Newly Admitted Graduate Students Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs for Newly Admitted Graduate Students

One great source of information is our NEW GRADUATE STUDENT OREINTATION PAGE. 


Additional Frequently Asked Questions are below:

General Questions

  • When do I need to submit my SIR by?
  • We ask you SIR as soon as possible (whether you are attending UC Davis or not) so that we can plan accordingly and you can complete all the steps to start here in the fall in a timely manner, and receive all the important emails throughout the summer. 
    Please submit your SIR by June 1.  If you SIR yes after July 1, please contact Lauren Worrell (  The campus deadline to SIR is August 1. 
    To submit your SIR: Please click on the link in the email you received from the Office of Graduate Studies informing you about your formal admission offer.  If you lost this email, or if the link takes you to an error page, please contact Lauren Worrell and she will request the system re-send the email to you. 
  • I’ve submitted my SIR – now what?
  • First you will want to complete all the steps in your checklist (you will see this after submitting your SIR). In early July, the program will send out (via email) the updated New Student Information Packet. This packet contains important information such as: orientations, dates and deadlines, tips on enrolling in classes, funding, and TA and reader appointments. Please be patient to wait for this packet to come out.

  • Is there an option to defer my admission?
  • If you are interested in deferring your admission, please submit your SIR as a "yes" (by Aug. 1, 2023), but DO NOT enroll in fall courses yet (if you enroll, you can no longer defer). Requests can be submitted until September 1, 2023 by emailing the Graduate Program Coordinator with the following information (Please copy and paste the "email body" section into the email and answer all the questions):

    Email Subject:
    Deferral Request: [your name]
    Email Body:
    - Your full name:

    - Your SID (found on your admission letter):
    - Requested deferment term (example: Fall 2024):
    - The name of your major professor if you have already been in contact with a faculty member (Note: some MS students may or may not have a major professor yet): 
    - A short statement as to the reason for your deferral request:
    - Have you submitted your SIR "yes" (yes/no):
    - Have you enrolled in any fall classes (yes/no):

    NOTES: Deferral requests can be for one, two or up to three quarters (one full year maximum). Our department generally only approves one deferral request, so please be sure of the term you would like to attend prior to making the request. You will not need to submit a new application. Approval of deferred admission does not automatically approve a deferral of any financial offer you might have received. If you want to request a deferral after September 1, but before the first day of the fall quarter, please email the Graduate Program Coordinator to as for a departmental exception. 

    Deferral Requests will be automatically denied if:
    - If the request is made after UC Davis instruction starts
    - If you have enrolled in classes
    - If you submit your Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) as a "no"
    - If you were admitted to the MS program, and you plan to attend a MS program elsewhere during the deferral period

  • Is there an Orientation?
  • Yes!  There are actually several orientations, some of which are mandatory, and some optional.

    1. The Civil and Environmental Engineering Department Orientation: This is a mandatory orientation, and a day-long event, held the day before the first day of instruction.  In 2023, it will be on Tuesday, September 26, 2023.
    2. Teaching Assistant Orientation All students who will be hired as Teaching Assistants (TAs) in the coming academic year will be required to attend the Campus TA Orientation in Fall. All students are highly encouraged to attend the TA orientation now in case they become a TA later in the year (it is only offered once a year). TA orientation is likely to be Sept. 25, 2023. 
    3. Services for International Students and Scholars (SISS), International Graduate Student Orientation (IGSO): Mandatory orientation program for incoming international graduate students studying at UC Davis on an F-1 or J-1 visa
    4. AGGIE 201: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all graduate students at UC Davis. 
    5. Holistic U: Optional to engage students committed to diversity by focusing on a holistic approach to, one’s graduate experience for themselves (You), one’s communities (Us) and the University environment applied to equity, inclusion and diversity.
  • Are there funding opportunities?
  • Be sure to check out the funding section of the New Graduate Student Information page!

    Also be sure to check out the CEE Student Funding Page – we are always building out resources here, so check back often!

    We also have a page for Teaching Assistants and Readers in CEE.

