JDP Handbook

General Program Information

Welcome to the Joint Doctoral Program (JDP) in Public Health, a collaborative effort of two academic institutions, San Diego State University (SDSU) and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) that originated in 1990. While there are several joint doctoral programs in place between SDSU and UCSD, there are three with a Public Health focus: epidemiology, health behavior and global health. The purpose of this handbook is to guide you through the next few years and supplement the information contained in the SDSU Graduate Bulletin under General Requirements for Doctoral Degrees.

The JDP is jointly administered by the School of Public Health (SPH) at SDSU and the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health (FMPH) in the School of Medicine, via Graduate Division at UCSD. As a student in this program, you will complete course work and conduct research at both institutions. Faculty from each campus will serve on your advisory and dissertation committees, providing you with extensive exposure to experts with varied interests and proficiencies. The program is co-directed by faculty and staff from both institutions (See Appendix B for list of JDP faculty). The JDP program directors and coordinators are as follows.

Faculty and Staff Contact Information
Program Director

Heather Corliss, PhD



Program Director

David Strong, PhD


Mandi Graham
Hardy Tower 119
(619) 594-2393
Carrie Goldsmith
UCSD Pepper Canyon Hall
(858) 246-5423
Brenda Fass-Holmes
Hepner Hall 129
(619) 594-4492

While in this program you should document your affiliation on all professional citations including memberships, presentations, publications and other professional affiliations as follows:

San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego | Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health (Epidemiology)

Registration Information


Currently, all students are required to be registered at San Diego State University (SDSU) throughout the program. It is only during your second year in the program, you will be enrolling at UC San Diego while completing your coursework. The only time you will enroll at UC San Diego and not registering for official coursework is due to certain financial situations. Please refer to the Policy on Placeholder Unit Enrollment at UCSD for those specific details. The UC San Diego Graduate Coordinator will contact you regarding this. At all terms in the Program, you must be enrolled in at least 6 units at SDSU during each semester of the doctoral program(excluding the summer semesters/quarters). The Graduate Coordinator will contact you every term regarding your enrollment.  Payment of fees will take place at SDSU each semester.

As each University works on a different time schedule (UCSD is on a quarter system, SDSU is on a semester system), therefore, it’s recommended to complete coursework at SDSU in the first year and coursework at UCSD in the second year of their program. The start and end dates for each quarter/semester will vary. To check the academic calendars for each institution, use the links below.

SDSU Calendar
UCSD Calendar


When admitted to SDSU, all students will receive an e-mail with their SDSU ID, which is their official SDSU email address. This SDSU ID is the account username to access my.SDSU. Students will also receive a numerical EMPL ID. The student portal account can be created and activated at: my.SDSU Registration and enrollment information can be found on the my.SDSU site above.


The Office of the Registrar will assign a personal identification number (PID) for registration purposes. Please use this LINK to obtain a password for registration. Enrollment information can be found online at http://www.ucsd.edu/current-students/index.html and is accessed using your assigned
PID and password. Orientation is required and will be held at the beginning of the fall semester. The date and times will be emailed from the coordinator.

Policy on Enrollment for Placeholder Units at UC San Diego

Policy on Enrollment for Placeholder Units at UC San Diego

Only enroll into the placeholder units at UC San Diego if you meet one of the following criteria:

  • You are employed at UC San Diego (i.e., as GSR or Teaching Assistant)
  • You receive a stipend from UCSD (on a fellowship, T32, F31, etc.)
  • You have received any other monetary payment from UCSD (received an award, travel stipend, etc.)
  • You are living in UCSD Housing

If you have answered YES to any of the above, you will need to enroll into a one-unit placeholder course at UCSD, even during your first year. This will then allow funds to be released to you.  If you are not registered, it will hold up any payments from these UCSD sources. The UCSD Graduate Coordinator, Carrie Goldsmith, will provide you with the placeholder course to enroll into each quarter via email and notice on the website.

**Note: UC San Diego Registration Deadline

**Note that this placeholder unit does not count toward your UCSD residency requirement.  Please contact Carrie Goldsmith, UCSD Graduate Coordinator, if you have any questions about the above criteria and whether you need to register for the placeholder.

