Information for New Graduate Students

May 12, 2014

From: Susan Schwartz, Faculty Graduate Advisor

Hello New Earth & Planetary Sciences Graduate Students,

We look forward to your enrollment in the department this fall. I am the faculty graduate representative for the UCSC Earth and Planetary Sciences Department and am writing to describe upcoming dates and activities to help you to plan for the start of the new academic year. 

I. What to do before you get to Santa Cruz

A. Mark your calendar with these important dates: 
The most important item on this calendar is the introductory advising session. Your preliminary research advisor and you will meet with me to discuss your course preparation and requirements (See details in Section IV below). It is very important that we get this done before classes start so that you can enroll in the appropriate fall quarter courses. Therefore, you should plan to meet with your preliminary advisor to craft a plan before Monday 9/29. The two of you will then bring this plan to the meeting for discussion.

The Earth and Planetary Sciences Department Graduate Student Orientation (Wednesday, 10/1, 2:30 – 4:00 p.m.) is also important. Faculty, staff, and new students will be introduced, and we will talk about courses and the overall program structure and TA assignments. This orientation session is required and will be followed by a department-wide reception.

Campus-wide Graduate Student Orientation
Tuesday 9/30, 12:00 pm-1:00 pm
Location: Humanities Building

International Graduate Student Orientation (mandatory for international students,
9/16, 9/23, 9/29, 9/30, or 10/1 (attend only one), 2:00 pm. (Except 9/29, which is at 10am).
Classroom Unit Building, Room 201 (9/16 and 9/23).Classroom Unit Building Room 001 (9/29, 9/30 and 10/1).

Introductory Advising Session
Monday 9/29 -Wednesday 10/1, By assigned Appointment
A133 Earth & Marine Sciences Building

Department Graduate Student Orientation (mandatory for all new students)
Wednesday 10/1, 2:30-4:00 pm
EMS Building, Room D226

Department Reception
Wednesday 10/1, 4:00-5:00 pm
Dreiss Lobby (1st floor, EMS Building)

Instruction begins Thursday 10/2/14

Friday 10/10, morning - Sunday 10/12, evening

*Please see the UCSC maps available at:  Some maps are interactive online, and others can be printed at high resolution.

Your preliminary research advisors may have plans for you in addition to the above dates. Some students will begin research over the summer. PLEASE BE SURE TO CONTACT YOUR PRELIMINARY ADVISOR AS SOON AS POSSIBLE TO CONFIRM YOUR ARRIVAL DATES. 

The last item on the calendar above is the new graduate student field trip. We are planning on taking you on a 3-day tour of California geology. I am sure that you do not want to miss this event, so set aside this Friday through Sunday now. More details will be discussed at the introductory orientation.

B. Housing

You should have received information from the Graduate Division describing on-campus housing options for both single students and those with families. Most students opt to live off-campus in a shared house or condo. The Student Community Rental Program has listings of available local housing (phone: 831-459-4435;;; Rm. 104 Hahn Student Services Bldg.).  Or you can check Craigslist for rentals: You may also email other grads in our department if you are looking for a housemate. You can also drop Jennifer Fish ( a note if you would like your contact info circulated to the other new graduate students as a potential housemate.

When you are looking at housing, be sure to think through the transportation options to and from campus. The TAPS website: has bus routes and information on alternative transportation options like the free bicycle shuttle. Take a good look at these pick-up spots when selecting your home. The bicycle shuttle is a common commute method among our graduate students.

The San Lorenzo River divides Santa Cruz into Eastside and Westside. Most students opt to live on the Westside as it is closer to campus. The condos at the base of campus and the rentals in the region from the vicinity of Bay & Mission through the circular roads (known as the Circles) to West Cliff are particularly popular.

C. Enrollment for classes

Open enrollment for new graduate students is available as of Thursday, 6/19/14 and is done online via your student portal: Take a look at the instructions on the Graduate Division web site and the Fall 2014 Schedule of Classes (  You need to enroll in EART 203, EART 204 and EART 205 (See below for descriptions). If you are doing research, you will also want to enroll in an independent study (research course). Please contact Jennifer Fish ( for the class number specific to your advisor, which changes every quarter.  These will also be posted outside of her office door (EMS A251) and emailed to the grads group email alias.  The rest of your courses will need to be discussed with your advisor. In general, it is OK to wait until you are on campus to sort this out.  However, if you have any concerns about classes in other departments filling up, please fee free to contact me for advice. The general info on classes at the bottom of this letter might help you begin to think about your plan. 