    Look for information about the sessions available regarding funding during the campus Graduate Student Orientation. Also be sure to look through the information on the graduate studies website – they have especially good resources related to external funding

Courses, Major Professors, and General Academics

  • What courses should I take?
  • 1.  Read through the core courses/courses required for your degree.
    2. Review the courses offered by the department and course matrix showing the planned quarter they will be taught in. 
    - Course selection should be made in consultation with your major professor. The courses you select will depend on your desired time to graduation and the number of units required by your degree track. Additionally, check the course matrix- courses are typically offered once a year or every other year, consider how you will reach the unit requirement (especially the core courses) in your target timeline.
    - Courses taught by other departments can be found in the UC Davis course catalog (along with the descriptions and prerequisites from Civil Engineering courses).

  • What about course prerequisites? (I went to a different school, I never took that pre-req, etc.)
  • The listed prerequisites are designed to help a student be successful in the course. Often, students with degrees from other Universities have taken course similar to the listed prerequisite course and likely have the background to be successful in the course. However, all students missing the listed prerequisite should discuss their specific situation with the course instructor of record to verify that they are well positioned for success. 

  • I don't have an engineering degree, do I need to take extra courses? 
  • CEE students come from a variety of educational backgrounds. For students without an engineering degree there are additional preparatory course required during the first academic year. These are listed in the CEE Degree Requirements.
  • How do I register for undergraduate courses?
  • Occasionally, CEE graduate students choose to take an undergraduate course (e.g. to meet prerequisite requirements). Sometimes students will be able to directly enroll in these courses, or enroll after completing the online Prerequisite Petition on Schedule Builder. Often, the students will need to request an PTA (Permission To Add) number from the instructor of record for the course. Once a PTA is acquired, registration is completed through the Schedule Builder Tool by entering the number using the “Add with PTA” option.  Please reach out to the Graduate Program Coordinator for more information about obtaining a PTA.

  • How do I register for courses?
  • All course registration takes place through the Schedule Builder System. While the system is fairly intuitive, guidance of how to register can be found at the grad studies website as well as the university registrar’s website. Graduate students are not assigned a pass one/pass two appointment time, and can register at any time (except during the campus registration freeze, right before the start of classes).

    Pay attention to the registration deadlines and please note that there are extra steps (and sometimes additional fees) for late course registrations: Late Actions | UCD Registrar

  • Which degree tracks can I choose from (MS)? 
  • In the MS program, there are 2 plans, Plan I: Thesis or Plan II: Project/Exam.

    The two tracks have different coursework requirements and evaluation requirements. Additionally, the different research groups require different core courses. The time to completion can also depend on the track chosen. These differences are outlined in the CEE Degree Requirements (Note: written exams are not offered by all research groups).

    All MS students are admitted to the Plan II: Project/Exam option.  To pursue a MS Plan I: Thesis, you will need to find a major professor willing to mentor you for the thesis. 

    It is important to discuss your chosen track with your Major Advisor or the area advisor for your research group. Your faculty advisor can provide insights into how the different tracks can fit in with your area of studies and your academic goals. (You can find Area Advisors listed here: Current Students | UCD CEE).

  • I heard there is an MS plan I (thesis) and MS plan II (project/exam); what is the difference?
  • Please review the Guidance Manual for Graduate Students and their Advisors, specifically around pages 11-14, found on our Current Students, Degree Requirements website.
  • I was admitted to the MS program - who is my faculty advisor?
  • The initial faculty advisor for our MS students is the Area Advisor based on the research area you applied to and were admitted to.  The Area Advisors are listed here.  If you pursue the MS Plan II with the capstone course or exam, this faculty member will serve as your faculty advisor for the duration of program.  Once you start the program here, you can talk to a faculty member about doing an individual MS plan II project or MS plan I thesis with them, at which point you would change your faculty advisor based on mutual agreement. More information about the MS options can be found on pages 11-14 of the Guidance Manual, found on this page

Housing & Transport Around Davis

  • Should I start looking for housing soon?
  • Yes! Look for housing as soon as you can! Here are some websites to help you get started: 

    -  You can start with some of the UC Davis official information and UC Davis affiliated apartments here.
    -  I would also highly recommend you check out our Davis wiki about rental housing and about apartments. Note, some students have reported this information is slightly out of date. 
    -  If you want to rent a room in a house with other housemates, this is a good listing.
    -  There is also a Facebook group just for UC Davis housing you can join… you might need to have your email set up for this group.  I’ve heard from our current students that several of them used this group to find housing.
    -  Most leases will be for the academic year, and I always recommend looking early in Davis, as places will fill up throughout the summer. 