Keep in mind that UC San Diego is on the quarter system and SDSU is on the semester system, so the starting and ending dates of each quarter/semester are different. Check the academic calendars for each institution at:

SDSU Academic Calendar and UC San Diego Academic Calendar


At SDSU, an orientation session will be held for first year students typically the week prior to the first week of classes (mid/late August). The date and times will be emailed to incoming students by the coordinator.  At UCSD, an orientation will be held at the beginning of the second year, during the Week of Welcome.

Helpful information on starting your studies at SDSU can also be found at the College of Graduate Studies website. Although geared to master’s students, this site includes information about your my.SDSU, EMPL ID, registration, fees, financial aid, and some fellowship opportunities at SDSU. UCSD also holds a new grad student orientation each year which will be helpful to attend even while starting at SDSU. Please see the UCSD New Student Orientation website to register. In addition, please refer to UCSD GradLife website for more information about UCSD.

The purpose of this handbook is to guide students through their doctoral program and to supplement the information contained on the College of Graduate Studies website and on the UCSD Division of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs website.

Establishing Residency For Non-California Residents


New incoming students that are non-California residents will most likely establish residency at SDSU. This is the case since the first year is completed at SDSU and the fees are paid on this campus. For details please go to the Office of Admissions website and please be sure to review the California Residency for Tuition Purposes. The residence determination dates are September 20 for Fall and January 25 for Spring.


Students seeking classification as a resident for tuition purposes must have established residence in California for more than one year immediately preceding the residence determination date for the term during which s/he proposes to attend the University. The student must have relinquished any previous residence. The residency deputy is the only person authorized to advise on residency matters. Additional information is available. Inquiries should be directed to the Residence Deputy at the Office of the Registrar residencedeputy@ucsd.edu, (858) 534-4586. For additional information refer the Graduate Division website regarding incoming graduate students.

ID Cards and Parking

ID Cards


ID cards should not have an expiration date and should indicate doctoral student status. The cost for an ID card is $25.00 and they can be paid during registration. For more information and to get an SDSU card click here.


The Campus ID Card office is located in the new Student Services Center, 402 University Center (Building #931 on campus maps), east of the Administration Complex and southeast of the Price Center. Student Business Services, including the Bursar’s office occupy the third floor, south wing of the building. The initial ID card is free, but replacement cards cost $15. Students must present a picture ID to have the ID picture taken.

JDP students have privileges at all of the UCSD libraries on campus, using their ID. A list of current graduate students is provided to the library each academic year to enable library privileges.

Student Lounge & Dining, Campus Maps & Shuttles, and Email Accounts

Student Lounge & Dining


Lounge: All doctoral students are eligible for keys to the doctoral lounge in PSFA 185. There are two keys: one for the building and one for the room. The doctoral lounge has computers with Internet access and printers. To obtain keys please contact the SDSU coordinator or HT-119 staff from the School of Public Health (SPH) office with your key request(s). Once form is ready you’ll be notified. Please bring your SDSUcard (ID) to pick up the key request form from the SPH office (HT-119). You will then take that form to the Public Safety Office to get your key.

Dining: The SDSU Faculty-Staff Club (FSC) offers a comfortable environment to enjoy a leisurely lunch or just to meet a colleague or friend. The Club is governed by a board of students who are committed to providing an inviting place for the campus community. The Club is perhaps best known as a place to have lunch. All campus faculty and staff are invited to eat at the facility. However members receive a discount on their meals.

SDSU graduate doctoral students get a very good break on this so stop by and check it out. View club facts including cost. The Club is located in the heart of the campus across from the library. View other SDSU dining options.


Lounge:  The HWSPH Graduate Student Lounge is located in the Student Affairs suite in Pepper Canyon Hall.  This room is open for use Monday-Thursday 9am-3:30pm.  Please email hwsphedteam@health.ucsd.edu for access outside of these hours.

Lounge: The Biomedical Library Graduate Student Lounge provides a location for current UCSD graduate and professional students to study undisturbed 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, excluding campus closures. Please follow the link above for detail and information on using the study room.

