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Procedures for Implementation of Policy on Doctoral Time Limits

Changing Departments

When a student changes departments, the student's new department along with the General Petition must submit a recommendation for time limits. Petitions to change degree objective within the same department do not require a recommendation since the time limits are based on the student's initial entry into graduate study in the department.

The recommendation must consider the following:

  • The extent to which the graduate study in the previous field could be used in partial satisfaction of the new doctoral program's requirements or assist the student in advancing in the new program at a faster than normal rate.

  • The total years the student would be eligible for support and fairness to other students, given constrained support resources.

  • The total length of time the student would be registered at UCSD and the University's desire not to encourage perpetual students, given the limits imposed by the State on graduate enrollments.

When reviewing recommendations, the Graduate Division will consider the above and the following two rules:

  • The maximum registered time in the new department will not exceed the time available for students in the program who have not changed departments.

  • At least half of the time spent on support in the previous department will count toward the support limit in the new department.


Students re-entering a program must be informed of the policy on doctoral time limits. This is particularly important with regard to normative time and the support limit because time toward both limits beyond the three quarters continues to accrue during periods of withdrawal.


Graduate Council will consider requests for exception to the Doctoral Time Limits policy only if the request is supported by the student's research advisor and the department graduate advisor and chair, and if a current annual evaluation is on file with the Graduate Division. A departmental analysis of the circumstances needs to be included in the request and a request for support time extension may not take away support from other students.

Exceptions are not granted to normative time provisions.

Requests for exceptions must be received by the Dean no later than 10 days before the next Graduate Council meeting. The schedule of Graduate Council meetings will be sent to departments at the beginning of each quarter.

Withdrawn Student Returning Only to Complete/Defend and Submit Dissertation

If a student returns with a completed dissertation acceptable to the department chair and dissertation advisor within the specified time, the following shall occur:

  • Members of the previous committee will be asked by the student or department if they are willing to continue to serve. If they are not, the committee will be reconstituted.

  • The student will be readmitted via a General Petition.

  • The student will be re-advanced to candidacy upon the recommendation of the doctoral committee and approval of the department chair. The doctoral committee may decide on a "paper" advancement without retaking the qualifying examination or require that the student retake the qualifying examination if the time away from the program has been lengthy, the dissertation field has changed substantially, or if other conditions specified by the doctoral committee occur.

  • The student defends and submits dissertation.

The student will pay the following fees, which are subject to change:

  • Readmission Fee, $105.

  • Re-Advancement Fee, $50, only applies to doctoral candidates whose original advancement was more than five years ago.

  • Filing fee, in lieu of registration, $188.

All paperwork for this process is to be submitted to the Graduate Division at the student's final appointment for submission of the dissertation or thesis.

Students are advised to discuss and coordinate the above with their graduate coordinator well in advance of the final appointment.