Current Students FAQ

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Incoming student questions

  • What are my options for housing both on- and off-campus?

UCSD Associated Residential Community Housing (ARCH) offers housing for graduate and professional students in seven different communities on the UCSD campus.  For more details, visit the ARCH website.

For off-campus housing, UCSD Commuter Services runs an Off-Campus Housing Directory.  Scripps also has a housing mailing list for students, faculty, and staff.

  • Do I need to choose an advisor before I begin at Scripps?

You do not need to choose your advisor right away.  First-year students are given until spring quarter to let the SIO Department know who their advisor will be.

  • How will I know where my office or lab is?

After you check in with the SIO Department, we will direct you to the appropriate division office to obtain your office assignment.

  • Where do I get a parking permit?

Parking permits can be obtained from UCSD Transportation Services.  Many students choose to park on the street or ride a bike.   

San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS):  The Triton U-Pass offers unlimited ridership during the fall, winter and spring quarters.  With U-Pass, students have access to all regional mass transit bus and trolley/light rail routes provided by the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and the North County Transit District (NCTD), with some exclusions.

  • Where is my student mailbox?

Student mailboxes are located on the second floor of the Eckart Building.  We ask that only University and education-related materials be sent to this mailbox. Please no magazines, credit card statements, etc. All university correspondence will come here, so check it often.

  • What is the address at Scripps?

Please see the Contact Us page for all addresses.

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Academic and Programmatic questions

  • I'm interested in obtaining a Master of Science degree before finishing my PhD, how do I do that?

If you do not previously hold an MS degree (from any institution, domestic or international), you are eligible to receive one from Scripps if you have taken 36 units of coursework (not research units) and have passed the first-year departmental exam.  First, check the MS requirements for your curricular group in the UCSD Catalog.  If you have completed all the requirements, you are eligible to apply to candidacy for the MS during the first two weeks of the Fall, Winter, or Spring quarters (not summer).  Contact Gilbert Bretado in the SIO Department for the necessary paperwork.

  • What is the process for the yearly evaluation?

Both the SIO Department and the Graduate Division require PhD students to be evaluated by their advisors or doctoral committees each year.  All PhD students need to have an evaluation on file in order to process all registration, enrollment, employment, and support.  This is a formal process that takes place in the Spring quarter and is usually referred to as the Spring Evaluation.  Spring Evals are done through an online system provided by the Graduate Division located here.

Students who are on approved leave of absence during the Spring quarter do not need to have an evaluation filed that quarter, but will need one by the end of the quarter of their return. 

  • At what point do I need to form my doctoral committee?  What are the rules to choosing a committee?

In order to stay in good academic standing with the Department, you will need to form your doctoral committee and pass your qualifying exam by the end of your third year at Scripps.  Your doctoral committee needs to be formed and approved by the Graduate Division at least two weeks prior to advancement.

Doctoral Committees in the Scripps Department consist of a minimum of four (4) members who hold appropriate instructional titles at UC San Diego. Each committee must have at least two (2) members from the student's home department, at least one member from another UC San Diego department, and at least one member with a tenured or emeritus UC San Diego faculty appointment. Generally three members of the committee are from the Scripps Department, although it is not unusual to have more than one member from another Department at UCSD. You can review the Graduate Division's doctoral committee membership chart to determine that all four members you have chosen are eligible to serve on your committee. For your qualifying exam, all committee members must be present for and must sign the form. If you have more questions about your committee or you are ready to submit names, please contact Gilbert Bretado in the SIO Department.

  • I have advanced to candidacy, now how can I ensure that I have done everything needed before my defense date?

Consult with the Scripps Department to make sure all requirements are complete. Please inform Gilbert Bretado of your dissertation title, date and where it will be held. If you are planning to have a defense party at Surfside, please contact the SIO Department.

  • What if I need to reform my committee?

Contact Gilbert in the SIO Department to begin the paperwork to change your committee. You must do any reconstitution at least two weeks before a qualifying exam or a defense of the dissertation.

  • What is the procedure for filing PhD degree paperwork during the summer?  Are there any additional fees associated with a summer degree?

Yes, although summer is not an official academic quarter, you can still earn a summer degree. Please contact your graduate coordinator to determine what the deadline is for filing for a summer degree paperwork. Students do not need to register for summer in order to file degree paperwork. If you were registered during spring quarter, the graduate coordinator will prepare a general petition, requesting that the registration requirement be waived and no filing fee be assessed. If you were not registered in spring quarter, you will still be required to pay a filing fee in lieu of registration. If you file your degree paperwork in between the summer deadline and before fall quarter begins, you will be awarded a fall degree. You will also be required to pay the filing fee.

  • What should I do if one of my committee members cannot attend my defense?