Dining: The UCSD Faculty Club is available to graduate students. There is an initiation fee plus monthly dues. All-you-can eat lunches are approximately $13.00. The Club is located west of Geisel Library and provides a nice indoor-outdoor dining experience. For more information online: http://facultyclub.ucsd.edu

Learning Objectives

The goal of this program is to prepare graduates for careers in public health research, practice and teaching. Upon graduation, students with a Ph.D. in Public Health will be able to:

  • Describe the distribution and determinants of health and disease in populations, and the factors that influence these distributions.
  • Describe major national and international health concerns, their established risk factors and other contributing factors for these problems.
  • Identify the ethical issues involved with studies of human populations.
  • Develop a systematic approach for planning, collecting, processing and analyzing information in research and practice settings.
  • Apply appropriate analytic and statistical methods to data generated from a wide variety of public health research.
  • Design and implement independent research addressing a public health problem.
  • Develop and write fundable research proposals and critique those of other investigators.
  • Translate public health research findings into recommendations for specific interventions, health policies, or further investigative research.
  • Communicate scientific findings clearly and concisely, both orally and in writing to other health professionals, as well as to the media and broader community.

Student Conduct and Plagarism


Doctoral Committee Membership Guidelines

Joint Doctoral Committee Membership Table

A Doctoral Committee of five or more members shall be appointed by the Dean of Graduate Studies under the authority of the Graduate Council. At least five of the committee members shall be officers of instruction and no fewer than four shall hold professorial titles (of any rank).

The committee members shall be chosen from at least two departments, and at least two members shall represent academic specialties that differ from the student’s chosen specialty. In all cases, each committee must include one tenured or emeritus UCSD faculty member from outside the student’s major department.

Advancement to Candidacy

1. Identify a Dissertation Topic Area

The first step is to identify a dissertation topic. The usual process is to prepare a brief (one page description of your proposed dissertation project and consult with JDP faculty to refine your ideas.

2. Identify a Chair

You will then approach one JDP faculty member to be the chair of the Dissertation Committee. The Chair of the dissertation committee must be an Epidemiology faculty at SDSU or UCSD, or approved by the JDP Co-Directors. See Appendix B for a list of SDSU and UCSD faculty and their status to chair or serve on your committee.

3. Identify a Dissertation Committee

In consultation with your Dissertation Chair and the Advisory Committee you will then select a minimum of four other faculty members to make up the entire Dissertation Committee. Of the five members two members must be from the SDSU GSPH faculty, two must be from the UCSD DFPM and one member must be from outside either the SDSU GSPH or the UCSD DFPM (or other approved). A minimum of two members including the chair must be from the Epidemiology faculties of either SDSU or UCSD and one member from Biostatistics is highly recommended. After the Dissertation Committee has been nominated and approved by both Universities, you will meet with all committee members to discuss your dissertation topic. When the committee members agree to your topic and general plan, the Dissertation Committee will prepare and administer the written qualifying examination.

Please Note: You must submit your committee composition information as well as the approval from both track directors to the UCSD graduate coordinator before proceeding with your dissertation. Candidates must complete at least three quarters of continuous academic residence prior to the appointment of the doctoral committee, and must be currently registered and enrolled at UCSD. Your committee must be approved before you can sit for your written qualifying examination or begin formal work on your dissertation. Allow 4 – 6 weeks for the formal Graduate Division approval process once has been submitted to the graduate coordinator. If it becomes necessary to make changes to the dissertation committee as nominated (this rarely happens), you must request to reconstitute by following the same instructions as the initial approval process.

4. Complete the Written Qualifying Examination

This written qualifying exam is a comprehensive assessment of core epidemiology and biostatistics knowledge and the ability to apply such knowledge. It is in the format of an R01 or R21 grant proposal on a question that the dissertation committee will set.   You will be given one week to complete this proposal. After the proposal is returned to the Chair, it will be distributed and graded by all committee members. After feedback from the committee members the Chair will grade the examination as either Pass, Fail, or Revise and Resubmit. In the case of a Fail, you will have one additional attempt to pass this exam.

