Steps to the Ph.D.


Entering Graduate Students

  • SIR and PIN. When you file your Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) with the University's Graduate Division, you will receive your student identification number (SID) and a personal identification number (PIN).
  • Cal Photo ID. You can obtain your photo ID on Campus with your SID and a photo ID.
  • E-mail - You can set up a @berkeley.edu e-mail account by mid-summer. You will need to first obtain a CalNet IDwhich will require your PIN. You will then be able to sign up for an account here. Please send the GAO your new address.
  • Fee Payment. Fees are paid by the department, except in unusual cases, and should be in the University system by early August.
  • Registration.To be an officially registered student you must have your fees paid and be enrolled in at least 8 units of classes. The University will not release any stipend checks unless you are a fully registered students.
  • Enrollment. You will meet with your First Year Adviser during Orientation (one week prior to the beginning of classes).It is recommended that you enroll in MCB 293A (FERPs) for two units, MCB 291A (rotation research) for six unitsand MCB 200A-200B for 4 unitsusing the campus on-line registration system TeleBears. To avoid delays in receiving your stipend, registerby August 15th. See the Course Requirement policy for more information.
  • Adjustment Period.If needed, you can modify your schedule during open hours (Monday-Friday; 7am-8am & 7pm-midnight).
  • Summer Research. If you are interested in starting a summer research project before the start of the semester you will need to locate a mentor willing to accept you into their lab. For more details please see the Policy on Summer Research.

Quick Links for Entering students

First Year Students

  • Rotations.Please check the Calendar of Important Dates for the dates of each rotation period. Requests for the first rotation period are due the last week of September.Requests for the second and third rotations should be in the GAO two weeks prior to the start of the rotation. Every student is guaranteed at least one first choice amongst the three.Most students receive their first choice for all three rotations.
  • Retreats. The five divisions each hold their annual retreats between September and January each year.First year students are invited to attend the retreats of those divisions in which they have research interests.The retreats are arranged and coordinated by the Academic Services staff of the department located in 399 LSA. Students are notified via email of sign-up deadlines.
  • FERPs. The Faculty Evening Research Presentations (also MCB 293A) start during Orientation Week and end late in September. This is an evening forum which provides students the opportunity to to hear faculty discuss the research taking place in their own labs. It allows students to learn of the broad range of research in the department. Students indicate that it is a very good way todecide on second and third rotation requests.
  • SMS. The StudentMicro-Symposia allows students the opportunity to present the research conducted during their first rotation. SMSs is moderated by faculty instructors and is designed to familiarize students with and instruct them in the skills necessary to present research findings in a clear and incisive manner.
  • Ethics course.This course (MCB293C) is scheduled in Spring and focuses on topics in the responsible conduct of research.
  • California Residency. Information regarding the steps necessary to become California residents is provided during Orientation week for entering students.In early May of the first year, the GAO will notify the class of availability of official forms to petition for California Residence.The deadline for submitting requests for residency is early June.
  • Teaching Appointment.In April the GAO will request your four choices of courses for which you want to be a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI).Requests are reviewed and GSIs matched to courses in a meeting of all divisional GSI Advisers in early May.There will be training sessions for all new GSIs at the beginning of the Fall semester (see Second Year Students)

Second Year Students

  • Course Requirements.In order to be eligible to take the Qualifying Exam in the Spring semester of their second year students need to ensure that all required courses are completed by the end of the Fall semester of their second year.See the Course Requirement policy for more information.
  • Teaching (GSI) Appointments.In early April the GAO sends out requests to all second year students for their individual GSI preferences.Second year students should not only list their top four preferences but also the course for which they have already been a GSI. The Advisers try to ensure that each student teaches both a lecture and a laboratory course. This may not be possible in all cases due to the needs of the department.Every effort is made to place a student in the course they have requested.The deadline to return the forms is usually late April.The Divisional GSI Advisers meet to make assignments in early May.
  • GSI Training.The Department offersGSI training during the Fall orientation week for all new GSIs.This training, along with weekly meetings with the instructor, mid-point student evaluations, and oversight of GSI Advisers comprise the MCB 380 pedagogy course.Students must also take the Graduate Division Online Course and attend their Orientation session.At the end of the semester, the departmentalso performs evaluations of GSIs via comments from the class and instructors.It is these evaluations that are used in the nominations of Outstanding Graduate Student Instructors each Spring.For more information please read the MCB Policy on Teaching and the Graduate Council Policy for GSIs and Instructors.
  • Qualifying Exams.The QE informational meeting for Second Year Students and the Second Year Advisers takes place in December each year.At the meeting students are able to discuss the exam process including committee formation and selection of topics.Students will receive a copy of the Departmental Guidelines on Qualifying Examsand a listing of faculty from other departments who may act as an outside committee member for MCB students.

Third Year and Beyond Students

  • Second teaching appointment.
  • Annual Thesis Committee Meetings. Thesis committee meetings are held according to the following time frames:

6th Year Students - September 1 to October 1
5th Year Students - September 1 to October 1
4th Year Students - October 1 to November 1
3rd Year Students - November 1 to December 1

See Time-to-Degree Policy for more information.

  • 290 Seminars (and/or teaching MCB198).
  • Final Year
  • Filing a Thesis
  • DissertationGuidelines for the preparation of the Ph.D. Dissertation can be found here.
  • Filing Fee
  • Check Calendar for Commencement information

Complete Graduate Policy List