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Registration Procedures

First year graduate students are assigned an academic advisor for that first year in the doctoral program. Academic advisors meet with first year students who have questions regarding long-term academic plans and requirements for the graduate Program.

Continuing graduate students must pre-register on-line using WEBSIS during May for the summer and fall academic semester and in December for the spring academic semester. Complete as much information as possible and submit the form by the published deadlines; addition and /or deletions can be taken care of on Registration Day.

Prior to Registration Day (fall and spring terms of the first year), the student’s subject selection must first be approved by the advisor before the Graduate Officer can authorize registration on Registration Day. Advisor approval should also be obtained for any subsequent subject add/drop actions during the term (no additional authorization by the Graduate Officer is required).

All registration material must be approved and signed off by the BE Registration Officer online (WEBSIS). An online Add/Drop form must be filed for all changes after registration day.

Credit Unit Requirement

There is a total credit unit requirement of 40 for doctoral students. Students registering for a thesis degree must specify a minimum of one credit unit each semester, but typically, the credit units are adjusted to yield a total load of 36 credit units for BE graduate students. International students must be registered for at least 36 units to be considered full-time to maintain their Visa status.

All students must register for the following subjects for every fall and spring semester:

  • 20.200 Biological Engineering Student Seminars (3 units)
  • 20.S952 Biological Engineering Speaker Series (1 unit)

Research (20.950) and Thesis (20.THG) units may be adjusted to yield a total of 36 credit units for any given semester. Please note that thesis and research units may not be used to satisfy program coursework requirements.

Example registration guide

Below is a typical schedule for a member of the graduate program. Many requirements, such as 20.960 Teaching Experience and 20.951 Thesis Proposal, can be fulfilled in different semesters than those shown, but must only be taken once.

First Year

FALL (40 units)SPRING (40 units)SUMMER (24 units)
20.420 (12 units)20.440 (12 units)20.950 (24 units)
Electives (12-24 units)Electives (12-24 units)
20.200 (3 units)20.200 (3 units)
20.S952 (1 unit)20.S952 (1 unit)
20.950 (9-12 units)20.950 (9-12 units)

Second Year

FALL (40 units)SPRING (40 units)SUMMER (24 units)
20.960 Teaching Experience (12 units)*20.960 Teaching Experience (12 units)*20.951 Proposal (24 units)*
Electives (0-24 units)Electives (0-24 units)OR: 20.950 (24 units)
20.200 (3 units)20.200 (3 units)
20.S952 (1 unit)20.S952 (1 unit)
20.950 (sum to 40)20.950 (sum to 40)
*Timing Variable (only take once)

Third Year

FALL (40 units)SPRING (40 units)SUMMER (24 units)
20.951 Proposal (24 units)*20.THG (sum to 36)20.THG (24 units)
20.200 (3 units)20.200 (3 units)
20.S952 (1 unit)20.S952 (1 unit)
20.950 or THG (sum to 36)
*Timing Variable (only take once)

Fourth Year +

FALL (40 units)SPRING (40 units)SUMMER (24 units)
20.THG (36 units)20.THG (36 units)20.THG (24 units)
20.200 (3 units)20.200 (3 units)
20.S952 (1 unit)20.S952 (1 unit)


FALL / SPRING (36 units) or SUMMER (24 units)
20.THG (all units)

Research Progress Updates (20.950/20.THG)

Students must complete the Research Progress Report (more information on the Coursework page) updates with their advisor(s) at the end of each semester to receive a grade in 20.950 and/or 20.THG.

Time to Graduation

The Registration Officer and the Graduate Program Committee are charged with ensuring that each student is making adequate progress in his or her graduate program. The Registration Officer is expected to oversee the student’s course work, so that adequate progress toward the student’s goals is being made. The Graduate Program Committee monitors the length of time taken for a degree.

  • At the beginning of the eleventh regular academic semester (start of 6th year), the student should expect to receive a message from the Chair of the Graduate Committee requiring a written evaluation of progress and a timetable for the completion of the degree requirements from the student and research supervisor.
  • After thirteen regular academic semesters the Chair of the Graduate Program Committee will usually ask the Dean of the Graduate School to issue a formal warning threatening loss of registration if the doctoral degree is not completed during the next regular academic semester.

The above listed time requirements must of course be interpreted in such a way as to allow for differences between students and differences between thesis projects. Changes in thesis topics and/or advisor, a hiatus in research support, disability, or parental responsibilities are just several of a number of good reasons why a student may take longer than average to complete a degree. The Graduate Program Committee will consider such mitigating circumstances very carefully before taking action.