Graduate FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What classes am I required to take?

The requirements depend on whether you are coming in with a BA or an MA. See the Program Guidelines & Handbooks section for a list of required classes, as well as sample class schedules for each year of your time in the program. The graduate handbook (PDF) provides more detail on all the requirements listed.

How many units do I need to be enrolled in each quarter?

For purposes of reporting graduate enrollment to UC Systemwide, 12 units is considered full time status. Thus, to be considered a full-time student, you need to be enrolled in at least 12 units.  These units do not need to all be content classes; they may include (or exclusively be) units for directed reading, directed research, master's thesis work or dissertation work.

What is colloquium and how does it fit in my class schedule?

Colloquium is a series of lectures held in the department each quarter.  Generally, speakers from outside the department come and give talks on current issues and research in or relevant to the field of communication, with a question-and-answer session following.  These typically occur four to six times per quarter, on Fridays, from 3:30-5pm, in SS&MS 1009 unless otherwise indicated.

As a graduate student, you enroll in colloquium as a one-unit "class", COMM 505. You should enroll in COMM 505 every quarter that you are enrolled as a full time student.

Is there a limit on the number of times I can enroll in 593 (Directed Reading), 594 (Special Topics) or 596 (Directed Research) classes/units?

There are no limits for the number of times you can enroll in any of these classes. When signing up for them in GOLD, simply indicate that you are taking the course again for additional credit.  While you may any of these take these courses any number of times (with any number of faculty members), only 4 units of Comm 596 (Directed Research) count towards the department's PhD requirements, and there are limits on the number of Comm 593 (Directed Reading) units that may be substituted for other content course units. For details on these, see the Graduate Handbook.

How do qualifying exams (quals) work?

You take qualifying exams once you have completed your coursework requirements. Writing qualifying exams takes one quarter.  The "exam" consists of three questions: one specific (theory) question, one broad (theory) question, and one methods question. Each member of your qualifying exams committee writes one of these questions. You receive all of the questions at the beginning of the first week of your writing quarter, and you turn in your answers nine weeks later (i.e., the beginning of the tenth week of the quarter).  During finals week of your writing quarter, you have an oral defense of your answers with your committee. For more information on this process, see the Graduate Handbook.

Where can I find out more information about financial support and resources at UCSB?

The Graduate Division's Financial Support page is a good resource for information about funding and financial support at UCSB.  This page has FAQs about financial issues; information about the FAFSA, student loans and other financial aid; information on internal and external fellowships;  information about taxation of fellowships and assistantships; information about academic appointments and other employment opportunities on campus; and an estimated graduate student budget.