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General Information

The Graduate Studies Committee

The Graduate Studies Committee represents the concerns of the graduate students to the faculty and departmental administration and facilitates communication among all components of the Program.

The Committee is chaired by the Director of Graduate Studies. Its members consist of
  • the section adviser from each of the five sections of the Department (Literatures in English, Spanish, German, Cultural Studies, and Comparative Literature);
  • two graduate students from each section. These student representatives are elected annually by the graduate students in each of the respective sections; and

All members have a vote in the Committee's business. The GSC is constituted each academic year (by appointment and by election before the end of the eighth week of the spring quarter). Representatives take office in September of the following academic year.

The GSC meets at least once each quarter during the regular academic year. It can also be called into special session by the Department Chair, the Director of Graduate Studies, or by petition of any three faculty or graduate student members of the Department.

Among its responsibilities, the GSC

  • acts as an advisory body concerning all departmental policy decisions affecting graduate students.
  • appoints one of its members as representative to the Departmental Executive Committee. The representative attends Executive Committee meetings at the invitation of the Chair; the representative may also initiate Executive Committee discussions of matters affecting graduate students and attends those meetings where such matters are discussed.
  • makes suggestions on seminar offerings based on a survey of student opinions. It takes the responsibility, where necessary, to ask the Department Chair to modify section offerings to accommodate student needs.

The Graduate Student Association

The Graduate Student Association (GSA) is the campus-wide official student organization that represents graduate and professional students. Its membership includes two or more representatives from each department; it is governed by an internally elected executive board. The GSA meets bimonthly.

Functions of the GSA include: allocating the graduate student activity fee; appointing graduate students to campus-wide committees; and sponsoring academic and social events. Literature department representatives to the GSA are elected annually as a part of the GSC election. You may contact the GSA at 534-6504 or by e-mail at gsa@ucsd.edu.

Academic Standing

Good academic standing is a requirement for holding an academic appointment; receiving support in the form of teaching assistantships, fellowships, or grants; advancing to candidacy for a graduate degree; taking a leave of absence; and receiving a graduate degree from UCSD.

To be in good academic standing, a student must meet departmental standards. This means that s/he must receive a satisfactory annual spring evaluation, register for and complete the required number of seminars or their equivalents, and maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher in upper-division and graduate coursework. A student may not accumulate more than a total of eight units of F and/or U grades overall.

PH.D. Time Limits

Three time limits pertain to students' academic progress toward the Ph.D. degree:

  • PCTL - the registered time by which a student must advance to Ph.D. candidacy;
  • SUTL - the registered time during which a doctoral student is eligible for support;
  • TRTL - the registered time by which a student must complete all Ph.D. requirements.
Students will not be permitted to continue in doctoral status beyond the pre-candidacy and total registered time limits. Students will not be permitted to receive UCSD-administered financial support beyond the support limit.

University policy requires that graduate students be continuously registered--unless on an approved leave of absence--from the first quarter of enrollment to completion of degree requirements.

For purposes of calculating when pre-candidacy and total registered time limits are reached, accrued time is the elapsed time from first enrollment as a graduate student at UCSD less (a) time withdrawn or on approved leave of absence, and (b) time between completion of one graduate program at UCSD and first registration in another. For the support time limit, a maximum of three quarters of approved leave or withdrawal may be deducted from elapsed time in calculating accrued time.

Time spent in graduate study at another institution or UC campus prior to beginning graduate study at UCSD will not count toward accrued time. All of the following will count toward accrued time: time spent at UCSD as a master's, non-degree, or intercampus exchange graduate student; time spent on leave beyond three quarters (and additional three quarters for parental leave); time spent between completion of or withdrawal from a graduate program at UCSD and re-registration in the same field of study. Pre-candidacy and total registered time limits will not accrue during periods of leave of absence and/or withdrawal in excess of three quarters.

