II. The Graduate Community

The Graduate Council

As authorized by Bylaw 330 of the University of California Academic Senate and Bylaw 13.21 of the Santa Cruz Division, the Graduate Council, a standing faculty committee of the Santa Cruz Academic Senate, coordinates graduate study on the Santa Cruz campus. The Graduate Council is composed of a faculty chair, nine additional voting faculty members, the dean of the Division of Graduate Studies who serves as an ex officio member, a library representative, three representatives from the Graduate Student Association (GSA), and one representative from the Postdoctoral Scholars Association. The Council reviews all proposals for new degrees and programs, participates in facilitating external program reviews, and sets policies and standards for graduate student admissions. The Council establishes policy for the administration of graduate programs, approves changes in degree requirements (through annual review of catalog copy and website contents), oversees the satisfaction of University requirements for candidates seeking advanced degrees, sets policies concerning graduate student support, and reviews applications for several graduate fellowship programs. The Council further establishes policies regarding satisfactory academic progress, graduate student course loads, part-time study, and leaves of absence. The Graduate Council is also responsible for approving proposed graduate courses. The Council may establish general policies, consistent with the regulations of the Senate, with respect to units of academic credit and grading options. The individual departments direct their programs on the basis of the policies established by the Graduate Council.

The Graduate Division

The Graduate Division is the administrative arm of the Graduate Council and is led by the Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies. The Graduate Division oversees Admissions and Recruitment; Data and Information Systems; Diversity and Inclusive Excellence; Professional Development and Student Life; and Student Success and Support Services.

There are several important teams and leaders within the Graduate Division who work to achieve critical goals in graduate education. Our Admissions team coordinates the application and admissions process, and ensures that all policies and procedures governing admissions are followed by applicants and programs. Data and Information Systems provide data and statistics on the graduate student population, and manage the technology support functions for the Graduate Division. The Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion facilitates the recruitment of highly qualified and diverse student applicants, and provides support services, events, and programs for the advancement of minoritized graduate students. The Directors of Professional Development and Graduate Student Life coordinate quarterly programming that addresses all aspects of graduate student life, such as professional development, grant writing, mental health and well-being, social/financial/writing support, and peer mentoring. The Student Services team monitors and encourages the successful progress toward degree completion, enforces academic standards, responds to student problems, processes student petitions, administers fellowship programs, inputs financial support, and certifies student eligibility for graduate student academic appointments. The Director of Student Services is also charged with developing student success interventions in collaboration with campus partners.

The Graduate Division also provides support and programming for postdoctoral scholarshelping with professional development, career advancement and success.

The Faculty Graduate Representative

Each Graduate Department or Program has a Faculty Graduate Representative, a faculty member who acts on behalf of the department in all matters of graduate education. The Faculty Graduate Representative counsels enrolled students, leads recruitment and admission selection efforts, and guides decision-making concerning fellowship nominations and allocations for academic appointments.

Faculty Graduate Representatives provide an important nexus between the Graduate Division and students, working in collaboration with a Staff Graduate Representative (described below). They ensure that departmental norms, expectations, and requirements are clearly communicated to students, foster efforts to provide a supportive and enriching climate for students in the department, and encourage student involvement in departmental matters as appropriate, including service on committees open to graduate student representation. Departments are encouraged to use meetings, departmental handbooks, and e-mail as effective means of communication with graduate students.

Faculty Graduate Representatives should lead department initiatives directed toward the professional preparation of students, including offering classes that promote effective teaching. All departments should ensure that their students are well prepared to assume the responsibilities associated with teaching undergraduates. This preparation can be achieved through courses and/or workshops that train graduate students how to teach and assist undergraduates in the discipline, and through written materials to communicate the department’s expectations and objectives to TAs in training.

The Faculty Graduate Representative encourages continuous and full-time enrollment by students; advises on advancement to candidacy; and evaluates petitions to change majors, add or drop courses, waive or substitute requirements, take leaves of absence, etc. The Graduate Dean depends on the Faculty Graduate Representative’s experience and recommendations when making decisions about student matters. An advising system in which faculty sit down with students, examine transcripts, discuss research interests, and suggest coursework is most effective. When the Faculty Graduate Representative signs any form, the Graduate Dean assume that the recommended action has been carefully reviewed and, in the Faculty Graduate Representative’s judgment, represents the best interests of UCSC, the program, and the student.

