Graduate Student Orientation 2018

Welcome to UC San Diego Chemistry & Biochemistry! We look forward to working with you. Below you will find a link to download the tentative 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!

Orientation Schedule

PHD Tentative Schedule

MS Schedule - coming soon!

JDP Schedule - coming soon!

INTERNATIONAL PHD STUDENTS ONLY: All Fall 2018 incoming International Admits will be required to attend a Summer English Bridge Program starting in August. This will consist of a 2 week long intensive language training led by the Center for Engaged Teaching. You will receive more details soon.


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.

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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

All incoming PhD students are required to take the Placement Exams to show proficiency at the upper-division level in at least three of the five general areas of chemical sciences. Four of the general areas on which you will be assessed are biochemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, and physical chemistry. The fifth area depends on your track: students in the Analytical and Atmospheric Chemistry Track must show proficiency on instrumental analysis, while students in all other Tracks will be assessed on their knowledge of analytical chemistry. You must pass at least three exams (one of which must include your area of research specialization/track). If you do not pass at least three ACS exams, you must receive a grad of "B" or higher in prescribed upper-division coursework.

The ACS exams have 50-70 multiple-choice questions, and you have up to 100-120 minutes (depending on the exam) to take each test. Exam booklets contain a periodic table, if needed. You may bring a basic scientific (non-programmable) calculator to all exams, except the physical chemistry exam where a calculator is not permitted. Scratch paper will be provided. The best strategy for passing is to review topics that you have already learned, and not to learn new topics. The following textbooks may help you prepare for the exams:

  • Biochemistry by Stryer, or by Voet & Voet
  • Inorganic Chemistry by Miessler & Tarr, or by Douglas, McDaniel, & Alexander
  • Organic Chemistry by Solomons & Fryhle, or by Vollhardt & Schore
  • Physical Chemistry by Levine, or by Engel & Reid
  • Principles of Instrumental Analysis by Skoog, Holler, & Couch (only studnets in the Analytical and Atmospheric Chemistry Track will take this exam)
  • Fundamentals of Analytical Chemistry by Skoog, West, & Holler (Students not in Analytical and Atmospheric track will take this exam)

General chemistry textbooks, such as "Chemical Principles" by Atkins & Jones also provide supplementary review.

The Placement Exams are administered during Orientation in September. You are required to take all five exams. A few days after the exams, you will meet with your first-year advisor to learn the results of your exams and to choose courses for Fall quarter.

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

  • If you applied for Graduate Housing, be sure to check your email every day to see if you have received an offer. You have to respond to your offer within 24-hours before Housing moves to the next person on the waitlist.
  • In our conversations with Housing, here are some tips to help an application move faster on the waitlist:
    • The student has children
    • The student can start paying rent earlier (also known as the move-in date)
    • The student signed up on the waitlist as early as possible
    • The applicant has less parameters on their application (like only wanting one residential community)
  • You can find more information on their webpage, Associated Residential Community Housing (ARCH)
  • If you are interested, you can look into UCSD Off Campus Housing
  • Market Comparison Report

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 here:

Campus ID Card

  • More information to come to submit your photo online! If you submit your photo online, your student ID card will be available for pick-up when you arrive on campus.
  • 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

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.

Incoming PhD Students - U.S. Citizens Only:

Incoming PhD Students - International Students Only:

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.

Fall 2018 TA Application

  • The Fall 2018 TA application will open soon! All incoming PHD students must submit a TA application. MS students are welcome to apply as well.

UCSD Library Resources

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

Graduate Student Lounge: York Hall, Room 4030

  • Access to a computer, refrigerator, microwave, and couch.
  • Grads are responsible for keeping the lounge clean and picked-up.
  • Report any problems with the room to Student Affairs Office, 858-534-9728

Social Media

For questions, please contact the Student Affairs Office!