Academic Warning/Probation

If the annual spring review reveals that a student's performance is not within departmental guidelines, the student will be placed on departmental warning. The student is given one quarter to remedy the situation before being placed on academic probation. Once placed on probation, the student is ineligible for support. Students on probation who do not remedy their situation in one quarter are subject to dismissal.

Transfer of Graduate Credits

Students who have completed graduate work at other institutions may request transfer credit for up to six seminars. In most cases credit will be recognized only for students who have received an M.A. degree or its equivalent from a University or College other than UCSD. The determination of seminar credit and the recognition of papers will be made by the Graduate Adviser and/or the head of the appropriate section in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. Students who receive transfer credit may shorten their period of study at UCSD accordingly.

Full-Time Status

To receive support in the form of grants and fellowships and to be eligible for student loans, insurance, housing, and 50% time teaching assistantships, students must be enrolled full time. In order to be considered a full-time student, a student must be registered for at least twelve units of upper-division or graduate work each quarter until the degree is completed. Failure to register constitutes evidence of withdrawal from graduate studies.

Normative time to Ph.D.

Normative time is a standard established for the period in which students, under normal circumstances, are expected to complete their requirements for the Ph.D. degree in a particular discipline. Normative time for the Ph.D. in Literature is six years. Normative time for students who enter the doctoral program with M.A. degrees and who receive transfer credit for six seminars is reduced by one year.  No Departmental support will be granted once a student has reached the end of Normative time (6 years).

Summer Arrangements

The Department does not support its graduate students during the summer months.

Summer Health Care

If you were a teaching assistant or research assistant during the academic year, summer health care is provided. However, if you want to use the Student Health Center on campus, you must pay an additional fee. Additional information is available from the Student Health Center at 534-3300.

Leave of Absence

A Ph.D. student in good academic standing is eligible to take three quarters of approved leave. Three additional quarters of parental leave is also available.

To take a leave of absence, a student must have completed at least one quarter of academic residence, be in good standing (see above, Good Academic Standing), and not owe the University any money. The student must return all borrowed library materials.

Prior to the end of the second week of instruction of the quarter in which leave is to begin--and before leaving campus--the student must complete the Graduate Student Request for Leave of Absence, Extension and/or Withdrawal Form. S/he must obtain the proper approvals before the Department can process it.

During the period of leave, the student may not be employed by the University, may not hold a fellowship, traineeship, or other similar appointments administered by the University. The student may not use University facilities (i.e., the library),  complete the qualifying examination for advancement to candidacy, or place demands on faculty, including requesting feedback on written work, discussion of thesis or dissertation work (either directly, by e-mail, or by correspondence).

A student on leave may remain in student housing for one additional quarter if the person has been a full-time student for three consecutive quarters immediately prior to the leave.

A California resident who decides to go on leave and moves out of state (losing his California residency status) will be responsible for his own tuition upon return to UCSD.

When you take a leave of absence, be sure not to forget to apply for jobs for the following year. Students apply for jobs in spring quarter. Be sure not to miss the deadline.

NOTE: Failure to arrange for an approved leave of absence constitutes automatic withdrawal from the University.

Extending a Leave of Absence

Students may request an extension of an approved Leave of Absence prior to the expiration of the Leave (at least two weeks prior to the end of the quarter in which the Leave terminates). They may request a maximum of three quarters leave. They must re-file the Graduate Student Request for Leave of Absence. NOTE: Failure to file the necessary paperwork to extend an approved leave of absence constitutes automatic withdrawal from the University.

Part-Time Study

Part-time enrollment is discouraged, especially for students in the Ph.D. program. All quarters of enrollment, whether full- or part-time, count toward normative time limits.

Approval to enroll on a part-time basis is granted for reasons of occupation, family responsibilities, or health. Part-time graduate students are eligible, at the discretion of the Department, for 25% TA-ships and readerships. Graduate students who are approved for a program of half-time study enroll for six units or less. Graduate students who are receiving financial aid must be enrolled full time. Be sure to check with the Financial Aid before applying for part-time status.