II. What to do when you get to Santa Cruz

You should be aware of who your preliminary research advisor is from the recruitment process. If you are at all unclear, please drop a note to Jennifer Fish (  Please check in with your preliminary research advisor as soon as you get to campus so that you can start doing science. As mentioned above, please keep your advisor apprised of your summer plans and contact information and be sure that he/she knows when you plan to arrive.

When you arrive in Santa Cruz please check in with Jennifer Fish; 831-459-1235; Earth & Marine Sciences A251) to get key and office assignment information. Jennifer can also help you with numerous general questions or problems. If you cannot find Jennifer, go to the department assistant Jenna Scarpelli (; 831-459-4137; E&MS A232A).

Many departmental communications and reminders are sent via email, so you will want to establish your UCSC email account soon, if you have not already.  You should have a pre-assigned Cruzmail account (See

If you need computer assistance such as networking your Macintosh or Windows machine, having virus software installed, setting up a Linux account on research Linux machines, etc., please contact the local computing support group by emailing  The group also maintains a help web site with help on some topics at .

You will also have a mailbox in the department office, E&MS A234. Please check your box for other information when you arrive. You may also call, email or stop by my office (; 831-459-3133; E&MS A133) with questions or concerns before or after your arrival on campus.

After you have sorted out your keys, office and paperwork, you should arrange to meet with your faculty advisor(s) to discuss appropriate fall quarter classes. 

III. Teaching Assistant assignments and payment

A draft TA assignment list for 2014-15 should be available by August and will be distributed via email. Please note that all TA assignments are tentative and subject to change until formal appointments are made. If you have a fall quarter TA appointment you will receive an appointment letter by early September; we generally avoid placing incoming graduate students in TA positions during their first quarter at UCSC, but this may be desired and necessary depending on your background, research and teaching plans, and other factors. 

If you will be employed as a TA or Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) during Fall 2014, you will receive your first of three paychecks (for the period of 10/1/14-12/31/14) on 11/1/14. Fellowship funds are generally available in a lump sum by the start of the quarter. Contact Student Business Services ( if you would like to arrange for direct deposit. Checks will otherwise be sent to the permanent address of record, which you need to keep updated on your student portal.

IV. Preliminary information on courses

You will find much more detailed information concerning course enrollment in various university and departmental documents, but here is a brief overview. Many first-year graduate students enroll during each quarter in one or more traditional 5-unit courses, seminars, or independent study (research) courses.  As soon as you arrive on campus, you will arrange a meeting with your advisor to develop an individualized course plan that meets your educational goals and background. You and your advisor will then meet together with the faculty graduate representative (me) at an assigned time between Monday and Wednesday afternoon 9/29-10/1 to discuss the plan and adjust as necessary. You will then be expected to meet the requirements of this plan during your tenure at UCSC. We will try to send your assigned meeting time to you in early September; if this is not possible we will arrange this in late September.

Note that TAs and GSRs are expected to complete their work in addition to regular classes. TA and GSR work is a form of student employment for which students do not receive academic credit. 

All first year graduate students in the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department are required to take the following courses: EART 203-Introductory Teaching Seminar (1 unit), EART 204-Introduction to Earth & Planetary Sciences (4 units), EART 205-Introductory Graduate Seminar (2 units) during their first fall quarter and EART 206-Great Papers in the Earth and Planetary Sciences (5 units) during their first winter quarter. EART 203 will familiarize you with the resources and methods for instruction specific to UCSC. The course usually consists of five, 2-1/2 hour weekly sessions during the month of October. EART 204 will provide an overview of major topics in the Earth and Planetary Sciences while EART 205 will cover department-specific information.

Please count on being available for EART 205 which will be meeting M, W at 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. and EART 204 which will meet immediately afterwards M, W at 9:45 – 10:45 a.m.  EART 203 will most likely be meeting Thursdays from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. from 10/9 – 11/6.

EART 206 will continue to provide a broad overview of the field by presenting some of the most important ideas in the Earth and Planetary Sciences through lecture, discussion, and exploration of the primary literature. Seminal papers in different sub-disciplines are read and analyzed to provide breadth, a common knowledge base, and practice with critical thinking. 

V. Where to read more

Much of the information provided in this note can be found at the departmental web site:  Follow the links on the top bar for a preliminary listing of courses being offered next year, faculty web pages, seminar schedules, and more. I encourage you to review the Earth and Planetary Sciences Grad Handbook at: You should have been contacted already by the UCSC Division of Graduate Studies ( with referrals to their website, which contains other resources such as financial and registration/enrollment information ( 

Best wishes until we meet in Santa Cruz and stay in touch,

Susan Y. Schwartz

Professor of Geophysics
phone: (831) 459-3133