New Graduate Student information

New Graduate Student Information

The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences is thrilled to welcome you to the Earth and Planetary Sciences Graduate Program community! Please read on for logistical and transition information, and don’t hesitate to contact the Graduate Program Coordinator, your Faculty Mentor, or the Graduate Chair and Advisors with any questions.

To Do Before Arriving
  • Office of Graduate Studies Checklist
  • Check the Graduate Studies Admitted Students page for important to-do items. Some of these items include creating your campus computing and email account, submitting your official transcripts, submitting your Statement of Legal Residence (due July 15th), and the mandatory Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence Prevention Workshop (you will get an email invitation to complete this training towards the end of the summer). 
  • Graduate Student Orientation
  • There is a campus-wide orientation called "Aggie 201" designed to walk you through helpful information and resources, as well as in-person events near the start of the quarter like the Graduate Student Resource Fair, International Graduate Student Orientation (IGSO), and Holistic U sponsored by Graduate Studies. See the Graduate Student Orientation page for more information. 

    This is optional but highly recommended, and in addition to the required Earth and Planetary Sciences Graduate Program Orientation described below. 
  • International Graduate Students
  • New international graduate students should check the Pre-Arrival Checklist on the SISS (Services for International Students and Scholars) website. Completing these items in a timely manner is very important. 

    Be sure to also check the Graduate English Language Requirements for new graduate students. You will be emailed with any action needed, such as classes to register for or tests to take.

    Advice: Visit the SISS Resources website for helpful steps to get your Social Security Number (very important and timely), set up a bank account (here are some good banks and credit cards for international students), and more. Remember that US SIM cards may not be compatible with international cell phones, so make a plan to buy a phone, phone plan, prepaid phone, or SIM card here. Keep records of your admittance, employment (GSR or TA offer letters), and housing lease for things like entry into the US and getting your bank account set up.
  • Register for the Teaching Assistant Orientation
  • All new students, even if you will not be a TA in Fall Quarter, must participate in the campus-wide TA Orientation. There is an online and an in-person component. For Earth and Planetary Sciences graduate students, the in-person training will occur on Tuesday, September 24, 2024. Please register at the TA Orientation website by the September deadline (date TBD).
  • Course Registration
  • You must be enrolled in at least 12 units every quarter for employment and fellowship eligibility. Please plan to register for courses by September 15th so that your fee remission can be processed. Note: You will need at least one letter-graded course (as opposed to graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory) in the Fall to maintain good academic standing.

    Please register for the following on Schedule Builder:
    1. The Department’s Wednesday Seminar, GEL 290. This is a one-unit course required of all pre-candidacy students each quarter.
    2. Methods of Teaching Geology, GEL 390. This is a two-unit course required of all entering graduate students. It will cover important aspects of teaching and conducting research in the EPS program. Note for 2024: This course will likely be taught as a 1- unit "group study" GEL 298 class instead. Search for it on Schedule Builder using the CRN 34059. 
    3. Add courses in consultation with your faculty advisor. Please do go ahead and start discussion on your coursework plan (not just for fall but for all your courses) with your faculty advisor. See the courses page for the list of graduate courses offered for the next two years.
    4. Additional units of Research, GEL 299 to bring you to a total of 12 units.  Each quarter you will receive a different CRN (Course Registration Number) for research units specific to your faculty advisor. Look for an email partway through the summer with your CRN. 
  • All domestic students are expected to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year. Having a FAFSA on file is a requirement for many federal loans, plus all domestic graduate students must file a FAFSA to receive internal fellowships or Graduate Program Fellowships. If you have not already done so for the following year, please visit to complete yours.
  • Housing!
  • You are encouraged to start the search for housing as soon as possible. Most leases in Davis are for the full academic year, so be sure to do your research before signing a lease. Here are a few housing resources/websites to help you get started. 

