FAQ

Who can answer my questions?

A: If you don’t find your answer on this website or in the BIOE graduate handbook, start with your peer mentors in BEAST. 🙂 For administrative questions, ask your home campus administrator (SarahJane at UCSF, Kristin at UCB), since most administration is campus-specific. If you have questions about a lab, ask the students in that lab (check out our student directory).

Student Services

UCSF

Q: How do I get my student ID?
A:
 On the first day of BioE orientation, you will go to the UCSF police office to get your ID. Arrangements have been made to pay for your ID. If you lose your ID, you can get a replacement UCSF IDs from the Police Department for a fee. You can call the ID section at (415) 476-7065 for more information about the cost and hours of operations. (Source: BEAST and UCSF Graduate Division)

Q: What is the web page for the UCSF mail system?
A: mail@UCSF.

UCB

Q: How do I get my student ID?
A: Cal IDs can be obtained at the Cal One office right by Sproul and Zellerbach Hall. Make sure to pick up your class pass as well so you can ride AC transit (local public buses that run across the bridge too!) for free!

Q: What is the web page for the UC Berkeley mail system?
A: CalMail.

Q: Do I have to pay the membership fee to use gyms?
A: No. You can show your UCSF ID and study list to enter the UCB recreation center. In fact, you have access to any UC gym with either of your UC ID thanks to Reciprocity Agreement.

BEAST

Q: What is BEAST?
A: 
The BioEngineering Association of STudents. Every student is automatically a member of BEAST. Its purpose is to facilitate student involvement and leadership in areas ranging from social activities to prospective student visit weekends, from running the annual retreat to organizing BERFs (the BioEngineering Research Forum). There are several elected positions, but the structure is informal and anyone wishing to volunteer with any activity is welcome. (Source: BEAST)

Q: What is the purpose of the BEAST wiki?
A: The wiki is a forum and repository of information for students in the Berkeley-UCSF Graduate Program in Bioengineering. You can find contact information for current students, suggested course lists from a variety of students, and a chunk of departmental paperwork you will need to fill out through your time in the program

Q: How do I become a BEAST officer?
A: Every fall, we have nominations and elections to choose BEAST officers.

Q: What’s the difference between Faculty, Research and Peer Advisors?
A: Your faculty advisor helps with choosing courses, making sure you are progressing well within the program (they help you fill out an annual progress report), and answer general questions about the program. Your research advisor is your principal investigator. Your peer advisor is an older student who is there to answer your questions and help you settle into the program. (Source: BEAST)

Q: How much can we spend on a BERF meeting?
A: The general guideline for BERF refreshments is $5/person with a maximum of $200 per event. Anything over $200 would require advance approval. (Source: Rebecca Pauling)

Fellowships

Q: What are the names of fellowships I should apply?
A: For US citizens and permanent residents, you should at least consider NSF/NDSEG, and Hertz. For internationals, you should consider HHMI.

Advising

Q: My graduate group advisor isn’t in my area of interest and they weren’t able to recommend classes. What should I do?
A: Look on the the BEAST wiki for the suggested course list in your area of interest. Under your area of interest, you will find an assigned professor and grad student who you can contact to answer any other questions you may have.

Q: What is the purpose of my BEAST peer advisor?
A: Your BEAST peer advisor is assigned to you before you come to orientation and there to help you with your transition into grad school. During your first year, we’re sure you’ll have tons of questions about how to access resources and make useful contacts. Be sure to contact your peer advisor for help.

Q: What are the responsibilities of the primary graduate group advisors, Kristin Olson (UCB) and SarahJane Taylor (UCSF)?
A: Kristin and SarahJane are the program administrators at their respective campuses who help out grad students with various grad student issues. If you have any questions about advising, course requirements, funding, or contacting a professor for a rotation, they are the ladies to talk to. If you have questions about anything else, they will do their best to either answer your question or point you in the right direction.

Program Requirements

Q: Is it required that I rotate with three different labs?
A: You are required to complete three rotations during your first year. However, if you find a lab you truly enjoy, the department may allow you to commit to a lab early. Three rotations are strongly recommended as this is the only chance you have to explore the many labs the BioE graduate group has to offer. (Source: BEAST)

Q: What are the differences between satisfying major, minor, and area requirements?
A: Area requirements are general bioengineering requirements that all students must complete. The requirements include Physiology, Biology, Chemistry, Math, Statistics, and general Engineering courses. If you have taken some of these courses in undergrad, you may be able to apply them towards your area requirements. Your major field of study requirement consists of 16 semester units of graduate level courses that will be in your field of expertise. Your minor requirements consists of 8 semester units of graduate level courses.

