Graduate Division

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Summary Description

The Graduate Division is the home of graduate education and postdoctoral training at UCSF. We offer 19 PhD programs in basic, translational, and social/population sciences; 11 master's degree programs; and two professional doctorates. Over 1,000 postdoctoral scholars add to the robust research community on campus.

Graduate Division programs are housed within all four of the professional schools and Global Health Sciences at UCSF. The programs are almost all inter-disciplinary, creating a dynamic and synergistic atmosphere for research. Our award-winning faculty members deliver engaging courses and provide personalized mentorship for every student and postdoc.

UCSF is among the top universities of its kind in the world and a key contributor to the Bay Area's well-deserved reputation as a hub of innovation, technology, and progressive influence. Our graduate students, postdocs, and faculty take advantage of year-round opportunities to learn from and engage with leaders and ground-breakers in the community.

Read more about what we do.

Policies on Leaves and Withdrawals

Leaves of Absence/Honorable Withdrawal

The university may grant you permission for leave of absence or honorable withdrawal if you are in good standing but do not want to retain your class status.

If you do not register, you must petition for either a leave of absence or a withdrawal. Otherwise, your student status will lapse, and the Graduate Division will instruct the registrar to change the status to administrative withdrawal. A leave of absence may be granted for one academic year and is subject to approval by your graduate adviser and the dean of the Graduate Division. After one year has passed, you must submit a request for an extended leave, which must be approved by your graduate adviser. Extensions are limited to no more than one additional academic year. No further extension can be granted. You must return to registered status or forfeit your place in your program. Forfeiture occurs after your absence lapses after one year with no contact from you, at which point you will be administratively withdrawn.

Students are in good standing if they are not subject to academic probation or disqualification, professional disqualification, or disciplinary disqualification. You can petition for honorable withdrawal or leave of absence online in the student portal. However, before starting the online process, please consult with your school or program, Student Health and Counseling Services, and, if applicable, the Student Financial Aid Office and the International Students and Scholars Office to discuss your plans, as withdrawal and leave of absence may have consequences for your academic plans, health insurance, financial aid and loans, and any visa.

For a leave of absence, you can select a readmission term at the time you request the leave of absence. We encourage you to indicate your readmission term because, otherwise, a leave of absence may affect access to electronic systems.  If you do not know your readmission term, please apply for readmission once your quarter of return is certain.

Learn how withdrawal and leave of absence may affect access to electronic systems.

Veterans

Some veterans may be eligible for special benefits upon readmission:

  • The same enrollment status and academic standing in the same program into which they were previously admitted;
  • Enrollment Into classes in the next term beginning after the student applies for readmission;
  • In the academic year of readmission, the same tuition and fee charges that the student would have been assessed if the student had not left UCSF for military service.

To be eligible for these benefits, veterans must:

  • Write on their withdrawal petition that military service is the reason for the leave of absence;
  • Not be absent for more than five years;
  • Submit a petition for readmission and, upon submitting that petition, provide documentation of military service.

Parental Leave

Registered PhD students receiving financial support from the University may take up to ten weeks of paid parental leave in relation to childbirth, the adoption of a child, or the placement of a foster child under their care. PhD students shall continue to receive their current level of support during the ten weeks of paid parental leave regardless of the fund source. In the event the fund source does not provide ten full weeks of paid leave, it shall be the responsibility of the student's graduate program to provide the additional funding required. (New parents will also want to see information on Graduate Division childcare grants.)

Medical/Family Leave

Registered PhD students may take up to four weeks of paid leave in relation to their own serious health condition or to care for a family member who has a serious health condition. For the purpose of this leave policy “family member” is defined as one’s mother, father, sister, brother, parent-in-law, spouse, domestic partner, parent of domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, child, step or foster child (including children of domestic partner).

Students receiving financial support from the University, regardless of the funding source, shall continue to receive their current level of support during this period. In the event the fund source does not provide four weeks of paid leave, it shall be the responsibility of the student's graduate program to provide the additional funding required.

Unpaid Leave

To augment either period of paid leave above, registered PhD students may take up to two additional weeks of unpaid leave upon the approval of their program. This revised policy (effective September 1, 2014) supersedes policies of funding agencies, departments, and programs. Note that the parental leave policy at UCSF currently exceeds that of other UC campuses. For questions regarding graduate student health insurance coverage for medical expenses related to pregnancy and delivery, please contact Student Health Services, phone 415/476-1281.

Readmission

A student on leave of absence must petition for readmission in order to register again as a graduate student. The petition for readmission is available online from the Office of the Registrar. Readmission requires the approval of the graduate adviser and the dean of the Graduate Division. A non-refundable $40 fee is charged when the readmission form is filed. Students must observe the registrar's deadlines for filing a petition for readmission. For readmission, the following signatures of approval must be obtained in the following order:

  1. Student Health Services
  2. Director/graduate adviser (nursing students obtain signature of director of student affairs)
  3. Dean of the Graduate Division

Policy on Student Progress

Please note: The following policy, approved April 30, 2018, applies to all PhD and master's programs at UCSF.