    • UC Davis Graduate and Professional Student Housing
    • Community Housing Listing, operated by Associated Students of UCD. This site is especially helpful if you are interested in renting a room in a larger house.
    • UC Davis Graduate Studies Housing Options: Lots of links and helpful information here!
    • UC Davis Graduate/Professional Housing Facebook Group
    • UC Davis Housing/sublets/Rentals Facebook group
    • UC Davis Housing Facebook group
    • Davis Ecology-Social listserv. This email listserv is open to all UC Davis community members and is an effective way to find housing and even furniture and other items for sale. See full instructions for joining and participating in the listserv.
    • SISS Housing Resources (for international students)
    • The California Aggie: The campus student-run newspaper often carries classifieds and ads for housing.
    • Davis Enterprise annual Housing Day insert (not affiliated with UC Davis): Features individual listings and contact information for local rental management companies
    • (not affiliated with UC Davis). Some apartments, and room leases will be listed here.
    • (not affiliated with UC Davis). Like craigslist, has individual postings
    • (not affiliated with UC Davis). Includes reviews of apartments near Davis.

    Note: Always be cautious of scams or misleading information when searching for housing online.

  • Establishing California Residency
  • If you are a domestic, non-California Resident, you will want to begin establishing California Residency as soon as you arrive in the state. You will need a full year to establish California residence, and there are important deadlines to meet by the end of your first quarter here.

    Full residence policy: The UCOP (UC Office of the President) links include the full 32-page policy for residency. It is your responsibility to understand this policy in full. I encourage you to especially read pages 9-10 which explain ways to establish residency even further, Importantly, they also reference a deadline to gather these documents by the end of your first quarter here.

    Residency requirements: The basic requirements are: physical presence (366 days – with limited time allowed away from California), intent to remain in California (including severing ties with your previous state), financial independence, and status as a citizen or permanent resident of the US. Please read the additional important details at the link above, including how these are defined and when they are due. More information is also available at Office of the University Registrar California Residence for Purposes of Tuition.

    How to establish residency: Read this carefully now, as there are notes in here about processes and deadlines. Ways to establish residency include, but are not limited to:
    > Get a Driver’s License (or ID card for non-drivers) by the 10th day of arrival, and no later than the campus deadline (usually the end of December). ”Students need to apply for a CA driver’s license no later than the end of December [their first quarter here]. Their receipt should indicate a date of December 31, or earlier. If they have NEVER had a driver’s license in any other state or country, they may apply for a CA ID card in place of the driver’s license by the same date. If students cannot make an appointment prior to December 31, they need to take the time to walk into a local DMV and wait their turn in line. Late appointments are not an exception for not meeting the deadline.”

    > Students will need to “register their vehicle in CA (if they are the registered owner of a vehicle)” by the 20th day of arrival.
    > “Students will also need to register to vote in CA by the December 31 deadline if they have been previously registered in another state.”
    > Be sure to save your lease agreement as soon as you secure a place to live and any other documentation that shows when you arrived in California (for example, receipts for purchases made in the state as soon as you arrive).
    > You should also document your physical presence in California during holidays and school breaks. Ask the residence deputies before leaving California for educational purposes, which sometimes requires special approval. Students should “be mindful of their time spent outside of CA. They can be absent up to a total of 42 days between the start of Fall [your first quarter] and the start of Fall [the next year]. The documentation we request for this requirement are employment, internship and/or research verifications, and/or credit/debit statements indicating local CA purchases made throughout the summer break. We do not accept leases or any utility bills. If their department required them to be outside of CA during the summer months for research purposes, we will need a letter of support from the department.”

    Ten things graduate students should know about residency.

    In the summer before your second year you will need to submit a Petition for Classification to Resident Status. This is very important, as the EPS Graduate program does not pay non-resident tuition past the first year for domestic non-California residents, meaning you would then be responsible for $5,034 in non-resident tuition each quarter until you establish residency.

    Legally, the only people who are allowed to answer residency questions are the Residency Deputies. If you have any questions or concerns about residency, please contact (all quoted material above is straight from them, so it’s very important and strict!).

  • Photo Roster
  • The department has a photo roster of grad students so that folks can learn names and faces. Please send a photo of yourself to Mandy at by August 31, 2024. The guidelines for a photo are similar to a passport or license photo: with your face filling out most of the frame, against a relatively neutral background, and high resolution.
Start-of-the-Year Events
  • The Fall Field Trip
  • We invite you to join us on the Department's annual Fall Field Trip (not required but a lot of fun!). The field trip will provide a great opportunity to meet other first-year graduate students, some continuing graduate students, and some faculty members. This trip will take place mid-September 2024. You will get an email from the graduate student organizers of the trip this summer.
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences Graduate Program Orientation
  • This required graduate program orientation will take place on Monday, September 23rd, 2024 in the EPS building, room 1119.

