertation Committee members described below in the section “Faculty Committees for Higher Degrees”.
Choosing the Dissertation Chair
A student’s choice of a Dissertation Chair is critical for completion of the doctorate. Dissertation Chairs also play an important role in assisting students in finding satisfying and appropriate career positions. If possible, students should apprise themselves of the history of a potential chair’s working relationships with former students. Head Graduate Advisers should make sure that students are aware that they may change their Dissertation Chair.
In order to eliminate potential conflicts of interest, the Graduate Division will not approve the appointment of a professor as Chair of the Dissertation Committee for a student who also works for the professor in an outside company. The alternative could be to appoint a co-chair.
Selecting a Dissertation Topic and Developing a Proposal
The Dissertation Chair should discuss at length with the student the implications of the selected topic in terms of the development of the field and the topic’s significance. After the student chooses a topic, the Dissertation Chair and other members of the Dissertation Committee (and proposal committee, if applicable) should evaluate the dissertation proposal and clearly communicate their evaluation to the student.
Research Involving Human or Animal Subjects
Faculty should advise students that if proposed research activities involve human or animal subjects, the students must obtain permission from the Committee on the Protection of Human Subjects or the Animal Care and Use Committee.
Writing the Dissertation
During the period following approval of the dissertation proposal, the student will undertake independent or guided research and will write drafts of the dissertation, including papers presented for conferences or submitted for publication. The Dissertation Chair should set up a regular schedule of communication with the doctoral candidate throughout this period. If the student is away from Berkeley doing research, the communication might be less frequent, and in writing. An ideal schedule will vary; faculty working closely with students in their own labs often meet weekly with students, while those in more self-directed humanities and social science disciplines may find a monthly meeting most useful. In no case should a student go for more than a semester without communication.
The required annual progress meeting should be considered the minimum level of consultation with other members of the doctoral committee; the dissertation chair may wish to consult no less frequently than each semester with other committee members, and communicate the committee’s guidance to the dissertation writer.
Before the doctoral candidate completes the dissertation, the Dissertation Chair should discuss the student’s career plans and prospects. Dissertation chairs should be aware that up to 40% of Berkeley doctoral students pursue careers outside tenure track academic employment, and should initiate conversations with their advisees about multiple career paths in their discipline. The chair should encourage students to undertake activities that will benefit them in their eventual job search, such as presenting research at professional meetings and publishing, if these are customary for the field. The Dissertation Chair should encourage and help the student acquire teaching experience, if the student is planning for a teaching career. The Dissertation Chair should be prepared to write letters of recommendation for the student and should do so promptly.
Submitting Sections of the Dissertation for Faculty Review
It is very helpful for the student and the Dissertation Chair to agree in advance on how written material is to be submitted for review. Usually, both the student and faculty assume that the student is making good progress if the student meets mutually determined deadlines. If a student does not meet these deadlines, or if the quality of the work is unsatisfactory, it is the responsibility of the Dissertation Chair (possibly with another member of the Dissertation Committee) to discuss this with the student when these problems arise. Under no circumstances should a student be permitted to complete a dissertation that the Dissertation Chair finds mediocre and that consequently prevents the chair from writing a strong letter of support for subsequent career positions. Regular review of the student’s work, beginning with the proposal and ending with the final evaluation of the dissertation, can prevent this from happening. Faculty should make clear to the student what needs to be done to correct any problems, and both the dissertation adviser and the student should agree on a plan to make any necessary changes. When the student submits sections of the dissertation for review, the Dissertation Chair should return the sections and commentary in a timely manner.
During the semester in which the student plans to file the dissertation, the student should submit the dissertation to the Dissertation Committee at least two months before the Graduate Division filing deadline. If the entire manuscript of the dissertation is submitted to a reader, it should be returned within one month.
Responsibility of Faculty Signing Dissertations
It is Graduate Council policy that the signature of a faculty member on a dissertation signature approval page is binding and cannot be withdrawn once it has been given. The faculty member should not sign a dissertation until he or she is convinced that the student’s work has been completed to the faculty member’s satisfaction. Disagreements among committee members should be resolved following the policies defined below for disagreements regarding theses and dissertations.
F4. Policies Affecting Both Master’s and Doctoral Students
Preparing and Submitting the Dissertation or Thesis Manuscript
All doctoral dissertations and master’s theses are to be submitted electronically. All of the requirements for preparing the manuscript for submission are provided in the dissertation filing guidelines, published separately on the Graduate Division website. Master’s theses filing guidelines are also provided separately.
Disagreement Regarding Acceptability of a Student’s Dissertation or Thesis
All members of the Dissertation Committee or the Thesis Committee must approve the student’s work and sign the approval page. Once committed, a signature cannot be rescinded. If any member doubts the acceptability of the student’s work, the chair must convene the committee to discuss the issues. If the committee reaches agreement on its acceptability, the approval page is signed and filed.
