Graduate Students in a Digital World

The spirit of the graduate policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic can be summarized as:

Business as usual to the extent possible with remote engagement, with
• maximum flexibility,
• minimum disruption, and
• maximum risk reduction.


In response to the university directive to curtail non-essential research efforts on campus and provide remote instruction, the INP and CMB Programs will implement the following policies for spring quarter rotations and academic coursework. The gateway programs will continue to cover student tuition/fees and stipend for all students during this period.

UCI BioSci Anteater

New policies for spring quarter

1) If a student knows which lab they will join in June, they should enroll in research units and carry out a spring rotation with that faculty member. The rotation work should be remote with a focus on data analysis, computational analyses, or bioinformatics.  If applicable, literature research and preparation of materials for a pre-doctoral fellowship application are possible rotation activities. At the end of the quarter the student will transfer into the department of their thesis advisor with the standard gateway transfer agreement.

2) Gateway program students who have not yet identified a thesis advisor should carry out their spring rotation with the potential faculty mentor with the following conditions: 1) the work plan for the rotation consists of data analyses, computational analyses, extramural fellowship application writing, or any other topic that can be carried out remotely; and 2) the rotation advisor is willing to mentor the student through virtual meetings. After completion of the rotation the student may transfer into a department if the student accepts an offer to join a lab. The student may also elect to carry out a fourth rotation during the summer 2020. Stipends for summer rotations will be covered by the gateway program.

3) Gateway program students who have not identified a rotation advisor for spring quarter should contact the CMB or INP Program Director to discuss options to maintain full time enrollment.

4) Gateway program student may elect to carry out a fourth rotation during the summer 2020. The programs will cover stipends for summer rotations.

5) Some spring quarter courses have been cancelled or postponed. Please check with the graduate support staff or the Program Director for more information. The Responsible Conduct of Research course (MMG 250, 2 units) has been postponed.

6) Students must enroll in 12 units to maintain full time enrollment. This can be easily accomplished by adjusting the research units.


  • All UCI sponsored travel, domestic and international has been suspended.


  • All events involving multiple individuals are restricted to online formats. If this is not possible, they should be cancelled.

TA Appointments

  • Faculty should carefully monitor TA workload to ensure that the designated workload does not exceeded (50%/220 hours; 25%/110 hours).
  • Any TA training that is required for the transition to remote instruction is considered part of the workload for spring quarter.
  • Additional TA support may be required to meet spring teaching needs. Requests for additional TAs should be made to the Associate Deans.

Graduate Counselors

  • We encourage graduate students to remain connected to their current social support network, both near and far!
  • Elizabeth Dunn and Phong Luong will continue to remain available to meet with all masters and doctoral students, as well as post-doctoral scholars, in a virtual manner throughout spring quarter 2020. These appointments can be arranged either digitally via Zoom or over the phone, Monday-Friday, between the normal business hours of 8:00 am – 5:00 pm PT.
  • To schedule an appointment, please email Elizabeth ( or Phong (

Additional Academic and Research Meetings

  • Lab meetings, meetings with faculty, committee meetings, and journal clubs should use an online format.
  • Meetings should be conducted with online technology such as Zoom.

Graduate Student Meetings

  • Graduate student meetings will refer to annual thesis committee meetings, pre-advancement meetings, and pre-defense meetings.
  • All graduate student meetings should proceed according to the recommended schedule. Meetings should be conducted with online technology such as Zoom.

Important Graduate Information

Graduate Courses

  • Spring quarter graduate courses should move online to facilitate student access to the course content. Online discussion boards and chat rooms are also recommended.
  • If the demand for a spring PhD graduate course is low, or the academic quality of a course is severely compromised by moving to an online format, faculty will determine whether or not the course should be cancelled and inform enrolled students.
  • Doctoral students unable to meet a program requirement this spring should consult with the program director or graduate advisor to determine how this requirement will be addressed.
  • CMB/INP Gateway programs students that are unable to complete the program requirements will be allowed to transfer out of the program into a departmental program where they can complete requirements when normal operations resume.
  • Given the degree timeline of masters programs, every effort will be made to allow online course completion on the current schedule.