    9-10am: Those who will be employed as a TA or GSR will do onboarding paperwork. All new employees must sign new hire paperwork on or before their first day of work (October 1st). Those students will get an email from our Payroll Shared Services office with instructions for what paperwork to bring.

    10am-12pm: We will cover information about your academic expectations and requirements, as well as information relating to your employment in the department.

    12-1pm: Pizza and salad, and meet the Graduate Advisors.

    1pm and on: 15-minute individual Introductory Advisory Meetings with the Graduate Chair to discuss specific questions you may have. The purpose of these individual meetings is to review your individual preparation for graduate school to assist you in selecting graduate courses, as well as to familiarize you with expectations for your first year in the Earth and Planetary Sciences Graduate Program. New students will be emailed a link to sign up for a time slot by August 31, 2024.

Your First Few Weeks Here
  • Desk Assignments
  • You can view your desk assignment in the department’s intranet after August 1st. See the Graduate Desk Maps for your specific desk within the graduate rooms.
  • Keys and Building Access
  • You will receive your keys at the EPS Graduate Program Orientation. If you’re planning on arriving before mid-September, please let Mandy know so she can request your key early.

    You should also set up Aggie Access, which will allow you to use an app on your phone to access the building, classrooms, and common grad spaces in the Earth and Physical Science building. Sign up and get the app at List Jamie Brannan as the Key Control Manager. The service desk will email you a link that will set up access on your phone (the app is called HID Mobile Access) which you can use on the card readers for access to specific areas. Be sure to check your junk/spam folders, as the link expires within 24 hours. Step-by-step instructions for app setup can be found here. One you have completed the app installation and activation, please email so that your access can be granted. If you need access to a specific faculty lab or space, please ask the faculty member to email their approval to
  • Direct Deposit
  • This is the best way to get your stipend on time each month. You should sign up for Direct deposit twice: once in the UC Path payroll system and once for travel, expense, and student accounting (fellowship) reimbursements at MyBill. You will need to wait until your October 1st appointment as a TA or GSR begins before you can sign up for UC Path Direct Deposit. 
Summary of Important Dates

Bold = required

  • Complete the Office of Graduate Studies new student checklist
  • Find housing
  • July 15, 2024: Statement of Legal Residence due
  • Complete your FAFSA
  • Late August 2024: Graduate Transition Emergency Loan applications open
  • Due August 31, 2024: Sign up for an Introductory Advisory Meeting for Sept 23rd
  • Due August 31, 2024: Send your photo to Mandy at
  • Due early September, 2024: Register for TA Orientation
  • International Graduate Students: complete your online orientation requirements and take any English language tests you are emailed about
  • Mid-September: Attend the Graduate Resource Fair
  • Mid-September: Do not pay your tuition bill. It will be paid on your behalf when the quarter starts.  
  • Due September 15th (if not sooner): Register for classes
  • Mid-September 2024: Fall Field Trip!
  • September 23, 2024 @ 9am-1pm: EPS Grad Program Orientation, with individual meetings in the afternoon
  • Collect your desk assignment and keys, and set up Aggie Access
  • September 24, 2024: TA Orientation
  • September 25, 2024: Fall Quarter instruction begins
  • Late September: First fellowship paycheck, if applicable
  • October 1, 2024: Onboarding paperwork due
  • Sign up for Direct Deposit: once in the UC Path payroll system and once for travel, expense, and student accounting (fellowship) reimbursements at MyBill.
  • Mid-October: Check the Onboarding Guide for any remaining transitional items, such as applying for direct deposit and obtaining a UC Davis Travel Card
  • November 1st: First payroll paycheck, if applicable
  • Nov 9-10, 2024 (tentative; save the date): Wilderness First-Aid Class. The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences has arranged for a Wilderness First-Aid Class offered by Sierra Rescue at UC Davis, scheduled for November 9th and 10th (two 8-hour days). This is a comprehensive course, open to all EPS Graduate Students, and highly recommended for all students planning to do field work or TA students in the field. The course fees will be paid for by the Department’s Durrell Field Funds. More information on how to register for the course will be sent to you in late summer or early Fall.
  • End of your first quarter here: deadline to acquire government documents related to residency (domestic non-residents only)
Learning About the Graduate Program
  • Graduate Handbook and Degree Requirements
  • If you haven’t already, save the website for all things Earth and Planetary Sciences Graduate Program at UC Davis: Here you can find information on degree requirements and milestones, graduate advisors and committees, graduate courses, financial support and employment, resources for success, and more.