The written proposal must be the original work of the student.  The work may be done to help support future research but should not represent previous proposals by the student, or previous work that the student was a part of.  If there are questions about this requirement, the student should discuss it with the committee chair prior to starting the proposal. The proposal should be distinctly different from the planned dissertation project.

General content guidelines for written qualifying exam/grant proposal:

The proposal should follow current NIH PHS 398 guidelines for the Research Plan including the sections for Specific Aims, Research Strategy, and Bibliography/References.

Other sections including personnel, facility and budget sections are not required.  Preliminary data is not required.

In contrast to current NIH guidelines, the Significance and Innovation sections of the Research Strategy, while important, are not the focal point of the exam.  The Approach section (including design, methods, and analysis) is key.

Students are strongly encouraged to use overall study concept and/or design figures.

A justification is required for the use of measures to address the specific aims. Student is strongly encouraged to use the best possible ‘state of the science’ measures appropriate to address the research question.

A detailed data analysis section is required outlining how each of the specific aims will be addressed.  Include a section on study power (a statistician cannot write this section).

A study timeline diagram and description should be included

Guidelines for Dissertation Committee:

  1. The topic of the written exam should be distinctly different from the dissertation, although it can be on the same disease or risk factor (but not both), or on a topic that the student is already familiar with in terms of background literature.  In fact this is preferred, unless there are few relevant articles to review, i.e. the topic is very narrow.
  2. The committee will come to consensus on whether the exam is be labeled “pass, revise and resubmit, or fail” (new question and resubmit, which counts as the second and final attempt).
  3. Students will meet with the chair and discuss this review prior to developing a point-by-point response.
  4. In cases in which the dissertation committee feels that there were very serious limitations on the proposal, the committee may ask the student to rewrite the full proposal.
  5. The dissertation committee will consider the student’s written response to all reviewer comments  and, if applicable the rewritten proposal, prior to coming to consensus on a pass/fail score.

Research Plan (Only the following sections of the Research Plan are required)

  1. Specific Aims (1 page)
  2. Research Strategy (R01 – 12 Pages, R21 – 6 pages)
  3. Bibliography and References Cited
  4. Protection of Human Subjects

5. Write the Dissertation Proposal

The dissertation proposal is a detailed description of the proposed research project. At the discretion of the Dissertation Committee, you have the option of submitting a traditional dissertation or a dissertation consisting of at least three manuscripts. You should present this choice as part of the oral qualifying exam. If you choose the alternative method, each of the proposed manuscripts should be presented as part of the oral exam. The entire committee must approve any subsequent changes in method or manuscript topics. The proposal is a contract between you and your committee describing the work to be completed. Any changes that occur during the course of the research project must be discussed with, and approved by, the entire Dissertation Committee. The proposal typically includes an abstract, a literature review, a rationale for the proposed study, a detailed methodology section (including study design, data collection procedures, power and sample size calculation, and proposed data analysis plans for the whole project or for each of the manuscripts), and a detailed discussion of the potential strengths and limitations of the research project. Proposals are usually 20 pages in length and may include pilot data (per discretion of the Chair). For an example, contact UCSD’s Graduate Coordinator.

6. Defend the Dissertation Proposal (Oral Qualifying Examination)

Once you have completed the proposal, you can schedule an oral defense of the proposed research. This is your oral qualifying examination. After selecting a date when all of your committee members can be present, you will need to circulate your proposal at least 10 days prior to the oral exam date. At the oral defense, you will present your dissertation proposal and answer questions from committee members. Typically, you will prepare a PowerPoint presentation to highlight key elements of your proposed research. The presentation should not last longer than 30-45 minutes to allow sufficient time for questions. Successful completion of the oral proposal defense will allow you to Advance to Candidacy. If the committee feels that you are not adequately prepared to conduct the proposed project, you will be advised of committee concerns and may be asked to re-defend the proposal at a later time.

You should take the JDP-3 form (Report of the Qualifying Exam and Advancement to Candidacy) to your oral examination. All committee members will sign this form indicating that you have passed this milestone. this form has been completely processed, you will be officially Advanced to Candidacy.