If the committee continues to disagree, the student’s work is sent to the Dean of the Graduate Division, together with a statement of opinion submitted by each committee member. If all members of the committee reject the student’s work, it is sent to the Dean of the Graduate Division with a statement to that effect from the committee chair. In all cases of rejection or split vote, the Administrative Committee of the Graduate Council makes the final decision.
Withholding a Dissertation or Thesis
By default, dissertations are withheld from the UC Berkeley Library & ProQuest/UMI for 2 years. Occasionally, there are unusual circumstances in which students prefer that their thesis or dissertation not be published for a longer period of time. Such circumstances may include the disclosure of patentable rights in the work before a patent can be granted, similar disclosures detrimental to the rights of the author, or disclosures of facts about persons or institutions before professional ethics would permit. The Dean of the Graduate Division may permit the dissertation to be held for longer than 2 years, under substantiated circumstances of the kind indicated and with the endorsement and explanation from the chair of the dissertation or thesis committee.
The University does not provide a copyright service. Students may copyright their work independently through the Library of Congress. Dissertation students may elect to pay ProQuest Dissertations Publishing service to copyright their manuscripts (see Instructions for Preparing and Filing Your Thesis or Dissertation).
Registration Requirement for Filing
Students must be registered or on approved Filing Fee status to be eligible to file for a degree in either the spring or fall term. Students registered in spring, who have not previously used their filing fee, may file during summer sessions for a summer degree. Academic Senate regulations state that in order to receive a degree in any given term, all work for the degree must be completed by the last day of the term.
Eligibility Requirements for the Filing Fee
To use the Filing Fee in a fall semester, the student must have been registered in the previous spring or summer. Summer Sessions enrollment must be for a minimum of one unit. To use the Filing Fee in spring, the student must have been registered in the previous fall.
If a student has fees that have not been paid by the end of a semester, the student may be “dropped from the rolls” and removed from the degree list for that semester. If this happens, the student will need to be reinstated as a registered student prior to the degree being awarded.
Degree Award Dates
Degrees are awarded three times each year, at the end of the fall semester in December, at the end of the spring semester in May, and at the end of Summer Session in August. While students may file any time during a semester or the Summer Session, the degree award date remains the same.
Use of Human Subjects
If the research for a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation involves the use of human subjects, the student is required to complete the online “Course in the Protection of Human Subjects” (referred to as the CITI [Collaborative Institutional Review Board Training Initiative] course).
Students who plan research or development activities that involve human subjects must also have their work reviewed and approved by the Committee for Protection of Human Subjects (CPHS) before they begin their research. The research must be carried out according to the Berkeley campus policy.
The Graduate Division will not accept dissertations or theses that include materials obtained or produced without authorization from the CPHS.
Use of Animal Subjects
The Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC) meets monthly to review written animal use protocols for compliance with federal and campus standards. Only individuals with Principal Investigator (PI) status on the Berkeley campus may submit protocols to the ACUC. Thus, any proposed use of animals by a student must be described in an approved animal use protocol for a Berkeley PI. In addition, the ACUC must be notified of any proposed plans to obtain custom antibodies from commercial sources or other laboratories.
The Graduate Division will not accept dissertations or theses that include material obtained or produced without authorization from the ACUC.
Procedures for documenting approval of research on animals or human subjects: Students must print out the certificate of completion of the relevant CITI course for submission with the advancement to candidacy form. Protocols involving human subjects or animals must be filed with the Graduate Services Degrees Office within six months of advancement to candidacy. When they file the thesis or dissertation, students must submit copies of the relevant PI’s annual approval letter from the ACUC for each of the years in which the student conducted animal research.
F4.1 Time Limits on the Use of Courses for Degrees
Students returning to the University after an absence sometimes request to re-enter a graduate program and use units that they completed in the past. The following time limits have been established for use of such units:
|M.S./M.A.||All fields||4 years|
|Doctoral||Engineering and Science||3-4 years|
|Doctoral or Professional Master’s||All other fields||5-7 years|
F4.2 Change or Add a Major or Degree Goal
A student who pursues a master’s degree in the same major as the doctoral program for which he or she was admitted does not need Graduate Division approval if the master’s degree is earned along the way to the doctorate but the master’s degree plan must be formally added to the student’s record. A student admitted to a doctoral program who does not intend to pursue the doctorate but decides to finish his or her graduate career with the master’s degree must formally change the degree goal from the Ph.D. to the master’s degree.
Graduate students may petition to add a designated emphasis (see F2.1). Students who wish to change degree plans or programs must apply for admission per that program’s procedures and deadlines.
