At the beginning of each academic year, the department offers a 2-day new student orientation program to incoming graduate students. In this orientation, we attempt to provide you with all the information needed to begin your career as a grad student at UCSD. We have a panel of grad students discuss choosing courses, passing qualifying exams, choosing health insurance for your spouse, housing, parking, etc.

We also take you on a tour of the department and campus and assist you in obtaining your student ID which acts also as your library card. There is a university-wide training for teaching assistants and you have a mandatory meeting with the union since all teaching assistants are unionized at UCSD. In addition the Senior TA, along with the TA Training Supervisor, John Eggers, provides you with a 3 hour department training for teaching assistants. After this training, most incoming grad students are prepared to run discussion sections for a beginning calculus course. Students whose native language is not English must pass an English proficiency exam before they are permitted to work as a TA.

The Math Department has a Graduate Student Association representative who tells you about GSA activities. There is also an announcement about the “Jerome”, a grad students only picnic with mainly second year students who try to give you the “inside” information about how to adjust to becoming a grad student. We have a representative from the Association for Women in Mathematics who will tell you about their activities.

The Graduate Program Officer provides you with an office assignment, mailbox, computer account, and payroll forms. You will be asked to fill out a number of forms so that we can contact you in case of emergency. All non-California residents need to establish residency within one year to avoid paying nonresident tuition and fees in their second year. The procedure is outlined in this handbook.

At the end of the 3-day orientation you will arrange an appointment with an assigned faculty advisor to discuss and approve your course schedule for the Fall quarter. There will be a mandatory department meeting for all teaching assistants.


Each incoming graduate student will be assigned a faculty adviser. The faculty adviser will assist the new student in adjusting to the department, as well as with academic planning. In the second or third year, upon selection of a research (thesis) adviser, the initial faculty adviser will be replaced by the student’s research adviser.


Before you can register for classes, you need to decide on your program of classes, in consultation with your graduate adviser. All graduate students are assigned graduate advisers in their first two academic years.

There is an enrollment deadline, so you should meet with your adviser as soon as possible. Your adviser can give you advice about courses and planning your academic program. You need approval of your adviser for the courses you wish to sign up for, as well as any subsequent changes. Your adviser can assist you on any academic matters. Questions about financial support should be directed to the Graduate Vice Chair. If you have any questions about university rules, procedures or deadlines, the Graduate Affairs Officer usually has the answers.

After meeting with you, your adviser will email the approved program to the Graduate Program Officer and the advising hold will be lifted from your registration. You will then be able to enroll in classes using WebReg, the university’s online registration system. The web address is

To log on you will need your 4-digit PAC number (Personal Access Code), which should be in the orientation folder in an envelope addressed to you. Once you are logged on, the enrollment process is self-explanatory. You’ll also need the course code for each course you want to enroll in. These are available from the Schedule of Classes on Tritonlink. The PAC number will remain the same for your entire tenure here at UCSD as a graduate student. If you forget it, you can go to the registrar’s office and they will be able to give you your PAC. The deadline for initial enrollment is the Friday in mid-September before instruction begins. You cannot get your ID card validated until after you have enrolled.

With your PAC number, WebReg allows you to add or drop any class through the end of the second full week of classes each quarter. All add/drops AFTER the second week of each quarter cannot be processed through TritonLink, and require departmental and Graduate Division approval using an Add/Drop/Change card. Students will be charged a late fee for each add after the second week. All changes in your course program should be carried out in consultation with your graduate adviser.

Pre-enrollment for each upcoming quarter begins in the 7th week of each quarter. In planning your course program, keep in mind the qualifying exam requirements. Qualifying exams are given twice a year, late in the spring quarter (typically in the ninth week) and again in early September before the fall quarter begins. Ph.D. students must pass three qualifying exams by the beginning of their third year at UCSD, with at least one passed by the beginning of their second year. The courses that will prepare you for the qualifying exams are Math 200, 202, 220, 240, 270, 281, and 290. These are all year-long sequences. Students typically take at least two of these sequences their first year, with the goal of passing two qualifying exams by the beginning of the second year. The qualifying exam requirements are rather complicated; they are described in the General Catalog

General Guidelines

The following are some general guidelines to follow when enrolling in classes. See the catalog for more details.

  1. Full-time students must enroll for a minimum of 12 units every quarter, eight (8) of which must be graduate-level mathematics courses taken for a letter-grade only. (Mathematics 500 may not be used to satisfy any part of this requirement.)
  2. Everyone should enroll in Mathematics 295 (Special Topics in Mathematics) every quarter.
  3. Teaching Assistants must enroll in Mathematics 500 (Apprentice Teaching, S/U grading option, four (4) units if 50% appointment and two (2) units if 25% appointment.
  4. Normally, students who have not completed all their qualifying examinations should not register for Math 299 (Independent Reading and Research).

Major Codes

There are five major codes in the Department of Mathematics. Your major code will only change if your degree aim and/or department changes:

  • MA75 – Applied Mathematics (Masters Degree)
  • MA76 – Pure Mathematics (Masters/Doctoral Degree)
  • MA77 – Statistics (Masters Degree)
  • MA80 – Mathematics with Specialization in CSME (Doctoral Degree)
  • MA81 – Mathematics with Specialization in Statistics (Doctoral Degree)

Half-Time Status

Any graduate student who enrolls in six units or less per quarter is considered half-time. To qualify for reduced fees, a completed online application for Graduate Student Half-Time Study must be filed with Graduate Division by the end of the second week of any quarter. To request half-time status please go to the following link ( International Students should consult the international center and international center website for more information regarding half-time status due to restrictions related to visa requirements (  For general information about declaring half-time status go to the following link (

Students who feel that their background may be particularly weak in a subject should consult their adviser, as it is possible for incoming graduate students to enroll in some undergraduate “upper-division” courses, if needed to correct this deficiency. Similarly, new students who are particularly strong in a particular area may want to consider taking more advanced classes or reading courses in specific subjects, and should likewise consult with their adviser.

Reading courses (Math 299) are always available, provided interested faculty can be found to supervise them. Students often find thesis advisers by first taking reading courses. Summer reading courses are also recommended, and can provide students with the opportunity to “try out” a particular area of study or to broaden their mathematical horizons.