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Division of Biological Sciences Covid-19 Graduate Updates

If you do not find the answer to your question below, please feel free to reach out to staff.

Additional updates to university deadlines and policies can be found here:

Advising for Students

We want to let you know that our Biological Sciences advisors are still here for you when you need us. However, to ensure we are doing our part to "flatten the curve" and keep you and our staff safe during this global pandemic, we have moved to remote advising until further notice.

At this time staff advising is being done remotely through online services.

PhD Academic and Faculty Advising

MS Academic and Faculty Advising

Instruction Format

Winter 2021

Biology courses are being offered in one of three ways for winter 2021:

  • Fully Remote (all online) OR
  • Hybrid (combination of in-person and remote/online components) OR
  • In-Person (all in-person)

While most courses are being offered remotely, synchronous attendance may still be required. Please review WI21 Course Information for additional details. For those courses being offered that are not listed, students must follow up with the instructor directly to obtain additional information.

All questions regarding course expectations should be directed to the instructor.

We highly recommend periodically checking the Schedule of Classes to get the most up-to-date course classification information. Please note that courses in the Division of Biological Sciences are subject to change from hybrid to fully remote, dependent on the state of the pandemic. Please continue to check the Schedule of Classes to receive updated information.

Fall 2020

Biology courses were offered in one of three ways for fall 2020:

  • Fully Remote (all online) OR
  • Hybrid (combination of in-person and remote/online components) OR
  • In-Person (all in-person)

Please review FA20 Biology Course Scheduling FAQs [PDF] to address inquiries pertaining to enrollment and expectations.

Summer 2020

All courses were offered remotely.

Spring 2020

All courses were shifted to remote modality, due to onset of the COVID pandemic.

Enrollment and Waitlists

Instruction format of a course does not determine seat capacity. The Division attempts to offer as many seats as possible no matter if a course is being taught remotely, hybrid, or in person. Students who are unable to enroll in a course may waitlist, knowing that this does not guarantee enrollment. Students who choose to waitlist should ensure they are enrolled in at least 12 units for full time status.

Campus has physical capacity limitations for all in-person/hybrid courses. In addition, there are other capacity limitations for remote courses due to available course support.

Please refer to the Campus add/drop deadlines.

Research, Safety and Testing

Research and Safety

The Division of Biological Sciences would like to reinforce all campus messages regarding research during the pandemic: no student should be pressured to work in-person. Student concerns can be conveyed in confidence to program leadership or to the Graduate Division. Safety concerns should be reported via the Divisional form [new tab] .

As researchers, you know how critical bi-weekly testing, symptom checking, masking, awareness and education are in keeping campus labs and you healthy. With this in mind, please continue to 1) test; 2) symptom check; 3) wear a mask and encourage those in your research program do the same; and 4) consider adding the confidential exposure notification app, CA COVID Notify, to your mobile device.

Rotational Training and On-Site Research Coursework: Students continue to join research labs and facilities for training and coursework. Students training in the same lab for more than 4 weeks need to be identified and added to that lab’s Ramp Up Plan. Departments and Programs must confirm that all research facilities where students are training – even for shorter, micro-rotations – have a Research Ramp Up plan which includes either a Training Risk Mitigation Plan or an Alternative Risk Mitigation Plan that addresses training. More information is available in the Rotational Training and On-Site Research Coursework PDF.


Student Symptom Screening and COVID Testing

The following sites are now open for students to pick-up and drop-off free self-administered asymptomatic COVID-19 testing kits between the hours of 9:00am and 4:00pm seven days a week. Appointments are not needed at any of the sites.

NOTE: ALL students must register for MyStudentChart in order to receive all COVID-19 testing instructions and result notifications.

See the original announcement about the launch of self-administered testing here .

Scheduled Testing

You may also schedule a no-cost, asymptomatic COVID-19 test.

Academic Policy Updates


Please take a moment to read the announcement from Dean Antony [PDF] sent out regarding UCSD now excluding four COVID-affected quarters (SP20, FA20, WI21, and SP21) from the calculation of 3-year eligibility for pre-candidacy GSGEI or from the calculation of 3-year eligibility for post-candidacy waiver of Non-Resident Student Tuition (NRST).

Remote Thesis/Dissertation Defense

The Graduate Council has extended its limited-term exception to the general rules for how master’s and doctoral committee members conduct master’s thesis defenses and doctoral qualifying exams and defenses. Effective until the end of Summer 2021 (September 5, 2021), any and/or all members of a master’s or doctoral committee or the student being examined may be telepresent (meaning participation by live video teleconference) for a thesis defense, qualifying examination and final oral examination (the dissertation defense).