F4.3 Duplication of Graduate Degrees
Students may enroll for a second academic or professional master’s degree if the second degree is in an unrelated field. An applicant who is admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite will automatically be permitted to receive a second master’s degree, even if the applicant has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study.
Enrollment In a Second Doctoral Program
It is the policy of both the Graduate Council and the Graduate Division not to approve requests to enroll in a second doctoral program. Requests for exceptions to this policy will be reviewed only if they meet the following guidelines:
- The second degree program must be in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field of the first doctorate. For example, a student with a doctorate in physics could be admitted to a doctoral degree in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a doctorate in statistics. The Graduate Council views graduate degrees as evidence of broad research training, not as vocational training certificates; therefore, applicants with academic graduate degrees should be able to take up new subject matter on a serious level without taking the time to establish new credentials.
- Applicants who hold a doctoral degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.
F4.4 Submitting the Thesis or the Dissertation in a Foreign Language
Special approval from the Graduate Division is required to submit the dissertation or the thesis in a foreign language. If approval is given, an abstract in English must be included with the dissertation or thesis. Requests should be submitted before the student begins to write the dissertation.
Procedure: A memo signed by the Head Graduate Adviser justifying the use of a foreign language for the writing of the dissertation should be addressed to the Associate Dean for Degrees, and submitted in care of the Graduate Degrees Office.
F4.5 Faculty Committees for Higher Degrees
All faculty committees for higher degrees (master’s thesis, Qualifying Examination, and doctoral dissertation) are ad hoc committees acting on behalf of the Graduate Council, which delegates authority for appointing the committees to the Dean of the Graduate Division.
The role of the Head Graduate Adviser
The Head Graduate Adviser, usually with input from the research supervisor, helps students to identify appropriate faculty members for the thesis committee, Qualifying Examination committee, dissertation committee, and other graduate degree committees, and then recommends the appointment of appropriate faculty members to the Graduate Division. Each academic program is expected to develop a protocol by which the Head Graduate Adviser approves the composition of all higher degree committees on behalf of the program to ensure academic rigor, consistency within the unit, and adherence to policy.
The Head Graduate Adviser recommends five members for Plan A doctoral dissertation committees. For dissertation committees and thesis committees, the Head Graduate Adviser recommends three members. Four or five members are recommended for the Qualifying Examination committee, depending on the program. Final approval for committee appointments rests with the Dean of the Graduate Division.
Head Graduate Advisers, prospective committee chairs, and graduate students can help avoid problems with committee appointments by:
- engaging only those faculty who are members of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate and thus eligible to serve on higher degree committees, or facilitating timely approval of non-Senate members in cases where there is a compelling reason;
- making sure that the faculty members are available and willing to serve on the committees; and
- being aware of configuration requirements for higher degree committees and the role of the faculty member within a committee (see Sections F4.7 and F4.8).
Occasionally, committee members, particularly those from other institutions (see Section F4.9), incur travel expenses to participate in a qualifying examination. Should the student’s academic unit choose to cover these expenses, consistent with the University of California travel policy, the Head Graduate Adviser would approve these expenses. The Graduate Division is unable to cover such expenses. To avoid any conflict of interest, students are never allowed to pay travel costs and expenses for their committee members.
F4.6 Academic Senate Status
Members of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate include individuals with the following titles (*preferred title for committee appointment):
Professor of Clinical Optometry
Associate Professor of Clinical Optometry
Assistant Professor of Clinical Optometry
Professor in Residence
Professor of the Graduate School (POG)
Acting Associate Professor
Senior Lecturer with security of employment
Lecturer with security of employment
Non-Senate Members include these titles:
Acting Assistant Professor
Senior Lecturer/Lecturer without security of employment
Professor from outside UC Berkeley
F4.7 Configuration Requirements for Higher Degree Committees
As of December 18, 2019, the Graduate Division has published new minimum requirements for the composition of higher degree committees. Please check with your department’s Graduate Student Affairs Officer and/or Head Graduate Advisor to see if your degree program has adopted these new minimum requirements, detailed below, or has requirements above the minimum.
Head Graduate Advisers of degree granting programs are responsible for reviewing committee membership before submission to the Graduate Division. For the purposes of this policy, academic unit membership is defined as follows: 1) for departments and schools, faculty must have voting rights in the academic unit offering the degree (in the case of emeriti, they must have had voting rights before retirement), and 2) for graduate groups, faculty must be core members in that group (and on file as such in the Graduate Division).
The requirements described below for the academic program affiliation of committee members are minimum requirements. Programs may establish higher requirements but the programs must then 1) inform Graduate Division of the requirements, 2) apply those requirements to all students uniformly, and 3) publish those requirements in a student handbook and/or on a departmental website.