  • Where can I find housing options?
  • We hope you all saw the resources sent to you from the Office of Graduate Studies through their Incoming Graduate Student Digest (such as the housing facebook group). If you are still looking, here are some other resources. Most leases in Davis will be for the full academic year, so be sure to do your research before signing a lease.
    Student Housing Office (Official UC Davis information)
    Community Housing Listing, operated by Associated Students of UCD. This site is especially helpful if you are interested in renting a room in a larger house.
    • Graduate Studies student facebook page: This page is managed by Graduate Studies, and invites all incoming students to join. Students frequently post housing info, roommate opportunities, and upcoming vacancies
    • Housing Facebook Group: This page is managed by students, and can be tricky to join. See instructions here.
    Davis Enterprise annual Housing Day insert: Features individual listings and contact information for local rental management companies.
    The California Aggie: The campus student-run newspaper often carries classifieds and ads for housing. (not affiliated with UC Davis). Some apartments, and room leases will be listed here. (not affiliated with UC Davis). Like craigslist, has individual postings. (not affiliated with UC Davis). Includes reviews of apartments near Davis.
    • Note: Always be cautious of scams or misleading information when searching for housing online.

  • Where should I live?
  • Students live all over Davis, both on campus and off. Most people use bicycles to get around Davis, get to campus, and run errands. It may be useful to look at the distance of prospective housing from Campus and from other necessities, such as grocery stores, and consider your desired mode of transportation.

    Some students also live outside of Davis such as in Woodland or Sacramento (often near the medical campus and the Sacramento-Davis Bus Service - Causeway Connection Electric Bus Service – Sacramento Regional Transit District ( It is possible to drive to campus, however; commuter routes between the cities are usually congested during peak times and the cost of a parking permit should be considered (Parking Permits | Transportation Services (

  • How do I get around Davis? To other Cities?
  • Biking  - is a dominant mode of transportation. Davis and the UC Davis campus is a very bike-friendly area with lots of bike-friendly infrastructure. Please wear your helmet!

    The Bus Service (Unitrans) - in Davis and UC Davis and is run by ASUCD (Undergraduate Student Government). Compared to other cities of a similar size, it is a very good bus system with regular routes that start and stop on campus with stops at groceries and other stores. Busses are not free for Graduate students, but passes and one-ride fares are inexpensive (schedules and costs: Unitrans ( Unitrans also runs special routes to the airport during the end of the quarter.

    Cars – some students use cars to get around. Usually, a paid permit is required to park on campus (Parking Permits | Transportation Services ( Additionally, some housing situations my also require a permit for parking or limit the number of spot available to tenants (this varies greatly across the city and depends on the landlord. It is encouraged that you ask about when pursuing a lease)

    Car Share – For personal use, Zip Car has cars stationed around Campus and the City and can be used by UC Davis Affiliates / Zip Car member (special membership pricing is sometimes offered for campus affiliates and is worth looking for on Zip Car’s website) for an hourly or daily rental rate (University of California, Davis | Zipcar)

    Regional Transport – In addition to Unitrans in Davis there is also the Causeway connections (Causeway Connection Electric Bus Service – Sacramento Regional Transit District ( linking the Davis and Sacramento Campuses, The Berkeley-Davis Shuttle (Davis Berkeley Shuttle ( connecting UC Berkeley and UC Davis, and Yolo-Bus (Yolobus - Welcome) which provides regional transport in Yolo County (Davis is in Yolo County) and to the Sacramento Airport

    Airports and Train Stations – Downtown Davis has an Amtrack Station to travel by train or bus (like grayhound) to other places. The nearest airport is the Sacramento International Airport (SMF). Yolobus, SacRT and others provide service from the Airport to Davis and other surrounding cities.

Insurance and Health Services

*If this is an emergency, Dial: 911 – This FAQ only provides information on non-emergency services

Still have questions? Contact our staff at at