This page provides answers to questions that might arise around these changes noted below:

The Graduate Council approved two exceptional changes to policy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  1. The Graduate Council voted to automatically extend the time-to-candidacy and time-to-degree by one year for all current graduate students.

    • Departmental time-to-candidacy and time-to-degree normative times will be extended by one year for all doctoral students. Master’s students can extend their time-to-degree up to one year beyond their department’s normative time.

    • This extension applies to students currently enrolled in graduate programs and on approved leaves of absence as of spring 2020.

    • These normative time extensions will allow students to maintain funding eligibility, but do not guarantee an availability of additional funding.

  2. The Graduate Council voted to allow departments to relax their requirements for letter-graded courses. For spring quarter 2020, the Graduate Council allowed departments to offer any graduate course for an S/U grade (Senate Regulation 30), and courses taken for an S/U grade could count towards departmental requirements at the departments' discretion. This was only extended for courses offered for spring 2020, and was not extended into future quarters. 

If you have questions other than what is provided here, email

Overview of extension


These are the time periods prescribed for completion of degrees (TTD), and for advancement to candidacy (TTA) for doctoral students. These times are determined by the Graduate Council, a committee of the Academic Senate, on a program-specific basis.

This extension adds an additional three quarters to every student’s TTD and TTA. So, if you were expected to advance by the end of fall ‘20, you are now expected to advance by the end of fall ‘21 and so on. 

All graduate students who are registered or on an approved leave of absence in the spring of 2020 will receive the extension automatically. Students do not need to apply for it. 

No. We expect many, if not most, students will be able to meet their milestones and complete their degrees following the normal timelines. Putting this extension in place simply means that students who are delayed because of the coronavirus and its impacts can know that extra time has already been approved.

This went in effect spring quarter 2020.

International Students


As far as immigration is concerned, UCSB’s Form I-17 (which lists all majors, degrees and time to graduation) with the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) lists a general timeline for graduation: M.A./M.S. 4 years and Ph.D. 7 years. This is considered normative time to graduation. Students can request an extension beyond this time period based on specific criteria listed in Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS). For more details, please contact the Office of International Students and Scholars.



In cases in which students were already on monitoring status due to being past time-to-advance (TTA) or time-to-degree (TTD), it may be necessary to adjust their academic plans in light of delays caused by COVID-19.  If the 3-quarter TTD extension brings the student within time-to-degree, their monitoring status will be lifted. We recommend that students and departments work closely together to ensure that students have clear plans to move forward to completion.

It is important to note, however, that not all instances of monitoring and probation are based on a failure to make timely progress. In some instances, students are on monitoring because of a low grade point average, failure to pass milestone exams, or because they have been unable to form a doctoral committee. The extension of TTA and TTD will not necessarily affect these cases.

Possibly. It depends on your situation. Students whose monitoring status will be lifted will be contacted by the Graduate Division.

We encourage you to try to make progress according to your current academic progress plan. If you are unable to make progress because of issues related to the pandemic, then you should work with your department to adjust the academic progress plan.

No. If you are on filing leave for spring ‘20, you have until the end of summer to file your degree without having to register for fall quarter. If you don’t complete your dissertation by fall, you may re-register in the fall and the additional 3 quarter extension will apply.

Employment & Funding


The extensions of TTA and TTD do not extend current guarantees of funding (with the possible exception of IDRF). Students remain eligible to apply for continuing-student fellowships or other opportunities during the extended time period.  

No, your central recruitment fellowship package remains the same. There is flexibility in which year you take your stipend. Contact if you have questions or want to repackage your fellowship award (i.e., change the timing of your support).

Because the Graduate Council decision extended the official time-to-advancement by three quarters for all students, the International Doctoral Recruitment Fellowship will likewise be extended to cover these terms, if needed.

The employment exception procedure already incorporates TTD and TTA exceptions, so nothing will need to change with this procedure.

This is being discussed by committees of the Academic Senate. Check back for updates.

S/U Grading



These are similar to Pass/No-Pass grades at the undergraduate level, but are used for graduate students. For an S grade, students must perform at the level of B or better. Performance at the level of B- or receives a grade of U.

Courses at UCSB are offered one of three ways:

  • Letter grade only: This means that everyone registered for the courses must take it for a letter grade.
  • Optional: This means that everyone registered for the course has the option of taking it for a letter grade or for S/U (the student chooses).
  • S/U: This means that everyone registered for the course only has the option of taking it Satisfactory (S)/Unsatisfactory (U). Many independent-study courses are offered this way.

The Graduate Council has given departments blanket authority to change any courses that are offered in spring 2020 as “letter-grade only” to “optional grading,” so students can change to S/U if they desire.

No. It is up to each department to determine which courses it will allow to be offered with the S/U option. The Graduate Council recommends flexibility. Departments need to notify their graduate students of which courses may be taken with optional grading as soon as possible so students can decide how they want to take the class. 

Students who choose the S/U grading option will receive an S for any grade of B or better. Faculty submit the letter grade to the Registrar, who automatically converts the grade to an S or a U. Faculty do not know which students have signed up for the S/U option.

Graduate students have until the last day of instruction (Friday, June 5, 2020) to change their grading option in GOLD. This is a hard deadline.

Departments can still decide to offer the course as optional for spring quarter, even if it is letter-grade only in the MCA. No changes in the MCA are needed.