A single faculty member cannot serve simultaneously as the chair and Academic Senate representative. If the Head Graduate Adviser is to serve either role on any committee, the Chair or Dean of the department, graduate group, or school should approve the committee.
In all instances, committee members must be members of the Academic Senate unless an exception has been granted (see Section F4.6 for a list of titles conferring Senate membership and Section F4.9 for possible exceptions). Note that Professors Emeriti or Professors of the Graduate School are members of the Academic Senate and, as such, may serve on committees as long as they had voting rights in the department or school before retirement or are a core member of the graduate group (see beginning of Section F4.7) in their home degree granting program or joint or affiliated degree granting program, as appropriate to each status.
Master’s Thesis Committee:
Chair or Co-Chairs
Academic Senate Representative (optional)
- A Master’s Thesis Committee requires a minimum of three members.
- Two Co-Chairs may replace one Chair.
- The Chair or Co-Chair must be a member of the student’s degree-granting program as defined above.
- An Academic Senate Representative is optional, for a Master’s Thesis Committee. This role may be replaced by another Additional Member.
Qualifying Examination Committee:
Academic Senate Representative
At least two Additional Members
- Degree granting programs can require either a four- or five-member Qualifying Examination Committee. Whichever option is chosen, it must apply to all students in the degree program, be on record in the Graduate Division, and be published in a student handbook and/or on a departmental website.
- One Additional Member beyond the number required by the degree granting program may be added.
- The Qualifying Examination Chair cannot serve as the Dissertation Chair for the same student.
- The Chair must be a member of the student’s degree-granting program as defined above.
- There cannot be two Co-Chairs for the Qualifying Examination.
- It is the collective responsibility of the Qualifying Examination Committee to ensure that the student’s mastery of the subject matter is broad and comprehensive.
- If a student is reexamined, the committee for the second examination must be the same as for the first examination.
Chair or Co-Chairs
Academic Senate Representative
- A Dissertation Committee requires a minimum of three members (Plan B dissertation committee) or five members (Plan A dissertation committee).
- Two Co-Chairs may replace one chair.
- The Dissertation Chair cannot be the same person who served as the student’s Qualifying Examination Chair. The Qualifying Examination Chair may serve as a student’s Dissertation Co-Chair.
- The Dissertation Chair or Co-Chair must be a member of the student’s degree-granting program as defined above.
Reconstitution of Committee Membership
If a committee must be changed, the Request for Change in Higher Degree Committee petition should be submitted to the Graduate Division as soon as possible. The Head Graduate Adviser should consult with all parties involved concerning the change before approving the petition and submitting it to the Graduate Division. A committee member who disagrees with being removed from the committee cannot block this action if it is approved by the Head Graduate Adviser.
Procedure for committee constitution: Committees conforming to the normal size and composition are proposed using the applicable form available on the Graduate Division website: the Application for Admission to the Qualifying Exam for the Qualifying Examination committee; or the Application for Candidacy for the relevant degree and plan.
Two members beyond the required number for a Qualifying Examination may be requested by the Head Graduate Adviser in a memorandum addressed to the Associate Dean for Degrees, in care of the Graduate Degrees Office. A memorandum is also required to request a Doctoral Dissertation committee membership of 5 or more faculty.
Procedure to reconstitute a committee: The student submits a Request for Change in Higher Degree Committee petition signed by the Head Graduate Adviser.
F4.8 Role of Committee Members
As of December 18, 2019, the Graduate Division has published new minimum requirements for the composition of higher degree committees. Please check with your department’s Graduate Student Affairs Officer and/or Head Graduate Advisor to see if your degree program has adopted these new minimum requirements, detailed below, or has requirements above the minimum.
The chair of any graduate degree committee must be a member of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate in the student’s degree granting program (see beginning of Section F4.7). A student’s Qualifying Examination chair cannot serve subsequently as the student’s Dissertation Chair, but may serve as a student’s Dissertation Co-Chair if the other Co-Chair is from the same degree granting program.
If an individual in another degree granting program seems more appropriate as committee Chair in a particular instance, appointment as Co-Chair can be approved. If there is a compelling academic reason why a member of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate from another degree granting program should be the sole Chair, then an exception can be requested.
There cannot be two Co-Chairs for the Qualifying Exam. There may be two Co-Chairs instead of one Chair for a Master’s Thesis Committee or a Dissertation Committee. One co-chair must be a member of the Berkeley Academic Senate in the student’s degree granting program (see beginning of Section F4.7). The second Co-Chair may be a Berkeley Academic Senate member in the student’s degree granting program, a Berkeley Academic Senate member outside the student’s degree granting program, or an approved non-Academic Senate member. See Section F4.9 for further information about exceptions allowing non-Senate committee members.