Withdrawal from the Ph.D. Program

In order to withdraw from the Program, a student must complete and file with the Department the Graduate Student Request for Leave of Absence, Extension and/or Withdrawal Form.

If a student withdraws in mid-quarter, but intends to return at a later date, s/he may request a Leave of Absence by checking the appropriate box on the form. S/he will be required to request formal readmission and pay a readmission fee if the Leave form is not processed at the time of withdrawal.

A student registered for coursework who leaves prior to the last day of instruction of any quarter without filing a formal withdrawal form will receive a U grade in each course and will be considered withdrawn from graduate study. This will jeopardize her/his eligibility for readmission to the Program.

Intercampus Exchange

UCSD graduate students may enroll for course work at other University of California campuses. Consult with Kristin Carnohan for details about these programs.

Informal arrangements should be made between department faculty on both campuses several weeks before the student submits an application for Intercampus Exchange in order to assure that space in the course, seminar, or facility will be available. Obtain the Intercampus Exchange Application form from the Graduate Office and have it signed by the appropriate faculty adviser. The form must also be signed by the Dean of the Graduate Division before it is forwarded to the host campus.

The Application form does not enroll the student in classes at the host campus. S/he must obtain and fill out a signed add card and submit it to the Registrar of the host campus.

Library, infirmary, and other student privileges are extended by the host campus.

Students participating in Intercampus Exchanges should register and pay all required fees at the UCSD campus. Then they present their valid student photo ID to the Office of Graduate Studies on the host campus. In turn, the registrar of the host campus will issue an ID card for that campus.

Upon completion of the course(s), grades are transferred to the home campus and entered on the student's official transcript.

Off-Campus Study

In order to retain full-time active status while away from campus, a student is required to remain registered at UCSD and to carry 12 units of coursework or research. Please contact Kristin Carnohan or OGS for additional information on paying fees and application procedures.

Residency Reclassification

Students who are not residents of California when they enroll for graduate study at UCSD are expected to establish California residency during their first year of enrollment. This is not an automatic process. Immediately upon arrival on campus, you should investigate the procedures for establishing residency. Consult the Residence Deputy at 534-4586 or log on to the Registrar's Office.

Student Health Insurance

The graduate student health insurance plan is mandatory. Premiums for students holding Teaching Assistantships at 25% time or greater are paid by the University. Please contact Student Health Services for more information.

Student Support while in the program

The Department offers support in the form of Teaching, Language, and Research Assistantships or Fellowships during the five years of normative time enrollment. Support depends upon the funds available, the number of students eligible, and their satisfactory rate of progress through the program.


Non-California residents are required to pay tuition. The Department covers the cost of nonresident supplemental tuition for international students for five years. It pays tuition for non-California residents for one year. Out-of-state students must establish California residence after their first year at UCSD. If a student fails to establish (or elects not to establish) California residency after one year, the student will be responsible for paying tuition.

In-candidacy tuition reduction: When non-resident students advance to candidacy, they receive a reduction in tuition fees. They receive this reduction in fees until the total time of their enrollment exceeds twenty quarters.


All UCSD graduate students pay fees. Fees may be paid through a Teaching Assistant fee deferment. To have fees deducted from their paychecks, students must file a deferment form with OGSR.

Most full-time graduate students hold 50% teaching assistantships. Students who hold a teaching assistantship or readership at 25% time receive a partial fee waiver and health insurance.

In-candidacy fee reduction: After advancing to candidacy, students who are California residents receive a fee reduction. They continue to receive this reduction until the total time of their enrollment exceeds twenty quarters.

Teaching Assistantships

The Department considers apprentice teaching an integral part of professional training for a Ph.D. degree in Literature. Every doctoral student is required to be a 50% teaching assistant for at least three academic quarters. Duties of a teaching assistant include attending the lectures for the course, reading and grading papers and examinations, meeting with the supervising professor to discuss the progress of the course, and conducting either class or discussion sections.

