3. Academic Policies and Procedures

  1. Temporary Advisors
  2. Faculty Advisors
  3. California Residency
  4. Registration
  5. Scheduling Changes after the Semester Deadline
  6. Full-Time Status
  7. Incomplete Grades
  8. EECS Departmental Policy of Academic Dishonesty
  9. Student Reviews
  10. Appeal Procedures
  11. Changing or Adding a Degree Goal
  12. Withdrawal
  13. Readmission to EECS


  1. Temporary Advisors

    Every incoming graduate student in the department without a Faculty Advisor is assigned a Temporary Faculty Advisor. Your temporary advisor provides advice about courses and degree requirements to help you design a tentative plan of study for your degree objective. S/he also offers advice on finding a Faculty Advisor, providing all the necessary signatures until you find one.

    If, for any reason, you would like to change your Temporary Advisor, see your staff Graduate Advisor.

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  2. Faculty Advisors

    Sooner or later (preferably sooner) you must find a Faculty Advisor (often a different person than your Temporary Advisor). Your Faculty Advisor supervises and evaluates your research and decides when your thesis or project work is ready to be approved. A good advisor is your mentor, friend, confidant, supporter, and problem solver. Additionally, s/he is the first person to turn to for help with matters of financial support.

    Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) students are assigned a Faculty Advisor, determined by the area of concentration. Fifth year MS students should find a Faculty Advisor upon entering the degree program. If you are an MS-only student, you need to find a Faculty Advisor within your first 2 semesters. If you are a doctoral student, you should find an advisor before the end of your second semester. However, you should not choose an advisor until you are well informed.

    • Read the EECS Research Summaries to find out about the research interests of the faculty and their students.
    • Attend at least one research seminar regularly.
    • Talk with the faculty and with senior graduate students.
    • Consult your Temporary Advisor.

    Formally speaking, your "Faculty Advisor" is (or will become) the chair of your dissertation committee. The Graduate Division's rules for constituting a dissertation committee are complicated - see Sections F4.5 and F4.7 of Graduate Division Policy and Guidelines. Here is a brief summary:

    You can ask any Senate faculty member in the EECS department to be your Faculty Advisor - that includes assistant, associate, full professors, professors-in-residence, Lecturers SOE, and Senior Lecturers SOE, as identified on the EECS Faculty List. Adjunct faculty members in EECS may also serve as Faculty Advisors, provided an exception (blanket or one-time) has been approved. (Check with the faculty member or the Grad Advisor for current status of Adjunct Professors.) By special request, a Senate faculty member in another campus department can be your Faculty Advisor if appropriate expertise is not available in EECS.

    Also by special request, an off-campus person of sufficient distinction may serve as Faculty Advisor, provided a Senate faculty member serves as co-advisor. For example, such a person might be a faculty member at Stanford or a researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL) or at the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI). Before deciding upon a Faculty Advisor outside the department, you should discuss the plan with a member of the EECS faculty in the relevant research area, and also meet with your staff Graduate Advisor. This will help ensure that there are no administrative roadblocks, and provide you with a chance to think through logistical issues including the availability of funding for your research.

    Most students find a Faculty Advisor with little difficulty. For those who do encounter hardship, the least common reason is a lack of qualifications. Any professor is likely to be flattered by an invitation to supervise a student's research, even if s/he feels compelled to decline the invitation. So be assertive and flexible. The sooner you start looking for a Faculty Advisor, the easier it will be to retarget your research interests, should that prove necessary. When you have found a Faculty Advisor, there is no form to fill out, simply email your staff Graduate Advisor with the information.

    You are also free to change your Faculty Advisor, and quite a few students do this between the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. However, it can be awkward to leave an advisor who has invested time, energy, and financial support in you. The best way to avoid awkwardness and misunderstanding is to have free and open communication; always inform your advisor of your intentions.

    NOTE: If you find a Faculty Advisor, or change your Faculty Advisor, send an email to your staff Graduate Advisor with a CC to your current and new Faculty Advisor. The staff Graduate Advisor will update the database.