The Academic Senate Representative
The Academic Senate Representative on all Qualifying Examination Committees and Dissertation Committees (and preferably on Master’s Thesis Committees as well) must be a member of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate (see Section F4.6 for a list of titles). No exceptions will be made. The Academic Senate Representative’s role is to ensure that the committee is conducted in a fair and professional manner that abides by graduate policy.
Additional members may be Berkeley Academic Senate members in the student’s degree granting program or another degree granting program, or an approved non-Academic Senate member (see Section F4.9 for information about exceptions allowing non-Senate committee members).
F4.9 Exceptions to Policies on Committee Membership
Approvals for Exceptions to Policies on Committee Membership
Two kinds of approval are granted to qualified persons: 1) particular approval for a single committee, and 2) permanent or “blanket” approval for higher degree committees at a given level.
Single Committee Exceptions
Exceptions to serve on a single committee are based on the provision of special and necessary expertise that would facilitate the student’s work and that cannot be duplicated among the regular faculty, for a person holding a doctorate or its equivalent in research experience. The service must be performed without stipend. To avoid any conflict of interest, students are not allowed to pay travel costs and expenses for faculty from other institutions to serve on their committees.
Categories for Single Committee Exceptions:
Non-Senate Members as Additional Members and Co-Chairs
Under certain circumstances, a non-Senate member may be appointed to a committee if the Head Graduate Adviser determines that the individual in question offers expertise not otherwise available among the regular faculty and if the Associate Dean for Degrees concurs. There may be no more than one person in this category on a committee. A non-Senate member may be appointed to co-chair a Thesis Committee or a Dissertation Committee if this assignment is shared with an Academic Senate faculty member.
The following administrative policies apply:
- Regular faculty members from other institutions who are teaching on this campus (i.e., those who hold titles equivalent to the titles in the Berkeley professorial series on their own campuses) may be appointed to committees upon submission of a brief statement by the Head Graduate Adviser regarding the visitor’s affiliation and title and with the assurance that the visitor holds the doctorate and will be present on this campus for a period of time that makes the appointment advantageous to the student.
- Regular faculty members from other institutions who are not currently teaching on this campus may be appointed to committees upon submission of a brief statement from the Head Graduate Adviser on the prospective appointee’s affiliation and title and should also include the following: a) that he or she holds the doctorate; b) that he or she has published work in the last 3 years; c) that the prospective appointee has special and necessary expertise that cannot be duplicated on the Berkeley faculty; and d) that the appointee will serve without stipend.
Recommending Faculty Members from Other UC Campuses and Stanford
A committee for a higher degree may include one member of the regular faculty belonging to the Academic Senate of any UC campus as an Additional Member without special approval from the Dean of the Graduate Division as long as the UC Senate member is not replacing a UCB Senate member.
A regular faculty member from Stanford University does not need the approval of the Dean of the Graduate Division for appointment as an Additional Member as long as the Stanford faculty member is not replacing a UCB Senate member. The Stanford faculty member would need approval to serve as co-chair.
Lecturers with Security of Employment are members of the Academic Senate and are thus eligible to serve on student committees in any capacity.
Lecturers without Security of Employment (Unit 18 lecturers) are not eligible for “blanket” approval for committee service, but may serve under a one-time exception on a thesis or dissertation committee if they have 1) an active appointment, 2) the endorsement of the Head Graduate Adviser, and 3) approval from the program’s College or School Dean to reimburse the Lecturer in compliance with the Unit 18 contract, or agreement from the Lecturer to serve without compensation.
Adjunct Professors and Clinical Professors
Although adjunct and clinical professors are not members of the Academic Senate, they may be appointed as co-chairs and additional members, but not as sole chairs, of single dissertation committees by exception. Requests for permanent or “blanket” approval for higher degree committee service may also be made, either at the time of appointment or after.
Persons who do not hold the doctorate, or are not members of the Berkeley Division, or are not members of faculty at another institution are occasionally permitted to be appointed to higher degrees committees on an exceptional basis after submission of appropriate documentation. Typically, such appointments are of persons who hold an “acting” professorial title, or that of Visiting Assistant Professor, or a title in the professional research series.
Procedure to request an exception for service on a single committee: All requests for exceptions must be submitted by the Head Graduate Adviser to the Graduate Degrees Office. Requests for approval for a single committee are reviewed by the Associate Dean for Degrees after initial review by the Graduate Degrees Office. Requests must include a curriculum vitae (CV), which includes work published within the last 3 years, and a statement that the prospective appointee has a degree equivalent to that which is being examined or earned and has special and necessary expertise that cannot be duplicated among the regular faculty.
If a non-Academic Senate member has been approved for a single committee earlier but has no blanket approval, a new memorandum is required for each additional request for service on a single committee, but no CV need accompany subsequent requests if the one submitted earlier remains current.
