Time to Degree – Best Practices

Managing Time-to-Degree in the Graduate Programs

The PhD programs at UCSF are committed to helping students graduate in a timely fashion. To that end, they employ several strategies, which are listed below. Please note that every program does not employ every strategy; this list is a compilation of our “best practices.”

  • Programs conduct a review of students’ progress at the end of the first year, which includes consideration of evaluations from all course instructors and lab mentors
  • In some programs, students must apply to take qualifying exams. In others, they are required to take them by the end of the second year.
  • The terminal master's degree is given to students who have not made satisfactory progress in the first two or three years.
  • Students work with their primary mentors to develop a timeline toward completion.
  • Students complete a written annual plan that is shared with their primary mentors.
  • Students and mentors/thesis committees meet at least annually to discuss the student’s development plan. Some programs hold these meetings on a semi-annual basis.
  • Students give a fourth year talk on their research, as a milestone between the qualifying exam and the completion of the dissertation.
  • Students must petition the executive committee for an extension to remain in the program beyond six years.