Graduate mentors and/or faculty advisors are responsible for communicating regularly with their students about departmental degree requirements. The Graduate Council and the Graduate Division ask that every department distribute written materials to students regarding departmental academic requirements and teaching assistant policy. Departments should review these materials annually to ensure that they are up-to-date, accurate, and complete.

The Graduate Council and the Graduate Division also ask that every department conduct an annual review, evaluating each student's progress towards degree completion, providing written feedback, clearly delineating the student's progress and expected timeline for completion. The feedback should provide clear, reasonable, and consistent expectations for improvement. 

If the student is not making satisfactory progress, the timeline must include a period of time (at least one quarter) during which the student may make the necessary academic improvement.

All graduate students are encouraged to routinely seek direction and guidance from faculty advisors and mentors. Students who experience academic difficulties should seek early assistance from their programs. Students may also meet with the Graduate Division’s Academic Counselor for additional assistance, guidance, and strategies.

Academic Good Standing

To remain in good academic standing, a graduate student must make timely progress toward degree completion and meet the following standards of scholarship established by The Academic Senate and the Graduate Council:

  • Establish a GPA by taking courses for letter grades
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 (Senate reg. 300D and 350D)
  • Complete course work. The standard will not be met if the student has 12 or more units of unfinished coursework: Incomplete (I), No Grade (NG), or No Record (NR)
  • Meet all departmental degree requirements, as outlined in the General Catalog(Senate reg. 255B, 255C, 265, and 270)
  • Master's students must complete the master's degree within the four-year time limit (Senate reg. 300A)
  • Doctoral students must meet departmental specific time-to-degree standards based on admission year (Senate reg. 350A and Graduate Council rulings)

Progress Notifications and University Probation

Departments may recommend to the Graduate Dean that a student be placed on monitoring or academic probation for failing to meet one or more of the academic expectations for performance and progress (including academic good standing and departmental requirements). Students are usually placed on probation for at least one regular academic quarter (fall, winter, or spring) prior to academic disqualification (dismissal). Only the Graduate Dean may place a student on official academic probation or disqualify a student.

A student on academic probation is not eligible for employment in Academic Student Employee (ASE) titles or for central fellowship support. For more information, visit Academic Appointments.

Coursework Performance Standards

Students may be placed on probation if they fail to meet the following standards:

  • Establish a GPA by taking courses for letter grades
  • Maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in a given quarter
  • Complete course work. The standard will not be met if the student has 12 or more units of unfinished coursework, including Incomplete (I), No Grade (NG), or No Record (NR)

The Graduate Dean provides written notification to the graduate student and department if one of the above performance standards has not been met. The first violation will result in monitoring status. Using the Academic Progress Plan - Coursework, the department is expected to deliver clear, written expectations to the student for demonstrating improvement. A copy of this plan will be sent to the Graduate Division.

If the student does not show improvement during the following quarter, the Graduate Dean will ask the department to recommend and justify (a) continued monitoring or (b) academic probation.

If unsatisfactory progress continues after the third quarter, the Graduate Dean will, upon consultation with the student's department, (a) notify the student of new or continued academic probation or (b) proceed with academic disqualification.

Time-to-Degree Standards

The Graduate Division will deliver written notification to students via Umail if time standards for advancing to candidacy or completing a master’s or doctoral degree have been exceeded. The departmental faculty Graduate Advisor and the student's faculty mentor/advisor will consult with the student to develop an Academic Progress Plan Time-to-Degree (signed by the faculty mentor/advisor and the student). The student will be on departmental progress monitoring status for the remainder of the academic year or until the milestone is completed.

If a student who has not advanced to doctoral candidacy or completed the degree after the end of an academic year on monitoring, the Graduate Dean will ask the department to recommend and justify (a) continued academic monitoring (must involve extenuating circumstances) or (b) academic probation.

If a student on academic probation fails to make adequate progress after a minimum of one quarter, the department may request from the Graduate Dean that the student be academically disqualified.

Departments have the discretion to ask the Graduate Dean for academic probation or disqualification under an earlier time frame.

A student is not eligible for central fellowships if they are beyond time-to-degree or normative time standards for advancement to candidacy or degree completion.

Performance Standard on Required Milestones or Exams

If a student fails to pass master's exams, comprehensive exams, or qualifying examinations, cannot form a master’s thesis or doctoral committee, or fails to meet other departmental milestones or University standards, the Department Chair or Graduate Advisor may recommend monitoring status, academic probation, or academic disqualification to the Graduate Dean.

As part of the written materials provided to students, departments are required to state their policy on the number of times a student will be permitted to take an exam or complete a required written product, if they do not pass their first attempt.

When considering either monitoring status, academic probation, or academic disqualification, the Graduate Dean expects documentation showing that the student received written feedback and opportunities to fulfill the unmet standard(s).

Academic Disqualification

Only the Graduate Dean may disqualify a graduate student for academic reasons. Students who have been disqualified for academic reasons are not eligible to register for future quarters unless the Graduate Dean readmits them.

The Graduate Advisor should discuss a particular student's situation with a faculty member familiar with the student's work. If the department is recommending academic disqualification, it must inform the Graduate Dean in writing of the reasons for its recommendation and demonstrate that the student has received advance warning of problems, time to attempt improvement, and due process in evaluations. The Graduate Dean may meet with the student before a final decision concerning academic disqualification is made.

After fact-finding is completed, the Graduate Dean will issue a letter informing the student of academic disqualification and the grounds for disqualification, with copies sent to the department. A copy of procedures for appeal is included with the letter. The letter is sent to the student by certified mail using the most current address on file with the Office of the Registrar. The Graduate Dean's letter will indicate the date disqualification is to take effect. The student will be prevented from registering for future quarters. The notation "academically disqualified" is added to the student's transcript.

Graduate Class Level

In addition to full-time status, the instructional and fellowship funding that UC Santa Barbara receives for graduate education is dependent upon the class level of enrolled graduate students as determined by the Office of the Registrar. Graduate Division also uses class level to determine funding eligibility. For these reasons, it is crucial that students and Graduate Advisors are aware not only of the departmental time-to-degree standards, but also the Registrar's class level designations.

The graduate class levels assigned by the Registrar are:

  • Post-baccalaureate student (PF) holds a baccalaureate degree and the sole degree objective is a teacher education credential
  • Master's degree objective (MA) is academic or professional master's, certification credential, non-doctoral first professional degree (e.g., M.F.A.), or no degree objective. This includes students enrolled in joint master's and teacher education credential programs, but not students whose sole objective is a teacher credential.

Doctoral Levels

  • P1 status: Academic or professional doctorate degree objective, but not advanced to candidacy
  • P2 status: Academic or professional doctorate degree objective, has advanced to candidacy (P2 status lasts for 9 registered quarters)
  • P3 status: After 9 registered quarters as P2 status, students become P3 status. International students in P3 status will be charged non-resident supplemental tuition.