In both cases, if the prospective appointee is not regularly affiliated with this campus, the request is to be accompanied by a statement that the service will be performed without stipend.
Procedure to request an exception for a Lecturer to serve on a single committee: The Head Graduate Adviser should submit a memo detailing why the Lecturer’s expertise is relevant to the student’s field of study. This must be accompanied by submission of a CV that includes a publication list that illustrates relevance to the student’s thesis or dissertation. A statement that the program has received approval from the program’s College or School Dean to reimburse the Lecturer in compliance with the Unit 18 contract, or that the Lecturer has agreed to serve without compensation, is also required.
Procedure to request blanket approval for committee service by an Adjunct or Clinical Professor: A Department Chair may request blanket approval for service as co-chair or additional member on higher degree committees from the Committee on Budget and Interdepartmental Relations during the regular review process for the appointment of a Clinical or Adjunct Professor. A copy of the document received by the Department indicating committee service approval by the Budget and Interdepartmental Relations Committee granted at the time of the person’s employment should be sent to the Graduate Degrees Office so that the individual’s committee eligibility may be appropriately noted.
After that point, a request for blanket approval for service as co-chair or additional member should be sent to the Graduate Degrees Office, addressed to the Associate Dean for Degrees. Requests are reviewed and forwarded with a recommendation to the Budget and Interdepartmental Relations Committee for final approval. The request should state what level of service the individual is to perform: master’s level only or master’s and doctoral level. The request must include a curriculum vitae, which includes published work within the last 3 years, and a statement that the prospective appointee has a degree equivalent to that which is being examined or earned and that his or her qualifications are at least equal to those of regular faculty at Berkeley.
F5. Student Records
Student records are subject to the requirements of the 1974 Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), current Health and Human Services regulations, state legislation on applicant records (Stull Bill), and the elements of access rights under California public records legislation. In 1977, the Office of the President incorporated the provision of these laws and guidelines into a document entitled “University of California Policies Applying to the Disclosure of Information from Student Records.” This policy was revised in Fall 2002. Each campus was asked to develop its own policy and all campus offices that maintain records on students were asked to develop their own procedures to implement the policy. Each department, school, college, office, program, or entity that maintains student records is required to give public notice of the categories of information designated as directory information (which may be released without the student’s prior consent). Departments or units are not required to include all data elements considered directory information by the campus, but may not designate as directory information anything additional to those elements.
The full text of the campus policy can be found on the Office of the Registrar website. Questions regarding the disclosure of information from student records should be referred to the Office of the Registrar.
Information Maintained by the Graduate Division
The information concerning registered graduate students maintained by the Graduate Division falls into two general categories: (1) directory information (unrestricted) and (2) confidential (restricted). Directory information will be released unless the student has requested that the record be kept confidential. (See “Right of students to have information withheld” below).
Directory Information Is as Follows:
Name of student
Academic Appointment (confirmation of a “yes” or “no” only)
Major field of study
Current registration status
University fellowship or grant administered by the Graduate Division (confirmation of a yes” or “no” only)
Inquirers may be referred to the Office of the Registrar or the Financial Aid Office for information, as appropriate.
All other records, such as general correspondence, educational test scores, reports on examinations, etc., are confidential. Complete records of degree recipients are kept for five years after the degree is awarded and those of inactive students who have not finished their degrees are kept for 10 years after the last semester of registration.
Rights of Registered Students Regarding Their Records
Registered students are entitled by law and University policy to examine and challenge information maintained about them by campus offices. Specifically, they have the right to:
- inspect and review records pertaining to themselves in their capacity as students, except as the right may be waived or qualified under federal and state laws and University policies;
- inspect records maintained by the University of disclosures of personally identifiable information from their student records;
- seek correction of their student records through a request to amend the records and subsequently, if requested by the student, through a hearing; and
- file complaints with the Department of Education regarding alleged violations of the rights accorded them by the Federal Act.
Rights of Students to Have Information Withheld
A student may request the University not to release personally identifiable information about herself or himself by sending a written request to the Dean of the Graduate Division, c/o Graduate Degrees Office. Other offices on campus, such as the Registrar’s Office and the student’s program, also maintain student records. Each campus unit must be separately contacted should the student want information withheld.
F6. Student Parent Policies
As many as one in ten of Berkeley’s graduate students is a parent of a young child or children. Recognizing the special challenges involved in balancing advanced degree programs and family responsibilities, the University is committed to supporting policies, programs, and services to help graduate student parents meet their family care obligations while they pursue their academic goals.
Since 1998, the Graduate Council has approved policies regarding academic accommodation of student parents, designed to encourage academic departments and programs to be as generous as possible in accommodating student parents. These policies have served as models for legislation adopted by the State of California in 2014, applying to all institutions of higher education.