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  3. California Residency

    Every entering student is classified as a resident or nonresident of California for tuition purposes.

    Many Berkeley nonresident graduate students (with the exception of international students), however, are classified as residents after one year of graduate school, an action that exempts them from paying nonresident tuition. All non-resident students that are eligible to establish California residency (e.g., U.S. citizens and permanent residents) should, and are expected to establish residency, after their first year. Students that do not wish to establish residency in California, or were not eligible to get California residency, will be responsible for paying the Non Resident Tuition.

    To be classified as a California resident, you should meet the following general requirements:

    1. Continuous presence. You must have established your residence in California for more than one full year immediately prior to the residency determination date (the first day of classes of the semester for which you wish to be classified as a resident). Your physical presence in California must be demonstrated on a weekly basis. You are presumed to be present in the state of California during the academic periods you attend UC Berkeley. You should keep all dated material that proves your presence in the state, including:
      • airline tickets
      • paycheck stubs from work
      • credit card receipts
      • bank and credit card statements showing ATM, credit card, and debit card activity (the credit card receipts need not be signature copies)

      Please note that the above items are primary indicators of physical presence and will be weighed heavily in determining your status. Items such as copies of lease agreements, rent, or utility checks are much lesser indicators of physical presence and are not acceptable alone. Your intent will be questioned if you leave California for more than 21 total days during the period in which you are establishing resident status for tuition purposes. Graduate students doing research outside of California for more than 21 total days during nonacademic periods should visit the Residence Affairs Office (39 Sproul Hall) to seek advice prior to leaving and filing for classification.

    2. Intent to make California your permanent residence must be established for one full year immediately before the residency determination date. You must show proof of your intent by doing such things as:
      • registering and voting in California elections
      • obtaining a California driver's license or identification card
      • filing California resident tax forms
      • establishing California bank accounts, remaining in California during nonacademic periods, etc.
      • severing the foregoing legal ties with your home state

      Evidence of intent must be dated through one year before the term for which you seek resident classification. If these steps are delayed, the one-year duration period will be extended until you have demonstrated both presence and intent for one full year. (See also 4.2.b. Nonresident Tuition.)

    3. Financial independence. You are presumed by law to be financially independent if you are at least 24 years of age by December 31 of the year for which you request resident classification. If your parents are not California residents, you must show evidence that you have been financially independent during the calendar year January-December immediately preceding the semester for which you wish to claim resident status and for the current calendar year. Any out-of-state student who is claimed as a dependent on someone else's income tax returns will continue to be classified as a nonresident. Graduate Student Instructors and Graduate Student Researchers appointed for a minimum of 48 percent time (or awarded the equivalent in University-administered funds, e.g. , grants, stipends, fellowships) for the semester for which they wish to be classified as a resident are exempt from meeting the financial independence criterion.

    More detailed information on establishing residency and documenting financial independence is available online UC Berkeley's Office of the Registrar's website and in hardcopy format at 120 Sproul Hall

    If you are not a U.S. citizen, you cannot be classified as a California resident unless you are a permanent resident of the U. S. or are in the process of adjusting your status to permanent resident (you must be in a valid immigration status during the entire adjustment process). International students with F-1 or J-1 visas must pay nonresident tuition during their entire graduate careers. Doctoral candidates, however, may be eligible for a 100% waiver of nonresident tuition for three years after advancement to candidacy.

    Note: This summary is not a complete explanation of the law regarding California residence. Please note that changes may be made in the residency requirements between this publication date and the relevant residence determination date.

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  4. Registration

    As with most academic procedures, your first stop should always be your friendly departmental Graduate Office. Students at Berkeley currently enroll in courses by using the Tele-BEARS System, described in great detail on the Office of the Registrar website. Tele-BEARS may also be used to add and drop classes through the third week of classes. Changes in your study list, including addition or deletion of classes, change of grading option or change in the number of units of a variable unit course (e.g. independent study courses) may be changed after the third week of classes by submitting an approved Graduate Petition To Change Class Schedule form to the Graduate Office.