Preparing for and Conducting a Successful Remote Dissertation/Thesis Defense

Continuation of Extended Time Limits for Doctoral Students

In Fall 2020, the Graduate Council approved additional extensions of time limits for doctoral students. The new extensions are in addition to the 1-quarter extension of pre-candidacy time limit (PCTL), support time limit (SUTL), and/or total registered time limit (TRTL) that were granted in Spring 2020.

New extensions:

  • Students who have not yet advanced to candidacy:  As default, the PCTL will be extended one additional quarter and SUTL will be extended two additional quarters.
  • Students who have advanced to candidacy and for whom SUTL has not expired:  SUTL will be extended three additional quarters.  If the SUTL and TRTL coincide, both SUTL and TRTL will be extended such that the SUTL is equivalent to the TRTL.
  • Students who have advanced to candidacy and for whom SUTL has expired:  TRTL will be extended three additional quarters.

Implementation of One Quarter Extension to Time Limits for Doctoral Students

In Spring 2020, the Graduate Council approved and the Graduate Division implemented a one-quarter extension of time limits for all current doctoral students due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The campus student information system (ISIS) and the Graduate Division student database have been updated to reflect this change." See more in this announcement [PDF].

Spring 2020 P/NP & S/U

The Division will allow 'P' and 'S' grades earned in spring 2020 courses to be applied to degree requirements, even in courses where a letter grade is otherwise required. For additional information, reference FAQs for P/NP Grades in Spring 2020 [PDF]. See, especially, p. 3-4 for information specific to graduate students.

International Students

International students may have special considerations and are urged to review information on the International Students & Program Office web page and to contact ISPO staff for questions.

Academic Resources

Health and Well-being

Basic Needs

To support our resilient students, both The Hub Basic Needs Center and Triton Food Pantry will be open with full operational hours for Fall Quarter. For questions, please visit the websites above, or reach out to or 858-246-2632.

Community Resource Centers

Campus Community Centers at UC San Diego provide an array of resources and are open to all community members.


Visit The Playground to stay on track with your fitness and nutrition needs during Fall Quarter 2020.

Student Personal Wellness Online is a FREE online health and fitness program offered to current students. Register today at Student Personal Wellness.

Student Health

Student Health Services is open to provide care for UC San Diego Students. We have implemented many changes to ensure that healthy, asymptomatic students who come to Student Health are safe and not exposed to infection. All patients and staff are masked at Student Health Services whether they are in Urgent Care or our Primary Care areas. Our pharmacy, nurses clinic, lab and X-ray are still open. Please call 858-534-3300 to speak to a nurse to determine if you need an in-person appointment or can have a video visit.

Testing for COVID-19 is still being done at SHS and is covered by SHIP. We are able to test any student that presents with any risk factors or symptoms of having COVID-19.

Pharmacy: Our Student Health Pharmacy is able to deliver any medications for free to students that live anywhere in California. Students can contact Student Health Pharmacy at 858-534-2135 or go through MyStudentChart and request a refill. Our pharmacy can send prescriptions for 90-day supply to students living in California via FedEx. They are unable to send controlled medications or refrigerated medications. Students have a lower copay if they fill their medications through Student Health.

Telemedicine at Student Health: Any UC San Diego student may now have video visits or telephone visits with their Student Health primary care providers if they live anywhere in California. For students with SHIP and RAFT, there is no copay or visit charge. For students without SHIP, the same visit charges apply that would be used for in-person visits.

Mental Wellness

If you - or someone you know - need(s) to speak with someone or are feeling overwhelmed, please contact:

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) - CAPS offers counseling to help students in crisis or who are feeling stress. Per CAPS: ‘no problem is too big or too small’. CAPS also has regular drop-in workshops including a Monday ‘Coping with Covid’ workshop.

Student Health Services also has a social worker available for support with referrals to community resources, mental health providers, and medical specialists, as well as support with basic needs (e.g., housing, finances, insurance and food) and navigating challenges at UCSD. Additionally the student health plan includes mental health benefits.

Conflict Resolution

Guidance for engaging in difficult conversations, as well as links to campus resources available to assist in conflict resolution can be found on the Conflict Resolution and Student Appeals page.

Resources for Students with Dependents

Check out the Students with Dependents webpage for resources you might find helpful, and see the latest newsletter here.