This statement summarizes the policies and programs in place to support graduate student parents.
A graduate student requesting parental accommodations must have substantial parenting responsibilities. Substantial parenting responsibilities are defined as pregnancy, childbirth, care of a newborn or newly adopted young child, the serious illness of a child, and other exceptional circumstances relating to a child. The child may be the student’s child or that of a spouse or domestic partner.
Student Parent Policies apply to students regardless of State residency or visa status, with the exception that the three-year post-candidacy Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition reduction (to $0) does not fall within the purview of this policy. Note also that withdrawals, leaves, and delayed progress toward completion of degree may have implications for visa status; international students are urged to consult with the Office of Services for International Students and Scholars (SISS) before modifying their degree progress.
Extension of Time for Academic Milestones for Doctoral Students
Research doctoral students who experience substantial parenting responsibilities must be granted additional time to meet established deadlines for passing preliminary and/or Qualifying Examinations and/or completing their dissertations, and for calculating Normative Time for purposes of qualification for certain fellowships.
In recognition of the physical demands of childbearing, a woman anticipating childbirth is entitled to receive an extension of up to one extra year for passing preliminary examinations and qualifying examinations, and an extension of up to one extra year toward Normative Time completion while in candidacy for the doctoral degree. Any graduate student experiencing other substantial parenting responsibilities is entitled to receive an extension of up to six extra months for passing preliminary examinations and qualifying examinations, and an extension of up to six extra months toward Normative Time completion while in candidacy.
An extension (for the preliminary exam, qualifying exam, or pre- or post-candidacy Normative Time clock) is granted, regardless of whether or for how long the student was on withdrawal status. The provision to stop the pre- or post-candidacy Normative Time clocks may be invoked even if a student with substantial parenting responsibilities does not take a formal leave (withdrawal) or have a modification of duties.
Total additional time granted by this policy cannot exceed two years, no matter how many children are involved. Academic units must acknowledge adjustments to their calculations of Normative Time for individual students both before and after advancement to candidacy.
To request an adjustment to the Normative Time calculation, the student must submit to the Graduate Degrees Office a written statement certifying having undergone childbirth and/or having substantial parenting responsibilities, along with a written endorsement by the Head Graduate Advisor.
Employment and Financial Accommodations due to Pregnancy and Childbirth
In addition to being eligible for extensions of time under the Graduate Council’s Parental Accommodations provision, research doctoral students who are women anticipating childbirth and are supported by Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) and/or Researcher (GSR) appointments may be excused from regular duties for a period of six weeks without loss of financial support. (A longer period may be granted in the cases of exceptional medical circumstances experienced by the mother or child before or after birth.) Such students may choose to continue to work in some modified capacity during this six-week period but may not be required to do so. (Per the UC-UAW Academic Student Employee Agreement, eligible non-doctoral GSIs may also be on paid childbearing leave from regular duties for a period of time specified by the contract then in force.) In addition, the GSI and/or GSR will be approved for an additional two weeks of unpaid leave for baby bonding, provided such unpaid leave does not extend beyond the date of the appointment.
The academic unit’s cost for a GSI or GSR replacement during the six-week period will be charged to the campus’s Childbirth Accommodation Fund upon application and Graduate Division approval. (GSI replacement costs for eligible non-doctoral GSIs on childbearing leave are incurred by the department, not the Graduate Division.) Note that the replacement GSI or GSR does not qualify for fee remissions, because the appointment is limited to six weeks. (Implications of a longer appointment due to medically-necessary circumstances will be reviewed on an exceptional basis.) Replacement appointees who hold F-1 or J-1 visas are not eligible for exception to work more than 50% time.
Women research doctoral students supported by university fellowships will experience no change in their funding arrangements during the six-week childbearing leave. Those supported by fellowships external to UC must adhere to the rules of the granting agency in regard to leaves from work. If the granting agency defers to university policy regarding paid childbirth leave, the six-week leave will be paid by the grant. If the granting agency requires suspension of payment during the six-week period, the student will be eligible for substitute payment from the Childbirth Accommodation Fund. If continued funding is allowed by a grant supervised by a Principal Investigator (PI) but project deadlines require that a PI hire a temporary replacement, the replacement’s salary is eligible for reimbursement by the campus’s Childbirth Accommodation Fund for the six-week period.
Students who do not already hold a fellowship or academic appointment will not receive financial support under this provision.
The student must complete the Petition for Childbirth Accommodation Funding and secure the applicable verifications and signatures. The student’s academic unit must submit all required information via email to the Graduate Degrees Office at firstname.lastname@example.org at least 30 days prior to the beginning of the proposed leave.