Q: Where can I find information about quals requirements and how to choose committee members ?
A: Take a look at the bioengineering handbook which can be found on the program website.

Coursework

UCSF

Q: Where can I find a schedule for UCSF courses?
A: Unfortunately, UCSF does not maintain a well-updated course schedule database. Your best bets is the the general catalog at UCSF. We have heard that the dean of the graduate division at UCSF is pushing for a quarterly course schedule. For now we have to wait and see.
Where can I find a schedule for UC Berkeley courses?

Q: How do I register for UCSF courses?
A: MyAcess.

UCB

Q: Where can I find a schedule for UCB courses?
A: Online Schedule.

Q: What is the web page for registering for courses?
A: Telebears.

Q: What is the web page for reviewing information (grades, registration time, class schedules, etc.) at UC Berkeley?
A: Bearfacts.

Q: What are the different levels of courses?
A: At Berkeley, 1-99 is lower division, 100-199 is upper division, 200-299 is graduate level, 300-399 is professional.(Source: BEAST)

Both campuses

Q: How do the credit units transfer between UCSF and UCB?
A: 1.5 Quarter Units = 1 Semester Unit

Q: How many courses should I take at a time?
A: There is no “official” answer to this question. Each person will give you a slightly different answer. Some folks like to “front load” their courses and try to get most (if not all) done in the first two years. If this is the case, you will most likely be taking about 6-9 units a semester.
In your first year, you will be doing research rotations AND taking classes. That being said, don’t overload yourself. The course requirements are pretty flexible and meant to complement your research; you have your entire PhD to finish the course requirements. Remember: if a course doesn’t seem worthwhile to you, your time, or your research, then either don’t take it or, if you are already in it, drop it! No one is really forcing you to take a class except yourself.

Q: What is the difference between satisfying major, minor, and area requirements?
A: Area requirements are general bioengineering requirements that all students must complete. The requirements include Physiology, Biology, Chemistry, Math, Statistics, and general Engineering courses. If you have taken some of these courses in undergrad, you may be able to apply them towards your area requirements. Your major field of study requirement consists of 16 semester units of graduate level courses that will be in your field of expertise. Your minor requirements consists of 8 semester units of graduate level courses.

Q: What are credit requirements for enrollment?
A: If you are UC Berkeley home campused register for 12 units. If you are UCSF home campused and UC Berkeley funded (ie, Berkeley mentor) you will need to enroll in 12 units of research (299) with that faculty member. (Source: Rebecca Pauling)

Q: What are dummy courses and how do I sign up for them?
A: Dummy courses are what you sign up for if you aren’t taking any courses at either Berkeley or UCSF. If you are UCSF home campused and UCSF funded – taking no courses at Berkeley: enroll in courses based on the emails Sarah-Jane and Kristin send regarding the 299 courses each semseter.

Quals

Q: Where can I find information about quals requirements and how to choose committee members ?
A: Take a look at the bioengineering handbook which can be found on the program website.

A: How can I find out if a professor is on the Academic Senate?
A: For UCSF, see the UCSF Academic Senate Membership website. For UCB, see the UCB Academic Senate Membership website. It’s also a good idea to double-check by asking the professor in question.

Q: What are the requirements for my quals committee members?
A: See Quals & Dissertation.

Q: What is the expected scope of my quals proposal?
A: Your proposed project should last 6-12 months. Your qualifying exam is not expected to cover the entirety of your thesis work. (Source: JGGB Executive Committee.)

Q: Do I need preliminary data for my quals proposal?
A: Preliminary data is NOT a requirement. However, students *sometimes* find it easier to support their hypotheses and choice of projects when they have a small set of pilot data to show their committee. If one chooses to include “expected results,” be *sure* to label them as such. Never present hypothetical data in a way that implies that they are real.  (Source: BEAST)

Q: Where can I practice for quals?
A: Present at BERF! Contact Siyu Feng (siyufeng@berkeley.edu) for UCSF and Kayla Wolf (felgerka@berkeley.edu) to coordinate BERF.

Dissertation

Q: It is difficult to schedule a meeting with all five members of my dissertation committee. On the dissertation committee form, there are only 3 lines for signature… does that imply that it’s ok to have only 3 of the 5 members there?
A: It is the consensus of the graduate advisors that you are best served when you have a full committee meeting. If that looks impossible, then a meeting with the signing members, or as many as you can get. It is hard to get them all together, we know. But it is very useful to you. Do your best. (Source: Rebecca Pauling)