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Graduate Student Orientation 2021

Welcome to UC San Diego Chemistry & Biochemistry! We look forward to working with you. Below you will find a link to download the orientation schedules, a map to help you navigate through the orientation process, and other useful information. Orientation activities will occur in September. There will be a lot of important information coming your way, so please check your emails, be sure to attend all scheduled activities and be on time! We want you to be well-prepared for embarking on your graduate school career with us!

IMPORTANT: The public health emergency associated with the COVID-19 pandemic may impact our plans for Orientation and Fall Quarter, but events are currently scheduled to be hosted in-person at UC San Diego. We will keep you posted should there be any changes.

Orientation Schedule

PhD Schedule (updated 8/27/21)

MS Tentative Schedule (updated 9/11/21)

INTERNATIONAL PHD STUDENTS ONLY: All Fall 2021 incoming International Admits will be required to attend a Summer English Bridge Program starting on 8/23/21. However, we recognize that some students may face challenges with acquiring their visa in time, and we ask that you keep us posted as we will work with each of you on your individual circumstances.


Below you will find a map with information to parking (on and off campus) and locations to all the different meetings and events. View Chemistry & Biochemistry Graduate Orientation in a larger map.


Map Legend

Things to know

Congratulations once again on your admission to our program! We're delighted that you have decided to join us at UCSD! When you accepted your offer officially online, you should have been directed to return to your Application Status page at and complete all of the necessary steps to prepare for your arrival at UC San Diego. The “Submit Pending Documentation and Information“ section will identify the documents and information you will need to submit to Graduate Admissions. It should have a list of things you'll need to complete (i.e. setting up your email, set up Personal Access Code, TB requirements, and Statement of Legal Residence Form).

Below, you will find additional information to help with your transition into our Graduate Program and moving to beautiful San Diego!

Placement Examinations

The purpose of the Placement Examinations is to assist with academic advising and to assure that students have the breadth and level of competence needed for graduate studies in the chemical and biochemical sciences. There will be two required examinations for incoming PhD students: one General Exam and one in the student’s area of research specialization (In-track exam). These examinations cover undergraduate course material—the In-track Exam will focus on your area of research and the General Exam will encompass topics from all of the different Chemistry & Biochemistry tracks: biochemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, and analytical/instrumental analysis. To meet the Placement Examination requirement, by the end of Spring quarter of your first year, you must show proficiency at the upper-division level on the topics covered in the General Exam and the In-track exam. You must prove proficiency by passing the two Placement Exams or by passing prescribed coursework with a grade of B or higher if you do not pass the examinations.

Incoming students are e-mailed information about what materials to review and the best strategies for studying for these tests during the summer. Students are required to take both examinations, which are given at the beginning of the Orientation period. If a student does not pass the General Exam the first time, they will be able to self-study and re-take a different version of the General Exam. If a student does not pass the General Re-Exam and/or the In-track Exam, they must pass the coursework prescribed by their First-Year Advisor. The First-Year Advisors review the examination results and develop a prescribed course plan for each student who would benefit from additional training in one or more of the five areas. Students must pass their prescribed course(s) with grades of B or higher. It may take more than one quarter to become proficient in an area, depending on a student's educational background.

Email Accounts

Please understand that this is one of the primary means of communication with our 300+ graduate students. You must take responsibility for reading your email on a daily basis. During your tenure in the program, we will use your email account to send all official correspondence on important deadlines and requirements, etc. 

For more information on how to use or setup your email, please visit ACMS Email Resources.

Graduate Housing

Student Single Sign-On (SSO) Account

  • All students will have a Student SSO account, which uses your PID as the User ID and the Password will be your PAC (Personal Access Code). You should have been emailed with Instructions to create your Personal Access Code.
  • All students will also have a UCSD email account. (This login information is referred to as your Active Directory or AD credentials.)
  • For more assistance with your Student Accounts, start at the Activate and Access your New Student Account webpage.  

Campus ID Card

  • Submit your photo online by August 1st to avoid having to wait in line to get your campus ID card when you arrive on campus. You can access the tool here. You will need to sign in with your student PID and password. Once submitted, you will receive an email stating whether it has been approved or not approved. If you submit your photo online, we will have your campus ID card conveniently available for pick-up during our welcome session. 
  • Students must get a Campus Student ID card. Your Campus ID card will allow you to use various campus facilities and resources including the library, gym, and public transportation stystem.
  • Please contact us if you need a Campus Student ID card before the quarter begins. We will need to provide you with a formal letter indicating your start date.

Lab Safety Training

Students will need to take the following online lab safety trainings from the UC Learning Center *before* working in a lab:

  • UC Laboratory Safety Fundamentals
  • Annual Laboratory Hazards training

For those who will participate in an early summer lab rotation:

Registering for Classes

You can find more information on how to register for classes by visiting Please refer to the department PhD, JDP, and MS schedules to see when you should sign up for classes.

Address, Phone, or Email Changes: TWO Places

Parking & Bus Passes

Once you have your Campus ID Card (see above), you may get a bus pass and/or a campus parking permit from the Parking Office

New Hire Employment Paperwork


Incoming PhD Students

You will be contacted over the summer with detailed instructions to complete employment paperwork. If you have not recieved an email by August 6th or have questions about the process, please contact Asmaa or The onboarding process requires you to complete the following steps:

  1. Complete the "FA21 PhD Admit - Employment Paperwork" DocuSign packet, comprised of the following forms:
    1. Personal Data Form
    2. Oath/Patent Form
    3. Financial Support Agreement
    4. Emergency Contact Form
    5. UAW Membership Election Form (MEF)
    6. UAW MEF Acknowledgement Form
  1. Complete Section 1 of your I-9: You will receive an email request through the I-9 tracker.
  2. Schedule a Zoom meeting w/Asmaa by listing your availability in the DoodlePoll hereEmployment Paperwork meetings will be completed remotely via Zoom. You will recieve an email confirmation afterwards with your specific meeting time, date, and zoom link. Contact us if you are not available during any of the listed times, and we can find an alternate time.
  3. Email copies of your identification documents you plan to present during the zoom meeting. We will need to see the original forms of identification during your employment paperwork meeting as follows: 

U.S. Citizens

International Students

You may use any combination of identification documents listed on page three here. Examples of typical documents include:
  • Passport
  • Driver License AND Social Security Card
  • Driver License AND Birth Certificate
Please provide copies of the following:
  • Passport
  • I-94 Card
  • I-20 Form
  • Social Security Card: if you need to apply for a Social Security Card, we will provide you with instructions at your initial meeting.


Incoming MS Students

  • You will only need to complete Employment Paperwork if you are assigned to TA in Fall Quarter. This will be provided at the Orientation Welcome Session.

ALL Incoming Grads - Fill out emergency contact information!

  • Make sure the Student Affairs Office has your up-to-date emergency contact info by filling out the form here.
  • Also, sign-up for the campus emergency notifications here.

Paychecks (PHD students only)

  • The PhD funding level for 2021-22 is $34,000 annually (or $2,833.33/month gross). You will receive your first full paycheck (a combination of your TA salary and a supplemental stipend) on November 1 for your work in October.
  • For your early arrival in September for Orientation, you will additionally receive a $1,200 stipend as well as a $500 relocation stipend. This stipend check will be issued on October 1.

Fall 2021 TA Application

  • The Fall 2021 TA application is now open! All incoming PHD students must submit a TA application. MS students are welcome to apply as well. All incoming students will be notified via email once the application is available.

UCSD Library Resources

Click here to learn more about UCSD campus library resources and services, including how to set up remote access.

Social Media

For questions, please contact the Student Affairs Office!