A majority of the questions submitted prior to the September 23, 2020 Town Hall, as well as those posted in the Q&A, were answered during the event and we encourage you to review the recording. Below are answers to a few questions that were not covered in detail.

If you have additional questions, please reach out to your GSAO or to the appropriate staff member at the Graduate Division. You will also find many answers on our COVID-19 page.

Answers to additional questions

Why doesn’t the administration allow graduate classes to be pass/fail if the MBA program has grade non-disclosure?

The administration does not have authority over grading policies. The Academic Senate does.

The Academic Senate has a policy limiting the number of units a graduate student can take on an S/U basis. In addition, degree programs require core courses to be taken for a letter grade. These limitations were relaxed in Spring 2020 in recognition of the sudden and unexpected shift to remote instruction, as well as the tremendous disruption caused by the pandemic.

Normal grading policies and procedures have resumed for fall 2020. Graduate students may still change the S/U grading option themselves via CalCentral. Graduate Student Affairs Officers may change a student’s course enrollment, unit count, and grading option as well. Instructors must continue to maintain and submit records of letter grades earned.



What is admin doing to establish mandatory annual diversity/inclusion training for faculty and staff?

The Office for Graduate Diversity is working alongside Amy Scharf (Director of Faculty and Departmental Diversity Initiatives – E&I) and Karie Frasch (Office for Faculty Equity & Welfare – EVCP) to develop a suite of programming and workshops specifically geared toward the faculty.

In addition, nine departments have received substantial grants from the Graduate Division’s Graduate Diversity Pilot Program to invest toward training and other diversity initiatives, with the goal of sharing their efforts more widely across campus.


What systems do we have in place to address situations where faculty racially harass or verbally abuse their students and/or researchers?

In August 2019, the Vice Provost for the Faculty (VPF) office instituted “Guidelines for Preventing and Responding to Faculty Bullying and Other Demeaning & Disruptive Behavior” which includes consequences and remedial actions. Racial harassment would fall under the purview of the Office for the Prevention of Harassment & Discrimination, so a student or researcher could file a complaint and enter the Complaint Resolution Process.

While it’s not in the Graduate Division’s purview to adjudicate faculty behavior and lay sanctions, we are working with the VPF and Academic Senate to implement recommendations from the Graduate Diversity Task Force, such as:

  • Developing an onboarding program for new faculty hires on graduate teaching, mentorship, and advising
  • Conducting annual reviews of faculty mentorship and advising and incorporate climate questions into the tenure and promotional review process
  • Creating an incentives program for faculty to participate in ongoing trainings on teaching, mentorship, advising, and recognizing/correcting implicit bias

Is the Graduate Division thinking about ways of supporting Ph.D.s graduating in the midst of this pandemic and the resulting job market? If so, what are some of the plans you are considering?

In light of the severely constricted academic job market, the Graduate Division is supporting departments in connecting graduate students to alumni who have pursued careers beyond the academy. Graduate Professional Development (GradPro) is working with the Career Center and QB3 to offer more workshops for graduate students on applying for careers beyond academia. The Graduate Division continues to support Beyond Academia in its efforts to help graduate students prepare for careers.

Graduate Division professional development units (GradPro, Graduate Writing Center, and GSI Teaching & Resource Center) have substantially increased the number of check-in and support groups it offers from four in spring 2020 to 22 in fall 2020. These groups are instrumental in helping graduate students complete their degrees and prepare for future careers.


Several students have been using their “in absentia” status to conduct research abroad. This research has been heavily disrupted due to COVID-19. What is the Graduate Division doing to help these students complete their research?

In Absentia policy is set by the Office of the President. The Graduate Degrees Office has been working with individual students (through their departmental GSAOs who manage the requests for exception) who have been impacted by COVID-19 in relation to in absentia. We are able to grant exceptions for a 5th and even a 6th semester when research has been impacted but each situation and solution is different. Please speak to your GSAO about your concerns.


I worry the Trump administration would ban Chinese graduate students by revoking I-20, forcing us to leave. Can an international student graduate, if other requirements are satisfied, if the I-20 has been invalidated?

We understand that international students are currently managing very unique and distressing challenges. The landscape for international students continues to rapidly change, so specific questions regarding student visa documents and requirements are best handled by staff in the Berkeley International Office. They also have an FAQ that they have complied and are continuously updating, but please keep in mind that these matters are quite complex and may vary by a student’s home country, so it’s strongly recommended that you speak with an advisor directly regarding your specific situation.

How do students submit verification for flu shots?

Students confirm their flu shot and sign the Keep Berkeley Healthy Pledge via CalCentral.