Graduate Student Exams

  • Graduate student exams will now use an online format. This includes the major exams required for progression through and completion of the graduate program, such as the preliminary exam (CMB), comprehensive exams for the MS degree, advancement to candidacy, and thesis defense.
  • Exams convened online must provide the same level of communication and opportunity for discussion as an in-person exam. The chair of the exam committee will be charged with ensuring that academic quality is maintained, and university policies are met.
  • For doctoral thesis defenses, the public research presentation must be available with open access to the academic community. The ensuing final examination by the thesis committee should be held as a separate online meeting.
  • Digital signature technologies through Acrobat Pro or DocuSign may be implemented.

Form Fee Waivers for Spring and Summer

  • Following UCI Graduate Division guidelines, the campus will accept scanned documents and digital signatures for all forms related to enrolled services and exceptions until further notice. More details are available on the graduate division website.
  • In addition to accepting forms electronically, fees linked to the forms on the list below will be waived through spring and summer quarters to facilitate you filing digitally. Even though the fees are waived, you must still turn in all necessary forms and get department approval first.
  • The following list of forms have had their fees waived for spring and summer quarters:
    • Filing Fee
    • Summer Filing Fee
    • Master’s Thesis Signature Page/Report on the Final Examination for the Master’s Degree
    • Form I-Advancement to Candidacy
    • Readmission Petition for Graduate Students

Research Activities

  • All non-essential research activities must be done remotely. Remote research may include data or statistical analyses, computational projects, bioinformatics, and other work that can be performed remotely from a computer. This is also an excellent opportunity to research literature and submit a review for publication, prepare materials for an upcoming exam, or prepare a fellowship application.
  • All on site research activities have been restricted to critical projects, and university policy has been stated by Vice Chancellor for Research, Pramod Khargonekar. Principal investigators in BioSci have been required to submit a lab plan for managing essential research projects.

Fellowship Advising Appointments

  • Students are encouraged to continue identifying fellowships and learning about application requirements. There are many fellowship deadlines between August and December. This allows plenty of time to draft and prepare competitive materials for these prestigious awards and for us to help you craft those materials.
  • Don’t know where to start? Set up a virtual fellowship advising appointment with Dr. Kayleigh Anderson-Natale. Click here to request a meeting.

Grad Slam Competition


Disability Services Center

  • The Disability Services Center (DSC) Office is now closed until further notice. DSC staff, services, and support will continue to be available remotely, 8:00am to 5:00pm, Monday-Friday.
  • To contact DSC call 949-824-7494 or email

Defend a PhD Remotely

Request for Hardship/Emergency Support

  • For those of you that find yourself in financial distress due to COVID-19, please fill out and submit this form.

DTEI Spring 2020 Workshops

  • The Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation (DTEI) is offering workshops throughout the Spring quarter via Zoom. Topics for Spring quarter include:
    • creating and using teaching activities for more interactive learning and
    • writing an effective diversity statement.
  • Also offered is the popular Course Design Certification Program. There also will be a remote instruction check-in session for TAs. Since these workshops will be held remotely, various instructional technology tools will be showcased to facilitate remote instruction.
  • Registration is required. Find out more about how these can count towards the Certificate in Teaching Excellence.

Free Access to Laptops for Graduate Students Available

  • To help alleviate the challenge of securing appropriate computer equipment for remote learning, UCI has secured a number of laptops for free short-term loan to students who don’t have access to key remote learning tools.
  • For students working as instructional assistants, TAs, Readers, or Research Assistants who need additional equipment for that work, you should request this equipment through your hiring department rather than through this loan program.
  • More information about the program will soon be available!

Stress Reduction Courses for Graduate Students and Post-docs

Information on Free Child Care

UCI soon will have some free childcare in place covering newborns to children age 2 years. Please click the link below for more information.