    We will review much of this information at the Graduate Program Orientation in September. Many of your questions can be answered on these webpages, although you’re always welcome to ask the Graduate Program Coordinator, your Faculty Mentor, or the Graduate Chair and Advisors any questions. We know there’s a lot of information and it can be confusing, so we’re here to help!

  • Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences Onboarding Guide
  • General information about the department, including facilities, resources, and staff contacts, can be accessed through the Onboarding Guide (this link may not be active until later in the Summer). You don’t need to know all this information right away, but this guide can be used as a helpful reference when these questions come up.
  • Employment FAQs
  • Q: When will I get my TA assignment?

    A: Around mid-August.


    Q: Why do I see a balance on MyBill? I thought the program paid my fees and tuition.

    A: Your employment as a TA or GSR in the department will cover this bill, called “fee remission”. However, this fee remission isn’t processed until you are entered on payroll in late September, so until then you will see an overly high bill. If you have any remaining balance that’s not covered by fee remission, do not pay that amount until your employment has been entered on payroll.


    Q: When will I get paid?

    A: Paychecks are dispersed monthly, on the first of the month following the month you have worked. Your first paycheck will arrive November 1st, so be sure to budget for this timing.

    Fellowships are split into 4 payments in Fall (over 3 months) to try to get you some of your fellowship money sooner. If you will be getting a fellowship from the Department or other campus sources, your first fellowship payment will hit your student account in late September.

    Because this timing is challenging while transitioning to graduate school, you could consider applying for the Graduate Transition Emergency Loan starting August 30th. Read more at

    Find out more at


    Q: What’s the quickest way to get paid?

    A: Direct Deposit! This is the best way to get your paycheck on time each month. You should sign up for Direct deposit twice: once in the UC Path payroll system and once for travel, expense, and student accounting (fellowship) reimbursements at MyBill. You will need to wait until your October 1st appointment as a TA or GSR begins before you can sign up for UC Path Direct Deposit. 


    Q: I have been assigned a 25% TA for one of the quarters this year, how will the EPS program meet its commitment to provide me with a 50% position each quarter?  

    A: When the department assigns you to a 25% TA, that position will pay your full tuition and fees in exactly the same way as a 50% position. In some cases, your faculty advisor or another faculty member may also offer you a 25% GSR position (which then splits the cost of tuition/fees with the TA position) in lieu of a full time TA position. If no GSR funding is available, the amount not paid by the 25% TA position will be paid from the EPS Graduate Program Fellowship Allocation as a fellowship.  


    Q: I am not a California resident, how is my Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition (NRST) paid during the first year? 

    A:  If you are employed as a TA, then NRST is paid from the EPS Graduate Program Fellowship Allocation as a fellowship.  If you are employed as a GSR, then NRST is paid by the grant you are being paid from. If you are on certain fellowships, then NRST will be paid by the university.  Note that EPS will only pay NRST from the Graduate Program Fellowship Allocation during the first year (for domestic non-resident students; international students will have it covered every year).  Domestic non-resident students must establish residency during your first year so that you will not be charged NRST in your second year, OR you must pay NRST out of pocket for all subsequent quarters until you establish residency.  


    Q: What are the usual or normal hours of employment for a graduate student as a TA or Graduate student? 

    A: Regardless of the type of employment, students are normally only employed by the university a maximum of 50% time (20 hours per week) during the academic year, but they may be employed up to 100% time in the summer. This is because all full time graduate students are also required to be enrolled in 12 units of coursework, including independent research towards their dissertation. According to the Carnegie Rule, each unit represents 3 hours of effort (either in or out of class) and therefore 12 units represents 36 hours of time independent of any employment as a GSR working toward the same or overlapping projects. 

Page last updated May 2024