    New graduate students will be asked to meet with a Temporary Advisor assigned to them by their staff Graduate Advisor their Faculty Faculty Advisor. Prior to meeting with your Advisor, you should plan out a tentative schedule for your first year. For more information, consult with the Departmental staff Graduate Advisor.

    After your first semester as a grad student at Berkeley, you will receive email notification that Tele-BEARS appointment times are available via Bear Facts in late March (for Fall) and early October (for Spring). Access to Tele-BEARS is regulated by individual, preassigned appointments for Phases I and II. The optimum time to access Tele-BEARS is at the beginning of your appointment period for each phase. During Phases I and II, Tele-BEARS is available Monday through Friday, 8am to 7pm for scheduled appointments.

    If you miss your appointment times, you can always login during open hours (but so can everybody else, so it may take longer to access the system). Open hours are 7-8am and 7pm-12 midnight, Monday through Friday, and 12 noon through midnight, Saturday and Sunday. Unless you are a double major, EECS students do not need an Advisor Code. Notices announcing the dates for the Tele-BEARS Enrollment Period will also be posed on departmental bulletin boards and in the campus newspaper.

    If you fail to register through Tele-BEARS by the end of the third week of instruction, you must file a Petition for Late Enrollment Registration to enroll in classes. Any student not officially registered by the end of the third week of instruction will be subject to a $150.00 late registration fee.

    Confirmed Class Schedules for continuing grads may be viewed online using Bear Facts.

    To assist you in making course selections, the online Schedule of Classes lists all courses given for the semester, with the days, times and locations.

    The following web pages contain essential information regarding registration, enrollment and privacy rights:

    If you have any questions regarding Tele-BEARS or your registration status, please contact orreg@berkeley.edu or call (510) 642-5990.

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  5. Scheduling Changes after the Semester Deadline

    Graduate students may petition to make changes to their class schedule through the last day of instruction each semester. After the third week of instruction, but before the last day of instruction, you may submit a Graduate Petition to Change Class Schedule to your Graduate Advisor. The petition must be approved by your Faculty Advisor before submitting it to the Graduate Advisor for further processing, which may include a review by the Vice Chair for Grad Matters. Fees associated with adding and dropping will be assessed to your CARS account. Students must maintain enrollment in a minimum of 12 units at all times.

    It is more difficult to petition to change your class schedule after the semester has ended. Adhering to the above deadline will help you avoid this situation. However, if you find such a petition to be necessary, please see your staff Graduate Advisor. Note: This petition's final decision rests with the Graduate Division Dean's Office.

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  6. Full-Time Status

    The definition of a full-time program of study depends on whether or not you are an international student and your type of funding. All students must enroll in at least 12 units (including 299 research units) of upper division and/or graduate work per semester. International students and students on fellowships may have different definitions of "full-time" and should consult with either the Berkeley International Office or the send mail to the Fellowships Office (gradfell@berkeley.edu). Graduate Students Instructors (GSIs) and Graduate Student Researchers (GSRs), Berkeley's terms for Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants respectively, are considered full-time if they are taking at least 12 units.

    For more information about full-time status, please refer to section E1.1 of the Guide to Graduate Policy. GSIs, GSRs, Readers and Tutors should also be sure to read the Graduate Divisions guidelines.

    Entering students should be aware that most Faculty Advisors will expect their students to make progress at a rate which will preclude your continuing to work full-time in industry while pursuing your graduate degree, particularly at the beginning while you are taking most of your graduate courses, preparing for the preliminary examination, and doing research. You should plan to commit the largest chunk of your time to your studies and research—at least until you are well established in our program.

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  7. Incomplete Grades

    All Incomplete (I) grades must be replaced by a letter grade (or S/U where applicable) before you submit an application for advancement to candidacy for any graduate degree. If a course with an incomplete grade is not necessary for the degree, your Advisor may specify in writing for each such "I" grade that work undertaken in that course is neither necessary for, nor closely related to, your degree and that the removal of the "I" grade by completing the course requirements would only impede your progress toward the degree.