Dissertation Research

After advancing to candidacy, students will register at SDSU for 6 units of Research (PH-897) each semester they are working on their dissertation unless they are enrolling in coursework at SDSU as students should enroll in exactly 6 units each semester after their first year.  When the student plans to defend his/her dissertation, they will then register for 6 units of Dissertation (PH-899) for that semester only.

The Ph.D. dissertation should consist of original research that adds significantly to the existing state of knowledge of health behavioral science. The student is ultimately responsible for the conduct of his/her research project and should consult with committee members as needed. If the project deviates from the written proposal, it is his/her responsibility to get approval from committee members; substantive changes from the research proposal require committee discussion and approval prior to undertaking the work. Details of all substantive changes, the rationale for each, and a clear description of how these changes sustain the methodological rigor of the study must be provided to the Dissertation Committee.The committee may require an oral defense of these changes and/or additional modifications in procedures.

During the time that the student is conducting research, he/she must update the entire committee on dissertation progress at a minimum of every three months until the dissertation defense. This update may be as short as one paragraph and may be general in nature. In addition, the student will meet at least annually with the Chair and a minimum of one other committee member to review progress to date and plans for the upcoming period. The committee will also complete the formal progress review form.

The student is responsible for circulating dissertation drafts to committee members. How drafts are circulated will often vary by committee but the committee should agree on this process before writing begins. (Students may choose to work closely with one or two committee members and then circulate later drafts to the entire committee, or circulate all drafts to each committee member.) Students should recognize that the writing process takes time and should expect that numerous drafts will be circulated prior to defense. When the Chair of the Dissertation Committee feels the student is ready to defend, the student will be notified that he/she can proceed with setting a defense date.

Dissertation Options

The PhD dissertation should consist of original epidemiologic research that adds significantly to the existing state of knowledge.  The project should include original data collection, although the student’s dissertation committee may waive this requirement provided that the student has had significant experience with original data collection through another project.

At the discretion of her/his dissertation committee, students have the option of submitting a traditional dissertation or a dissertation consisting of manuscripts.  The student should present her/his choice of method as part of the oral qualifying exam.  If the student chooses the alternative method, she/he must also present a discussion of each of the proposed manuscripts as part of the oral exam.  Any subsequent changes in method or manuscript topics must be approved by the entire committee.

For both options, the student must conduct a formal defense of the completed dissertation.

Option 1: The traditional dissertation typically includes the following sections or chapters: introduction, literature review, methods, results, and discussion.  Appropriate appendices, i.e. data collection instruments and informed consent forms, should be included.

Option 2: The alternative dissertation includes:  an introduction, 3 or more published or submitted manuscripts, and a discussion.  All manuscripts should relate to the central theme of the dissertation.  Manuscripts must receive approval of the entire committee prior to submission. Student must be first author of at least 3 of the manuscripts.  Published manuscripts can be submitted as reprints.  A separate literature review is optional. Appropriate appendices, i.e. data collection instruments and informed consent forms, should be included.

If a student chooses option 2 they should complete a letter to the Dean, Office of Graduate Studies at UCSD, prior to scheduling their defense, which outlines their proposed papers, and acknowledges co-author’s permission.  An example of this letter can be found in Appendix E.


After advancing to candidacy, students will need to be registered for 3 (UCSD) quarters of academic residency before they can defend their dissertation. The quarter of advancement to candidacy counts as one of the three quarters, and the quarter of the dissertation defense counts as one of the three. The summer quarters do NOT count.

Human Subjects

When working on any research project while in the JDP, all students must ensure human subject concerns have been addressed by having the project approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of both SDSU and UCSD. All research projects are subject to IRB approval, even secondary analysis of data that have already been collected. Research projects that involve primary data collection must have IRB approval prior to any data collection.

Human subjects’ forms and instructions are available online from each university. Clearance from one institution will usually allow for the other institution to accept human subjects’ clearance. However, research that is deemed greater than minimal risk of harm is not covered by this agreement and should be submitted to both IRBs.

For additional information, location and maps to the offices, or to obtain online forms:

For SDSU see https://research.sdsu.edu/research_affairs/human_subjects/smart_irb

For UCSD see http://irb.ucsd.ed and fact sheet for SDSU/UCSD Agreement for JDP/Master’s Degree IRB Review PDF.