All committee members must be present for the defense and must sign the final defense paperwork. If you cannot find a date that will work with the whole committee, please contact Gilbert at the SIO Department.

  • When will I receive my diploma?

Diplomas are only issued 4 times a year.  Diplomas take 2-4 months after the end of the quarter to issue. The date on the diploma will always be the last day of that particular quarter.  The registrar does not start processing diplomas until the quarter is over. Students who finish in spring should expect to receive their diplomas sometime over the summer. Diplomas are mailed to the address on your TritonLink account, so be sure to keep it up to date.

  • Can I repeat a class for a better grade?

A graduate student assigned a grade of D, F, or U may petition to repeat the course on the same grading basis for which it was first taken.  Degree credit for the course will be given only once, but the grade assigned for each enrollment will be permanently recorded.  Only the grade received in the repetition will be used in calculating the overall GPA (for the first 16 units repeated).  To repeat a course, contact the SIO Department to file a petition, which will need to be submitted and approved before enrolling in the course.

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Financial questions

  • Where do I go if I need to request travel or research funding outside of what my advisor has available to me?

The SIO Department has long been a source of funding for small grants for student travel and research. Until now these have been awarded informally on an as-needed, first come-first served basis. To make the process such that each student has an equal chance at funding across the institution, grants will now be competitively awarded based on a short proposal.

Recipients must be an enrolled SIO graduate student in good standing. Priority will be given to doctoral students, but Masters students are also encouraged to apply. MAS students are not eligible. Second applications in the same fiscal year will receive low priority. Total funding for any given student will not exceed $3000 over the course of the student’s career at SIO.


  1. All applications must include the SIO Travel/Research Application form; hard copies are available at the SIO Department. For conference travel requests, please include an abstract of your presentation and the venue along with a copy of the email or other evidence confirming your invitation to present your work. For research grants, please write a project description in general terms that is comprehensible to non-specialists.
  2. Include a detailed budget not to exceed $3000. Allowable costs are:
    Conference travel – transportation (including ground transportation), hotel and conference registration fees.
    Research awards – page charges for publication of scholarly articles, supplies, fieldwork, travel for research or scholarly meetings, or attending short courses. Salary will not be awarded.
  3. Supporting documentation must be included, such as, online price search for airfares and hotel costs and a vendor price quotation for all equipment, supplies, page fees, registration fees, etc.
  4. If awarded, research awards must be expended within 12 months of the award date. Students will be asked for a detailed accounting of how the funds were used, including a bibliography of any resulting publications, including abstracts presented at meetings. Failure to provide this will result in denial of future requests. Conference travel awards must be used for the conference requested and cannot be transferred.

Proposals with a contribution from other sources (advisor’s research funding, travel grants from the conference or course organizer, and/or a small contribution of your own) will be given higher priority, as will smaller grants (up to $500). There will three deadlines per year (February 1, May 1, October 1). Late applications will not be accepted.  An effort will be made to spread the funding evenly across the three programs according to the distribution of students enrolled.

Please submit your applications to Maureen McGreevy at the SIO Department. She can be reached by phone at 858-534-3207, by email at, or in person in Eckart room 210.

  • How do I change my status from a non-resident to a resident?

Visit the Registrar's Office website for instructions on changing residency.

  • Where do I find information about my taxes?

Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, you should be aware that the following information is not a legal document and that each student is responsible for the proper handling of his/her income taxes. UCSD employees are prohibited by University policy from giving individual tax advice or assisting in the preparation of tax returns. Below are several resources to which you may refer regarding tax questions:

  • Questions re. W-2
  • Questions re. 1099
  • Questions re. 1098-T: 1-877-467-3821  Students may access their 1098-T here.
  • Questions re. 1042-S (International students only)
  • International Center - Tax Resources for International students
  • How do I know where my tax documents will be sent?  What about after I've graduated?

Please update your address in two places in order to ensure that you receive the correct tax information (Including W-2's):

  1. Update your address on your Tritonlink account
  2. Update your address in UCPath
  • How do I change from getting a paper check to direct deposit?

In order to receive payments and reimbursement promptly, you should sign up for direct deposit. Three different offices handle direct deposit, so it is best to sign up for all.

  • I am an international student looking for answers to financial and money-related questions that are specific to me. Where can I go?

The International Students & Programs Office's Financial Resources site has information for international students on taxes, SSN, banking, emergency funding, scholarships, fellowships, and grants.

  • How can I get a letter that verifies my status as a student at Scripps or a letter indicating my stipend or tuition/fee information?

A Graduate Appointment Letter is issued by the Graduate Division as proof of fellowship stipend and tuition/fee payments. You may access your Graduate Appointment Letter(s) here.

For enrollment or financial support verification letters, please contact Shelley at the SIO Department.

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