    If no action is taken by a graduate student to change an "I" grade, the "I" will not change to an F as it would for an undergraduate, but will remain an "I" on the transcript until you do something to change it.

    You should be aware, however, that the Graduate Division will block your employment as a Graduate Student Instructor or Researcher if you have more than two incompletes at one time. The Graduate Division, in addition, may place you on probation if you accumulate more than two "I" grades. If you're likely to exceed this limit, please proceed with all due haste to your Graduate Advisor's office for advice.

    To have an incomplete replaced by a grade, do not register for the course a second time. Instead you should fill out a Petition to Remove an Incomplete Grade. You should also have your instructor sign the form. Once it is signed, bring the form to your Graduate Advisor.

    All petitions to change incomplete grades must be submitted to the
    EECS Department Office, 217 Cory, or to the CS Division Office, 367 Soda.

    The form will be submitted to the Registrar and sooner or later, the grade will show up on your record. You should note that the fact that you took an Incomplete will continue to show on your permanent record. NOTE: Grad students may complete an incomplete grade at anytime, even after the dissertation has been filed.

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  8. EECS Departmental Policy of Academic Dishonesty

    Copying all or part of another person's work, or using reference material not specifically allowed, are forms of cheating and will not be tolerated. A student involved in an incident of cheating will be notified by the instructor and the following policy will apply:

    1. The instructor may take actions such as:
      • Require repetition of the subject work
      • Assign an F grade or a 'zero' grade to the subject work
      • For serious offenses, assign an F grade for the course (this is the recommended action)
    2. The instructor must inform the student and the Department Chair in writing of the incident, the action taken, if any, and the student's right to appeal to the Chair of the Department Grievance Committee or to the Director of the Office of Student Conduct.
    3. The instructor must retain copies of any written evidence or observation notes.
    4. The Department Chair must inform the Director of the Office of Student Conduct of the incident, the student's name, and the action taken by the instructor.
    5. The Office of Student Conduct may choose to conduct a formal hearing on the incident and to assess a penalty for misconduct.
    6. The Department will recommend that students involved in a second incident of cheating be dismissed from the University.

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  9. Student Reviews

    The Department undertakes a systematic review of the status of all graduate students each year. The faculty of the EE division conduct an annual review, generally in mid-April, as well as a late fall "mini-review" of students having academic difficulties and those whose spring review letters required some action on the student's part. The faculty of the CS division jointly reviews all CS students in mid-November and in mid-April.

    Before the spring review, EE students meet with their Faculty Advisor, discuss their progress and return a summary sheet to the Graduate Office. Each semester, CS students meet with their Faculty Advisor and submit their review forms to the Graduate Office. At the review, the faculty jointly tries to confirm the status of each student. A primary concern is to identify problem cases: students who don't have a Faculty Advisor, failed the department's oral preliminary examination, have been unable to make progress in research, have uncertain financial support, etc. After the review, each student is sent a letter summarizing what the faculty has concluded. If you do not receive a letter after the review, you must let the staff Graduate Advisor know. It is possible the letter got lost in the mail or you got lost in the system. For instructions and forms, see EE Review and CS Review.

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  10. Appeal Procedures

    If you find that you have a grievance (if you believe that a degree requirement has been applied inappropriately or unfairly in your case, for example), you should first present it your Faculty Advisor, who will attempt to resolve the matter informally. If this does not resolve the matter, it should be brought to the attention of the Vice Chair. If the Vice Chair cannot resolve the matter, it is possible to invoke a formal grievance and appeal procedure. More information about this can be found in section E1.9 of the Guide to Graduate Policy.