Dissertation Defense and Submission


After advancing, students will need to be registered for 3 (UCSD) quarters of academic residency. The quarter of advancement to candidacy counts as one of the three quarters, and the quarter of the dissertation defense counts as one of the three. The summer quarters do NOT count.

A formal defense must be conducted prior to filing the dissertation. You must coordinate a date for the defense with all committee members. A complete draft of the dissertation must be delivered to each committee member no less than 30 days before the defense date. The defense announcement including date, location, and dissertation title must be submitted to the JDP Coordinators on both campuses no less than 14 days prior to the defense date. Please note, at least 3 quarters (UCSD) of residency is required post advancement, if you plan to defend sooner than the three quarter’s, please contact the UCSD Graduate Coordinator so that she can process a general student petition, asking that this requirement be waived.

Bring to the defense the JDP Form 5 “Report of the Final Examination and Filing of the Dissertation” (see appendix) and two copies of the signature page of your dissertation. All members of the committee will sign the JDP Form 5 and both copies of your signature page.

Upon successful completion of the dissertation defense, the dissertation document must be formatted according to the filing rules of the Graduate Division at UCSD.

After your dissertation is written, you need to make an appointment with UCSD Graduate Division, who will check your dissertation to make sure it meets the format specifications as described in the dissertation booklet. Bring a copy of your dissertation on regular inexpensive bond paper in its final form. It is probable that this preliminary check of your dissertation will reveal a few minor formatting problems that you will need to correct.

When the formatting is completed, an electronic copy will be turned into UCSD Graduate Division. They will advise you of any additional steps you may need to complete. Additional electronic copies will be sent to SDSU Graduate Division. Since you will have already had your dissertation accepted by UCSD, SDSU will not need to check it over, but will simply verify that it was accepted by the UCSD Graduate Division.

UCSD: http://www.etdadmin.com
SDSU: http://www.montezumapublishing.com

Hard copies are usually given to each member of your Dissertation Committee, please check with your committee to see what format they prefer (electronic or hard).

In terms of the graduation ceremony, you are encouraged to work with your chair to select in which ceremony you prefer to participate; the SDSU ceremony occurs in May and the UCSD ceremony is held in June. According to the UCSD Graduate Division, you may only participate in the ceremony if the dissertation has been completed and final copy submitted.

Policy on PhD Time Limits

The goal of this policy is to encourage students to complete their Ph.D. in a timely manner. The following time limits have been set for this program:

  1. Pre-Candidacy limit:     4 Years     Maximum registered time in which a student must advance to Ph.D. candidacy.
  2. Tuition waiver limit:       5 years     Maximum time in which a student may have their tuition waived at SDSU without extension request.
  3. Support limit:                6 Years     Maximum registered time during which a doctoral student is eligible for support.
  4. Total time limit:             7 Years     Maximum registered time in which a student must complete all Ph.D. requirements.

In addition, each program has a “normative time”, the period within which students, under normal circumstances, are expected to complete requirements for the Ph.D. The normative time for students entering the program with a Masters degree is 4 years.

Rules for Conducting Doctoral Examinations

The default method for the doctoral and master’s committee to conduct graduate examinations (doctoral qualifying examination and final dissertation/thesis defense) is when the student and all members of the committee are physically present in the same room.

The Graduate Council recognizes, however, that practical exigencies do not always make this possible. Therefore, the Graduate Council will defer to the graduate programs (Department Chair or Program Director) to review requests for exceptions and to make decisions to allow remote participation. The graduate program must ensure that when an exam is approved to be held entirely remote or in a hybrid format (i.e., some members are physically present and some are remote) that the student has agreed to this format.

It is expected that there will be synchronous participation by all committee members in the scheduled exam. If an unavoidable situation arises that affects a committee member’s ability to participate synchronously, the committee chair (or co-chairs) may decide how to proceed. There must be sufficient expertise among present members to examine the student. If a committee member must be absent for the scheduled exam, it is permissible for one absent committee member to examine the candidate on a separate date. The committee chair, or one co-chair, must participate synchronously in the scheduled exam.