Policy on Parenting Leave with Re-enrollment
A student who chooses to take a leave of absence due to pregnancy, childbirth, and/or to care for and bond with their newborn child or a child placed with the student for adoption or foster care shall be granted a Parenting Leave for up to one academic year (two semesters). This leave must be taken no later than twelve months after the child’s birth or adoption/placement. If there is a medical reason for a longer absence, an extension of leave may be granted for a total of up to two academic years (four semesters).
A student must have registered for the semester during which the leave will be taken, or the semester immediately preceding the beginning of the period of leave requested. If a student commences a leave during a semester in which they are enrolled, that semester shall be counted as one of the semesters of leave granted under this policy.
An international student wanting to take Parenting Leave must first consult with the Berkeley International Office (BIO) regarding implications for visa requirements.
Restrictions: A student on Parenting Leave shall not be eligible to work academically with faculty and shall not be eligible for campus employment, fellowships, or financial aid. A student on Parenting Leave shall remain eligible for campus email services, library privileges, campus housing, and voluntary purchase of health insurance (subject to applicable conditions of the providers of such benefits).
Dissemination and Training: Notice of this policy and its provisions shall be disseminated to graduate students, faculty, and staff, by email or other technologically appropriate media designed to ensure wide dissemination, and the policy shall be posted on the relevant Graduate Division website that is accessible to the public. A copy of this policy shall be made available to faculty, staff, and employees during onboarding, orientation, and/or training. This policy shall also be made available to all graduate students attending required orientation sessions.
Grievance Process: This policy supplements the written policies of the University of California, Berkeley, for graduate students on pregnancy and parenting discrimination and accommodations. To report complaints of discriminations under Title IX or this policy, contact the Office for Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (“OPHD”) and the campus’ Title IX Office at email@example.com.
Academic Accommodations due to Pregnancy and Childbirth
The University of California conforms to Section 66281.7 of the Education Code of the State of California, adopted in 2014:
(a) It is the policy of the State of California, pursuant to Section 66251, that all persons, regardless of their sex, should enjoy freedom from discrimination of any kind, including, but not limited to, pregnancy discrimination as described in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1681, et seq.), in the postsecondary educational institutions of the state.
(b) Each of the following requirements shall be applicable to postsecondary educational institutions in this state:
(1) A postsecondary educational institution, including the faculty, staff, or other employees of the institution, shall not require a graduate student to take a leave of absence, withdraw from the graduate program, or limit his or her graduate studies solely due to pregnancy or pregnancy-related issues.
(2) A postsecondary educational institution, including the faculty, staff, or other employees of the institution, shall reasonably accommodate pregnant graduate students so they may complete their graduate courses of study and research. Reasonable accommodation within the meaning of this subdivision may include, but is not necessarily limited to, allowances for the pregnant student’s health and safety, such as allowing the student to maintain a safe distance from hazardous substances, allowing the student to make up tests and assignments that are missed for pregnancy-related reasons, or allowing a student to take a leave of absence. Reasonable accommodation shall include the excusing of absences that are medically necessary, as required under Title IX.
(3) A graduate student who chooses to take a leave of absence because she is pregnant or has recently given birth shall be allowed a period consistent with the policies of the postsecondary educational institution, or a period of 12 additional months, whichever period is longer, to prepare for and take preliminary and qualifying examinations and an extension of at least 12 months toward normative time to degree while in candidacy for a graduate degree, unless a longer extension is medically necessary.
(4) A graduate student who is not the birth parent and who chooses to take a leave of absence because of the birth of his or her child shall be allowed a period consistent with the policies of the postsecondary educational institution, or a period of one month, whichever period is longer, to prepare for and take preliminary and qualifying examinations, and an extension of at least one month toward normative time to degree while in candidacy for a graduate degree, unless a longer period or extension is medically necessary to care for his or her partner or their child.
(5) An enrolled graduate student in good academic standing who chooses to take a leave of absence because she is pregnant or has recently given birth shall return to her program in good academic standing following a leave period consistent with the policies of the postsecondary educational institution or of up to one academic year, whichever period is longer, subject to the reasonable administrative requirements of the institution, unless there is a medical reason for a longer absence, in which case her standing in the graduate program shall be maintained during that period of absence.
(6) An enrolled graduate student in good academic standing who is not the birth parent and who chooses to take a leave of absence because of the birth of his or her child shall return to his or her program in good academic standing following a leave period consistent with the policies of the postsecondary educational institution, or of up to one month, whichever period is longer, subject to the reasonable administrative requirements of the institution.
(c) Each postsecondary educational institution shall have a written policy for graduate students on pregnancy discrimination and procedures for addressing pregnancy discrimination complaints under Title IX or this section. A copy of this policy shall be made available to faculty, staff, and employees in their required training. This policy shall be made available to all graduate students attending orientation sessions at a postsecondary educational institution.