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  11. Changing or Adding a Degree Goal

    The Graduate Petition for Change of Major or Degree Goal available online or at the Graduate Division. For M.S.-only students who wish to add the Ph.D. to their current degree goal or students interested in adding a Designated Emphasis, you must complete this same form. Once you have completed the petition and obtained the proper signatures, submit it to your staff Graduate Advisor who will inform you if additional documents are required. When a decision has been made it will be sent to Graduate Division with the department's recommendation. If approved, copies of the approved petition will be sent to the department and to the Registrar, where it will become part of the student's permanent record.

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  12. Withdrawal

    Graduate Division requires that students be registered continuously until a degree is completed. If you want or need to take a leave of absence, don't just vanish—notify your Graduate Advisor by email and bring them the withdrawal form. Your Graduate Advisor will process your withdrawal electronically. You do not need to file a petition at the Office of the Registrar. Your withdrawal will be effective the day it is entered into the system; however, processing will be delayed for 10 days.

    If you are an international student, you must also see an advisor at the Berkeley International Office. As usual, your Graduate Advisor will provide you with the necessary paperwork. If you have made plans to return to Berkeley at some definite time in the future, you may even apply for withdrawal and readmission at the same time. If you do not have plans to return, you must complete the EECS Exit Survey.

    Students who wish to discontinue their graduate study must formally withdraw from the University. This simplifies the readmission procedure if requested at a later time.

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  13. Readmission to the EECS Department

    If you have withdrawn from the university and want to come back and finish your degree, you will need to file a Petition for Readmissions and a Statement of Legal Residence (SLR). You can obtain this readmission form from the department Graduate Offices, the Graduate Division Degrees Office, in 318 Sproul Hall, or on the Registrar's website. Once you have obtained the necessary signatures you should file the petition with your Graduate Advisor. Note: Readmission is not guaranteed.

    In addition to the Petition for Readmission you will need to submit the following materials to an EECS Graduate Advisor:

    • a statement of purpose which includes
      1. what you believe has changed since you were last enrolled and
      2. what your plans for research and financial support are upon your return
    • if you plan to use courses more than 7 years old in fulfillment of degree requirements and do not already have an approved program of study (blue or white card) on file with the Department's Graduate Office, you must submit a petition justifying the use of these courses in your program of study
    • official transcripts if you have attended school since you left Berkeley
    • a letter of academic, research and financial support from an EECS faculty member who will serve as your advisor
    • a processing fee

    If you were an EECS Ph.D. graduate student before you withdrew, your performance on the oral preliminary examination (see section 5.3.c) and your progress toward completion of the prelim requirements will be heavily weighed in the evaluation of your application for readmission, so it is strongly recommended that you take prelims before withdrawing.

    It is also strongly recommended that you complete a Tentative Program of Study (blue card) after passing the prelim and before withdrawing. The University has established time limits for the use of units completed in the past. If you leave the graduate program without an approved Program of Study on file in the Department's Graduate Office, it may be difficult to approve the use of courses for your degree that are more than 7 years old at the time of readmission.

    If you have ever been enrolled as a graduate student at Berkeley, even if you were not an EECS student, you should not apply as a new graduate student. Students who have most recently done graduate work in other departments at Berkeley will need to file a Graduate Petition for Change of Major or Degree Goal in addition to the readmission petition. Students who want to transfer into the EECS graduate program from other Berkeley graduate programs will need to file all the supporting documents required of applicants who have never attended Berkeley. Most applicants can obtain many of these documents by having the Graduate Advisor in their current department copy materials from their file and send it to the EECS Graduate Office. A new statement of purpose and a letter of academic, research and financial support from an EECS faculty member are required as part of an application for a change of major. The University of California does not support duplication of degrees, so you should be aware that students who already have an M.S. or a Ph.D. in a field closely allied to EECS will probably not be allowed to earn a second M.S. or Ph.D. Applicants for a change of major should meet the deadline for new graduate students, December 15, even though the Readmission petition lists different deadlines. Petitions for readmission and change of major should be submitted to your Graduate Advisor for processing.

    Graduate Division will send you a letter telling you whether your petition has been approved. You can also keep track of the status of your petition(s) by staying in touch with your Graduate Advisor or you also view the status of your petition at the Grad Division database.

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