Policy on Leave of Absence (LOA) and Withdrawal

Up to two semesters (SDSU) and three quarters (UCSD) of time spent on leave from the program will not count towards the normative time limits. Additionally, any unexpired time limits will get move forward equivalent to the number of semester(s)/quarters(s) taken off.  Time spent on an approved leave of absence (LOA) in excess of two semesters (SDSU) and three quarters (UCSD) will count toward the normative and support time limits.


Students must request a leave of absence for each semester they wish to be absent. First, an informal meeting of the Chair of the Advisory/Dissertation Committee should take place to discuss options available. To request a LOA, please get written approval from both JDP track directors (E-mail is preferred) and copy the SDSU coordinator. Once approved, the coordinator will forward this request to the appropriate personnel in the Graduate Affairs office. A LOA cannot be granted if the student has a registration hold or are still enrolled in classes. If the student is requesting a LOA in the middle of the semester, the student will need to withdraw from the classes prior to going on a LOA.


To request a leave of absence from UCSD, please contact the UCSD Graduate Coordinator, who will provide and process the form. At the time of the request, you will need to indicate if you are registered or not registered for classes.  When the form is processed and approved by the Graduate Division and the Registrars Office, they will remove you from classes if needed.  Do not remove yourself from classes. This process is different from what is required by SDSU, please make sure to read the above instructions carefully.

Form must be filed no later than the end of the second week of instruction of the quarter in which the leave is to begin.

Students are not permitted to continue in doctoral status if they have not advanced to candidacy before the expiration of the pre-candidacy time limit (four years), or if they have not completed the program before the expiration of the total time limit (seven years). Students will not be permitted to receive SDSU- or UCSD-administered financial support after the expiration of the support limits (6 years).

If a student withdraws and subsequently returns with a completed dissertation, the student may petition the department for readmission. To be eligible for readmission, the student must have been in good academic standing at the time he/she left the program and must satisfy departmental requirements for readmission. Upon leaving the program, the department may provide a letter specifying the conditions under which the student can be readmitted.

Ph.D. candidacy lapses when a student withdraws from the Ph.D. program. If a previously-advanced student withdraws and is later readmitted, the doctoral committee members are asked if they will continue serving on the doctoral committee; if they will not, the doctoral committee must be reconstituted. Students will be re-advanced to candidacy upon the recommendation of the doctoral committee (who may require the student to retake the oral qualifying examination) and upon payment of the candidacy fee, after which the student can defend his/her dissertation.

Further Details from UCSD Graduate Division on Leave of Absence and Withdrawals

Procedures: Extension of a Leave

To extend an approved leave of absence, a student must notify the major department or group graduate coordinator at least two weeks prior to the end of the quarter in which the leave terminates.  An extension requires approval of the department. The International Center must approve a Leave of Absence for all international students.

Procedures: Returning from a Leave

When planning on returning from a Leave of Absence, a student must notify the graduate coordinator of the quarter in which s/he intends to register. The coordinator notifies Graduate Divison who then reinstates the student. The student cannot register until this is done. Notification of return from a leave can only be given to Graduate Divison by the department.

Employment While Conducting Research

The doctoral candidate is a full time student prior to the successful defense of the student’s dissertation. Normally, employment up to 50% time is permitted for graduate students. It is expected that the remainder of their time is devoted to their studies or research. Therefore, the student should not secure full-time employment until the student’s dissertation is successfully defended. The doctoral candidate should consult his/her Dissertation Chair to determine the optimal time to start applying to jobs and postdoctoral opportunities.

Graduation Deadlines

There are three deadlines to take into consideration when preparing for graduation.

  1. Applying for graduation from SDSU Graduate Affairs Division. For fall graduation the deadline is mid- September; for spring it is mid-February.
  2. Submitting the dissertation to SDSU Graduate Affairs Division, This must be done by the last day of the relevant semester.
  3. Submitting the dissertation to the UCSD Graduate Division. This date is always one day before the last day of the quarter in which the students intends to graduate.

Please Note: Students should choose the earlier of the two deadlines in every case to qualify on both campuses.