Supervising professors write formal teaching evaluations for each teaching assistant who works with them. These evaluations are placed in the student's academic file and are consulted as a part of the annual review process. Teaching assistants are expected to take very seriously their responsibilities to their students. Poor teaching evaluation ratings will result in the loss of support.

Students who are not native English speakers may be required to pass an English Screening Examination before they can teach courses conducted in English. Courses designed to enhance English language skills are available to assist students in passing the screening so that they may teach.

Full-time doctoral students are eligible for 50% TA-ships until the end of their tenth quarter of enrollment. By that time, they must have passed their qualifying exams in order to continue to teach up to the maximum of fifteen quarters. Ph.D. student who are beyond the fifteen-quarter limit may still be eligible to teach, but will be considered for positions only after all doctoral students with less than fifteen quarters of support (including incoming doctoral students) have been offered financial support.

Entering Ph.D. students and students early in their courses of study generally find employment in one of the five campus Writing Programs or in language courses taught in Linguistics or Literature. All of these programs offer pedagogical training.

More advanced graduate students (usually those who have passed their qualifying examinations) also are eligible for teaching assistantships in special University programs (i.e., Critical Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies) and in the Department. These positions are assigned each Spring, based on information solicited from continuing students regarding their interest in particular TA positions.


Each quarter the Department hires a number of readers to assist professors who teach large courses by marking papers and examinations. Their workload is prorated according to the enrollment of the courses. Readers also may sometimes be asked to hold consultation hours for students. Readers are paid an hourly rate for their work.

Students who are employed as 50% teaching assistants and who wish also to work as readers must obtain permission from the Director of Graduate Studies.

Other Employment

The Graduate Office regularly receives requests during the academic year for outside tutors, editors, writers, translators, and the like. Please check the bulletin boards outside the Graduate Office and in the Graduate Lounge for announcements of these sorts of positions.

Union Information

Students working as teaching assistants are covered by a collective bargaining agreement between the University and the UAW. Their names and addresses will be released to the UAW each term that they are employed in the bargaining unit.


Students are encouraged to seek financial assistance through the University and through other granting institutions.

Extramural Fellowship Support

A number of national fellowships are available annually. Information about these fellowships is available from the Office of Graduate Studies and Research. The OGSR website lists a wide variety of information about UCSD and UC need-based and merit-based financial assistance. Please contact the Office of Graduate Studies and Research for information on extramural fellowships (858/534-3556).

Information about extramural fellowships and awards is also available in the reference section of the Central University Library under Contracts and Grants.

For a useful listing of Literature- and language-related extramural fellowships, see the September issue of PMLA.

Fee Deferments and Loans

For students holding Teaching Assistantships, fee deferments and loans are available from the departmental graduate office. Applications for assistance from OGS are on a quarterly or an annual basis.

Tax Liability

Teaching, language, research assistantships, and most fellowships are taxable. For information on how salary, fellowships, and fee payments are taxed, please obtain the guide compiled by OGSR for U.S. and for foreign students.Information about nonresident tax obligations is available from the Office of the President Taxation webpage

Research and Travel Grants Intercampus Travel

The Department of Literature administers and allocates funds for graduate students research projects and/or for the presentation of a paper at a scholarly meeting. Each student is entitled to--but not guaranteed-- $1000 support over the course of her/his enrollment in the Department. Students may not request more than $400 per quarter from this fund. We recommend that students plan to use this money following their qualifying examinations.

To apply for funding, complete a Research and Travel Grant Form (available in the graduate lounge). Applications require documentation, in the form of an invitation letter to present a paper at a conference. The form must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies before the trip. Please plan ahead and apply for funds well before you anticipate using them. Requests filed after the trip has been completed may not be approved.

Passenger receipts or itinerary (which shows the amount you paid for travel) should be submitted to the department's financial officer for reimbursement.

Funds are also available for travel to other University of California campuses to conduct research.
Graduate Coordinator
Kristin Carnohan
115 Literature Building
(858) 534-3217

Application Open:
9/1 - 12/1 (deadline)