Departments rely heavily on the Staff Graduate Representative(s) for information, but ultimately faculty must be responsible for academic advising. Graduate students depend upon the Faculty Graduate Representative for advice and cannot act without the official signature on a number of forms. Departments are strongly encouraged to clearly identify the Faculty Graduate Representative on their department homepage. It is essential that the Faculty Graduate Representative keep regular office hours and be available for consultation during the quarter, particularly near key academic deadlines.

The Staff Graduate Representative 

Every graduate program should have a staff member who works in the capacity as the Staff Graduate Representative. This person is responsible for administrative advising of graduate students. This person works with the Faculty Graduate Representative, within the academic department, to ensure students are receiving clear and timely advising on administrative processes, reminds students about registration and fellowship deadlines, manages requisite administrative records on behalf of the department and its graduate students, and stays abreast of requirements from the Graduate Division and the University. The Graduate Division relies on the Staff Graduate Representative(s) to disseminate vital information to graduate students concerning policy changes, fellowship and grant opportunities, and workshops and events.

The Graduate Student Association

All UCSC graduate students are members of the Graduate Student Association (GSA). Quarterly fees include a $14.50 College Student Govt. Fee, which in the case of graduate students, supports the GSA. The GSA is recognized by both the UC Systemwide and local campus administrations as the voice of the Santa Cruz graduate student community. The GSA serves the collective interests of the graduate students by promoting cooperation among the students of the various departments at UCSC; by representing their concerns to the UCSC faculty, administration, and staff; and by providing services to the graduate student body which are more effectively addressed as a group. In addition, the GSA holds social events during the academic year and makes available small travel grants for graduate students attending conferences at which they will be presenting a paper, or traveling for thesis-related research. Questions about the Graduate Dean's Research Travel Grant program can be addressed to gss-group@ucsc.edu.

The GSA Council consists of one voting member from each graduate department or program. The Representatives are elected by the graduate students in some departments, and are volunteers in others. The Representatives represent the views of their departments to the council and advise the Executive Council on campus issues. The Executive Council recommends graduate students for appointments to University committees and speaks to the administration on graduate student issues. Each year the Council elects a President, an External and an Internal Vice-President, a Secretary, and a Treasurer.

The GSA is a member of the University of California Student Association (UCSA). The UCSA is a coalition of students and student governments that aims to provide a collective voice for all students through advocacy and direct action. Each government sends one voting member to serve on the UCSA Board of Directors, which then serves as the student voice to the UC Office of the President and the UC Regents. Graduate students may attend GSA Council meetings, either as the official Departmental Representative or as an interested party. For more information on open positions and GSA meeting times, please visit the GSA website or email us at gsainfo@ucsc.edu.

The Graduate Student Commons

The Graduate Student Commons (GSC) was completed in 2001 and is located at the Quarry Plaza, across from the UCSC Bookstore. The goal for this facility is to provide a comfortable and welcoming space that will attract a wide spectrum of graduate students and foster graduate student interaction and a sense of community. The GSC offers a variety of spaces, including small study rooms, computer terminals, and a lounge for social interaction. The aim is to make it a resource for graduate students to stop between classes where they may check email, hold office hours, attend or hold a meeting, or join a homework study group, for example.  The Graduate Student Commons is a dedicated space for graduate students and all graduate students can obtain 24 hour access to the space.

The GSC is run by two entities, the Director of Graduate Student Life and the GSC Governance Board (GSCGB). The Director of Graduate Student Life is responsible for the day-to-day management of the GSC, while the GSCGB enacts usage policies of the GSC. The GSCGB is composed primarily of 19 graduate students –President, Vice President, Treasurer and Program Coordinator, and 15 regular voting members. GSC Governing Board meetings are held once a month.  GSC Governing Board members must attend two out of the three quarterly meetings, serve on a subcommittee (Programming, Outreach or Finance), support committee initiatives, and be present and volunteer at three events per quarter.  Voting members may earn a quarterly stipend for their involvement.  If you are interested in serving on the GSCGB, please contact the Graduate Commons on our contact page.

The Graduate Student Commons (GSC) hosts a variety of student life well-being programming including personal and professional development, social, health, wellness, spiritual, and financial events that are designed to help graduate students succeed at UC Santa Cruz, and in the world beyond. The GSC designs these workshops as seminars, panel discussions, community work sessions, social events and adventure outings that are offered throughout the academic year. The GSC believes all programming is important to the development and retention of well-rounded and healthy graduate students. All GSC events are open to all currently enrolled graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. 

The Graduate Student Commons established the Graduate Student Peer Mentorship Program in AY 2022-23.  The Graduate Student Peer Mentor Program aims to create a safe space for all incoming graduate students, as well as returning graduate students, who need space to connect with experienced graduate peers.