Criteria for satisfactory academic progress in PhD programs

Students in Year One

First-year students should meet with their graduate advisers once a quarter. Student progress is assessed at the end of the year on the basis of course grades and performance, rotation reports (for lab-based programs), and program-specific exams (for medical anthropology and sociology). Indicators of unsatisfactory progress include, but are not limited to, substandard work or unprofessional conduct in the lab/research environment (as reported by the PI), or failing grades in any courses (see list of examples below).

Students in Year Two

Second-year students should meet with the graduate adviser or lab PI once a quarter. Indicators of unsatisfactory progress in year two (as in year one) include, but are not limited to, substandard work or unprofessional conduct in the lab/research environment (as reported by the PI), failing grades in any courses (see list of examples below). In programs with qualifying exams taken by the end of year two, students are also evaluated on their progression toward, timely scheduling of, and then successful completion of the qualifying exam.

Students in Year Three and Beyond

In programs with qualifying exams taken in year three, students are evaluated on their progression toward, timely scheduling of, and then successful completion of the qualifying exam. Students in years three and beyond may also be considered to be making unsatisfactory progress according to any of the indicators listed below.

Students should form their dissertation committee in a timely manner. Not submitting the names of committee members to the program within 6 months of passing the qualifying exam will be considered an indicator of unsatisfactory progress, except in extraordinary circumstances.
In lab-based programs, students are expected to schedule meetings with their dissertation committee at least once a year.

Students are expected to complete all degree requirements within normative time for their program.

Unsatisfactory progress indicators may include, but are not limited to:

  • Falling below a 3.0 GPA
  • Failing grades in any course
  • Failure to find a lab after four rotations (for lab-based programs)
  • Unsatisfactory work in the lab (rotation or thesis, as reported by the PI)
  • Unprofessional conduct in the lab/research environment (rotation or thesis, as reported by the PI)
  • Failing the qualifying exam the first time
  • Failure to submit dissertation chapters in a timely fashion (for social science programs)
  • Issues in academic misconduct and professionalism infractions

    Note: Disciplinary problems and other infractions that fall within the scope of UCSF’s Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline will be referred for consideration by UCSF's director of student rights and responsibilities.

Criteria for Satisfactory Academic Progress in Master’s Programs

Students should meet with their advisers once a quarter. Student progress is assessed at the end of each quarter on the basis of course grades and performance in the program.
Unsatisfactory progress indicators are determined by each individual program. These may include, but are not limited to:

  • Failing an exam
  • Failing grades in any course
  • Falling below a 3.0 GPA
  • Failure to achieve milestones toward the capstone requirement (where applicable)
  • Unsatisfactory work in the clinic (where applicable)
  • Unprofessional conduct
  • Issues in academic misconduct and professionalism infraction

Note: Disciplinary problems and other infractions that fall within the scope of UCSF’s Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline will be referred for consideration by UCSF's director of student rights and responsibilities.

Process by which Failing Students will be Notified and Remediated

Students whose progress is unsatisfactory (according to one or more of the criteria listed above) will be notified and will meet with the adviser and the program director to develop an individualized remediation plan to address the deficiencies. The meeting results in a memorandum of understanding that clearly outlines specific steps and associated deadlines that the student must fulfill in order to receive a satisfactory report. The report is then signed by the following parties: the student, the primary adviser, and the program director. At this point, the report is filed in the student’s academic file within the program, and a copy is sent to the associate dean for graduate programs.
Should the student be unable to fulfill the expectations according to the timeline outlined in the letter, the student will be subject to dismissal from the program. Depending on the student’s standing in the program, PhD candidates may be allowed to leave with a terminal master’s degree.
The process for in-depth review of a student’s eligibility for dismissal will follow the UCSF Divisional Procedure for Student Grievance in Academic Affairs, section 4.0, and will be conducted by the program’s in-depth committee.

Composition of the In-depth Review Committee, Should one be Necessary

Each program determines the composition of its in-depth review committee, which shall consist of at least three members. In most instances, it consists of faculty members on the executive committee.

Conduct Dismissal

When a student is found in violation of University policies or campus regulations, any of the types of student disciplinary actions outlined in the Policy for Student Conduct and Discipline may be imposed. Any sanction imposed should be appropriate to the violation, taking into consideration the context and seriousness of the violation.

Academic Dismissal

Dismissal for academic failures is at senate.ucsf.edu/appendix-VII.

Conduct

The entire Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline is publicly available on the UCSF Student Life web site at studentlife.ucsf.edu/student-conduct-and-discipline.